The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-27-2006, 10:32 AM
TheBoneyKingofNowhere TheBoneyKingofNowhere is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
US Post Office Protocol, no stamp, no address, no return address

So yesterday at the office I had a pile of stamped, outgoing mail, along with three envelopes that were to remain here for other people to pick up. These envelopes only had a first name written on the front of them. Today, I get to the office, and there are only two envelopes sitting there waiting to get picked up. I'm sure I must have included one of them with the outgoing mail by mistake, and dumped it in out mailbox outside my office.

The question, obviously -- does anyone know what the post office does with any of these envelopes? I called the post office where our mail goes, and was treated, well, not so great. "I don't know" is the answer I got. I asked if there was anyone that did know. I was put on hold for at least 10 minutes before hanging up.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 04-27-2006, 10:52 AM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ATX
Posts: 5,397
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBoneyKingofNowhere
The question, obviously -- does anyone know what the post office does with any of these envelopes?
Thanks to the Discovery Channel, I know that there still exists a "Dead Letter" office. Your envelope will most likey go there to languish until someone has time to examine it and then, most likey, open it looking for an address.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-27-2006, 10:55 AM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ATX
Posts: 5,397
Wiki had this to say:
Quote:
Mail with addresses which cannot be resolved by the automated system are separated for human intervention. If a local postal worker can read the address, the appropriate bar code is printed onto the item. If not, mail is either returned to the sender (first class mail with a valid return address) or is sent to one of three Mail Recovery Centers in the United States (formerly known as Dead Letter Offices, originated by Benjamin Franklin in the 1770s) where it receives more intense scrutiny, including being opened to determine if any of the contents are a clue. If no valid address can be determined, the items are held for 90 days in case of inquiry by the customer; and if they are not claimed then they are destroyed.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-27-2006, 11:19 AM
TheBoneyKingofNowhere TheBoneyKingofNowhere is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Well, I just stopped the postal worker to drops off our office mail and told him my situation. He politely wrote down the name and number of a "carrier supervisor" who he said would be glad to help.

I called her, and she gave me the name of someone downtown. In calling this person, I was again given the name and number of someone else in the same building. This person took down every detail aobut the envelope in question -- the color, name on the front, when and where I dropped it off, etc. She basically assured me that if there was no stamp or address on it, that it would show up in her office in the next couple of days and that she would definitely give me a call when it did. After much pessimism, I'm suddenly optimistic that I'll get this envelope back by early next week.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-27-2006, 11:33 AM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ATX
Posts: 5,397
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBoneyKingofNowhere
After much pessimism, I'm suddenly optimistic that I'll get this envelope back by early next week.
That is good news. Much better than the outcome when I unintentionally mailed some international letters without postage. Most of them finally made it back to me -- six months later.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-27-2006, 02:29 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
SDSAB
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: At the Diogenes Club
Posts: 48,869
Bartleby would prefer not to tell you.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-27-2006, 04:16 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: San Francisco area
Posts: 14,679
Those DLO people can be really aggressive and resourceful in tracking down the owner of a wayward item.

About three years ago, I mailed some receipts to the landlord, along with the rent check. The check never arrived. About a month later, I receive on separate days, packets from the post office.

First one contained the envelope, horridly mangled and empty, with a form note saying "damaged in mail" No kidding.

Next day brings the check, with a note saying "loose in mail" My address printed on the check was out of date, but the memo line had "January rent 1234 Happy St" so that's how they got it back to me.

The amazing thing - two of the three receipts also came back with a loose in mail note, with nothing more than my name and last four digits of the credit card at the bottom of the receipt to identify me.

I didn't even open the packages with the check or receipt - this post office, at least, puts the item in a plastic baggie with the lost in mail tag, and my name and address was written on the tag. I just put them into an envelope and mailed them off to the landlord - "See, I wasn't kidding when I said the post office ate it!"

It's unfortunate that they tore the envelope in the first place, but their efforts to get the contents back to me were astonishing.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-27-2006, 04:19 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: San Francisco area
Posts: 14,679
Forgot to say that this was in San Francisco, hardly the sort of place where the postman knows everybody on the route personally, which makes the recovery success even more amazing.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-27-2006, 07:23 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBoneyKingofNowhere
She basically assured me that if there was no stamp or address on it, that it would show up in her office in the next couple of days and that she would definitely give me a call when it did. After much pessimism, I'm suddenly optimistic that I'll get this envelope back by early next week.
I had that happen when I dropped a work folder in the mailbox along with several letters. I was eventually directed to a supervisor, who asked where it was deposited, and details about the folder and what identifying stuff would be inside it. Then took my phone number, and said they would call if they found it.

Got a call in 2 days; they had found it and were holding it for me. I just had to go down to the main Post Office with ID, and pick it up. (Actually, they even offered to mail it to my home, if I would promise to pay the 'postage due' when it arrived. But I wanted it back in my hands NOW.)

So there really is a fair chance that the Post Office will get this back to you.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:25 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.