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#1
Old 03-23-2014, 10:22 AM
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How to get Post Office to stop delivering someone else's mail to our house

This is insanely frustrating. Years ago our daughter moved from our house to the other side of town (same zip code), and the post office keeps delivering mail sent to her new address to our house. It's got her correct name and address, and still they put it in our box. We've tried writing corrections on the envelopes and sending them back, and going to the post office and speaking to various people who assure us it's fixed. Yet it keeps happening. How can we fix this?
#2
Old 03-23-2014, 10:49 AM
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You may need to write a letter to the postmaster for your local post office informing them of the issue that you are experiencing. Explain your situation and the attempts that you have undertaken trying to resolve this matter. Don't exaggerate; simply describe your frustration with the lack of effort that has been made.Your daughter may also need to write a similar letter as it is her mail that is being incorrectly delivered.

While it may be annoying, unless you aren't close to your daughter it is good that her mail is at least going to someone who she can trust with it.
#3
Old 03-23-2014, 11:25 AM
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Way back in 1967, I took a class at the Columbus College of Art and Design. One class, and I'm not even sure whether I completed it. I'm still getting mail from their alumni association. This is in spite of the fact that I've moved more than 20 times since then, and I'm back where I lived before taking that class. There doesn't seem to be any way to stop it, so I just toss it.

And I still get mail for my father who died almost 20 years ago . . . and his deceased older brother, who never lived here.
#4
Old 03-23-2014, 01:05 PM
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14 years ago I lived in a different house across town - it was a rental unit. The guy that had lived there before me was still getting mail sent there. I would return it to the post office with "no longer at this address" written on it and eventually all but one piece of mail stopped coming. The last piece of mail was some sort of EMT career magazine. It would not stop coming - even going inside the post office and talking to people about it. I finally gave up, then 11 years ago I moved to this new house - and darnit if that stupid magazine of his didn't follow me here! WHAT THE?! I've never been able to stop it, no matter what I do. It's like a ghost magazine. Haunting me. It makes me a little nervous.
#5
Old 03-23-2014, 01:25 PM
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Speaking with the postmaster can work wonders. However, actually tracking down said postmaster can be difficult. One place I've lived, she was the only employee most days. Most places are bigger operations and I've had trouble getting my complaints to someone who matters.

We may now recommence the anecdotes that are completely irrelevant to the OP.
#6
Old 03-23-2014, 02:58 PM
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The OP needs to talk to the local postmaster, and if that doesn't work, go to the Postal Inspection Service and explain the locals are deliberately misdelivering mail. The postal inspectors can line employees walked out the door if necessary, and postmasters hate having to deal with them.

In the case of the other anecdotes, the post office is not going to take it upon themselves to refuse to deliver mail for a given address, particularly mail correctly addressed that the occupant simply doesn't want. (There are narrow exceptions, notably for sexually oriented mail, but that's not likely to apply to the alumni newsletter unless you went to a unique alma mater ). Your best bet there is to call up the school and explain they are wasting their money mailing stuff to you.
#7
Old 03-23-2014, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slash2k View Post
In the case of the other anecdotes, the post office is not going to take it upon themselves to refuse to deliver mail for a given address, particularly mail correctly addressed that the occupant simply doesn't want.
Okay, but how does the Post Office even determine that a letter is "correctly addressed"? If I move, and I submit a change of address request, they say they'll forward mail to my new address for only a certain period of time. The presumption is that after that, they'll just deliver mail with my old address to the old address. But they know that's not the correct address anymore, because I've submitted a change of address request.
#8
Old 03-23-2014, 03:39 PM
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Don't forget the possibility of cock up. Suppose your daughter at one point had a redirection in place to your house and it never got cancelled?
#9
Old 03-23-2014, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slash2k View Post
Your best bet there is to call up the school and explain they are wasting their money mailing stuff to you.
Good effin' luck. They'll just say, "But we wuv you... and you might someday be rich. Here, have an alum newsletter."

The tools that subscription managers have at their disposal draw from the larger pool of marketing targeting tools and have truly unsettling power. At least the magazine folks think they're doing you a favor tracking you down across the country.
#10
Old 03-23-2014, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
... cock up ... your daughter ...
This had an ominous look to it until I noticed you're from the "land of haggis". There's some expression meaning "make a mistake" that sounds like that there, isn't there?
#11
Old 03-23-2014, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
Don't forget the possibility of cock up. Suppose your daughter at one point had a redirection in place to your house and it never got cancelled?
If the daughter had redirected the mail to the OP's house, it would arrive with a yellow label on it with the OP's address. If it doesn't have the yellow forwarding label, then something weird is going on.

Napier: If I understand the situation correctly, you live at something like 123 Main St. You daughter lives at something like 456 Elm St. For some reason mail addressed to 456 Elm St. is being delivered to 123 Main St? Is this correct? Does the mail have yellow forwarding labels on it?

Is your daughter on the same carrier route that you are? All that I can think of is that some long-time carrier recognizes the name and just puts it in your box. Mail like that wouldn't be switched between carriers. Personally, where I live, I never have the same carrier two days in a row, but that may happen in some small towns.

I'd like you to try something: Go to this page on the USPS web site. Put in your daughter's address. It will tell you the USPS standardized address for your daughter. Is the standardized address the same as the address she has been using and appears on the misdelivered mail? Then click on Show Mailing Industry Details. Note the Carrier Route information. Is it the same as yours?

Everyone else has been giving anecdotes about receiving mail addressed to 123 Main St with the name of a former occupant. If I understand your message, it sounds like this is not the case with you.
#12
Old 03-23-2014, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guizot View Post
Okay, but how does the Post Office even determine that a letter is "correctly addressed"? If I move, and I submit a change of address request, they say they'll forward mail to my new address for only a certain period of time. The presumption is that after that, they'll just deliver mail with my old address to the old address. But they know that's not the correct address anymore, because I've submitted a change of address request.
After the forwarding time expires, for most mail the choices are 1) deliver to the address, even if the person is no longer there, or 2) throw it in the trash can. Which is easier and cheaper for the post office? (First-class mail can be returned to the sender; most other classes are not.)

After time expires, no, they DON'T know it's not the correct address anymore. They only know there is no current forwarding order in place to send it anywhere else. The change of address is gone from the system--whether it should be retained is a valid question, but what's the point of keeping it? If it's in the system, they could automatically route the mail to the dumpster, I suppose, but is that worth it to the post office?
#13
Old 03-23-2014, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
If the daughter had redirected the mail to the OP's house, it would arrive with a yellow label on it with the OP's address. If it doesn't have the yellow forwarding label, then something weird is going on.

Napier: If I understand the situation correctly, you live at something like 123 Main St. You daughter lives at something like 456 Elm St. For some reason mail addressed to 456 Elm St. is being delivered to 123 Main St? Is this correct? Does the mail have yellow forwarding labels on it?

Is your daughter on the same carrier route that you are? All that I can think of is that some long-time carrier recognizes the name and just puts it in your box. Mail like that wouldn't be switched between carriers. Personally, where I live, I never have the same carrier two days in a row, but that may happen in some small towns.

I'd like you to try something: Go to this page on the USPS web site. Put in your daughter's address. It will tell you the USPS standardized address for your daughter. Is the standardized address the same as the address she has been using and appears on the misdelivered mail? Then click on Show Mailing Industry Details. Note the Carrier Route information. Is it the same as yours?

Everyone else has been giving anecdotes about receiving mail addressed to 123 Main St with the name of a former occupant. If I understand your message, it sounds like this is not the case with you.
Like you ask, this is not a situation of yellow forwarding labels. My daughter is a former occupant of this house from a decade or so ago but not since. Mail addressed to Daughter Napier, 123 Daughters Road, Sametown ST 12345 is getting delivered to my house at 789 Napiers Road, Sametown ST 12345. There are no additional labels or notes or anything on the mail, nothing about "forwarded" or the like.

I tried the nifty web site you linked to. We both are on Carrier Route R001. This is a small town in a rural area, with a population in the hundreds. Perhaps R001 is the only route? Does this literally mean the road path and the person driving along it are the same for us both? (I guess I should have some idea of this but I really don't know if a mail carrier can deliver to several hundred mailboxes or not.) There is also a Delivery Point Code (which seems to be the last two digits of our addresses) and a check digit which is different for us both and an eLOT number also different for us both. The other fields, if they show anything, show the same thing for both of us.

I think this has to be a conscious redirection being done by somebody in the mail office or on the truck, on the basis of their recollection of where my daughter is "supposed" to live. There's nothing on the envelope that shows my address. Some other mechanism is telling somebody they can put it in our box to get it to her.

We did fill out forms to change her address, by the way - twice in fact.
#14
Old 03-23-2014, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Napier View Post
Like you ask, this is not a situation of yellow forwarding labels. My daughter is a former occupant of this house from a decade or so ago but not since. Mail addressed to Daughter Napier, 123 Daughters Road, Sametown ST 12345 is getting delivered to my house at 789 Napiers Road, Sametown ST 12345. There are no additional labels or notes or anything on the mail, nothing about "forwarded" or the like.

I tried the nifty web site you linked to. We both are on Carrier Route R001. This is a small town in a rural area, with a population in the hundreds. Perhaps R001 is the only route? Does this literally mean the road path and the person driving along it are the same for us both? (I guess I should have some idea of this but I really don't know if a mail carrier can deliver to several hundred mailboxes or not.) There is also a Delivery Point Code (which seems to be the last two digits of our addresses) and a check digit which is different for us both and an eLOT number also different for us both. The other fields, if they show anything, show the same thing for both of us.

I think this has to be a conscious redirection being done by somebody in the mail office or on the truck, on the basis of their recollection of where my daughter is "supposed" to live. There's nothing on the envelope that shows my address. Some other mechanism is telling somebody they can put it in our box to get it to her.

We did fill out forms to change her address, by the way - twice in fact.
So you are on a rural route. That makes it much more likely that you have a full-time permanent carrier who recognizes his customers by name. Try not to get mad at him, he thinks he's doing you a favor and correcting a mistake. It will be to your advantage to be on friendly terms with him.

Yes, mail carriers deliver to hundreds of addresses in a given day.

If at all possible, try the personal touch. If you ever see him, hand him back a piece of your daughter's mail and explain the problem. (Keep a letter addressed to you daughter that she doesn't need on hand for this.) Act like you're just having a friendly neighbor-to-neighbor down home chat.

If that's not possible leave him a personal note in your mailbox. If you like attach it to a small gift. He'll remember you. (He knows your name, right?) The only problem is if you leave it on his day off and a sub gets it.

Bringing in the big guns should not be your first attempt to fix the problem. You may be able to fix it with a little heart-to-heart talk at the source.
#15
Old 03-23-2014, 07:26 PM
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With respect to the ghost magazine - write "DECEASED - RETURN TO SENDER" across it and drop it back in the mail. This seems to work in at least some cases.
#16
Old 03-23-2014, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
Don't forget the possibility of cock up.
At my age, it's only a dim memory.
#17
Old 03-23-2014, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
If at all possible, try the personal touch. If you ever see him, hand him back a piece of your daughter's mail and explain the problem. (Keep a letter addressed to you daughter that she doesn't need on hand for this.) Act like you're just having a friendly neighbor-to-neighbor down home chat.
My letter-carrier-turned-temp-supervisor (204B) husband agrees with trying to talk to the carrier, or at least calling the office and asking to talk to the delivery supervisor before going to the postmaster. (Postmasters may not even be in that office on a daily basis.) Sounds like you've got someone who's trying to be helpful and is causing problems instead.

BTW, forwarding orders (with the yellow label) expire after one year, and after that point, the carrier is supposed to know that this is "old" mail and return it to sender. That doesn't always happen - we moved in October and are getting no-forwarding-label mail from a previous tenant. My husband finally talked to the fill-in carrier (not in the same office he supervises), telling her that the names written on the box were the only valid ones. Said carrier had a "whatever" attitude, and we got another bank-issued letter for the former tenant the next day, so yeah, sometimes it's being busy, sometimes it's thinking they're helping, and sometimes it's giving zero fucks.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 03-23-2014 at 09:07 PM.
#18
Old 03-23-2014, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slash2k View Post
The change of address is gone from the system--whether it should be retained is a valid question . . .
Well, that's exactly my question. They should just keep it in the system. Or are the KBs too expensive?
Quote:
Originally Posted by slash2k View Post
1) deliver to the address, even if the person is no longer there, or 2) throw it in the trash can.
The third option is automatically return to sender, as though it were a letter with no address at all. Once a change of address has been submitted, keeping that data would make this possible. (At least in theory.) Let the sender figure it out. Is it really so expensive to do that? Wouldn't the reduction in mail make up for that?

My concern it that, the way it is now, the new resident at the address has to receive every letter from every business that decides to send something to that address with that name, put a line through it, and put it back in the mail box. This is because so many entities (using first-class mail) are drawing upon databases that get sold back and forth. Often these are entities which have never even had contact with the addressee. They're just fishing, really. This is not so bad, actually. The real problem is that some entities are sending mail of a sensitive nature, such as credit offers. If some other piece of mail with a SSN (tax forms, for example) arrives it seems pretty easy to take advantage of someone.

Also, if I worked for an employer who still has my old address somewhere in their multiple databases, it's easy for them to send my W2, for example, to that old address. Instead of throwing it away or hoping that the new resident will be a good Samaritan and return it (which often doesn't happen), the PO itself should return it, because earlier I submitted a change of address. As far as I know, this is not what happens now.

ETA: Seeing Ferret Herder's post above, I see that maybe it's what's supposed to happen, but it places the burden entirely on the carrier.

Last edited by guizot; 03-23-2014 at 09:57 PM. Reason: Intervening post
#19
Old 03-23-2014, 09:56 PM
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Panache 45, you might have noticed on some mail the phrase "address correction requested". That causes the USPS to advise the sender of the address change. My mother passed away in 1992, and we still get mail (mostly charities) for her about once a month. She never lived here, or at our previous place. But I was the executor of her estate, and had her mail redirected to me, two moves ago. Both times when we moved, the mail dutifully followed within a month or so. You would think that after no donations in over twenty years they might notice, but apparently not.
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#20
Old 03-23-2014, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guizot View Post
The third option is automatically return to sender, as though it were a letter with no address at all.
"Return to sender" costs the post office money. For standard / bulk-rate mail (that is, anything other than first class), they recoup that cost by charging the sender a fee for return. The sender has to agree in advance to pay the fees by endorsing the mail "Return Service Requested" or "Address Service Requested."

If the sender isn't willing to pay the fee for return, then no, return-to-sender isn't an option under current rules.

First-class mail is handled under different rules, and the first-class-postage cost includes forwarding or return service, but most of what the post office handles is bulk mail.
#21
Old 03-23-2014, 10:51 PM
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Dear husband Shoujin says that rural carriers get to "single bundle" their route's mail (grab all the mail for a particular house and rubber-band it together so it's a quick "grab next bunch and put in box" move) and that they're probably just bundling up mail by surname, especially if it's a not-so-common surname. Thus that's probably the problem in this case.

On the unrelated topic of forwarded mail: He also says that forwarding orders are kept on file in the system after expiration for more like 2-3 years, but only supervisors and up have access to that info. The vast majority of forwarded mail makes it out of the mail stream and back to senders/on to the actual recipient without the carrier at the old route ever seeing it, especially for single-family homes. It's sorted and recognized/redirected by computer. Obviously problems may occur at times.
#22
Old 03-24-2014, 10:41 AM
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I work for a company that does both financial processing and mail processing. Your issue here is likely not the USPS at all and there is no amount of dealing with the USPS that will solve it.

Most likely, if you consistently see mail addressed to someone else being mailed to you after changing address at least once, you have been householded. In direct mail, householding is when the business wishes to send mail to all persons in a home. Suppose, for example, you have a bank account at a bank and your wife has a different bank account at the same bank. Names are different, but addresses the same. In this case, the bank saves money by combining your monthly statements into the same envelope. Linking the two accounts is called householding.

The odds are that the originator of the mail to your daughter has her name associated with your name and thus, wherever you move, her name will continue to be linked to your's.

To defeat householding, simply contact the originator of the mail and let them know what is going on. They don't like such mistakes either because it represents a cost and an error in their database.
#23
Old 03-24-2014, 11:14 AM
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Leave your carrier a humorous note, explaining your issue and attempts to fix it. Then apologize for not starting at the top-with the postal carrier!

Throw yourself at his mercy, to please, please make it stop, I beg of you!

Include a few homemade cookies and I'd wager your problem will be miraculously fixed! No phone calls or phone trees, or annoying bureaucrats to deal with! Definitely worth baking cookies for, if you ask me!

Good Luck!
#24
Old 03-24-2014, 11:15 AM
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So how do I get the USPS to stop delivering mail for people who don't live her anymore? We bought an ex-rental and there are a dozen different people getting spam here, in addition to our own spam which is quite sufficient. At first I was "NO LONGER AT THIS ADDRESS"-ing all of it but eventually I gave up and started throwing it out (yes, I know I'm not supposed to do this.)
#25
Old 03-24-2014, 11:34 AM
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As someone who lives in a rural area, I echo the advice to a) try and meet the carrier at your mail box and have a friendly chat, or (if that's not possible) b) leave a little note in your mailbox, or C) call the post office and ask when the carrier for your route gets back from delivering mail, and say you'd like to speak with him. Just explain what's going on - that your daughter now lives. I think it's clear that he's recognizing the name and inserting it into your "slot" in his delivery schedule.

I'm curious, though, how often mail gets correctly delivered to your daughter at her new address? Seldom, sometimes, never? Is it a certain type of mail that only gets misdelivered to your house?
#26
Old 03-24-2014, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
So how do I get the USPS to stop delivering mail for people who don't live her anymore? We bought an ex-rental and there are a dozen different people getting spam here, in addition to our own spam which is quite sufficient. At first I was "NO LONGER AT THIS ADDRESS"-ing all of it but eventually I gave up and started throwing it out (yes, I know I'm not supposed to do this.)
A few years ago I was unhappy about the volume of mail coming to us for my gf's ex-husband. We had no forwarding address. I began writing to the senders (especially those with return addressed envelopes) notifying them that the guy had died. I was creative, writing long missives lamenting the loss. It has worked!!
#27
Old 03-24-2014, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Toledo Jim View Post
Panache 45, you might have noticed on some mail the phrase "address correction requested". That causes the USPS to advise the sender of the address change. My mother passed away in 1992, and we still get mail (mostly charities) for her about once a month. She never lived here, or at our previous place. But I was the executor of her estate, and had her mail redirected to me, two moves ago. Both times when we moved, the mail dutifully followed within a month or so. You would think that after no donations in over twenty years they might notice, but apparently not.
I really wish I had been warned about this. It was a bit unsettling when it started happening. I'm not only getting mail for my mother, who passed away in 2012, but also for her second husband, who died in 2005. She gets a lot of mail. In fact she got an offer for life insurance last week. He mostly gets hunting magazines.

I really wish there were a forwarding-for-the-deceased option that would not send out address corrections. On the more amusing side, I was a member of a small sorority once, for a semester. Then I transferred and was shifted to the alumni list. I was living with my parents at the time, so annual newsletters came there.

When I married and moved out, I didn't give a thought to it. Later, Mom tried sending change of address notices, more than once, but it didn't seem to work. My parents moved twice and the newsletter followed them both times. Now that Mom has died, and the post office has notified senders that she's living in my house, that old newsletter is finally coming to the person they're trying to mail it to. I'm still not particularly interested, but the correct person is finally tossing it in the trash.
#28
Old 03-24-2014, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by MostlyUseless View Post
Suppose, for example, you have a bank account at a bank and your wife has a different bank account at the same bank. Names are different, but addresses the same. In this case, the bank saves money by combining your monthly statements into the same envelope. Linking the two accounts is called householding.
In the UK that would actually be illegal unless both parties agree in writing to allow it. A bank account is private, and to disclose details to a 3rd party, even a spouse, would be a breach of the data protection act. After all - they have no idea what your relationship is like.

This can be a damn nuisance at times - my wife and I frequently receive identical stuff from various financial organisations - that's not a huge problem, but when I phone the AA to change the car on the policy, and they refuse to speak to me because it is in my wife's name - grrrr.
#29
Old 03-24-2014, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yllaria View Post
...
I really wish there were a forwarding-for-the-deceased option that would not send out address corrections....
The USPS may not have such option but the Direct Marketing Association does. Details from USPS and with link to DMA here.
#30
Old 03-24-2014, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MostlyUseless View Post
I work for a company that does both financial processing and mail processing. Your issue here is likely not the USPS at all and there is no amount of dealing with the USPS that will solve it.
If you had read the OP you would have noticed that the mail was addressed properly - to the daughter's new address - but was being delivered to her old address.
Nice user name post combo, though.
#31
Old 03-24-2014, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
So you are on a rural route. That makes it much more likely that you have a full-time permanent carrier who recognizes his customers by name. Try not to get mad at him, he thinks he's doing you a favor and correcting a mistake. It will be to your advantage to be on friendly terms with him.

Yes, mail carriers deliver to hundreds of addresses in a given day.

If at all possible, try the personal touch. If you ever see him, hand him back a piece of your daughter's mail and explain the problem. (Keep a letter addressed to you daughter that she doesn't need on hand for this.) Act like you're just having a friendly neighbor-to-neighbor down home chat.

If that's not possible leave him a personal note in your mailbox. If you like attach it to a small gift. He'll remember you. (He knows your name, right?) The only problem is if you leave it on his day off and a sub gets it.

Bringing in the big guns should not be your first attempt to fix the problem. You may be able to fix it with a little heart-to-heart talk at the source.
Since this is a rural route, I assume the mail is hand sorted, the way it used to be when I worked as a carrier one summer. Experienced carriers sort very quickly, I saw them doing it, and they never let me sort since I worked lots of routes and I would have been sorting until noon. I strongly suspect that they sorted by name, not address.
I'm not sure if a present is necessary, but if you can flag down the carrier and show him or her the mail, they'll never do it again.
Assuming she doesn't get tons of mail, I bet the carrier has never even noticed the new address.
#32
Old 03-24-2014, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Iggy View Post
The USPS may not have such option but the Direct Marketing Association does. Details from USPS and with link to DMA here.
Thanks. I had to register in order to use it, but I can understand the requirement for the registration. We'll see if it helps.
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