Special Delivery: Return to Sender


I’ve mentioned before that I live in a very small town. The kind of small town where everyone pretty much knows everyone. Before we even moved to Minnesota, we got in touch with the utility companies to arrange for service to be transferred to our name. The power company representative said to me on the phone, “Oh, you mean the Kater House.” I hesitantly agreed, not knowing what she was referring to. Later, I learned that long ago, the Katers owned our house. Our first bill was mailed to The Kater House, with no other name or address on the envelope, and it was delivered to our PO box. At the time, we found that so quaint and amusing…the postal workers obviously knew who we were, which house we’d bought, and that we had a PO box.

Over the years, mail delivery here has not proven to be so quaint and amusing. The official postal policy seems to be that if you have a PO box, your mail MUST be addressed to that PO box, and will NOT be delivered to your PO box if it is only addressed to your street address. There have been several go-rounds over this. I’ve even asked them to show me EXACTLY how mail needs to be addressed. The address can include the street address, but it must be listed ABOVE the PO box number. Pfffft.

It proves even more difficult when ordering something that will be delivered by UPS or FedEx via the USPS, which seems common these days. When I order anything, I ALWAYS list both addresses, JUST as the postal workers have instructed, so that no matter how it’s delivered, it will reach me. But, not so! I have had packages showing as undeliverable online, when, in fact, they were delivered to the post office just fine, and there was some sort of delay in them putting a card in my box to notify me the package had arrived.

The more frustrating part of all of this is that the postal workers KNOW who I am. They KNOW where I live, and they KNOW my PO box number. They have chosen, randomly, over the years, to alternately deliver and not deliver mail to my PO box that did not come addressed to that box. But the one that took the cake a few months ago was this: I was waiting to receive my new health and dental insurance cards and plan information, and had given the insurance companies the full address, including street address and PO box number, which they required. My cards didn’t arrive, so I contacted the insurance companies, and discovered that indeed, they had been returned to them, as they chose to use the street address when mailing them. I gave them the PO box number again, and asked them to re-send them. Meanwhile, I received an invitation to a Tupperware party that was addressed to my street address only. I was pretty steamed.

I had to speak to the postmistress about this. Her response was classic. The carrier SHOULD have returned that invitation to the sender, but she RESCUED it, knowing my PO box number, and delivered it for me. I asked her why, then, she didn’t SAVE my insurance information, which was much more important to me. She said that the carrier is supposed to return mail that is not properly addressed. The kicker is that any mail addressed to my street address shouldn’t even make it to a carrier, because they know there is no mail receptacle at that address, and it’s not even on their mail route. Maybe I should just have everyone address my mail to The Kater House.



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