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Random :: Fun & Learning with the US Post Office
  submitted on January 19, 2010, 2:30 PM


In order ensure that your mail is properly delivered, you must address the mail you are sending to a member of the household. If you are sending it to someone who is temporarily at that location, you must still address it to someone who resides at that location, with a line underneath it that reads c/o (care of) and then the temporary person's name.

Well, at least in theory that's how it works. I've known this since I was a child, and yet, in all my years I've never actually seen this guideline actually enforced. I've lived in a number of different residences, and have received multiple pieces of mail from the prior tenants, and at no time have I ever informed the Post Office that I was now the current tenant (aside from filling out a mail forwarding form online). So to me, I always assumed that this instruction was simply a guideline, similar to the idea that putting your full ZIP code (ZIP+4) on your piece of mail would help ensure its delivery.

Apparently not. A few months ago, the postal worker for our building posted a sign indicating that mail delivered to our building must be addressed with the correct name and unit number, otherwise it will not be delivered. I didn't pay much attention to this notice, as we had always received our mail without problem, and I always indicated our unit number when ordering anything online. Well, our problems first started when we heard from a few people that the Christmas card they had sent us had been returned. We also noticed that we were not getting mail on a daily basis, although given the quality of the Chicago postal system and busyness of the holidays, I just chalked it up to a temporary issue.

Well, fast-forward to January, and in addition to the returned Christmas cards, we start having magazines and packages returned as undeliverable. I contacted the Post Office, and they opened up an "investigation" as to why our mail was not being delivered. I think I'm supposed to hear something from them about that today or tomorrow. Well, as fate would have it, our postal worker was in the middle of delivering our mail when I got home from work today, so when I opened up our box, I ended up having a conversation with our postal worker instead. She showed me that on the back of our box, it says "Cobb", not "Maloney" (I though I remembered seeing one of our old mail forwarding labels on there before, but that could have just been one of our old apartments I was thinking of). Because of that, our mail was being returned and marked as undeliverable. So all I need to do is put a label on the back of the box with our last name, and voila, problem solved.

I can only assume that this must be a recent change in the enforcement of what is actually considered a properly addressed piece of mail, as we must have been receiving our mail just fine for the past year and a half with the wrong name on the back of our mailbox. On the bright side, perhaps this means we won't get any more mail addressed to our former tenants. Would be nice.

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