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.

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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

    A friend of mine Sharon Forden in Stuart, Florida had a pharmacy in Mattawan. Michigan send meds for her husband who has heart issues on Feb 21, 2017 and it still isn't here on Mar 6th. Tracking says package is in transit. She has had to get the meds and pay for them herself as they had just paid for the script. This is totally unacceptable and she is getting no cooperation from the office in Mattawan or Stuart ,

    Mar 06, 2017
  • anon

    Two payroll checks missing in the mail within the last six months, all coming from within my state just a few hours away. Also, one package delivered to the wrong address, and one package in my mailbox that was supposed to go to the family down the road, which I ended up delivering myself. The Post Office in Lake, Michigan is ridiculous. I am a business owner and the behavior of this federal administration is frustrating, to say the least. Most of my colleagues have switched to UPS, and I'm on my way there. Craziness!

    Mar 06, 2017
  • anon

    I sent a package to my cousin before Christmas a few weeks before . she never got it and it is kind of shocking as I had her address written on the back side as well as the sticker that came out of the Kiosk . I was told that it might have ended up at the rescue center? I am hoping that it turns up some day as it had quit a few fun Christmas gifts in the package . Where do I go from here if it isn't located ? It has to be floating someplace ...It was placed in a Priority Mail box with a fix price no matter what the weight was .

    Mar 06, 2017
  • anon

    My package to is purposely not being delivered and I believe usps stole my package

    Mar 03, 2017
  • anon

    Hi i changed my address to my new one and have not received any mail after doing so. I did that in search of my w2 so i can file my taxes but at this point i'd appreciate any piece of mail. I have made corrections. you guys have my correct address in the system I've checked the last 3 days so why won't you guys give me any mail

    Mar 03, 2017
  • anon

    I'm waiting for my package returning from argentina . I office they told me it might be in recovery center

    Mar 02, 2017
  • anon

    I work for a bookstore in MN and this problem is only worsening. The Des Moines IA Distribution Center is HORRIBLE! And the Greensboro "recovery" center is even worse. There is NO WAY to reach any real person in either of these places and the offices designated to oversee them can't either. We've been told repeatedly that these centers are too big for contact regarding individual items. REALLY???!!!! Then maybe they need to address THAT problem--put some people to work in new facilities small enough to do what they say they can manage. Because they aren't getting the job done. Our books are often irreplaceable (rare, out-of-print, etc) so an insurance claim does not address the fact that often the "lost" items can't be purchased elsewhere for a comparable price--if at all. Someone is making an astronomical amount of money on so-called "lost or damaged" items. If we could have driven to the center to recover the items we would have done--but there is no one to reach to even suggest such an action. We were told, "You can't imagine how big the warehouses are--covering at least 3 football fields in scale"--so what?! Aren't they required to log items as they arrive? Place of origin, date, name, etc? Or do they simply dump the items off trucks into unmarked bins? Who are these agencies and how can we allow these centers of operation to be a recognized "United States" agency when this is how they treat the mail? We (my employers and I) have gone to great lengths, properly followed all channels, chased down every lead, had our customers press their local PO's and it has not yet, not once, yielded any assistance in locating "lost" packages. Our new policy is to use Federal Express for any extremely expensive or particularly rare orders. It cost more but they go to great lengths to recover items and their insurance is just as good.

    Mar 01, 2017
  • anon

    sent letter to CIT BANK on 75 N. Fair Oaks Ave. Pasadena CA 91103 2/10/17 as of 2/28/217 they did not recieved letter.

    Mar 01, 2017
  • anon

    I have been waiting for my W2 from my old employer and i have a very big doubt about them since they did a lot of scams and credit card fraud i believe they would do something to my letter so it dont get to me which is federal. They keep avoiding me and my calls. Also they pretended to mail a copy of my taxes and they inpersonated the company that does our taxes with its name and address and then i called to verify certain information and they said they never sent anything

    Feb 28, 2017
  • anon

    Not sure if the comments are only here to make people feel better or if they actually reach anyone who has the ability to find and return anything. Shipment from Texas to Fresno, CA had my 2017 27oz. Worth HeadBanger slowpitch softball bat. Box came empty. Black bat with Blue and Orange writing spells the word "headbanger".

    Feb 28, 2017
  • anon

    Us postal should pay for ALL LOST, stolen, Misdirected mail and packages that sit in their offices because some one was to lazy to log it in. There is no excuse for any of this unless the customer wrote the wrong address but that is a very small percentage.

    Feb 28, 2017
  • anon

    Two dogs tags were removed from personal letter enroute to my address in Cape Coral Fl from Philadelphia. Marley and Libby are the names on the tag. Lost last week 2/2017 If found please email thank you

    Feb 27, 2017
  • anon

    Last year I went to the Omro WI USPS to report having missed four monthly 'Wisconsin Public Television Program Guide" publications out of seven months. I was told they'd 'look into it' and have postal employees sign off when the guide came to the Post Office (at the end of every month) For a few months my guide came on time. Until January, when I again did not receive the guide. Now that's five publications in 8-9 months! Mailing labels are automated. It cannot be a coincidence that my mail went missing. I would appreciate anything you can do to resolve this issue. Thank you

    Jan 10, 2017
  • anon

    A friend of mind mail out a gift to me from Hawaii Dec 14 but up til these days I haven't get anything.

    Jan 10, 2017
  • anon

    I shipped a pretty big box, 8 lbs on December 14th, 2016 from Enfield Ct, to Marysville CA. I shipped it Signature Confirmation. My tracking number shows that it left Enfield CT late the 14th, then on Dec 16th, it shows as entering the system again, but with NO location. It is now January 7th, 2017 and there has been absolutely no activity on my package since that Dec 16th, weird scan. This is leading me to believe that someone from the post office actually stole the package. They have the capability and know the system. Its like the package fell off the face of the earth. I'm so upset. I'm a single mom, and the gifts in there were for my son who is currently serving in the Air Force. I don't know what to do. Wondering how many other people from the state of CT and the Hartford area "lost" packages.

    Jan 07, 2017
  • anon

    I am trying to find loss packages two were sent out on dec. 15th was delivered. To my porch the company said but I never got it. I had several package sent to this address with no problem but these two. How do I put in a claim so they will reimburse me. Thank you for your time and help.

    Jan 05, 2017
  • anon

    On 12/19 mailed an envelope purchased at the post office and services all paid with credit card. From my zip 33166 to 07044 verona nj. On 12/27 track said delayed. As today 01/05 no delivery ,no way to track. FILLED OUT a search. No word from US postal service.

    Jan 05, 2017
  • anon

    I moved to an apartment in October 21, 2016 and turned in change of address. I was dropped by car insurance due to lack payment because the post office returned to sender (twice). My mailbox at the apartment complex, did not reflect my name. I noticed the card in the box and scratched the previous occupied name and put my name. I want my mail. I'm afraid to see what I have missed. Help!!!!!!

    Jan 04, 2017
  • anon

    Hello. I accidentally dropped an unaddressed letter in my community outgoing mail box that I did not intend to mail. I was hoping to track this envelope down somehow. It is a small white envelope, blank, unsealed, with a card for a restaurant called The Cracked Egg, and a check made out to me for this restaurant. The piece of mail would be coming from Las Vegas area code 89113. I know it is a long shot, but I had to try. Please contact me it it is recovered. Thank you!

    Jan 04, 2017
  • anon

    Hello. I accidentally dropped an unaddressed letter in my community outgoing mail box that I did not intend to mail. I was hoping to track this envelope down somehow. It is a small white envelope, blank, unsealed, with a card for a restaurant called The Cracked Egg, and a check made out to me for this restaurant. The piece of mail would be coming from Las Vegas area code 89113. I know it is a long shot, but I had to try. Please contact me it it is recovered. Thank you!

    Jan 04, 2017
  • anon

    Good afternoon, I am trying to find a way to recover a piece of mail through the Dead Mail, but I've had a 0% of that because there are no HUMANS around to answer the phone. Actually I'm upset, automation CON NOT SPEAKE, SO IT'S NOT SERVING ANY PURPOSE!!! The phone number is nothing but a recording over and over again the same questions. So how are people suppose to get any services from a recording. As of now it really sucks. I'm missing a very important letter and your facility is not helping, whatever happened to the saying: NO MATTER WHAT THE MAIL MUST GO THROUGH; why have a recovery center when there is no one to discuss the problem. Please try an fix this, I shall make copies of this statement and send it to the Postmaster's Office, thank you. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017

    Jan 04, 2017
  • anon

    I have had multiple holiday letters that were sent to me from Maine almost 3-4 weeks ago now- and have yet received them. How behind should I expect mailing to be. My zip code is 89014- it was shipped from 04333.

    Jan 04, 2017
  • anon

    I am searching for my lost package

    Jan 03, 2017
  • anon

    Mailed out checks for my DTE Energy and Comcast bills on 12-25-16. They still not have received and they are due by 1-3-2017. I am getting email reminders from them to pay my accounts.

    Jan 01, 2017
  • anon

    Zip code 81063, Ordway, CO As new USPS employee I didn't note that some mail I collected on delivery was addressed to fellow PO employees as Christmas wishes and thanks for service. I feel terrible they were put in mail. 3 envelopes addressed to " Tod" and "jenny" and " Gillian" or similar spellings maybe with "do not bend " on envelope. Put in system Wednesday 28 December. Just found out today by sender :( Thank you for helping find them; know it will be a headache for someone. Much appreciated, Gillian

    Dec 31, 2016
  • anon

    Hello sir please i sent a package from the blue box outside post office in barneveld wisconsin and i did not get any tracking number and the package have not been deliver over a month please it is my life and money help me out

    Dec 31, 2016
  • anon

    I mailed my son a Christmas card with $200 in gift cards in it. It arrived in a plastic bag from the USPS with 2 small ornaments (which I didn't send) and no gift cards. How do I contact someone for more information?

    Dec 28, 2016
  • anon

    Sent my son and his girlfriend their Christmas gifts on 12/12/16. Tracking shows they could not deliver the package on 12/21/16 at 1:30 pm due to the receptacle was blocked. The deliver address is a business, it was open all day until 3:00 am the morning. But still if they were unable to deliver the package an unable to deliver slip was not left. My son worked all Christmas week and did not have any knowledge of the package being delivered or the attempt of delivery until I contacted him. He called 12/22/16 and made arrangements to have the it redelivered and the tracking sight shows Delivered 12/23/16, but no one has seen the package or signed for the package. I tried getting proof of delivery and it shows my tracking number does not exist.

    Dec 28, 2016
  • anon

    Hello I have two separate packages from two separate shippers that state that the package was delivered to my mail box on December 22, 2016 at approximately 1:30 Mountain time. I have not received either package.

    Dec 28, 2016
  • anon

    Hi, I am worried about my gift until now it is not being received by my receipient? It came from the Philippines and it is already there at the US as it shown in the status online. Please help me, I paid too much just to sent it to my love before Christmas, but sadly, it wasn't a suprise anymore. Please let me know where it is now? And when it will be deliver to my receipient. Please email me to get the tracking number I can't disclose it right now for safety. Hope to hear from you.

    Dec 27, 2016
  • anon

    Hello the friday before last on he 6th i wamt to say.... my mom had sent me a letter general delivery to mountain ranch ca 95246 from her down in livermore, ca 94551 It had not shown up still and she said she has not reobtained it either. Where is it? What is happening? Her name is Peggy Simi from livermore california and she sent it general delivery to me Robert Simi in Mountain Ranch California.... Please help me find my letter its my xmas present... Thank you

    Dec 25, 2016
  • anon

    I receive my pay check through the mail. During the holiday season of 2016, I have not been receiving the checks . They come two weeks later. WHY ARE YOU HIRING PEOPLE WHO CANT GET THE JOB DONE ?

    Dec 25, 2016
  • anon

    I sent a package from Watford city north Dakota to Nigeria on 12,12,2016 with receipt and tracking number identified the package is on its way to Nigeria, fortunately I tracked the package on 21 and is says it in Suffolk post office in Virginia a package suppose to me international now found in Virginia and later they said its forwarded to an unknown address, seems USPS messed with my percel... What can I do.

    Dec 24, 2016
  • anon

    Uh-oh.. my package has been at Allen Park, MI facility stuck in limbo for a few days. I'll be lucky to ever see it. Why isn't this place investigated for mail fraud yet??? Please tell me USPS.

    Dec 22, 2016
  • anon

    My package "disappeared" from Atlanta to Greensboro. The tracking information shows it was delivered to the wrong city/address, but the recipient received THEIR package not mine. So someone removed my tracking label and placed it on another package/letter. Seems very suspicious to me. Perhaps you should crack down on internal theft. I will NEVER mail another package through USPS.

    Dec 22, 2016
  • anon

    The same thing happened to me with an item I shipped from Russia to North Carolina. As soon as it made it to JFK international mail, the tracking label ended up on a different package (I spoke to the person who received the package label on one of their packages). How is one suppose to file an internal theft claim? It's obvious that is what happened. My package had $600 worth of valuables in it. Makes me so angry, and there's no mail police to help!!!

    Jan 03, 2017
  • anon

    I have a package that was shipped 2nd day in Atlanta on Monday 12/19/16. It is Thursday 12/22/16 & No progress in the shipment has been made. What is going on!

    Dec 22, 2016
  • anon

    I've had a similar experience with mailing from Atlanta. Which Post Office location did you use?

    Dec 22, 2016
  • anon

    I ordered the priority express overnight mail to deliver my passport on Dec 19th, it has been 3 days and i have an international flight to make. As a foreigner in US, that is my only legal id. I contacted the customer affairs and they told me they can't track it at all, the only physical scan was it got to the post office and that's it. I need that passport to do everything.. I filed a claim and no one really help out yet. I understand it is a busy hour right now, and the process may take up for an extra few days. I was just informed that my mail is probably in a container that full of INTERNATIONAL mails..And they don't know where is it shipped.. Can you help me out? It is really ERGENT.

    Dec 22, 2016
  • anon

    The Allen Park MI sorting facility is a complete Joke! I have multiple packages that were paid for to be to me by dates and the are all late due to the Allen park lazy workers not doing their job going to ruin Christmas! there are so many people complaining about them and nothing gets done! I never have this issue with ups or Fed Ex... They need investigated and shut down!

    Dec 19, 2016
  • anon

    I ordered a basketball jersey , I received a tracking number and it said that it was ready for delivery. The next day I checked it said it could not be located. Where do I go from here?

    Dec 18, 2016
  • anon

    I did a change of address to take effect on November 22. I started receiving my mail at the new address 7 days after that (Nov. 29). I had a paycheck sent to me on November 28 but I have yet to receive it. I spoke with the postal manager here in Metairie, LA who told me all forwarded mail goes to Houston before then being sent to the new address, which seems a bit of a waste considering I moved less than 1 mile. I was told it could take anywhere from 7-10 days for mail to be forwarded. We're well past the 10 days and I still have not received the check. Unfortunately, the company I worked for will not reissue a check until it has been 30 days after it was sent. It's Christmas. I am a freelancer and depend on these checks. I'm praying that someone can help find it. There is no tracking number but I have the "From" and "To" addresses and, given that it went into a computer system (i.e. the computer generated yellow labels), there has to be a way to find out where it is. I am very grateful for any help you can provide. Thank you!

    Dec 15, 2016
  • anon

    I mailed a birthday card to my granddaughter with a gift card from Statham Ga to Flowery Branch GA. ..I also sent a package to Georgetown Ky the same day..The package to Ky arrived in 4 days..It has been over a week and the card to my granddaughter has not arrived yet..It had my return address on back of the envelope..How long will it take for it to be returned to me? Or is there a chance it won't be?

    Dec 14, 2016
  • anon

    Someone sent a package but it got declared dead

    Dec 12, 2016
  • anon

    I have a problem my partner sent me a letter but wrote the address wrong ,I've been told the letter should have been sent back to them but its been two weeks and they have not received anything . What are my next steps ?

    Dec 12, 2016
  • anon

    I've moved around a lot and have been expecting important mail from social security and family and the court house and credit cards. .how do I receive this lost mail?

    Dec 11, 2016
  • anon

    Hi I sent two christmas cards to Connecticut from Orlando,Fl 10 days ago and they still have not arrived. I'm very worried please help.

    Dec 10, 2016
  • anon

    My Daughter's both christmas packages are lost some where, it seems incredible that they both went wrong, one was sent to MA instead of CT and stil stays in transit to destination I paid 65 dollars for postage and I am beyond mad not only will my daughter not get Christmas presents I now have to go through all this hassle and I feel hopeless. I hope this is resolved and my packages are found. Sincerely, Elena Ostynski

    Dec 10, 2016
  • anon

    Mail was picked up from front porch mailbox on 11-12-2016. One of the items has yet to reach destination with check enclosed.

    Dec 09, 2016
  • anon

    I order on this app mercari. My address is correct and the tracking number shows it's delivered and I never receive my things. I am now missing two items....

    Dec 06, 2016

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