The United States Postal Service


The United States Postal Service

I received a letter this morning. It was a hand written envelope from one of our best customers. Inside it was another window envelope, obviously a check, addressed exactly the same as the outer envelope, marked "return to sender, moved left no forwarding address."

OK, people make mistakes, but I thought the PO should know about it so I asked to talk to a supervisor to explain the problem. That was my first step into wonderland.

I showed her the envelopes, she looked at the "returned" one closely and then said she would be back in a moment. When she returned she said that it was all the fault of my customer, since they had put the address in the lower left hand corner and everyone knows that it should go in the lower right hand corner.

I was so stunned that I didn’t know what to say. I asked her for a document that gave the address recommendations by the USPS and she left to find one.  She is probably still searching, because after 20 minutes I left.  During that time, I looked at the other 20 envelopes i received today and every one that was a "check" or "invoice" had the window in the lower left hand corner. In addition so did a couple of official letters from the State of California and the State of Arizona.

I then took a close look at the "returned" envelope and noticed that the encoding the USPS put on the bottom was one digit off. Either the machine that attempted to read the address missed it, or the keypunch operator did the same.  So the envelope ended up at the wrong post office.

So, rather than simply tossing it back int he mail stream and having it go to the right place, the wizards at the USPS sent it back to the sender, who put it in another envelope and sent it out all over again.

My point on all of this is that if the "supervisor" at my local post office had simply said — "Gosh, it looks like there was a keypunch error, it happens, sorry" I would have forgotten the whole thing. However since she attempted to cover it up and blame me for the problem, it has become a cause celebre. 

Remember Watergate and Monicagate.  It wasn’t the crime, it was the coverup that caused all the bruhaha.
The postal service has a terrible reputation, much of it undeserved. However I think their problem is their interface with the public. Not the carriers, but in the offices.  I have found most conversations I have with the in house USPS personnel to mirror the one above. They can be defensive, angry, and often rude.

I’ll probably never get a letter delivered again. So be it 

This is the problem with a monopoly. There simply is no place else to go, and they have no reason to clean up their act.


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John Van Horn

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