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 (152)

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

    Is there a reason why my certified letter is going to west palm Beach instead of Denver Colorado? I mailed it from ohio

    Nov 30, 2021
  • anon

    Had a package leave for Oregon from North Carolina 10 days ago. It’s been from NC to Guam, and is now allegedly in Honolulu. Wondering if I’ll see it before Christmas.

    Nov 29, 2021
  • anon

    My package stated it left JAMAICA NY customs on 11/24 Finally got to West Palm Beach 11/29 at 1am, supposed to head north to me, at 4pm it’s in Miami. Efficient.

    Nov 29, 2021
  • anon

    On 11/24/2021, I mailed an envelope Priority from Santa Monica, CA to Valley Village, CA, which is only 21 miles away. Expected delivery date 11/26/21. Today, 11/29/2021, tracking says "Your item departed our USPS facility in ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER on November 28, 2021 at 10:18 pm. The item is currently in transit to the destination." Back to California, where it started its journey. Why is it in Alaska??? and late? purchased priority for $8.70 for added assurance it would arrive on time.

    Nov 29, 2021
  • anon

    I'm currently unemployed and have been living on friends' couches for months. My California stimulus check was sent to my private mailbox. I had that forwarded to where I'm currently staying 2 weeks ago and it still hasn't arrived. Last week it was at a post office just a few miles away from me. Now it's at some some tiny post office hundreds of miles away. I seriously want to cry.

    Nov 29, 2021
  • anon

    After reading a lot of the complaints here I'm wondering if Dejoy ordered some stooges to mess with the USPS computer software that sorts and directs mail. He ordered that sorting machines be taken out and destroyed, so it's not out of the question. That needs to be looked into.

    Nov 27, 2021
  • anon

    I ordered 3 day Priority mail for a package from California to Colorado at the beginning of the week. The delivery date should have been 11/26 but the USPS site said delivery would be on 11/27. Fine, I thought, I'm okay with that. It was in Colorado on 11/24. I just checked and now my package is in Oakland, CA. WTF???!!!!!

    Nov 27, 2021
  • anon

    I ordered 3 day Priority mail for a package from California to Colorado at the beginning of the week. The delivery date should have been 11/26 but the USPS site said delivery would be on 11/27. Fine, I thought, I'm okay with that. It was in Colorado on 11/24. I just checked and now my package is in Oakland, CA. WTF???!!!!!

    Nov 27, 2021
  • anon

    My package was supposed to be in Georgia but it left Georgia went to Florida and then to Tennessee. Should I start filling out a lost package request seeing as it might never come back to Georgia again?

    Nov 26, 2021
  • anon

    I recently had first class mail take over 2 weeks to be mailed from Tucson Arizona to Cuba Missouri. It was mailed out October 18th and I never received it until November 15, 2021. Why did that happen?

    Nov 26, 2021
  • anon

    Mailed packed to my grandchildren 11/8/21 priority from CA. Arrived Grand Junction, CO distribution 11/10/21...still in transit. Filed missing mail claim 11/21/21. No updates. What is going on with USPS?

    Nov 26, 2021
  • anon

    Mailed several packages on 11/24; all show delivered to different addresses - in different states; and one of the addresses is the next town over (30 minutes away), but their package shows delivered to the other side of the country. The tracking shows delivered 3 months ago! USPS mail system has been horrible all of 2020 and 2021. I gave a pass due to COVID the first few times with long delays, but come on; hire people who care about their job; USPS has went from a solid 10 to a minus with us over the past year and a half - I will just start emailing gift cards to my children and crossing my fingers with UPS

    Nov 26, 2021
  • anon

    I mailed a letter on 10/28/21 to New Jersey from Ohio.. estimated dated was 3-4 days.. It is now 11/25/21 and it still hasn't made it there..

    Nov 25, 2021
  • anon

    I have a package that was supposed to come to Romania, i have a notification telling me that it was in Romania for 10 days today i got a notification that my package is in Finland, and i really needed that package till 26 Nov I guess I need to improvise.

    Nov 24, 2021
  • anon

    My package is supposed to be in CALIFORNIA but it left CALIFORNIA and went to OREGON .

    Nov 23, 2021
  • anon

    I was notified that two gift cards were coming two weeks ago by USPS along with a picture of the envelopes. Think it ever made it here? Nope! When I called national office for customer service I was given no help whatsoever and told that " this is a bad time to send gift cards"! It's nearing the end of November people, so watch who you're sending Christmas gifts and cards thru. Everytime I see the commercial for USPS on tv it makes me want to throw up.

    Nov 23, 2021
  • anon

    We mailed a Christmas box flat rate to my grandkids on Saturday To Maui. Today tracking shows that it was received at the post office in St. Paul Minnesota….my receipt shows the correct zip code for Maui…hope this package gets on the plane to Hawaii ASAP.

    Nov 22, 2021
  • anon

    Only .2 % misdirected? They must be counting every piece of junk mail in their total mail. Why cant they honestly tell us what the real reason why so much more mail is being misdirected. This is obviously a systemwide problem and not isolated incidents. First step to fixing the problem is acknowledging the real scope. Personally i think they know and cant face the public or congress finding out the truth about what is really causing this incredibly incompetent situation. I may have to stop using usps for ebay for all the misdirected and lost packages.

    Nov 21, 2021
  • anon

    Just sent on 11/15/21 a USPS Priority large envelope to someone 15 miles away (here in Kansas City). Receipt shows 1 day Priority Mail and ExDelivery was 11/17/21. It's now 11/19/21 after 5pm and were trying to find where this went. Surprise, it went to Albuquerque, New Mexico...halfway across the USA. So what asinine algorithms thought that was efficient? What relief or remedy can the USPS offer for this hardship I have now encountered?

    Nov 19, 2021
  • anon

    Over 14 days now waiting for certified mail with important doc's to be delivered, from Los Angeles to Denver co.is ridiculous, especially when postal service clerk said it would be there in about 7 days.

    Nov 19, 2021
  • anon

    I had a package sent on 11/10 from St Augustine Florida to Colquitt, GA. It ended up in Jacksonville on 11/11 and sat there until 11/15 then it ended up in Des Moines Iowa. How did this happen? The package was only about 300 miles from my house. It is now 11/18 and it is moving in transit to another facility and has been this way since 11/16. It is a good thing it is not medicine or something I need to stay alive.

    Nov 18, 2021
  • anon

    My package literally arrived in IN, one town away from me. It should’ve arrived that same day if not the next. Then it got sent to NY and now NJ. Get it together.

    Nov 17, 2021
  • anon

    The Jacksonville, FL sorting facility seems to be above average when it comes to misrouting mail. About 25% of my incoming international mail gets rerouted back to the origin country once it hits there. If I’m lucky it ends up out in California and I’ll get it after another month. But usually I’m stuck having to pay again for international shipping and play Russian roulette once again.

    Nov 17, 2021
  • anon

    My mail was delivering to my apartment and now nothing is coming in. I have had multiple people tell me their mail has been returned. The address, name, etc. has all been correct. Could you help in explaining this issue?

    Nov 16, 2021
  • anon

    I ordered a package from MA and i live in MI. The package was in route and in Grand Rapids, MI. Then over the week end it arrived back to Springfield, MA. Delivery was supposed to be today November 15th, and now it is re-scheduled to arrive the 18th. I feel that this is not acceptable. The item was already here but was sent back only to be re-sent to me? Ridiculous!! I say before you receive the more of a "financial increase for slower mail" that the USPS has been wanting, then there needs to be some sort of better management put into place in these weaker and slower areas that are more prone to mistakes. This "shipping error" reflects not only on the USPS, but also on the seller of the item for using your services that are declining in accuracy and in performance.

    Nov 15, 2021
  • anon

    My package went from Niagara Falls to Anaheim to Detroit (twice) and then on to Columbus Ohio. This is not the first time this has happened...it is the FOURTH TIME. Why such inefficiency????

    Nov 13, 2021
  • anon

    I've got a priority mail package from Chicago, IL to Panama City, FL. It went by way of Santa Clarita, CA. I think I see a pattern here.

    Nov 11, 2021
  • anon

    I order A package from Amazon, start it in Akron oh from there went to twinsborough then Cleveland when back to Akron and then was sent Seattle wa and now is in Kent Washington and it supposed to be here in Puerto Rico that normally packages come directly from Ohio or New York or Florida direct here that we are at East of this city’s.. why send it all the way back of the East coast on Washington to send it back to any of this city and then to Puerto Rico? And this is not the first time. I feel like my packages go in a tour though the USA before coming to me.

    Nov 11, 2021
  • anon

    I send a package first class from Florida on Nov 6th that is supposed to go to Los Angeles. It is Nov 9th and my package is somehow in an ALBANY NY distribution center. The zip codes are nowhere similar at all. Praying my package is routed in the right direction eventually. Reading the other comments here are a bit unsettling.

    Nov 09, 2021
  • anon

    Had a package shipped from Germany. It arrived at ISC New York. Sat for a few days, passed though customs then left the Jamaica, NY Dist. Center. I live in Ohio. It was supposed to deliver today on 11/5/2021. It is in Portland, Oregon as of me typing this. Now I know sometimes things need to be routed a little out of the way for logistical reasons. But Portland? Wow.

    Nov 05, 2021
  • anon

    i tracked my pack from Maine to Akron, Ohio. I live 35 miles south of Akron. The package then got shipped 1000 miles south to Florida. What the F.

    Nov 01, 2021
  • anon

    Yea same here, priority package on 10/13 shipped, has gone from California to my post office, then shipped OUT of my post office INSTEAD OF GETTING DELIVERED TO PO BOX AT THW SAME BUILDING BACK TO CALIFORNIA, HAPPENED 3x ITS BEEN A MONTH AND ITS IN MY POST OFFICE AND THEY SCAMNED IT AS DEPARTED AGAIN SO IDK WHERE ITS GONNA BE. Postal workers just give me the run around it’s not here yet we’ll wtf did I pay for priority for give me 1st class probably would’ve been faster

    Nov 05, 2021
  • anon

    I mailed express mail from Clarendon Hills IL to Peoria IL. It has gone to Wilmington Delaware and now to Philadelphia. Why in the world?

    Oct 31, 2021
  • anon

    I shipped a package on 9.3.21 it's been stuck in "new Jersey" since 9.10.22. Postal worker Torres from the Brooklyn office handled my filed missing package request. She was very rude and unprofessional. She would not let me ask for specific detailed information, she talked over me and hung up on me, then when I called the phone number back she became rude again and playing games on the phone, telling me she's the one in charge, there's no supervisor over her and placed me on a very long hold and never returned to the call. The USPS is out if control. They charge us rediculous amounts of money and lose our packages and treat us like crap. This is absolutely asinine.

    Oct 28, 2021
  • anon

    I have had a dozen or more small padded envelope packages missing for 2 weeks to over 2 months. My zip is 94564. I sell on Ebay and Ebay has refunded several of these that were way overdue. I am beginning to get negative feedbacks. I have had to refund several hundred dollars and will have to refund several hundred more in the next few days for items that seem to be lost in Oakland. They all seem to get stuck in the Oakland Distribution Center. I have filed Detailed, Descriptive Missing Mail Reports on all of them and I ALWAYS get an email that says there is not a good enough description. Nevertheless the tracking numbers have been given. It seems that packages sent in the past two weeks have all been getting thru quickly. No one seems to know if this is a wide spread problem.

    Oct 27, 2021
  • anon

    My package was mailed last Saturday (4 days ago) from Illinois to the SF Bay Area, California. It has gone to several places & is now in Pittsburgh, PA. HUH?!? The ETD hasn't been updated to reflect the fact that it is going the wrong direction.

    Oct 27, 2021
  • anon

    Hello, I ordered some items that shipped from CA to PA in 3 days it sat for 2 days in Harrisburg than proceeded to go from Harrisburg to Loysville to Harrisburg to Lancaster to South carolina to Virginia to Lehigh PA. I am just bummed I paid for 1-3 day shipping and it has been over 7 days now since it got shipped. The items are important for my health.

    Oct 26, 2021
  • anon

    My friend in Belgium mailed me a simple letton on 9-28-21. Even with the new decreased service Louis DeJoy implemented on 10-01-21 that letter should have been here by now. This is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!

    Oct 26, 2021
  • anon

    I order from California every week and it keeps going to Georgia before coming to VA and it keeps happening.. this is the 11th time and I pay for first class. My bills get here just fine but not my packages. Why? And I'm very angry and want help or answers please

    Oct 26, 2021
  • anon

    Ordered a package from Washington state, to Southern California. Package got to my local distro two days ago with a delivery scheduled for today. Now it’s in Saint Louis with a delivery date over a week out.

    Oct 25, 2021
  • anon

    USPS needs to get their act together, i have now seen more than 1000+ comments within this month about this issue. Why does all of my packages travel 3+ states everytime i order something from amazon which department from seattle or Spokane distribution centers. My packages go to iowa, Minnesota, California, current package went from Spokane to boise back to spokane. More serious problem than you guys are treating it. The public is unhappy, ppl get their packages late not to mention the millions of dollar you guys are loosing with this crap and fuel/manpower being used

    Oct 25, 2021
  • anon

    Im waiting for a package that arrived on the 14 the of June at the foreign center NJ and hasn't left that facility in the 4 months since it arrived to the states

    Oct 23, 2021
  • anon

    I sent a package priority mail and spent 8.70 for this to arrive quickly as it has a government document that has a time frame. It left Blythe Ca on 10/19/2021 headed for Hemet, Ca and as of today, 10/23/2021 the package is on the other side of the country in sprinfield Ma. I can see this happen with regular mail but priority?

    Oct 23, 2021
  • anon

    Just two days ago Tuesday, my informed mail notified me I would be receiving a card from my friend. Its Thursday and the card didn't come. I do believe that they are disappearing because of the postal workers that see the mail. This is a federal offense but it doesn't seem the USPS cares. Where else would the mail be?

    Oct 22, 2021
  • anon

    This is garbage. Any time I start an inquiry, the inquiry goes to the mail's destination, but why would it go there if the package has never reached the destination. It should go to the post office that the mail was last at. It is a pointless process. And it seems like that's purposeful

    Oct 21, 2021
  • anon

    A package I'm waiting for was accepted at the USPS Origin Facility TOTOWA,NJ 07512 on 10/15 @ 2:16pm and a Processing Exception, Other Delay was placed @ 2:31pm. the package arrived at the USPS Regional Origin Facility TETERBORO NJ DISTRIBUTION CENTER @ 3:31pm same day and on 10/17 tracking shows package in transit to next facility but no time stamp. At 6:46pm on the 17th tracking shows another processing exception, other delay and an expected delivery for 10/19 by 9pm. On 10/20 there is now no delivery time and no other updates since the 17th. I have read that Teterboro NJ distribution center is considered the black hole of USPS and it appears that is correct.

    Oct 20, 2021
  • anon

    I ordered an item it's being shipped from GA to CA. For some reason it got routed to FL..

    Oct 19, 2021
  • anon

    I have been waiting since july for a letter from irs and 2 letters from dmv for my tags. I have yet receive anything. tried calling the usps and it just rings and rings never an answer!

    Oct 19, 2021
  • anon

    I was expecting a package to arrive yesterday coming from Norman, OK to my residence in Odessa, TX. When I checked the tracker it says my package is in Des Moines, Iowa with no new expected delivery date.

    Oct 19, 2021
  • anon

    I've had several packages that get to the Columbus Post office then our turn around and sent back out again from where it came why is this happening?

    Oct 18, 2021

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