Monday, January 4, 2010

Your Check is in the Mail...

“We put it in the mail 10 days ago. Your address is still 123 Main Street, right? No, we don’t know what could have happened to it!”

That was the conversation we had just last month with Mary, a client who was moving out of the area. We were returning money she had set aside for her next—now postponed—project. It was a computer-generated check sent in a window envelope so address readability should not have been a problem. Puzzled, we asked her to wait a bit longer to see if the Post Office delivered it.

A week after the first call, Mary called us again.

“You won’t believe what happened” she started. “I got the check. It was addressed to me at 123 Main Street. Right city. Right State. Right zip. It should have gotten to me, but instead the Post Office delivered it to someone else. Wrong street address. Different city. Different Zip. Same state.”

“The unintended recipient wrote ‘Not at this address’ on the envelope and slipped it back in the mail. Two days later, the check came back to her AGAIN!

“She put it in the mail a second time, writing even more emphatically ‘Still not at this address!!!’

“The third time it came back the kind lady bought a 44-cent stamp, wrote out a new envelope, and slipped my check with a letter of explanation into the mail for me. She included the by now well-used envelope and said that if the check came back again she would hand deliver it.

“I guess I owe her a 44-cent stamp and a cup of coffee for her efforts,” Mary concluded, relieved to have possession of the errant check.

Check delivered finally. Case closed.

But here’s my question. That the Post Office could mis-deliver a letter once is understandable. They do handle a lot of mail each day. But to mis-deliver the same correctly addressed letter three times to the same wrong address? I just don’t understand.

Letter carriers used to know who lived on their routes. But apparently they no longer do. You’d think the clue would be wrong street, wrong address, wrong city and wrong zip.

Maybe it’s simple wrong-headedness on the part of an individual carrier. Maybe it was his mindless over-reliance on mail technology. I’d be curious to know.

No comments: