Undeliverable as addressed (UAA) mail is a clunky name for a big problem: Mail not reaching its intended recipient because the address is incorrect, incomplete, or illegible. UAA mail is costly to both the Postal Service and its customers – about $1.5 billion a year for the Postal Service and $20 billion for the mailing industry, according to a report we issued last month.

But the costs of UAA go beyond just returning, destroying, or forwarding undeliverable mail. For mailers, there are direct costs, such as printing and postage, and indirect costs, such as lost opportunities. A direct mailer has no chance for a sale if the piece never reaches the customer. And an undeliverable invoice either slows down cash flow or, if the piece never reaches its intended recipient, results in no payment at all, as Pitney Bowes notes in a white paper. Furthermore, a company’s customer service costs can jump if irate customers call after getting a late fee for a bill delayed by an incorrect or incomplete address.

Then there is what some mailers call a customer relationship management (CRM) cost. Address software provider Melissa Data explains, “CRM costs reflect the damage to customer relationships that result from failed communication.” The CRM cost of UAA mail can be calculated a few ways, but the simplest might be to determine the customer’s annual value (say he or she spends $600 a year on a cable bill) and divide it by the customer’s expected response rate (for this cable company let’s say 5 percent). In this case, the CRM cost of a UAA mailpiece is $30.

Despite concerted efforts by the Postal Service and mailers to reduce UAA mail, it actually increased by 2.1 percent to a total of 6.6 billion pieces from fiscal years 2011 to 2014, our report notes. We found the Postal Service’s strategies to reduce UAA have been ineffective because of how complex the address verification process is and because mailers have to abide by conflicting laws and regulations. For example, companies in the financial and insurance industries are legally required to send mail to the last known address even if Postal Service systems indicate a change of address has been submitted.

Still, we expect certain Postal Service programs to help. The Postal Service has made it easier for recipients to change addresses online. And on the business mailer side, the Seamless Acceptance program, which relies on electronic documentation, should help by providing greater visibility into data associated with each mailpiece. The data will let the Postal Service associate UAA mail with the sender and provide opportunities to craft entirely new solutions to ensure address standards are met.

How does UAA mail affect your operations? What other ways could the Postal Service and industry reduce UAA mail? How do you price the lost opportunity of undeliverable mail?

Comments (158)

  • anon

    I had a packages deemed undeliverable after 5:30 on a Saturday (when I checked the status) I attempted to call the physical post office to only have it ring until disconnected (closed at 6P called for 30 mins straight) I called the 800 number and was told the wait was 12 hours ... okay so Sunday isn’t a mail day.. call 1st thing (local to where package was to be sent) post office # rang until disconnected multiple times, called the 800 number literally hours on hold, got a person - explained I needed an apt # added to the address, was told it was added and would be delivered “tomorrow” and got a confirmation number.... welp, the package showed back up at my house today (weds) will I have to pay again to send this? Absurd

    Feb 07, 2018
  • anon

    Sent a parcel from texas to Oman Muscat and my tracker says departed Oman Wat cld this mean as I wrote the address and put the p.o box Cnt it be dropped at the post office Fr pick up if the address is nt understood... Hope my parcel is nt being returned pls urgent response Wat can I do

    Dec 30, 2017
  • anon

    I am not receiving mail from my employer or the union due to the fact that the post office automatically sends mail back with a street address. This is frustrating for both myself and the union and employer. They know me enough to tell me they sent it back without me asking, they should take the minute to get it to my box. Just another annoyed customer.

    Dec 29, 2017
  • anon

    I never had issues with my daily mail, but lately my Amazon orders could not be delivered because my address is 'undeliverable'. I spoke to a customer service representative, whom, reccommended that I contact the local post office. The operator from the local post office said that my address has been marked as undeliverable because I never pick up my mail from my mail box. I told her I check and grab my mail every night after work. She said that the mail carrier is never wrong after I told her he could have possibly mixed my address with another address. It is extremely frustrating to have to put up with mistakes (from a mail carrier) that are inconvenient on my time. I asked if I can pick up my packages at the post office after the carrier brings it back to the office. The operator told me no. Seriously, it is my package and I should have the right to pick it up.

    Dec 28, 2017
  • anon

    I mailed my parents' Christmas package on Dec. 15. On December 19, my tracking notification emailed me their address is invalid and the package will be returned. They're one state over, lived at the same address for 40 years, and now their address is invalid? It was a padded envelope so I have my strong suspicions about the validity of the RTS claim. I guess we'll see if the mail actually is returned.

    Dec 20, 2017
  • anon

    Recently I was directed and aided by a USPS worker in mailing a parcel overseas. She guaranteed that everything was correct and the costly "delivery" would be made by a certain date. My parcel was returned because I did not spell MY first name (the SENDER) out in full. I was not informed by the USPS person that I had to do so. Now the on- time birthday present to my aging father will not be arriving on time. What the heck...

    Nov 26, 2017
  • anon

    I haven't been getting my weekly magazine subscription for awhile now. I thought it had expired, but no. It was labeled as "PO UnDeliverable". I was never notified by either the Post Office nor the subscription company that there was a problem. (I am taking this up with the subscription company as well.) I have had problems in the past with this same magazine and the same problem. When something is undeliverable, isn't the recipient supposed to be notified? Because, for the second time, I was not. I never knew there was a problem.

    Nov 19, 2017
  • anon

    I sent a package via USPS Priority Mail to an address without a unit number in Madisonville Texas because the recipient never uses the unit number. She always receives her mail in this small town of less than 5000 people. My Priority Mail package was determined to be undeliverable and IMMEDIATELY process to be returned to me via snail mail. Had the USPS simply tried to look up the recipients full address or simply held on to the package until the next day, the recipient could have easily received or picked up the package. Instead there will much wasted expense and time for all parties involved, much more than the small extra expense of looking up an address or holding on to the package for 24 hours. I will never again use the USPS Priority Mail system. It is worth the small amount of extra expense to send packages through UPS which is more customer focused and technically advanced!!!!!!!

    Nov 17, 2017
  • anon

    This is my second package that was not receive thru eBay.....i don't want a refund I just want my merchadic

    Nov 10, 2017
  • anon

    My package was returned to the shipment center because the delivery guy put that my address was incorrect and that he needed more information to get to my address. How do u miss the driveway by the mailbox with the address listed? Also how do u miss the sign that also clearly has the address painted on it telling him where to go. Stupid. So now I have to drive 2 hours to the shipment center to pick it up. Highly agitated.

    Nov 01, 2017
  • anon

    Then there is what some mailers call a customer relationship management (CRM) cost. Address software provider Melissa Data explains, “CRM costs reflect the damage to customer relationships that result from failed communication.” The CRM cost of UAA mail can be calculated a few ways, but the simplest might be to determine the customer’s annual value (say he or she spends $600 a year on a cable bill) and divide it by the customer’s expected response rate (for this cable company let’s say 5 percent). In this case, the CRM cost of a UAA mailpiece is $30.

    Oct 27, 2017
  • anon

    My mail has the correct address on the website but it says incomplete. What’s going on?

    Oct 13, 2017
  • anon

    I have been trying to mail a job application to an address that is literally 1 block away from the post office and they cant get it there!! Super frustrated.

    Oct 09, 2017
  • anon

    I live on a private road and receive mail at a post office box at the New London, NH post office. Over the years Amazon has been sending packages via UPS to my street address. For the past year they have been sending to my street address via USPS. The people at the post office put a card in my box and I pick up my package. Yesterday, according to the tracking number, a package arrived at the post office and was sent back without trying to put it in my box. A rude post office employee said they don't try to match up address with post office box and invited me to "play this game". Aren't they supposed to hold an "undeliverable" package for a couple of days or some reasonable time so that a person in my situation can still claim their package?

    Oct 07, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Robert, The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on their website.

    Oct 10, 2017
  • anon

    Purchased personalized books for nieces. Incorrect address was provided. Within "hours" of receipt at post office in High Springs, FL, the package was marked undeliverable and disposed of. I accept responsibility for the incorrect address but can't believe the post office didn't hold it for a few days for someone to check on it. Post office received it on Oct 3, 2017. I checked on Oct 5th and it was too late. To replace will cost me $15.95. Yes. I agree -not much money but it makes no sense that the post office doesn't have some responsibility for replacement cost since I wasn't given any chance to correct my error.

    Oct 05, 2017
  • anon

    By all means, call your local post office about your problem. They may have forgotten to leave the phone off the hook like they usually do!

    Oct 03, 2017
  • anon

    What can be done about UPS subcontractor dropping off packages at a business 20+ miles one way from my home and expecting that business to give me a call to pick it up. Have no choice as to what postal service vendors use.

    Oct 03, 2017
  • anon

    My package says it was “undelivered as addressed”

    Sep 26, 2017
  • anon

    I live in a small community of about 900 residents. I have a P.O. Box at the Post Office. If anyone sends me a piece of mail with my street address the Post Office returns the mail as undeliverable. A few years ago we had the same problem but I found the phone number of a supervisor and complained about it and he said (and told the Post Master if you know where the mail goes deliver it. Since that time the leadership has changed ( and the supervisor made it known not to give out his number LOL) and we are back to returning mail. It seems as though the leadership hide behind regulations that make no sense as some kind of ego thing. If the address is undeliverable because of a machine reading the address so be it but for a long time they wrote inform the sender of your P.O. Box and I did. Informing someone of my P.O. Box may help but it doesn't mean that people will write the P.O. Box on the address. The fact that they wrote that message on the envelopes pretty much proves they could deliver the mail but choose not to. The US Postal Service should research what service means! Thank you

    Sep 22, 2017
  • anon

    A friend sent me a letter from Germany with my correct address and my correct first name, but she accidentally put in an incorrect last name. Will the letter arrive at my house?

    Sep 13, 2017
  • anon

    The most frustrating part is that they can still track the package. That means they can easily use the tracking number to get the address, but instead they'd rather just send it back and waste everyone's time and money. One interesting observation, it happens mostly in bad weather (delivery driver decides they'd rather send it back than walk to your door in the rain), or when sent by another carrier like fedex and transferred to USPS for the final leg/actual delivery; that way they can directly hurt their competition by making them mail it round trip for free.

    Aug 29, 2017
  • anon

    I checked the status of my shipment yesterday because it was supposed to be delivered to me August 26, 2017 and it said it was returned to the sender. I paid $65 for this bag and it was not delivered to me and I wasn't given any valid reason for this. My address that was put in to be delivered at is complete and valid I dont understand why I havent gotten my package. My package arrived to the city I live in, Jackson Heights, and then it said that it couldn't be delivered so it was sent back. If it made it all the way to the address that I typed in at the checkout, that I use for every single other online purchase I've ever made, I really don't understand why I haven't gotten my package. I am incredibly dissatisfied with this USPS experience because all the years I've shopped online I've never dealt with a situation similar to this. The package I was expecting to receive was a book bag for school which will begin shortly and I am expecting my item to be shipped again and actually delivered to me before school begins. I really cannot understand why this has happened this is ridiculous.

    Aug 27, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Learta , Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service.

    Aug 28, 2017
  • anon

    The post office does not deliver to our vacation home in Breckenridge Colorado. We cannot get a PO Box because we do not live here. Amazon keeps using the USPS for delivery to our home. Of course, we never received it as it is returned UAA. Most folks don't realize that USPS does not deliver to all addresses. We do get packages sent via FedEx and UPS. The post office should start delivering packages to validate dresses. The this day, it is crazy to not deliver to places that competitors do.

    Aug 21, 2017
  • anon

    i shipped package from Albany Or. To Texas, I kept eye on tracked package seen it made it to the city in Texas, than it showed return to sender, naa. I got package back yesterday, it's the correct verified address, I'm so confused, but more importantly I paid 26.00 to ship, an I going to have to pay agsin, I have original receipt and proff the address on package is indeed a true and verified shipping address, if I have to pay again I will be basically giving the item away for free, I am not a business I am selling my mother in laws belongings to help compensate her income for cost for assisted living, she is on limited income, I had to use my own money to ship items because ebay/PayPal hold funds for up to 3 weeks, now because of this issue with package not being delivered buyer contacted ebay and they put a hold on money period, if I have to pay to ship again that will be an additional 26.00 out of my pocket , please help, thank you tracey mcreynolds

    Aug 16, 2017
  • anon

    i shipped package from Albany Or. To Texas, I kept eye on tracked package seen it made it to the city in Texas, than it showed return to sender, naa. I got package back yesterday, it's the correct verified address, I'm so confused, but more importantly I paid 26.00 to ship, an I going to have to pay agsin, I have original receipt and proff the address on package is indeed a true and verified shipping address, if I have to pay again I will be basically giving the item away for free, I am not a business I am selling my mother in laws belongings to help compensate her income for cost for assisted living, she is on limited income, I had to use my own money to ship items because ebay/PayPal hold funds for up to 3 weeks, now because of this issue with package not being delivered buyer contacted ebay and they put a hold on money period, if I have to pay to ship again that will be an additional 26.00 out of my pocket , please help, thank you tracey mcreynolds

    Aug 16, 2017
  • anon

    Thanks for posting this. I learned about this in class.

    Aug 01, 2017
  • anon

    Maybe if my mail carrier spoke or read English better it would get delivered properly?

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    So I just realized.. it's always the USPS that gets my package undeliverable. While when I order thru FedEx, UPS or DHL. It's all fine. They have it delivered properly. How do they find the way while USPS can't? I think usps should stop delivering packages once and for all and let other couriers take over who can do better jobs finding there way. They can't even sort out mail properly and put proper mails with proper names.. how do you even trust them with you're packages being delivered. And when it's undelivered and something goes wrong they send it right away back to sender. Can you not wait and put the mail or package for hold even for 2 days at least. They don't even deserve any raise.

    Jul 27, 2017
  • anon

    I don't understand how a package or a letter cannot be delivered properly. Hello? This is a new century. We are not living in Asia where you cannot find you're way. How do you not find a way to get something delivered?? I had this and having one problem right now. "Package undeliverable" this is USA come on.!! Get you're self together. Maybe mail man is not trying hard enough to find you're address.

    Jul 27, 2017
  • anon

    My package was not delivered what should I do? Should I go to the post office and claim it?

    Jul 27, 2017
  • anon

    Hello. I checked the status of my package and it said it was "undeliverable as addressed" I checked the mailing information on my ebay page thinking maybe the wrong address was listed, but all of my shipping information is correct, and that now my order is/was in San Fransisco and on it's way to it's destination. Which I have no idea where that is at. What do I need to do to get it back? Thanks for your time

    Jul 14, 2017
  • anon

    I was supposed to receive a package yesterday but when I tracked my package it said "Alert, address illegible or incorrect and when I doubled checked the address it was all correct. I never had this problem occur to me I've had item send to this address multiple times with ups and had no trouble but why is this happening and where could I go to recover my package or a possible redelivery ?

    Jul 14, 2017
  • anon

    I have an ebay business and shipped a package (at my cost) to my buyer. Subsequently the buyer notified me that the address was an old one. The package was returned to me as undeliverable. Question, will I have to pay another shipping cost, or can I correct the address and put it back in the mail. I think I know the answer, but thought I would ask. Thank you.

    Jul 12, 2017
  • anon

    We have the solution to UAA costs.

    Jul 01, 2017
  • anon

    I have same problem. I am buyer on eBay. 10 pkg in less than a week were returned to shipper as " no deliverable address". Mail too. Ive lived here over15 yrs. New carrier past couple months. I put in about 6 complaints at all levels. Today I came home to a pkg with a note on it :Marcia Sills has no forwarding address in system Provide it or it will get returned to sender . " WHAT did I die did I move. Why? How do I get Usps to cover shipping on the 10 pkg they already sent back to sender? OMG Thanks

    Aug 22, 2017
  • anon

    I would like to know how a signature confirmation letter sent to the front office of an apartment complex with the correct address listed on their website and even listed when I lived there, but yet they can't deliver it. I mean what is up with the carriers in Austin, Tx they have some of the worst issues I have ever dealt with there. My packages when I have lived there has ALWAYS been an issue. I sincerely don't understand it. I should have used ups or fed ex with signature confirmation. I just don't get why there is so many issues with this area. It's just flat out horrible. Now when I called customer care and WAITED OVER AN HOUR AND A HALF all they can do is tell me they can just put in a case number for it, well that doesn't help when it is going to COST ME MONEY. I remember even trying to call any post office in that area and NO ONE would even answer the phone, they would just let it ring and ring and ring and this is at all hours of the day, no one will answer any phone there. How is this good customer service?

    Jun 21, 2017
  • anon

    The house we just moved into has been receiving mail since 1928. Now that my 87 year old mom & I moved in, we cannot receive mail or the many packages that are being sent to us. Why? They said we must move our mailbox across the street, even though the first 6 houses before us have their mailboxes on their property. So we are supposed to cut the post out of the concrete and install it across the street. They won't deliver to us at all, and said they will return all our mail & packages in 10 days if we don't do this. This is in Ada, Oklahoma. The supervisor just keeps repeating herself, and I just don't understand. After getting off the phone with the supervisor, I saw our carrier go flying by our house. I'm dumbfounded by this new law.

    Jun 14, 2017
  • anon

    hello my package was tracked as unadressable because they had 5664 instead of 5564 , how do i get my package?

    Jun 13, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website.

    Jun 14, 2017
  • anon

    Good afternoon. This has increased A lot with our company. I call the customer and its a good address. This is costing the company a lot of money. Can you tell me all the reasons for non deliverable sticker to be put on an envelope but its a good address. I read that if a customer moves and doesn't do it on line this may be why. Is this correct? Thanks for your time

    Jun 09, 2017
  • anon

    I am supposed to get my package today but it says it is undeliverable even though all of the information is correct.

    Jun 05, 2017
  • anon

    I was checking my tracking and it said undeliverable as addressed but the thing is that i have put the correct address so what should i do?

    Jun 02, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Angie, thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service.

    Jun 05, 2017
  • anon

    Ib ordered things online about a month ago, was due 5/11. Says it's undeliverable but never even left original shipping state pennsylvania. I'm in Illinois. How can i get my package!?

    May 31, 2017
  • anon

    A birthday card was mailed to me from Cincinnati OH on 04/07/2017 and I received it as RTS, no such address on 05/27/2017.

    May 28, 2017
  • anon

    I was expecting a package today. Unfortunately it was addressed to my old home. However, we did notify USPS and requested a month ago to forward all of our correspondence to the new address. It has happened so far but apparently not with tis package. The tracking says "Undeliverable as addressed" and that is being "returned if proper information is available" Why is it being returned and not forwarded to my new address? Thanks in advance.

    May 26, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Maria, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates internal fraud, waste, and abuse; and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, 800-275-8777, or file an online complaint with Customer Service. Very Respectfully, The USPS OIG

    May 26, 2017
  • anon

    i was supposed to get a package on Tuesday may 23 and i check my tracking and it said it was Undeliverable, i get packages all the time this is the first time something like this happens to me and i got one Monday may 22 just fine coming from the same company and same type of shipping, i m really confuse, know it said is going back to sender.

    May 25, 2017

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