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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
Gary Raymond
Mar 8, 2021
Your Comment
I must challenge your statement, "most direct route from sender to receiver".
When I mail my electricity bill payment, it travels from Central Virginia to
North Carolina and then back to Central Virginia.
The electric company is across the street from my post office.
Your Name
Marge Buzogany
Mar 8, 2021
Your Comment
Cannot understand how a Langhorne post office can mail a package destined to a Langhorne address, one which is a local hospital, end up in a Rhode Island facility and sit there for days only to come back to Langhorne. If there are so many packages maybe more employees need to be hired.
Your Name
Katherine
Feb 18, 2023
Your Comment
Mt mailbox being mistouted alot and frequently through the same post offices can I report this to get it resolved. No updates are being made for days when my mails an hour away it's shipped to another state and I wait days to weeks for it to return sometimes.
Your Name
Cathi Locke
Feb 14, 2023
Your Comment
I purchased an expensive Barbie doll from an Etsy seller and it was stated by USPS tracking to arrive on 2/11.
When it didn’t arrive that day next time I checked tracking it stated that my doll was in Barrigada Guam distribution center.
I let seller know and she checked to make sure she had address to me correct and it was. The seller had made a point to promptly ship the doll so that I could receive it by 2/18 (my Birthday) the doll is a gift from my husband. Not sure how long it will take or if I will ever even receive the doll now. The high prices charged now by USPS for shipping and then this kind of thing happens. It’s crazy.
Your Name
Joshua Housman
Feb 13, 2023
Your Comment
My package has been going back and forth between my local distribution center in new york and salt lake city for 3 weeks
Your Name
Mary Chilton
Feb 6, 2023
Your Comment
My packages are frequently sent to a town of the same name in Utah instead of Arizona, even though the zip code is different, but similar. They eventually make it to me, amazing fast, all things considered. Just this week, one was sent to a town with the same name in Kansas. It gets nerve-wracking. Don't they pay attention to zip codes?