Background

The Mail Recovery Center (MRC) is the U.S. Postal Service’s official lost and found department. Processing centers and retail and delivery units nationwide send mail items with no valid addressee or sender information to the MRC. The MRC’s core mission is to search, recover, forward, or return undeliverable mail nationwide.

In fiscal year 2014, the MRC received 88 million items, processed 12 million for possible return to customers, and returned 2.5 million. All items not returned to customers were sold at auction, donated, or destroyed.

The objective of this audit was to assess the MRC’s effectiveness at handling customer inquiries and managing items it received.

[Paragraph redacted]

What the OIG Found

The MRC did not effectively handle customer inquiries or manage undeliverable items it received in certain circumstances. Specifically, the MRC did not:

¦ Track how many inquiries resulted in items returned to customers.

¦ Return, dispose of, or secure military items efficiently.

¦ Return wallets, purses, and the documents they contained to customers.

¦ Sufficiently oversee the contractor responsible for auctioning unclaimed items at the MRC.

In addition, Postal Service operations outside of the MRC’s control negatively impacted MRC efforts to return undeliverable items to customers. Specifically, sales and service associates did not provide customers with clear instructions for filing search inquiries and field offices incorrectly sent recyclable materials to the MRC.

These conditions occurred because the Postal Service either did not have adequate policies and procedures for these functions or did not follow them. As a result, there is an increased risk that customers may not have the opportunity to recover lost items.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended the Postal Service enhance policies and procedures for handling lost and undeliverable mail at the MRC, review the contract for auctioning unclaimed items, instruct sales and service associates to provide customers with proper procedures for filing a search inquiry, and enforce existing policy for recyclable materials that should not be sent to the MRC.

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Comments (679)

  • anon

    I have had several of my mail missing which included checks and important documents to be signed and sent back in the last month. This is something very strange and I need to report it to someone.

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    I have noticed that for the past month and a half I have not received any mail at my home, My roommates are still getting some of there mail but was informed that a check was sent but never arrived though it has never been cashed it started throwing up red flags. I myself have not gotten any of my mail in a while and when I got a phone call from my insurance company asking if I moved because they got mail back saying return to sender. So far I have lost my standing with housing a company sent me info that was time sensitive for my response I never got it so I lost out also I have SS disability paperwork missing along with many other important stuff ?? WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT THIS PROBLEM???

    May 16, 2016
  • anon

    I have been trying to contact someone in the recovery center about a letter - using a number given to me by the main 800 number. The line rings for a few minutes and then disconnects - now the number is ringing busy. Is there any other way to contact the Nixie Clerk or a way for me to leave information for them to contact me, before my letter gets destroyed?

    May 16, 2016
  • anon

    I recently purchased a item on E bay and was shipped from Sharpsburg, GA 30277-3569, when I received it in Aitkin MN, it was a empty container, it should've had a Baseball Bat in there which is White with Blue writing that says Demarini on it, on the package it says received in damage condition, just wondering if you could trace this in your lost and found. Item #172188228190, transaction id #1539578990007, and tracking # is 9405509699937565153141.

    May 16, 2016
  • anon

    I shipped two boxes of books (media rate) from Orlando, FL to NJ. I was told that the boxes would be opened to ensure that only media materials were enclosed. One box arrived in good condition. The second package arrived in a different box than the one I originally mailed. When I opened the box, my books were in a large plastic bag. Some books or covers were torn. The covers of some books were missing. Most importantly, some books were missing! I immediately called USPS and was told to go to my local postal office and fill out an MRC form. When I went to my local office I was told to fill out the MRC form online. When I went online I found that media materials were NOT part of the recovery process and that I had no recourse whatsoever for my lost books!! Not only did I get the run around and misleading information from the USPS, but I have lost valuable materials and have no recourse to recover them. No reputable business would do business this way and stay in business. I am one unhappy customer!

    May 15, 2016
  • anon

    Mid April we requested mail from 33908 be transferred back to 44216. We know mail was transferred to 44216, but have not received it. Have checked with both post offices. What can you suggest?

    May 15, 2016
  • anon

    I'm sure you advised your letter carrier or local post office in 44216 of your return, however if your change of address order FROM 44216 to 33908 wasn't "temporary" or was temporary without an end date you may still have an active forward in the USPS mail forwarding system. This results in letter size mail "looping." Easily fixed by asking 44216 to cancel any active COAs (change of address) orders for your last name/address in 44216

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    I am expecting some important mail to be delivered ups ground delivery it was sent our friday.how long to expect it to arrive in Atlanta Georgia? ??please.

    May 14, 2016
  • anon

    Should of had my bill returned because I had return address and legible address to the person who did my yard work. This caused a lot of commotion.....

    May 13, 2016
  • anon

    I have defended the USPS for years against those wanting to abolish it. But I have to agree now it is the most disorganized and unprofessional business that serves little purpose and is a waste of time and money to those it serves. I ship often and have for over 20 years. However, I have been using UPS and Fed Ex last year or so because of the terrible services USPS has provided, not to mention most of the USPS not all but most of the USPS workers are rude and condescending. Two weeks ago I decided to try once more sending a package via Kiosk services at the Kendall Branch 33176. My package was not delivered for several reasons that I find hard to believe. several stories as to why it was not deliverable, insufficient address, refused, undeliverable and to make it worse the Label printed from Kiosk did not have return address, I Spoke with 3 USPS workers who confirmed I had the correct address on the package, but then said it was refused. I opened claim to have it returned provided my address and all details to send this back to me. I was told would arrive regular mail. I tracked it and noted it arrived to post office near my home in Cutler Bay FL ( not the one I shipped from) , however it was then sent Mail Recovery Center in GA? Why would my package that was sent form Miami to NYC come back to Miami to my post office location and then be returned to MRC after I spoke with three customer services reps and had a open claim on the package? Since then I have spoken with 4 other Customer Reps that have all provided me different information, I was provided the number to local post Quail Heights branch where it had arrived but there was no answer and line disconnects automatically, I was then advised to call NYC who should of helped me first and complete a Mail recovery form, after being placed on hold for over 15 minutes and I finally reached someone about what I needed was told she had 4 other calls waiting and had to call me back to complete this form. I was then called by another USPS worker that was very unprofessional and condescending, who advised to send a written letter to the MRC and there was not other way to do it and the he had never heard of the Mail recovery form. Today I called the NYC center back filled out a Mail Recovery Form but advised me the number to the MRC does not work, and pretty much nothing I can do but wait and there is no time frame or guarantee when and if will be processed. She had no idea what the last caller was talking about either. How can I speak with someone that will be able to provide me accurate information to obtain my package back? Belkys Filpes Tracking 9510800016926123000098 Case Number CA128274832 Mail Recovery form ID 248791

    May 13, 2016
  • anon

    I had a package sent through my business to a customer which never arrived. It was posted as Dead Mail on the tracking and sent to the MRC. I contacted the post office in Atlanta where my package was last scanned and they directed me to a process of filing a claim to get my package. The item is a very available set of Jewish Encyclopedias. I filed a claim the day after the center received my package and have had no luck in reclaiming it. I know this center has a horrible reputation but find in difficult to believe that not only did my label which was taped on fall off, but that their staff there is unable to find a set of Jewish Encyclopedias and return them to me. Really would appreciate any type of help here. The books belonged to my Daughter who is selling items through my business so that she can attend College. Please help!

    May 05, 2016
  • anon

    Years ago my aunt sent old photos of my biological father to a house I lived in on a road in Opelika. I drove by that street and the house is no longer there. I thought I should check to see if there is such a thing as a state keeping undelivered mail? My maiden name back then was Sally Weatherly and then Sally Wisor. The envelope coming to me would have been from my aunt Norma "Honey" Henrich in Florida. The time periods would have been 1972-1978? I have only one good photo of my biological father so I would love to find that mail if at all possible. Thanks so much!

    May 02, 2016
  • anon

    I wanted to report missing mail. I put a package in the mail a month ago and it never made it back to the person. It was a white package with 24 mini golf ball sized yellow total control balls that are made out of rubber. If this package has been found please notify me asap. Thank you!

    May 02, 2016
  • anon

    first of all this is now the SECOND time this has happened to me. my boyfriend is currently in the military stationed in Fort Rucker Alabama. I sent him a package on April 20th expected delivery date was April 26th. on April 24th I checked the tracking status where I was notified it was in "dead mail" completely unacceptable. I made the mistake once before putting a label on & then being told the label had fallen off so this time I wrote both sender and receiver adresss in bold permanent marker directly onto the box. I have $300 worth of stuff in that package to help my solider get through the last few months he has left in that state & it cost me $28.64 to send. PLEASE FIND MY PACKAGE & RETURN MY PACKAGE to Samantha Diaz 557 Winter Street Long Branch NJ 07740

    Apr 28, 2016
  • anon

    My express mail took over 24 hours to show received from nacogdoches Texas to Houston Texas north facility it is about 100 miles and the express mail was received there and that is the end of info on my item I know you all work hard and I do appreciate your service but this is so disappointing j couldn't afford the extra insurance I hope it shows up

    Apr 10, 2016
  • anon

    I live in Atlanta. Is a customer able to go to the Mail Recovery Center to claim a package?

    Mar 18, 2016
  • anon

    I would love to know too!! We should all go there!

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    My package has been lost for a month. I want my $50 insurance money. Don't understand how they lost it with my tracking number

    Mar 09, 2016
  • anon

    On a scale from 0 to 10. 10 being the worst, the USPS rates an eleven. Use Fed Ex or UPS next time. And say auf wiedersehen to your $50 and your package.

    Apr 30, 2016
  • anon

    I have been tracking my package since February 17, package keeps going to Atlanta Ga. I made several calls to usps for help Nobody has help, only there's nothing they can do. Am tired and frustrated

    Mar 07, 2016
  • anon

    i think the undeliverable is in atlanta, georgia. which coincidentally is the equifax address. i think these people are holding mail hostage until they can get money-like per piece sales.

    Mar 18, 2016
  • anon

    I order online guaranteed every week and usually get my packages. However many of the items I ordered for Xmas gifts were marked as though my address was incorrect ( which it isn't ) or delivered to a person in Scottsdale Arizona in which I have never lived as it is now going into March I still haven't gotten these packages. My local post office employees are completely rude and refuse to actually do their jobs n check on this for me. Not only has this happened to me I have also went to my local post office with my signature cards left in my mailbox to collect packages and having 3 packages listed on card the postal employee argued with me that I only had 1 package frustrated I left for the day. Only to have to take off work again to go the next day and pick up the other 2 packages and get a postal employee speaking very rudely to me again. I now ask all my shippers to send anything I purchase via FedEx or ups. I've even went to the extent of not wanting anything through the mail with USPS to paying all bills online and getting emails with Bill content. That's pretty sad when a major issue like this happens over n over again and even speaking with the head postmaster on issue. Yet still nothing got corrected.

    Feb 26, 2016
  • anon

    Hi Mary I understand your frustration, I have worked for the Post Office for 21 years. My mother and father goes down south for 2 months in the winter her temporary expiration date was 2/29/2016. Her Post Office received these packages on the 02/29/16 AM and went and forwarded her 2 packages on the 2/29/16 PM and she asked why they couldn't hold it?, she was told by the postmaster its procedure. One was a signature 2 day priority that was my fathers heart medicine and the other was her blood pressure medicine. Needless to say they sat in Michigan for over 10 days and its sad when someone who works for the Post Office can't even help them. I was so worried they would wind up in the hospital for such stupidity and no matter what or who my mother tried to call she got no where. Upper management does not have to answer to nobody for these mistakes, that is why they are constantly happening and they know the public has no way of contacting anyone to help them. Please remember we are not all bad folks working at the Post Office , its the political red tape hanging over our heads that congress continues to ignore and the constant cut backs that is sending a spiral down hill.

    Mar 23, 2016
  • anon

    For sure, if no one else, I'm sure it the Presidents fault.

    Jun 09, 2016
  • anon

    I shipped a custom pet portrait that I painted in oil to a customer January 15th. I had the package insured. The item showed it was delivered, but the person never received; I am thinking it was delivered to the wrong address. The person I shipped to went to her local post office who treated her rudely and told her to contact me and handle it from my end. I tried to file a lost report but was told I had to wait 2 weeks from the time it was lost; which I did. In the meantime, I re painted her custom pet portrait as quickly as I could and resent it to her signature required this time, which she did receive. I am sure she did not receive the FIRST one. Why would she want another pet portrait exactly like the first one??? And there was someone watching for the delivery that never came. I had to repaint a portrait and pay for shipping again because of the USPS loosing this package. As far as insurance and filing a claim, what a joke, a scam, and what a rip off! They denied the claim. I repealed. They denied the claim again; and said I could repeal one more time. Hmm, wonder what they will say? Can someone please explain to me what the purpose of the insurance is, if they are not going to honor it. In my appeal I requested that they look at the scan gun of the delivery person to verify where it was delivered to and there was no mentioned that they did that. My local post office who I spoke to about this said that that could be done and that it would hold that information in their scan gun and would show exactly where it was delivered to. The person who I did the portrait for also went to her local post office for me and requested that as well, and they refused. So I am out of the money I spent to ship this with INSURANCE and I had to spend extra days repainting her another one. Not to mention the time and stress it has taken me to go through this head ache. I will never use the USPS again and will use FedEx or UPS for all future deliveries. If you are an artist shipping one of a kind artwork; head my warning. If you are shipping ANYTHING of value you are out of luck with the USPS and their insurance. I complained further to my local post office. The reply I got: "it is only going to get worse, as they are closing a lot of warehouses, and more mail will be lost, and take longer to their destination." The person behind the counter said further they do not guarantee 2 or 3 days and they usually take 3 to 7 days now and will be more delayed with the warehouses closing - if they even make it! Seriously! The "domestic claims" department in all their "we are the king of USPS and we rule against everyone, even if you are right" are laughing all the way to the bank with their insurance and shipping scam. Don't believe me? Just Google all the complaints.

    Feb 22, 2016
  • anon

    The service is commendable. It should continue with lot of patience and good service motto.

    Jan 25, 2016
  • anon

    I mailed a package to Hawaii well a letter and this was back in 11/24/2015 I also had a deadline on sending back these items that was mailed. And the people in Hawaii sent me a letter yesterday saying they never received the information that was needed. But the customer service representative at the post office at the time didn't even explain to me what I learned today far as that I had to pay for a tracking label. Please can someone help me. Because the package never even returned back to me.

    Jan 20, 2016
  • anon

    It looks like there a lot of disgruntled people, of which I am one. Tracking # ? what a joke ! For that we are paying extra!! First class mail getting 'lost'? It is a total waste of time to send a complaint since no-one from the postal service has the curtesy to get in touch with you. They don't even acknowledge that the complaint was received. What I find amazing is, that junk mail always arrives in a timely manner and at the right address.

    Jan 17, 2016
  • anon

    I lost my package, which Was send in 10/03/2015 and receiver should received that package in 10/06/2015 but still now not getting that package yet

    Jan 17, 2016
  • anon

    I'm writing once again because it has now been one month and and day since my Priority Flat to Austraslia has not shown up either to my friend in Australia or returned back to me! Is anyone at all doing any thing about locating the mailing flat in question? It has to be somewhere lying on a postal table or in a postal locker. The tracking number is; LC853215583US Disgusted!

    Jan 13, 2016
  • anon

    On November 27, 2015 I filed a change of address with Post Office 45215 and received verification in the mail that it was recorded but received no forwarded mail. Have since found out that every piece of mail for the last month has been returned to sender marked can not forward. I have not received bank statements or any bills. My life has been upside down due to the ineptitude of the post office.

    Jan 13, 2016
  • anon

    My package that was due me NEVER came the tracking log shows it was sent out from Kentucky Bowling Green up to Lawrence Ma. Right next door to Methuen BUT the package was then rerouted back to Bowling Green Kentucky and the tracking shows DELIVERED!!! Where's my package? And how do I get it delivered back to me? This was NO fault of mine the lazy postman decided to reroute my package without my knowing!! Please let me know

    Jan 12, 2016
  • anon

    Good day. please could you help me. i cannot email the usps customer service becuase i live in South africa and they want me to fill in a American zip code to finalize the enquire email and i do not have that and i order a package and im worried that it is lost. i have a tracking number but cannot contact anybody. please help.

    Jan 11, 2016
  • anon

    On De. 15, 2015 a package was mailed from Las Vegas 89129 (#825) going to Monaca, Pa. 15061. Mailing label fell off and was returned to me on 12/30/15. I filled out the Mail Recovery form and returned it to Atlanta Ga. I talked to Las Vegas Supervisor on 1/9/16 and said the package probably is in The Distribution Center in Bell, Ca. I've tried to get a phone # for this place and none is available, for I would drive there to try and recover my package. No outside contact with this place is available. I was given the claims # (1-866-974-2733) and the very uncaring person was of no help to me. If possible I would like to contact the Mail Covery Center, but this is not an option. I have more details to give to them such as the color and exact size of the package. I understand, according to the Supervisor, there is NO ID on the package showing it's origin of the package. This would simply matters for you would think the package would return back to Las Vegas. All I want is for my granddaughter to receive her Christmas gifts.

    Jan 11, 2016
  • anon

    I sent over 75 to family and friends I still have receive a card back for them

    Jan 10, 2016
  • anon

    On Friday 1/8/16 the mailman did Not deliver our mail,He skipped our home and I went out to give him a letter going out,when I questioned him (excuse me sir why did you skip our house?) He answered in a very loud tone BECAUSE OF YOUR DOG!, I responded that the dog is not even outside and we have 3 disabled Adults living in our home and we are expecting mail for my sisters nurses she needs care 24/7, and why is he keeping our mail he got a packet of mail from the back of his truck and he was going to hand it to me when I saw our mail in his hand I told him, he's holding our mail and that is wrong and I told him I am going to report him, he responded (OOOH GO AHEAD REPORT ME I DON'T CARE! he trew the mail back in to his car and shut the door and said There's nothing here for you I'm not giving you nothing, this man has also throne mail packages that says fragile with no dog outside our house and also giving us mail that doesn't belong to this address, why did the postal service hire this man that can't read !

    Jan 09, 2016
  • anon

    I called the post office to find a lost international package , tracking number LK000386519US . The post office said there was nothing they could do as they don't track international packages . Looking at the tracking information it was sent to Canada then back to the USA . Then nothing . I need help finding this package . I mail 20 + packages a month and always have problems with the tracking . I spend an hour a week on the phone getting run around because the packages don't get scanned . I would like to know if there is another service to use, the post office just isn't up to par . The post office costs my company a lot of money .

    Jan 09, 2016
  • anon

    Back in august 2015 i mailed ceryified a lrg envelope to my son in kansas. After going through the motions with your system usps.....you guys suck.....i have done everything yous requested i do and still to this date have i heard from anyone... I will make sure that people will go fed ex. Instead of your cracker jack service. My trscking number is 70143490000151521937

    Jan 08, 2016
  • anon

    Hi John, I hope your son get your package back even though the tracking information is still showing ''in TRANSIT''. I have similar situation with you. I wonder if you get your package delivered? The German Consulate in Boston mailed my passport with the Schengen Visa back to Providence in Rhode Island on May 25th, 2016 via USPS priority mail. The package arrived the Providence USPS sorting center on May 27th. However, the Providence USPS did not deliver my package. They sent my package to Oak Creek in WI. There is no further update scan on my package which contains the international passport since May 29th. More than two weeks past, USPS people still cannot locate my package. The tracking number is 9114901230803384928229.The case search number is 128601372. The MRC search request number is 269881. Our flight to Germany was June 15th! However, since USPS cannot find my package yet. We have to pay 500 dollars more in order to change our flight to next week. We have tried to talked to the consumer affairs. They cannot locate our package and they said, what we can do now is wait...However, we do hope to get the international passport back sooner.. Thanks!

    Jun 14, 2016
  • anon

    Hi John, thank you for your message. Please contact the Postal Service Consumer Affairs office (www.usps.com/help/welcome.htm or 1-800-222-1811) so they can look further into the matter.

    Jan 08, 2016
  • anon

    My third comment because you got back to me and highlighted personal information that cannot be excepted. Okay here is the same message without the personal information; I'm writing again about a certain Priority Flat, I mailed out on the 12th of December 2015, to Australia, It's still in transit according to the tracking, I like to know where it is! The tracking number is LC853215583US. I contacted my friend in Australia if he received it, he told me that he moved and has a different PO Box and hasn't received it. In this case why hasn't the flat been forwarded to him - OR - return to back to me. I need you to look into where the flat is. It has to be somewhere either in Australia at the Post Office at my friends old PO Box or at a processing center in Australia or possible sitting in a processing center back here? Very Concern.

    Jan 08, 2016
  • anon

    Hi Robert. Thanks for posting to our blog, and we also received your previous comments. As mentioned prior, for lost or delayed mail and parcels, please contact the U.S. Postal Service Domestic & International Tracking department at 1-800-222-1811 or visit www.usps.com/manage/welcome.htm for further assistance. The OIG unfortunately cannot track lost packages (local/international) or update change of addresses, as this is not handled by the OIG. Thank you.

    Jan 08, 2016
  • anon

    here my tracking 9505510858515348292377 I was send to Tennesse but they send to Ohio then out for delivery from 12/21/2015 but forever completed delivery.....they said 4 day investment ...after that they said may be loss...what they investment....nothing....that easy just find on that day 12/21/2015 at 11:16 the mail man who is carry my packed. out for delivery questionnaire him where is packed ...he should knew where is at....turn him to police he should let you know....it is a crime......because USPS system is mess they lazy take care there job because is goverment they don"t care....as you think like mail man they start jobs sign up all packed they cary out then respond for all item they delivery....if loss they got investment questionnaire where packed...and he must go to courts paid for his mistake or stolen it......I think the mail man stolen my packed. USPS so why they get down bussinness because they start don"t trust USPS any more....for now because a lot people don"t know yet untill they got loss like me to learned from here....after I get loss my packed so I try to call them but noway only auto message ....from usps Ohio....the phone busy all time or nobody pick up phone....frm now I wil Tell all my familly and my friends then there friends familly let don"t using USPS let they share a my lesson from to count on USPS.....IT'S A MESS BUSSINESS.

    Jan 06, 2016
  • anon

    a large envelope was delivered without contents and should have contained 2 custom calendars with outdoor life photo shots. tracking number 9505510747115348333107 can you assist in recovering these items?

    Jan 06, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. Please contact the Postal Service Consumer Affairs office (www.usps.com/help/welcome.htm or 1-800-222-1811) so they can look further into the matter.

    Jan 07, 2016
  • anon

    With all due respect, many of us have called your consumer affairs office, with no help. I personally had a 48 minute wait on hold, only to be "accidentally" disconnected. Several people turn to outlets such as this for a desperate attempt to have our voices heard by a system that seems to have little interest in helping its customers resolve problems. Customer service needs overhauled.

    Jan 21, 2016
  • anon

    I mailed an insured, two-day priority mail package from Rochester Hills, MI to Portland OR on Jan. 2, 2016. The tracking showed it out for delivery in the correct zip code on Jan. 4th. Inexplicably, it was not delivered. Instead, the tracking shows it back in Michigan at the notoriously bad and corrupt Allen Park mail facility, and with NO information on its whereabouts since, for over 24 hours--just vanished off the face of the earth, apparently. Based on all the "comments" below, I have to ask, "How is this incompetence and stupidity allowed to go on day after day, year after year?" How and WHY does a correctly addressed package with correct postage get within a couple of miles of being delivered, and then suddenly get sent back half-way across the country and LOST????

    Jan 05, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. Unfortunately, we are a federal law enforcement agency and this does not fall under our jurisdiction of fraud, theft, and misconduct. Please contact the Postal Service Consumer Affairs office (www.usps.com/help/welcome.htm or 1-800-222-1811) so they can look into the matter.

    Jan 06, 2016
  • anon

    I shipped a package on Dec 21 from Cumberland , rhode Island to Grand Haven, MI and it has been sitting in Allen Park MI since Dec 29. I have tried to contact the facility but there is no answer and the phone number goes directly to a full voicemail with no alternative. I need this packaged delivered and from the looks of it Allen Park MI is one of the worst USPS locations. How am I supposed to receive my items?

    Jan 05, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. Unfortunately, we are a federal law enforcement agency and this does not fall under our jurisdiction of fraud, theft, and misconduct. Please contact the Postal Service Consumer Affairs office (www.usps.com/help/welcome.htm or 1-800-222-1811) so they can look into the matter.

    Jan 06, 2016

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