Have you ever tracked a piece of mail and noticed it seems to be taking a not-so-direct journey? This sometimes happens when the Postal Service mistakenly sends mail to the wrong facility. But why does this happen, and how often?

We sought to answer those questions in a recent audit report. Mail can get misrouted for several reasons. For example, postal employees may forget to remove old routing labels from reusable trays and bags. Or mail bins fill up at sorting machines, and the overflow can obstruct the mail chute, pushing incoming mail pieces into bins for other destinations.

The Postal Service, it turns out, does a pretty good job of routing the mail, especially considering the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Less than 0.2 percent of First-Class Mail letters were misrouted. We did, however, identify a few best practices the Postal Service could implement nationwide. These include managers communicating with each other when mail is misrouted to the wrong facility and adding extra containers next to high-volume ZIP Code bins so employees can easily replace the full bins.

These and other measures should help keep mail on the most direct route from sender to receiver.

Comments (228)

IMPORTANT – PLEASE NOTE: Complaints about the Postal Service – including lost, stolen, or mishandled mail – that are unrelated to the content on this page will not be posted. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service.

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  • anon

    I shipped a package for next day delivery in Chicago to be sent to an address in Chicago. THE SAME CITY. It ended up going to DES MOINES IOWA. Its been sat there for two days. Called USPS and they told me and i quote "its not late until 5 days". I PAID NEXT DAY DELIVERY!!!! DO NOT OFFER THE SERVICE IF YOU CANNOT PROVIDE IT. I asked why would it go to IOWA, her response and i quote " WE HAVE NOT BEEN TRAINED ON ROUTES OR WHY THIS HAPPENS". THE PACKAGE WAS SENT BACK TO THE SAME PLACE I DROPPED IT OFF AT. Its now out for delivery 3 days after I dropped it off. I just removed USPS as an option for my business. The customer service reps and staff are just horrendous.

    Jan 26, 2022
  • anon

    I mailed a letter at the Osseo, MN post office. The letter was going to Mpls, MN 15 miles away & 22 minutes to drive to. It took eight day to arrive in Mpls. We could have driven to the west coast and back in that time. We also received a letter fro Oregon which took 13 day to arrive to our home. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE POSTAL SERVICE? THE HEAD PEOPLE NEED TO BE FIRED AND HIRE SOMEONE WHO CAN GET IT BACK THE WAY IT WAS. It was much better before.

    Jan 25, 2022
  • anon

    My package was supposed to arrive on Jan 20 but had no tracking updates for days. Now im being told it will be here on the 26th but when i check the tracking it is in the wrong side of the state. The package shipped from Los Angeles CA ( mind you i live 20 mins from LA) and now it is in Rancho Cordova CA over 6 hours away from the city i live in. Why was my package shipped up north when it was already shipping from the correct city?

    Jan 24, 2022
  • anon

    I had mail coming from Michigan to the Franklin, PA area. Tracking showed a Monday 1/24.2022 delivery and the mail was at the Pittsburgh, PA distribution Center. Today is Monday 1/24/2022 and tracking shows the mail now at a Detroit, Michigan Distribution Center and it shows a 1/24/2022 delivery date. I don't consider this very efficient shipping.

    Jan 24, 2022
  • anon

    I just watched a package I've been watching to come in go from LA to Chicago (3 hours away), to Champaign, il (30 mins away) to Pontiac, MI (6 hours and 30 mins away) when it's supposed to be delivered tomorrow.... This is effing ridiculous! I've been waiting for this package for three weeks!

    Jan 24, 2022
  • anon

    A package was shipped from New York to my house in New Hampshire …. Tracking yesterday said it had left my local hub 30 miles away and was on its way to my post office , and yet somehow I checked tracking today and it’s now in Georgia 1000 miles away ….

    Jan 21, 2022
  • anon

    Be patient Cory. It was sent to Georgia to be sorted. You will get it sooner or later.

    Jan 25, 2022
  • anon

    My package got delayed for unforseen reasons i understand. Yet why did it leave my home facility to go to atlanta? I could have driven over and picked it up but no. Instead of me getting my package on time i have had to wait several days past expected date of arrival.

    Jan 21, 2022
  • anon

    My over night mail went to Walled Lake, MI instead of Jackson Mi, can I pick it up

    Jan 21, 2022
  • anon

    I had two letters sent to me from Houston Texas on 1-4-22 it has been 14 days and nothing, Why the delay ??

    Jan 18, 2022
  • anon

    I do not understand how a piece of local mail that was sent only 15 miles away (Laurel, MD) to Lanham on the 11th, MD winds up in Miami, FL on the 13th and then no to my mailbox until (I'm guessing) tomorrow (the 19th). I have never seen mail delivery this bad the entire 15 years I've lived at this location and it all points to one common denominator. Mind you, Covid has been affecting some of the carriers but there is no reason mail that should only take 2 days gets routed all the way to Florida!

    Jan 18, 2022
  • anon

    I ordered an item and paid for a top priority level of shipping. It left Washington, made it all the way to St. Paul Minnesota in 2 days. The package sat at my local PO for 2 days, then shipped to another PO where it sat for another few days. After tracking it today its sitting in Anchorage Alaska and has been for a couple days stating that the package is in route to the destination. I attempted to call USPS, to request a refund on shipping as this is not what I paid for but no one will answer the phone. Typical government agency,

    Jan 18, 2022
  • anon

    I live outside of Philadelphia. I am tracking a package that has looped 6 times arriving and departing, saying it is on route to destination each time, from the Philadelphia USPS distribution center. Will it endlessly loop here arrive depart over and over ? Will I ever see this package? It is insured so at what point in the endless loop can a claim be made for the insured amount ? In General why is this happening?

    Jan 18, 2022
  • anon

    Was sent registered mail from Bulgaria December 12 2021, reached Chicago distribution then 2 days later was in route to final destination Detroit, stayed there 4 days then again in route back to Chicago stayed 2 weeks there now it’s in transit again god knows where been in transit for 5 days, still waiting for delivery it’s been 37 days what the hell is wrong with USPS

    Jan 18, 2022
  • anon

    I have been horrified at how US mail is being handled and pricing increases under new"leadership". Mail sent to UK is being sent via Australia... Its been in transit since Dec 31. This is not the service we have grown up with . Terrible that a man, who wants to privatize USPS is leading it. Love postal workers but this guy is a joke!

    Jan 17, 2022
  • anon

    My priority package was mailed January 7,2022 from Ohio to Milwaukie, Oregon, and it was supposed to be there Jan 9th. It is evening of Jan 13th and postal delivery supervisor of Milwaukie replied stating they’ve been monitoring situation and that he doesn’t see a scan that indicates it even left Ohio. Tracking site hasn’t updated since Jan 11th and still says it’s in transit. But, no place has ever been cited. Something is very wrong!!!

    Jan 13, 2022
  • anon

    I sent two international packages priority mail on December 10th from Atlanta GA to Canada. One arrived close to the time frame it said it would, however, the other is in Colombia. Not British Columbia, but Bogota Colombia... and before it ended up there it floated around Florida for several days only to return to Atlanta, where I shipped it from, and then out to Colombia where it's been sitting since December 24. Last update it provides is December 28th saying it's still in Colombia.

    Jan 11, 2022
  • anon

    A package shipped from Torrington CT to Wilton CT, a one hour drive. The package was routed to MA and is now sitting in Greensboro NC. I have no idea when this next day delivery will arrive. Ridiculous

    Jan 06, 2022
  • anon

    I sent 40Lbs package internationally a month ago and this poor box cruising from Chicago, IL to Jamaica, NY back and forth for about 5 times. Don't tell me that something got stuck there. This is the waste! Waste of money, time, and manpower. The worst thing is that I don't know how to stop that cruise. I can't email anybody or call anywhere because there is no such thing as human interaction anymore! Please,somebody do something. Thank you.

    Jan 04, 2022
  • anon

    This is the 4 time my packages ended up in Guam instead of Hawaii. Why does this keep happening when it does it takes weeks to get my stuff.

    Jan 03, 2022
  • anon

    I shipped 5 packages on 12/29. All going to Kansas City, Mo or suburb of Kansas City Mo. They have always taken a direct route from Nevada to Kansas City KS for distribution. For some reason they show routed through Des Moines Iowa with the exception of one. This is adding extra time for delivery. All going ground. Curious. Not to mention starting at LAS to LA to start journey.Going west to go east?

    Jan 03, 2022
  • anon

    I mailed a package on December 13. The destination is Ellwood city PA. It went from Zeeland, ND to Bismarck ND to Linton ND to Bismarck to Pittsburgh PA to Iowa to Minnesota back to Bismarck then to Pittsburgh back to Minnesota. It's been close to three weeks and still traveling all over the place. This was a priority package. How incompetent can the post office be?

    Jan 01, 2022
  • anon

    I am still waiting for my package to arrive. It was a 2 day ship from Texas and it was routed to Pensacola, FL. But it was to come to Sacramento California. What happened. It stayed there for 3 days and now on its way. That is no there update. What's going on?

    Dec 31, 2021
  • anon

    My package has spent the last 4 days going around to 3 different post office zip codes in Denver , only to be sent back to the original post office . This happens so often with my packages .

    Dec 31, 2021
  • anon

    Ordered a package I needed by a certain day and payed for express shipping. It got to Houston (I live 2 hours from Houston) and was to be delivered the next day. I woke the next day and my package had been sent to Maine. Why Maine? It’s been there for almost two whole day now

    Dec 31, 2021
  • anon

    I've bought something from the US, and it was to be shipped to Singapore via USPS. That was in August 2021. I've not received it even now. Tracking shows that it reached Singapore, and then left it again. I've never been able to get hold of anyone from USPS to look into this so far, purely because USPS does not take in any queries from their international recipients. First time this happened, but it was a package worth about 300 USD. It's all gone now.

    Dec 28, 2021
  • anon

    I live "In The Thumb of Michigan ". I was tracking a package for days. It hit the Detroit distribution center two days before Christmas and I cheered. Then two days later it's in Atlanta, Georgia distribution center. I was so utterly disappointed. I could have drove the three hours to Detroit and gotten the package. Now it will be three more days.

    Dec 27, 2021
  • anon

    We sent our car title to the business in Madisonville, TN, from Chattanooga, TN (87 miles) which has our wrecked Infiniti i35, so that we can receive our insurance settlement. It left 12/20/21 supposedly to take three days to make it the 87 miles within Tennessee by 9 p.m. 12/23. Today, Christmas Eve, it is instead in Bedford Park, IL, just southwest of Chicago. The tracking number no longer includes an estimated arrival date. I could have walked to Madisonville by now to deliver my own danged title. It was certified mail.

    Dec 24, 2021
  • anon

    My package went to the Metro NY distribution center in Queens from the MID NY distribution center in Melville which means it is going in the wrong direction. I live out in suffolk county NY on Long island and all of my other packages get delivered straight from the MID NY distribution center. Do I need to speak to someone to have it rerouted?

    Dec 23, 2021
  • anon

    I believe the larger post offices are just throwing boxes on the first available truck no matter where it is headed. I had 2 boxes sent to me at the same time from the same place. One box arrived 2 days ago. The second box is in Evansville, IN. I live approximately 4 hours north of there. It left Evansville on 12/20 and is still in transit on 12/22. If it stops in Indianapolis it can end up anywhere. I have had packages coming to me, hit Indy and end up in Idaho, Wisconsin and New York. I don't think I will be getting this box in time for Christmas. What is wrong with this system? I have no problems with UPS or Fed Ex.

    Dec 22, 2021
  • anon

    Yeah I ordered from a vendor I ordered from three months ago that was shipped first class mail package in September got to me in 36hrs. Ordered from same vendor in Merry field,VA and it sat at their post office for 11days. It was supposed to go to Knoxville, TN and it's a priority mail package and today is the 12th day and after starting a missing package case it suddenly startedoving and just showed up in Atlanta where I am pretty damn certain it will be for the foreseeable future. USPS GET A GRIP AND WAKE UP!!!!

    Dec 21, 2021
  • anon

    I dropped off three packages at the same time for the same address in Houston, TX. These were shipped from a TX Post Office that is six hours from Houston. Two packages were delivered in Houston on time and the third has been in Chicago for two days. Who knows what shape the package will be in considering it’s being sent on a nationwide tour. Still waiting for them to fix their issue and send to Houston. Hope it’s not sitting in a back alley somewhere. I also shipped packages to MA and HI. Those packages also arrived before the package that was supposed to go to Houston, TX has even left Chicago. Why should I pay the priority shipping price if they don’t actually send it priority?

    Dec 21, 2021
  • anon

    I ordered a package a while ago. It stated it was shipped from China, then it recently arrived in Chicago only to now say it’s in Guam. Why would my package go back out the country? This was suppose to be here before Christmas and it was scheduled be on time prior to it being sent out the country again.

    Dec 21, 2021
  • anon

    I ordered an item from ebay on December 15. It left NORTHWEST ROCHESTER NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER on Dec. 17 and arrived at LAKE MARY FL DISTRIBUTION CENTER on Dec 18. Great job. But now it has been traveling back and forth between LAKE MARY FL DISTRIBUTION CENTER and SEMINOLE-ORLANDO FL DISTRIBUTION CENTER for 4 days. This happens all the time. Too much rerouting and back and forth in FL. I live about an hour and a half drive from Orlando, and Jacksonville in Marion Co. FL Ocala. The USPS could save some time and money if they would listen to complaints about looping mail and fix it.

    Dec 21, 2021
  • anon

    I mailed a 5 lb. package in a Priority. envelope from Stamford, CT to Park City, UT. It was supposed to arrive on 9/17. It is still in transit and "in transit" in Carolina, PR...that's Puerto Rico!!! I don't know how it got there and if it will ever be safely delivered.

    Dec 21, 2021
  • anon

    I tracked my package through several states, then to a local post office. I was expecting it the next day. The next day it said it was delayed. They day after that, it was back in the prior state it had come here from. It was ordered 11/30 expected arrival 12/8. It is now 12/20 and still no package, sitting in Smyrna, TN AGAIN! Brandon, MS (where I am) sent it back to TN and it STILL just says delayed and waiting. I had a replacement order shipped and now that one is ALSO delayed in Smyrna, TN! What is going on?! I filed a complaint to find my package and received a generic email back. Then I received a survey email asking how pleased I was with the handling of my issue. The case is saying it’s been settled and it hasn’t been settled and now it’s x2! Same issue, no package! I have other packages out in the Twilight Zone also. Please fix this! Help! There HAS to be a better way than what is currently going on with the USPS and packages and tracking! Is the stuff being stolen by employees or what? Where is it and when will it get here? Please, please help!

    Dec 21, 2021
  • anon

    Hey Kimberly! I'm in Starkville and my package left Smyrna, TN, arrived in Jackson, MS and now has been sent back to Smyrna TN. What the heck? Did you ever get an answer?

    Jan 05, 2022
  • anon

    I mailed a package to Tacoma WA and it's now in San Juan, PR. What hopes do I have that it's going to be correctly redirected? Seems like a pretty bad mistake, the package is a continent plus a big chunk of ocean away from its destination.

    Dec 20, 2021
  • anon

    My mail is to be delivered December 21 it went thru Springfield MA and 36 hours it went back to Springfield MA instead of going to Greensboro NC.

    Dec 20, 2021
  • anon

    Please do something about looping packages. To have a mere machine scan packages without any human supervision is just asking for proboems. I know many others who have had the same issue. Your machines misread the packages and send them looping all over the world. This is an immense waste of time, money and resources all because you are too lazy as a company to have someone check the machines for errors. Please do something.

    Dec 20, 2021
  • anon

    Mailed a package to Alaska on12/6 from Dallas ga. I tracked it to peach tree, then Atlanta, then Powder springs, it’s now 12/14, so I drive over to the powder springs office (10 miles away) and they tell me it’s not there, not lost but just a little delayed. Now it’s 12/19 and I finally get an update “your item arrived in Jacksonville Florida” and on 12/20 I get notified my item is on way to destination. DON’T EAT THE COOKIES

    Dec 20, 2021
  • anon

    Ordered an item from New Jersey to Oho. It made it all the way to Indianapolis in a couple of days. Suddenly it's in St. Paul, Minnesota where it's been sitting for 4 days. I don't even live in northern Ohio! Glad it wasn't anything necessary like medication.

    Dec 20, 2021
  • anon

    I am experiencing an almost identical situation! The only difference is, I live in MI. I also saw tracking that my package left St Paul at 4:00 pm, and later it said it left the same facility at 10:00 pm. WTH

    Dec 21, 2021
  • anon

    I sent an important package to an insurance company in Wisconsin from Vermont. It found it's way to every state but Wisconsin and even went to Hawaii, twice - now it's back in Hawaii for the past 3 days.

    Dec 15, 2021
  • anon

    I ordered something from California. It was supposed to come to Stow Ohio. Came all the way to Cleveland, then Akron…. now it’s in UTAH!!!! Like…. W. T. F.

    Dec 15, 2021
  • anon

    My priority package arrived at the local distribution center and then a new update showed it was no longer in Illinois but New Jersey! How is it this package is priority mail with an expected delivery date of 12/09/21 and it’s now 12/15/21? Concerning as this could have been a medical package needed.

    Dec 15, 2021
  • anon

    Sent a priority mail pkg from SE TX to NW Lousiana (2 1/2 hrs drive time). It was estimated to be delivered yesterday (12/13). The pkg is now in MN on 12/14. Hoping it gets to Lousiana before Christmas..MN seems a bit out of the way...

    Dec 14, 2021
  • anon

    USPS is notorious for losing packages. They lost some homemade elderberry syrup I sent to my mother several years ago, and then refused to even reimburse my postage, let alone the cost of making it. So this year I decided to purchase it online and have it mailed to her. I figure it would be the companies loss if they lost it again. And guess what? I got a tracking showing it would be delivered on Sat. Everything was going smoothly. It even made it out of the Springfield Mass. facility where all the packages go missing. And then! They sent it to the post office 2 towns over from her. I knew this was wrong! And sure enough it got sent back out of state to the notorious Springfield Mass. facility. It's still sitting there according to the tracking. I fear it will go in circles forever or disappear altogether as this is where my last package went missing. Why isn't the attorney general doing something about this? The USPS needs to be held accountable. I don't believe the tracking history. I think the workers are stealing the stuff and posting confusing tracking to make it look lost. You just can't lose this many packages. UPS and Fed-X don't have these issues. so why does USPS?

    Dec 12, 2021
  • anon

    Had a package sent from Chicago to Des Moines. It's gone past my state to North Dakota back through my state again to Ohio, & now has shot up to Michigan. How hard is this people?

    Dec 11, 2021
  • anon

    Norfolk, Va keeps sending my pkgs to the wrong post office 23452 in Va Beach, then it takes few days to find pkg and hopefully not lose them, my zip code is 23453. Its becoming a reg thing so its not a wrong address, label or anything, its the sorter??? Please fix this problem, thanks. I have many pkgs floating around, not knowing if or when I will get them!!!!!!!!

    Dec 11, 2021

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