I recently thought that the US Postal Service lost a very important package of ours. My tax accountant lives 1800 miles away and we mail him all of our documents, he prepares our taxes and mails our documents and tax forms back to us. We’ve never had a problem until this year.
The accountant said our documents, along with our daughter and her husband’s documents and tax forms were mailed back to us in one package on April 10. It usually gets here rather quickly, but after a week, I began to get concerned. Then it was 2 weeks, 3 weeks and 4 weeks and still no package with all of our personal information. We began to get very concerned about the information ending up in the wrong hands and someone stealing our identity, money, home and everything.
I recalled a number of reports over the years of some Postal employee or ex-employee, who was found with a garage, shed or storage unit full of undelivered mail and wondered if that could have happened to our package.
I spoke to my mailman, who is a great guy and he didn’t give us much hope of finding our package. Then, on May14, the package arrived with all of our documents inside. What a relief. I found out that our accountant has a secured electronic portal where we can upload all of our documents in the future instead of mailing them and they can post our finished taxes in the same portal. No more mailing documents and sweating about losing them in the mail.
The experience got me wondering what happens to lost mail and wonder if the Postal service is that trustworthy. But then I remembered that my father-in-law worked for the Postal Service for many years before retiring. At one time, he rode with the mail on the trains in and around New York City, making sure the mail was delivered to the proper postal facility and making sure it didn’t fall into the wrong hands. I’ve also known a number of postal workers and have found that most of them are honorable and reliable people.
However, that’s not to say that mail doesn’t go missing.
Then I saw a news story about how the Postal Service is making millions of dollars off of lost packages:
“A Sinclair investigation revealed there is money to be made on lost mail, and that US Postal Service and other shipping companies can sell your mail and pocket the profits.”
The story followed Angela Erickson, who spent months sewing 2 quilts, one for her dad and the other for her uncle. When the quilts were completed, she mailed them off to her dad and uncle. The quilts never arrived, leaving Erickson in tears.
When she kept inquiring about the lost quilts, her local postmaster told her they were ‘dead’ packages and had probably been sent to a facility that the Post Office tried to keep secret. The facility is known as the Mail Recover Center and was located in Atlanta.
She discovered that staff at the facility would open and try to track down the owner of the package, but if they were not successful after several months, the packages are turned over to an auctioneer who sells the packages to bidders, with the Postal Service reaping the profit. The company handing the auctions is GovDeals.
When a reporter tried to approach the Mail Recover Center in Atlanta, he was stopped by a security guard who told him he wasn’t allowed to film the facility, even from the public road. The guard also told the reporter that no one is supposed to know about the facility.
In 2015, it was reported that about 88 million items were received at the Mail Recover Center but only 2.5 million (3.2%) were returned to their owners and the other 85.5 million turned over for auction, which brought in $11 million to the Post Office.
Overall, the Postal Service is quite trustworthy and reliable, but one can’t help but wonder how much effort they really put into finding the owners of lost packages. However, if people properly wrap and seal their packages and place their return address both inside and outside the package, it should reduce the chances of their losing your packages.