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  #1  
Old 09-21-2010, 09:51 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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percent of mail lost by USPS?

I've screwed up a couple of electronic bill payments lately, and so I got to wondering about the alternative, i.e. sending paper checks via US mail.

Question: what percentage of properly addressed domestic first-class mail goes undelivered by the US Postal Service?
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  #2  
Old 09-21-2010, 10:06 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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It is hard to know exactly because most of the reports of it happening are lies to cover up a mistake by the sender. For properly addressed mail with a legible address, it is very very rare for it to get lost by the USPS. It has never happened to many people and I don't it has ever happened to me. Occasionally a postal worker with be found with stored bags of undelivered mail in his garage or something but that is a serious offense.
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:04 AM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is online now
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At a company where I used to work, we had a customer keep telling us that they had sent the check and we just thought "yeah, whatever" and eventually told them they either had to send us the check and we were going to put them on COD. They sent us a check but swore that they had already sent one weeks ago. We didn't think much of it until about 3 months later when we got an envelope from the post office and the carrier explained to us that it had been accidentally diverted to Jamaica or some crap. I have no idea how that's even possible since it only had a 28 cent stamp or whatever, but there you have it. There was also something strange about the address too, I think the sender was actually in Jamaica Queens or something weird like that, can't quite remember.

So, to answer the OP - the USPS has screwed up at least once that I know of, but they eventually fixed it.

Last edited by Darth Panda; 09-21-2010 at 11:05 AM..
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  #4  
Old 09-21-2010, 11:06 AM
joebuck20 joebuck20 is online now
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This is purely anecdotal, but in five years of renting Netflix, during which time I've received about 600 or so discs, only twice have I failed to receive a movie. And in both those cases the movie was delivered to a neighbor who was kind enough to bring it over.
Also I still pay many of my bills through the mail, and as far as I can tell none of them have ever gotten lost.

Last edited by joebuck20; 09-21-2010 at 11:06 AM..
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  #5  
Old 09-21-2010, 11:47 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is online now
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I pay my bills by mail (it's cheaper) and have never had one go astray. I also have been submitting manuscripts for over 25 years; again, every one has reached its destination (and, usually came back to me). We mailed dozens of packages to my daughter in Namibia; every one reached her.

The letter carriers who cause scandal about not delivering are always keeping bulk mail and catalogs. They're not stupid enough not to deliver first-class mail. You won't miss an advertising flyer, but if you don't get your electric bill, you're going to say something, and if it's consistent the post office will find out.

There are letters lost from time to time, but the number is quite small.
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  #6  
Old 09-21-2010, 12:04 PM
Yorikke Yorikke is offline
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I've missed one or two Entertainment Weeklies, but, AFAIK, that's it.

Joe
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  #7  
Old 09-21-2010, 12:24 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
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"In other board action, Delores Killette, the Postal Service’s consumer advocate and vice president of Consumer Affairs, reported that on-time delivery of mail during the past three months was largely steady with 96 percent of overnight single-piece First-Class mail delivered on time."

Link.Note that measures on-time delivery, so 4% of mail is delivered late or not at all.
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  #8  
Old 09-21-2010, 12:47 PM
SeldomSeen SeldomSeen is offline
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It seems like everyone likes to grumble about the post office, probably because they're just a handy target...but I'll admit to being a bit of a fan. It's actually one of the better services the government provides.

Strictly anecdotal of course, but I ran a mail-order seed business for a few years and found out USPS was the only way to go.
FEDEX= fast and reliable, but expensive
UPS= fairly fast, slightly less expensive, less reliable. They muffed several orders before I gave up on them
Roadway and other minor carriers= fuggedaboudit, couldn't get anything right.
USPS handled all my shipments cheaply and dependably, never fouled an order. The only downside was that it took slightly longer. I still offered FEDEX overnight delivery if a customer was willing to pay for it, but very few were.

I'm also reminded of the time several years ago when a winter storm in the midwest snarled transportation and delayed Christmas deliveries all across the country. On Christmas morning, no less, our local postmaster was out in his own car delivering mail and packages that had come in the day before, too late to make that day's mail. He had given his letter carriers the day off, and had to cover three rural routes himself. I heard later that postmasters all across the country had done the same, as a goodwill gesture...at no extra pay. Gave me a whole new appreciation for civil servants!

bottom line; the post office is still the safest & most cost-effective way to send anything. The folks that call for dissolving the USPS in favor of electronic transfer and private carriers simply don't know what they're saying.
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  #9  
Old 09-21-2010, 12:49 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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I bought some silver years ago. When it didn't show I contacted the seller. He asked that I give it a few more weeks. I gave it a month and finally it arrived. About three months after that I got the original shipment and it was stamped to say that it had been stuck in the bottom of a sorting bin.
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  #10  
Old 09-21-2010, 07:33 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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I believe the Post Office delivers more than 99% of the properly addressed First Class mail.

I know that once or twice a year, I will get a piece of mail intended for my next-door neighbor -- I just carry that across and put it in their mailbox. Once in a great while, I will get mail for the same address on the next street over -- I just mark that "wrong address" and leave it sticking out of my mailbox, and the postman takes it and delivers it. So all that eventually gets delivered, even if a day late.

All the stories I've read of carriers found with a garage full of undelivered mail were 3rd class -- junk mail -- that's the stuff recipients aren't expecting and don't complain about missing, and also the bulkiest & heaviest for the carrier.

I have seen stories about cases where a Post Office building is being gutted & remodeled, and they find mail that had slipped between a counter and the wall 30 or 40 years ago. The Post Office always makes a major effort to deliver those letters, even to descendents of the original addressee, if necessary -- way more effort than would be covered by the original 18˘ or whatever stamp.
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  #11  
Old 09-21-2010, 07:57 PM
SpoilerVirgin SpoilerVirgin is offline
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In my experience the USPS is one of the most reliable companies around. I pay all of my bills by check through the mail, and in almost 30 years don't ever remember a check going astray. The one time that none of my bills got paid, it turned out that I had sealed and stamped the envelopes, and then left them in my stamp box.

There was also a period of several years in which I received a package once a week sent through the U.S. Mail. Only one of the packages, which was sent around Halloween, never arrived. It finally showed up in April of the following year, with a note saying that it had gotten stuck in the bottom of a bag in a mail sorting facility.

I absolutely trust the post office more than any other delivery service.
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  #12  
Old 09-21-2010, 08:09 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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I think a lot of it is local. I live in Chicago which is notorious for bad mail.

I was getting a lot of mail that never came, after complaining and complaining and never ONE TIME getting a response from any one at the post office, I simply had my mail delievered to me at work.

Well my work was the 60611 zip code, for those who don't know the fancy address with the ritzy places in the downtown area of Chicago.

Amount of mail I never got went to ZERO. I never had anything get lost.

Then when I left my job I went back to having my mail sent to my house, it's still a mess. I live in a lower income west/north west side neighborhood.

So it's more than a bit odd, when the Chicago post office deals with the nice areas, they manage but the less than nice neighborhoods, they don't care.
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  #13  
Old 09-21-2010, 08:19 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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So far I've gotten a mangled letter in a plastic bag sent to me with an apology letter from the post office twice, and on a third occasion I was sent a photocopy of a check they then destroyed after the envelope was ruined rather than sending it back to me I still don't know they didn't mail the check back rather than assuring me that they destroyed it.
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  #14  
Old 09-21-2010, 08:24 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
Then when I left my job I went back to having my mail sent to my house, it's still a mess. I live in a lower income west/north west side neighborhood.

So it's more than a bit odd, when the Chicago post office deals with the nice areas, they manage but the less than nice neighborhoods, they don't care.
In poorer neighborhoods, it's much more common for mail to be stolen from mailboxes after delivery. Is your mailbox secured in any way that would prevent someone from stealing the mail out of it?
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  #15  
Old 09-21-2010, 10:21 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
I know that once or twice a year, I will get a piece of mail intended for my next-door neighbor.
Consider yourself lucky. I get misaddressed mail (not only for my neighbor, but for the guy with the same number a street over, and sometimes someone with a completely unconnected address) at least twice a month, no exaggeration. I just walk over to the neighbor or dump it back in the mailbox if it's completely off. I can only hope the same happens for me.

As for mail sent that (to my knowledge) disappears or gets returned to sender for no apparent reason, that happens to me about 3-4 times a year. I probably send in the neighborhood of 150-200 pieces of mail a year, so I'm looking at a 2% loss or return rate. In the oddest incident, I had to send a piece of mail three times with the exact same (confirmed) address before it got to the intended recipient.

Still, for what the service costs and what I get, I'm happy with the USPS.
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  #16  
Old 09-21-2010, 10:22 PM
Anna Nimity Anna Nimity is offline
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About five years ago, I sent a medium sized package out priority mail. It was about two weeks before Christmas. It was well wrapped and clearly labeled. It did eventually get there, but not until March. The package arrived in good condition, I have no idea what could have happened. So yeah, it happens. How often, I don't know.
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  #17  
Old 09-22-2010, 12:49 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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I was sent the an Express Mail package some years back. When it hadn't been delivered by noon as promised, I called the post office. I was told that it was the first Express Mail delivery in our zip code, and the postmaster was delivering it personally. After two more hours went by, and no delivery, I called again. The post office said the address was incorrect, and I'd have to pick up the package at the post office. I already knew what had happened before I got there. There was another street with a similar name close by, and house with the same number as mine. If one of the regular mailmen had done the job, they wouldn't have made the mistake.

elfkin477, is there someone at the post office that doesn't like you? If it's a small post office, that kind of thing can happen. You can file a complaint about those incidents. You can bet once the paperwork starts that they'll start taking extra care with your mail.
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  #18  
Old 09-22-2010, 02:31 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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I have lost very few pieces of mail over the years.

However, I had the pleasure of living for a while in the area served by the worst post office in the entire U.S. (according to the post office itself). Every day we would get our mail, sort out what was actually ours, then deliver the rest to our neighbors where it belonged, unless the address was really far off, in which case I would write "Please deliver to CORRECT address" on the envelope and put it back in the mail box. A package was sent to us, and somehow ended up inside the business where my father in law worked. Someone recognized the name and put it on his desk, so he brought it home and gave it to us.

The distinction of actually being named the worst post office in the entire United States meant that this post office got some major attention, so instead of just ignoring the situation the post office got a major overhaul. Within a year of being named the worst post office it had been turned around into one of the better ones.

I don't know how true it is, but I heard they found bags and bags of undelivered mail in the basement. So, they delivered them. Some folks got some letters that had been sitting there for several years. All I know is we did end up getting a card that had been mailed about six months earlier.
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  #19  
Old 09-23-2010, 03:40 AM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
elfkin477, is there someone at the post office that doesn't like you? If it's a small post office, that kind of thing can happen. You can file a complaint about those incidents. You can bet once the paperwork starts that they'll start taking extra care with your mail.
No, the problems haven't come from my local post office, but from the bigger one on the seacoast that mail hits first. I know because the letters stated where the mishaps happened.
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  #20  
Old 09-23-2010, 02:39 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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We get misdelivered mail perhaps once or twice a month; it's virtually always for another person on our short street, and usually not first-class (i.e. magazines, advertisements etc.).

About 25 years ago, I was not getting my car loan bills about 3 months out of 4 - they simply never arrived. It turns out the local carrier was looking at the name (my maiden name), and deciding that there was no such person at my address (we were newlyweds in married student housing) and returning them to the bank. I was making the payments anyway, so the bank didn't try too hard to sort out why they were getting returned. This was an unusual situation, clearly the mail carrier was being an idiot.

Beyond that, I've only had maybe two pieces of first class mail go significantly astray; both eventually turned up. Well, one was a credit card bill that got to us via California; the other was a Christmas card - our friend got an empty envelope.

A funny aside: About 10 years ago, we suddenly started getting a whole slew of outdated Physics Today journals in the mail. Years old, in some cases. All addressed to my husband, at our then-current address. Much headscratching ensued, until he realized he'd just shipped a boxful of them off to some university in South America. As far as we can tell, the box must have broken open in some postal sorting facility. The postal service will try to deliver package contents if they can identify them.... and the contents of this package had addresses on each item .

Last edited by Mama Zappa; 09-23-2010 at 02:39 PM..
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  #21  
Old 09-23-2010, 02:44 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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I do need to put a plug in for the USPS for one recent encounter. There's a self-serve shipping kiosk at our local branch, which is accessible after hours. I went to ship a package to my son at summer camp. Put it on the scale, weighed it, paid, grabbed the postage sticker out of the slot, tossed the package in the pull-down receptacle, walked out of the post office, realized I was still holding the postage sticker... .

So I walked back in, tossed the sticker in the bin as well, and went home - hoping they'd find the two pieces and put them together.

Called the next morning, the man on the phone put me on hold, rummaged around, came back, and said "got them both, you're fine, it'll go out today".

I do hope he had a good laugh after he got off the phone, and shared with his co-workers the tale of the dumb broad who'd just called. He was certainly professional and courteous with me and he deserved to have a laugh at my expense.
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  #22  
Old 09-23-2010, 03:33 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Consider yourself lucky. I get misaddressed mail (not only for my neighbor, but for the guy with the same number a street over, and sometimes someone with a completely unconnected address) at least twice a month, no exaggeration. I just walk over to the neighbor or dump it back in the mailbox if it's completely off. I can only hope the same happens for me.
My experience has been similar. I probably get a couple of mis-delivered bits of mail a month. Like you, if it's for one of my neighbors, I walk over and stick it in their mailboxes. If it's from further away (I frequently get mail intended for a doctor's office three blocks away, which shares the same "house number"), I write "please redeliver - wrong address" on it, and stick it back in my mailbox. It's always gone the next day; I hope that the carrier is actually bringing it to the right place.
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  #23  
Old 09-23-2010, 04:00 PM
UncleFred UncleFred is offline
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I think most of the mis-deliveries (not actual losses) are at the final stage of delivery, with the local carrier/sorter making the mistake. The cases of mail destined for Idaho ending up in Timbuktu are rare.

I have both a PO Box and a home address. Between the two, probably once a month I get someone else' mail incorrectly delivered to me. At home I just take it to the neighbor - if at the PO Box I turn it in at the desk.
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  #24  
Old 09-23-2010, 06:48 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
About 25 years ago, I was not getting my car loan bills about 3 months out of 4 - they simply never arrived. It turns out the local carrier was looking at the name (my maiden name), and deciding that there was no such person at my address (we were newlyweds in married student housing) and returning them to the bank. I was making the payments anyway, so the bank didn't try too hard to sort out why they were getting returned. This was an unusual situation, clearly the mail carrier was being an idiot.
Or could the idiotic action have been failing to add your name to the mailbox when you moved in?
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  #25  
Old 09-23-2010, 07:23 PM
Mr. Accident Mr. Accident is offline
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The only time I ever have trouble with the USPS is when I live on a street with a house # identical to the house # of a place on another street that has a similar name. For example, in my old house, my address was 155 Westview Road. I was constantly getting the mail for the people who lived at 155 Westview Drive, and vice versa. (House # and road names changed.) The bad thing was, those 2 streets are on opposite sides of town, on completely different routes.

The only other time I didn't get my mail was when a friend shipped me some goodies from Amsterdam. I don't want to blame it on the post office though, as neither of us are sure exactly where it went missing between her place and mine.
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  #26  
Old 09-24-2010, 12:17 AM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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I occasionally get mail that's intended for a neighbor. I'll just leave it at their door. A few times, I've gotten mail addressed to someone blocks away, or in a completely different city. I dropped such letters in a mailbox when that happened.
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  #27  
Old 09-24-2010, 07:56 AM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa
(my maiden name), and deciding that there was no such person at my address (we were newlyweds in married student housing) and returning them to the bank... clearly the mail carrier was being an idiot.
Not so much. With student housing they probably need to pay much more attention to the names, as students come and go with the semesters.
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