on Dec 3rd, 2012 in Delivery & Collection | 16 comments
The U.S. Postal Service is about the best in the world at providing its core service of mail delivery. In fact, its ability to deliver mail and return undeliverable mail to the sender effectively makes the United States government one of the most efficient in the world, according to a working paper by National Bureau of Economic Research. A group of economists rated the efficiency of the world's governments with a simple test of their postal systems. The group mailed fake letters to nonexistent businesses in 159 countries and waited a year to see which were sent back to a professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The goal was to use a simple, universal service to explore why, other than corruption, developing countries tend to have poorly performing governments. All the letters went to countries that subscribe to the Universal Postal Union, which requires that incorrectly addressed mail be returned within a month. The United States was one of only four countries to send the undeliverable letters back within 90 days, along with El Salvador, Czech Republic, and Luxembourg. In fact, the U.S. had the fastest return rate at 16 days, although it may have benefited from returning the letters to an address in the United States. It also returned 100 percent of the fake-addressed letters. The study was not intended to assess the Postal Service, but the results do highlight some of its key strengths, at least compared to foreign posts. Foremost, better classification systems for addresses tended to result in faster returns, the economists noted. The Postal Service uses uniform address standards and its address database is among the most robust in the world. Again, this was not the study’s intention, but the results seem to support the Universal Postal Union’s (UPU) position that a national addressing system is essential to the economic and social advancement of countries. In its recent white paper, “Addressing the World – An Address for Everyone,” the UPU says that in many developing countries, physical addresses exist only in city centers. Without physical addresses, it is difficult to impossible for public services and businesses to reach their intended targets. “A quality address infrastructure must be considered as an essential part of a country’s socio-economic infrastructure, not only for improving public services, but also facilitating business, trade and, consequently, national development,” the UPU says. How important is an addressing infrastructure to government efficiency and business development? What parts of addressing does the Postal Service do particularly well? What could be improved? Share your thoughts.


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Hello, I am currently trying to get an answer or a resolution to an item I mailed out but I don't know where to look (I can't send the post office an email for some reason) and when I call them they can only tell me that my item is undeliverable as addressed (I believe I may have left off the recipients street address). This status was made on 11-29. Now, I simply want to know the status of it now (where is it, etc.) as its a week later and the status hasn't changed to Return to Sender or anything else. The tracking number is 03122120000211737350/usps. I know I wrote a return address which puzzles me and makes me wander if its lost or what?

I would GREAATLY APPRECIATE any help you can provide me with.

Thanks so much


Mr. Brooks,
Your comment has been passed on to our Hotline for further investigation. If you have additional information, you can contact us at 1-888-877-7644 or online at http://www.uspsoig.gov/hotline-new.cfm

Thank you,
US Postal Service Office of Inspector General

If this was my company, I would drug test your Chesapeake and Eastern Shore contracted drivers.

Please provide us with more information by filing a complaint with our Hotline. You can contact us at 1-888-877-7644 or online at http://www.uspsoig.gov/hotline-new.cfm

Thank you,
US Postal Service Office of Inspector General

On JANUARY 3, 2013 I took a pkg. to my local post office unopened RETURN TO SENDER. Clerk # 08 pocessed it accordingly (I assumed). As of this date the pkg. has been back and forth from Atl. to Memphis a dozen times, it eventually made it to 2 different California facilities has not been scanned again since FEBRUARY 6, 2012. It still has not made it to it's final destination of Torrence, CA. TODAY IS FEBRUARY 22, 2013. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!
FYI 420300179102927002514312472120


Why do I keep getting my sons Christmas card back as "insufficient address" while he got other mail I sent the same day!!!to the same address !!they have Grinch working at Tx 77598?in Webster?Q

I sent a message to the email you provided with the number to the Houston USPS Office of Consumer Affairs. This situation would best be handled by their office.
Thank you for your comment.
OIG Blog Moderator

My packg was sent to DC address as a priority mail with signature required. The address delivered TO was wrong and the final was undelivered. I need to know who to contact to get the next status on the packg as it has a very important docs.
package # 23041070000021451648
On the tracking website it says its being returned to the sender if the appropriate address is provided. Very generic no specifics. Please help me , I need the package as it has important documents.


Here is a the number for your nearest Consumer Affairs Office: 804-775-6313. They should be able to further assist you with your inquiries.

I'm finding myself getting frustrated as the days go by and no one seem to know where is my package. It has a very important documents and I need it returned to me since it was delivered to the wrong address. The package has a tracking number and the notice says it will return back to the sender if the appropriate address is included. I have been waiting for over 10 days now . I there a way I can track it to re office in DC where it's now and I will pick it up myself ?

Hello Med Kassin,

Thank you for taking the time to contact our offices. The USPS Office of Inspector General investigates waste, theft, fraud and abuse within the Postal Service (USPS).

However, we have forwarded your claim to the Postal Service Customer Service Office in an effort to assist you.

U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General

Everyone should try to avoid using the post office at all costs. I've had 5 packages returned to sender. And meanwhile ups has delivered right to my door without fail. Usps employees clearly don't care if you get your package. You should try to send your packages to your workplace, assuming either ups or fed ex delivers directly to your employer

Hello Taylor,

We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. The USPS Office of Inspector General investigates waste, theft, fraud and abuse within the Postal Service (USPS).

Although this incident does not fall within the jurisdiction of our offices, please call and file a complaint with the Postal Service Office of Consumer Affairs at 800-275-8777. By doing this, you will provide them with the information needed to look into this occurrence.

How do I advise usps to no longer deliver any mail to a deceased person. I only see options to stop advertising/new mail from being delivered. Is there a way to have all mail returned to sender? I am unable to retrieve the mail to mark it as such myself.

Hello Neek,

Thank you for contacting our offices and we truly apologize for the inconveniences that you have experienced so far. The role of the USPS Office of Inspector General is to investigate waste, theft, fraud and abuse within the Postal Service (USPS).

Please contact your local Postal Service Consumer Affairs office, which is separate from the customer service line, at 1-800-275-8777 so they can look further into this matter for you.