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)

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  • anon

    Package sent to me from seller in MS. Tracking showed it went to TN to TX back to TN and then to an AZ distribution center. There it sat for a couple of days but never made it across town to my local post office for delivery. Missed the target delivery date with tracking only saying it was “in transit” for 2 days. However, now tracking has it back in TN. What is going on with USPS? Other packages have had similar detours.

    Dec 11, 2021
  • anon

    My packages have been sent to different cities and states often. I don’t understand why it’s been continuously happening. It seem extremely odd that it’s happening so often when I’ve never had a problem before? Not only is this wasteful and time consuming it’s extremely horrible for the environment!

    Dec 09, 2021
  • anon

    . 2 present That would just be mine never sents they added Palatine Illinois into our mailing system in Shannon Illinois this been unreal comes from Chicago they send it back to Chicago or another town beside Shannon that starts with an s I understand it's a nightmare sense of pamademic started I've had things go clear back to Maine where they came from almost got to Illinois then reverse so no one else should have any problems cuz I got the 2%

    Dec 08, 2021
  • anon

    I had a package that had the correct address and everything and today it said out for delivery at 6:29 AM. Then it says delivered 4:36 PM and i go and look for it outside. NOWHERE to be found. I check the tracking turns out it got delivered to a completely different zip code 20 minutes from where i live and i filed a claim and the usps people are telling me it’s my fault. Great.

    Dec 08, 2021
  • anon

    I had a package shipped from Chicago to Michigan where i live. Everything started out fine, it made it to my city, was actually out for delivery within 2 days. That was 8 days ago. Since then it was taken back to the distribution center and sent to Florida where its now sat for the last 3-4 days.

    Dec 08, 2021
  • anon

    Back in August 2021 I ordered some hats for a friend undergoing chemo from a company in Canada. They sailed through customs and down through the US until the package got to Waukesha, Wisconsin. For some reason the tracker said delivery was attempted twice, once for "insufficient address" and then "moved, left no address." I know the address was perfectly fine because I used PayPal, and all my various past PP purchases have been delivered correctly. I got a refund after the package made it's way back to Canada. What the actual...? New management, please.

    Dec 07, 2021
  • anon

    My package bound from California to Detroit, Michigan is now in Texas Thats some Dejoy quality!

    Dec 06, 2021
  • anon

    My package made it to my city, where it should be yesterday - so I was expecting delivery today. Now today it says it shipped to another city...why???

    Dec 06, 2021
  • anon

    I live in Okinawa Japan. Sent 3 packages. Two were supposed to go to my parents in CA, another package I sent to my uncle in a different part of CA. I used the "new system" and all three packages have been sent to several centers in Okinawa, then several places in mainland Japan, then several more random centers on the east cost in America. I shipped them in September, now it's December 5th here and all 3 packages are sitting in a New Jersey mailing center.

    Dec 05, 2021
  • anon

    My order of a sheet set thru Walmart from Cozy Array located in Hillburn, New York was accepted at USPS facility on November 24th and was shipped and in transit since,. Then today the tracking information reported it was shipped to the Honolulu distribution center. Seems like a out of the way round about long way to get to California, but a couple of my orders have been delayed due to whatever is going on with USPS. Guess it is better to use Fedex and not rely on our postal service!

    Dec 04, 2021
  • anon

    A priority mail package was sent to me from Utah on 11/22. It arrived at the Sacramento CA distribution center near me in a couple days. Great! Then it was missent to Tracy, CA. Ok, no big deal. It returned to Sacramento two days later. Whew. I figure I’ll receive it the next day. Nope, two days later it shows up in Puerto freakin’ Rico, where it has been sitting now for four days. I filed a claim, and they told me a day later that “the package is late” and the case is “resolved.”

    Dec 04, 2021
  • anon

    Ordered mail from Miami to Milwaukee. It is now in Massachusetts. Why? No more will I use USPS. Only UPS.

    Dec 04, 2021
  • anon

    i am currently having issue with a package that came from IL got to LA, California but never made it to me San Diego, CA. The package is now back to Springfield, MA. No help at all.

    Dec 03, 2021
  • anon

    Misery loves company and I feel better reading some of these stories knowing it's not just me. *Here's my story* Expecting a package in Indianapolis from Chicago. The package made it to the local Indianapolis Distribution Center. So far, so good. Next stop: Austin TX! I wonder how long it will sit there. Anyway, I hope that sharing my pain makes someone else feel better. Cheers.

    Dec 03, 2021
  • anon

    I am having problems with miss directed mail. The carrier it was put in my box but not there. This happens constantly at Ballantrae Apts in Sanford Florida. Please do something about the employee doing it.

    Dec 02, 2021
  • anon

    I ordered a package that was from Georgia on 11/24 and it was shipped on 11/26 from Georgia. I received a delivery date of 12/1. Today 12/2 I received a delivery note that it is now in Little Rock , Arkansas. Why is it going north west instead of south?

    Dec 02, 2021
  • anon

    I ordered a product that came from alabama. I tracked the package and it came to North augusta, which is my home city, and then 2 Days later left to go to fountain inn South carolina. After being there for another day and a half, it's now headed towards Charleston South carolina. I can't find anywhere under the contact us FAQs that would help in this situation. Who can I talk to?

    Nov 30, 2021
  • 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'm thinking the same thing about that dejoy prick.

    Dec 07, 2021
  • anon

    I agree that Dejoy has to go. The postal workers deserve a competent leader, not a stooge. Even Moe, Larry, and Curly could do a better job. My DE package went to Philly and now is sitting in JAX, FL. Politicians need to be removed from any influence of the USPS and carriers deserve a better pay scale even if postage costs need to go up.

    Dec 04, 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

    regarding my tracking number RK801455875IE...why is this package taking so long and being routed to diff distribution centers..this package is first class mail..can you explain the reason why.. this is the history.. November 24, 2021, 9:30 pm Departed USPS Regional Facility FORT WORTH TX DISTRIBUTION CENTER Your item departed our USPS facility in FORT WORTH TX DISTRIBUTION CENTER on November 24, 2021 at 9:30 pm. The item is currently in transit to the destination. November 24, 2021, 8:58 pm Arrived at USPS Regional Facility FORT WORTH TX DISTRIBUTION CENTER November 24, 2021 In Transit to Next Facility November 23, 2021, 5:46 pm Departed USPS Regional Facility JACKSON MS DISTRIBUTION CENTER November 23, 2021, 2:20 pm Arrived at USPS Regional Facility JACKSON MS DISTRIBUTION CENTER November 20, 2021, 3:23 pm Arrived at USPS Regional Facility JAMAICA NY INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER November 19, 2021, 3:23 pm Processed Through Facility ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS) November 19, 2021, 4:14 am Processed Through Facility DUBLIN DELIVERY, IRELAND Origin Post is Preparing Shipment November 18, 2021, 3:06 pm Acceptance IRELAND this is pretty unsat

    Nov 24, 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

    Hope ur pkg finds it's way outta Minn-StPaul distribution ctr. That's the black hole of the midwest.

    Dec 09, 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

    I’m also in Indiana. The USPS website showed that our package was at the Indianapolis distribution center a few days ago. We live just north of Indianapolis do we thought it was going to be delivered soon. Nope. Now it’s at a distribution center in Champaign Illinois. ?????

    Dec 07, 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

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