Friday, December 23, 2011

Hold that mail.... forever?

I was inspired to finally post this story after seeing a similar tale of mail-hold woe at Consumerist. (You have to "expand all" and manually reload before the direct link will pop to the comment... sorry.)

A few years and many miles ago, I filed the standard forms at my post office (home of the eBay stamp thief) to hold my home and PO box mail while I was out of town. I was not sure when I would be back, so I chose not to resume delivery until I returned and picked up the accumulated mail.

If you've ever used that form, you may have noticed that it mentions the 30-day limit for held mail. This will be important later.

I got home about 3 weeks later and ventured out to the post office with a box to hold the inevitable avalanche of junk mail. I was handed a small wad of envelopes in a rubber band... minus the form, which seemed odd.


Are you sure that's it?
Yep, nothing else back there.


Over the next several months, my mail delivery was sporadic. Some days I'd get huge wads of mail; some days, just a piece or two; most days, none at all. There was no rhyme or reason to the mail volume.

Eventually, I placed an order online, and their only shipping method was USPS. I asked them to add tracking to the package and send me the number. Sure enough, I plug in the number one day and it says something to the effect that the delivery was attempted but nobody was home. There was no note on the door and not a thing in the mailbox. I knew damn well I'd been home all day. I'm sure my dogs would have let me know if anyone knocked or rang the bell.

The next day, printout in hand, I ventured out to the PO to find out just exactly what the hell was going on with my mail. Luckily, I got the one competent employee in the place. She actually looked horrified when informed of the situation. She disappeared into the back, and was gone so long that frankly I started to get concerned that she had run screaming from the building, never to return. She eventually reappeared with one of those corrugated flats, overflowing with mail. Before I could pick my jaw up off the counter, she disappeared into the back again... "oh, there's more."

The stitched pic at right shows the delayed mail spread out on a daybed. I had to cover it with a sheet to allow enough room to make all the pieces visible. Packages are off to the right, in a separate pic that didn't lend itself to being stitched. The area including the Instructor magazines is, horrifyingly, other peoples' mail, most of which had no discernible connection to my name or address. In fact, some of it was bills for a new business a half-mile away.

The packages included this literary gem:I'd like to know how my mailbox could be "fulled" when the mail was all sitting in the back of the post office!

All we could figure was that the regular mail carrier was unilaterally holding the mail... but... he wasn't even storing it in the usual hold area (apparently the clerk who solved the mystery just poked around til she found a huge stash of mail somewhere)... and the substitute carriers were delivering the mail as they were supposed to.

Even if the carrier was under the impression that we hadn't returned and picked up the mail, why wasn't delivery automatically restarted after 30 days??

But wait, it gets better.

The delivery resumption was never finalized on our post office box either. Mail delivery there also remained sporadic for months... til one day we went in and it was locked. You see, they had "delivered" our renewal notice to another mystery stash in the back... so we didn't get it... so we didn't pay it... so the box was closed.

...and the stash was tossed upon closure of the box.

Did I mention how glad I am to be away from that zip code?!

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