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Pushing the Envelope Blog

When Mail Takes a Wrong Turn

Date: 03/08/21 | Category: Delivery & Collection

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.

Leave a Comment

  
Your Name
Marilyn
Feb 22, 2022
Your Comment
Hi....currently going through the same thing. Package shipped from Iowa to California. Shipped 22 days ago and keeps going in circles from Iowa to California distribution centers. Call your local post office and speak with the Postmaster to report the problem. It has been misconduct and needs to be intercepted by a live person from the sorting machine and handled by a live person for your package to be routed properly.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

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Mike Geier
Feb 15, 2022
Your Comment
I had a package delivered from Greenville, In to me here in southern Illinois on 2/10/2022, which is only about 3 hours away. Tracking stated it had been accepted at Indianapolis mail center on the same day, and would be delivered to me on Monday February 14. Now all of a sudden today February 15, tracking states it has been routed to Kansas City, KS Mail Center, which is roughly 600 mile away. What is going on?? I asked the postmaster at my local post office, and all she could say is she did not know, and that I would have to wait and hope I get it... Is this the best we can do?
Your Name
Kim
Feb 15, 2022
Your Comment
I mailed a gift to a friend for her wedding, dropped it off at the post office on February 9th. According to the tracking, it went from my area (MA) to a CT distribution center, then NY, then Chicago (she lives in IL). Tell me why it then went BACK to New Jersey then the original CT distribution center?! I paid for priority shipping so it would get there early this week, now I don’t know when it will be delivered at all.
Your Name
Paula S Snyder
Feb 15, 2022
Your Comment
Memphis Tennessee has packages not being delivered! 2 weeks or more packages stuck in their distribution center. What is being done?
Your Name
Ezekiel Wright
Feb 14, 2022
Your Comment
My package keeps bouncing between pa and ga and I’m in ga where can I find my package and how can I get it I’ve been waiting for months
Your Name
Penny
Feb 14, 2022
Your Comment
My question is is you had a package that left Washington to come to Panama City Florida I never received my package it stayed in Panama City facility for 4 days then they thought that they had delivered it to the wrong house they was searching for it well I found out 3 days later it's been sent to Jacksonville Florida it needs to come back to Panama City Florida what's it doing in Jacksonville
Your Name
Annette
Feb 13, 2022
Your Comment
Mine isn't nearly as bad as some of the other comments. I'll throw mine on the pile anyway. Last Thursday I dropped a package off at my local post office. This post office is 3.5 miles from the San Francisco airport. According to their tracking it sat in their post office for 24+ hours and then magically made it to Los Angeles in about an hour. Los Angeles is 370+ miles away almost directly south. It's ultimate destination is about 180 miles northeast from where it started. Departed Los Angeles about 5 hours later that day (Friday). The only action noted on Saturday was "In Transit to Next Facility". Sunday morning I see this - "Your item arrived at our USPS facility in SAN FRANCISCO CA NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER". So, if this is what really happened, my package travelled at least 750 miles in 3 days to end up at a facility that is 14.6 miles away from the post office that it was mailed from. Gee, no wonder that had to raise their rates. Can anyone explain to me why Postmaster Louis DeJoyless got a performance bonus last year? On top of his highest ever salary for the position? Anyone?
Your Name
Em
Feb 12, 2022
Your Comment
This is interesting to learn.

I came here because a package I ordered for delivery to a friend in California has bounced from Washington State (it's origin) to two distribution centers in California and then all the way to a distribution center in Illinois on the other side of the country, which is kinda baffling.

Hopefully it arrives back in California safe and sound.
Your Name
Jon Davidson
Feb 12, 2022
Your Comment
My package says was in Eugene Oregon now it says Roseburg Oregon and at the bottom it says return to the California industry I live in Eugene Oregon please fix this
Your Name
Ann Thornton
Feb 12, 2022
Your Comment
I have a package that routed through Roanoke VA, that is the final stop before it gets to the post office in Danville where I live. It went to Chatham VA which is a small town about 15 miles or so away yesterday. Left there, came back to Danville early this morning, went back to Roanoke again and guess where it is now? Chatham. What is going on?
Your Name
Theodore C Dalton
Feb 11, 2022
Your Comment
Package tracking said was it was in my city in Euclid, Ohio waiting to get scanned; next thing I know it is delivered to a person in Minnesota registered mail. The details are nefarious.
Your Name
Hazen B
Feb 11, 2022
Your Comment
Had a package that was supposed to be out for delivery today. Unless a miracle happens, I can't see that occuring. Everything was arriving smoothly until it departed the Jacksonville, FL center to Fort Myers??? I live no where near there. While I can begrudgingly deal with a extra wait, its giving me flash backs to my other package gone wrong. Really hope they just gave me the wrong tracking number by mistake.

Ordered something from Marketplace. Person lived two hours from me. It was supposed to be a 2 day thing, but I never ended up getting it as once the package arrived at my post office it was rerouted and delivered in a completely different state! Was a vintage collectable too. Nothing uncommon but with the market for these things exploding in price I was very upset. Now if I want to replace it, I'll have to pay $50+ instead of the fair price of $35 I did before.
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Mike D
Feb 10, 2022
Your Comment
I had a package shipped from VT to KY over two weeks ago. It has spent the last week in a Newark to Cincy and back again vortex.
Your Name
Carol B
Feb 10, 2022
Your Comment
Mailed from Woodland, CA to IRS in Kansas City, Mo on January 25, 2022 has not arrived (it is now February 10.
Went back to Woodland, CA post office and on February 6, 2022 mailed another document to IRS in Kansas City, MO via PM Express this time and there is no information about its whereabouts. I really need to know what is going on with this.
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Anonymous
Feb 10, 2022
Your Comment
Ordered a package from Tx to NJ in January, chose this seller because estimated delivery date was the 4-5 of February and it's a valentines day present for my boyfriend. Yesterday the package was in two different distribution centers in NJ, I figured it'd get delivered today. Nope. When I woke up this morning I discovered that my package which was just 45 mins away from my home, is now in Georgia. Honestly ridiculous.
Your Name
Robin W
Feb 10, 2022
Your Comment
I had two packages this week that were supposed to be delivered within US sent from Southern Calif. one going to North Carolina, ended up in Puerto Rico; another going to Hawaii, ended up in Guam. Just received message from Ewa USPS in Hawaii with generic form letter saying sorry, but it will take weeks for package to arrive. This is unacceptable. USPS should clearly offer refund on postage. Disappointing. Both shipped from Santa Ana main post office, went to Anaheim, CA where mistakes occurred. Anaheim USPS facility needs to determine why happens so frequently.
Your Name
Jeanne B
Feb 9, 2022
Your Comment
I mailed a USPS Priority envelope on 2/1/22 from ME to KY which should have arrived in 2 days. For some reason, it went to North Houston, TX on 2/3/22 and arrived in Billings, MT on 2/7/22. It states online that it is currently in transit to the destination but does not indicate that it has actually departed that location. I'm now on hold with customer service with a wait time of 25 minutes. The person I finally spoke to was very nice and took down all kinds of information. I'm hoping the envelope makes it to its destination, but I was told I should hear back within 2-3 business days. I have my fingers crossed!
Your Name
J.R.
Feb 9, 2022
Your Comment
My goodness, such incompetence. I ordered a small package from England on January 3rd, i live in NC. it arrived in NY on January 21st and was stuck in that facility for over 10 days. I filed a complaint, and a few days later they said it was resolved. I just looked at the tracking today and today February 9th it just said it arrived in London England, lol. What in the world?
Your Name
beva J Turpin
Feb 9, 2022
Your Comment
My package was mailed out February 3, priority was supposed to reach destination iowa from North carolina on the 7th but it's the 9th and it just left Houston, Texas. And now says it's on its way to destination.
Your Name
Amerigo
Feb 8, 2022
Your Comment
On 2 February 2022 a shipment tracking update informed me that my item was missent to zipcode 11232 instead of 11228. Today is the 8th of February and I have received no further updates. The distance between the two zipcodes is short! How long will my delivery take?
Your Name
Keerthi
Feb 8, 2022
Your Comment
Package shipped from Seattle to Virginia, reached memphis annex distribution center in two days and it shows package in transit arriving late since 4 days. The same status gets a refresh (automated) every night around 8:30pm est and no further updates whatsoever. Filed an inquiry and item search request.
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Jim Russell
Feb 8, 2022
Your Comment
Package mailed from NY headed to Minn on Jan 29. Arrived in Sringfield Mass on Jan 31st and has been bouncing back and forth from springfield , Mass and Albany , Ny till Feb 6th.
How many time does it need to be sorted before it gets to where it is supposed to be??? For Real… What is the sense of paying price for priority mail???
Your Name
Ava
Feb 8, 2022
Your Comment
I have a package that keeps going back and forth from Oak Creek in Wisconsin to Madison repeatedly since 3 days and usually it goes straight to Iowa from Chicago but went to Wisconsin
Your Name
Sandy C
Feb 7, 2022
Your Comment
How does a package from Chicago to Chicago wind up in New York when it was supposed to be delivered today February 7, 2021 and now it needs to come back to Chicago. It’s scan then where I dropped it off so this isn’t rocket science.
Your Name
Billy Tsou
Feb 7, 2022
Your Comment
USPS Retail Ground service shipped on 1/19 from Utah to NYC with an ETA of 1/25. Arrived in a facility in NJ on 1/30 and sat there for four days before being shipped out to St. Louis on 2/3. Today is 2/7 and I just received tracking notification that it has arrived in De Moines. Rest of the family are getting their USPS packages daily with no issues.