Mysterious package?
March 18, 2011 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Why would a university (with which I have no connection) send me a parcel requiring a signature?

Canpar couldn't deliver a parcel to me so it was sent back to the shipper. It says the shipper is U of T and the notice has my surname only. I didn't go to U of T and I have no connection with U of T. Why would they send me a parcel? Universities don't send out 'junk mail' requiring signatures, do they?

Basically I'm wondering a) what the parcel could be, and b) if there is any way for me to find out from U of T what it is. There's no contact information on the notice. Canpar told me that all I can do is pick it up from the depot, but that's more than 30 minutes away and I don't want to drive there if it's not important.

I'm not expecting any deliveries of any sort, e.g., purchases or anything like that.

Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by methroach to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Accidentally sent to you and intended for someone else with the same name? Junk mail isn't sent requiring a signature. So either it's something for you, somehow, or it's something for someone else and you'd potentially be a good samaritan by checking it out.

Also, it could be from someone at the university rather than from the U of T itself. I'm sure I know people whom I would be surprised to learn are affiliated with certain universities -- maybe the same thing applies here?
posted by J. Wilson at 7:38 PM on March 18, 2011

Best answer: Could it be from U of T Press? Do you ever get unsolicited books in the mail?
posted by atropos at 8:02 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Okay, blue sky thinking, but have you done anything to warrant an honorary degree?
posted by oxford blue at 8:02 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

Are you of university age? Have you recently done the PSATs or SATs? After I did the PSATs and scored well, I started getting packages from universities trying to woo me with their lush green campuses and financial aid.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:18 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

It might help if there was additional personal information. Hard to just randomly guess why a random person receives something without a little background.
posted by edgeways at 8:43 PM on March 18, 2011

Best answer: If, as I infer, the U of T means the University of Toronto, it certainly won't be sending out recruiting packages unless things have really, really changed very recently. This is a global top twenty university with tens of thousands of students. It doesn't need to recruit undergrads.

What seems rather strange is that a package from the U of T won't actually be coming from 'the University of Toronto'. There's no real central organisation called the U of T; it's a big federation of colleges and offices and departments and so-forth. The information on the slip will almost certainly be abbreviated from some longer address which would convey more information.

It could well be that the package is coming from somebody you know who happens to have a U of T address. It could be wrongly addressed, of course. As somebody notes above, it could be a book from the U of T Press, who occasionally send out books to reporters, teachers, book reviewers, etc.
posted by Dreadnought at 8:51 PM on March 18, 2011

Maybe you ordered something on eBay or a third party seller on Amazon and they are funneling their shipments through a University mail room (appropriately or inappropriately)? Or maybe the University bookstore is selling used/unsold books online? Or any of the above explanations.

Also possible it didn't really come from U of T at all, but that someone made a mistake at the shipping company and the wrong name got written on the slip.
posted by zachlipton at 9:03 PM on March 18, 2011

Best answer: "I'm not expecting any deliveries of any sort, e.g., purchases or anything like that."

Did Canpar say parcel or could it be just a letter? Any way they can redeliver or read you more of the address? I know you said there is nothing more on the notice, but there could be more on the parcel itself. Personally, I'd be too curious not to go get it.
posted by soelo at 10:43 PM on March 18, 2011

Do you know anyone who had just finished a PhD at UT? They could be sending you a copy of their thesis?
posted by unlaced at 4:51 AM on March 19, 2011

Best answer: My vote is for a letter or parcel coming from someone who works at the university, and not from the university itself. I have often received packages that appear to be coming from universities, but which in fact come from friends who work at said universities. Almost every time I get something like that, I wonder why I'm getting something from [insert university name here] until I open it to discover it's from a friend taking advantage of the mail room.

Like soelo, I would be too curious not to get the parcel/letter. I hope you do decide to fetch it, and that you tell us what it is.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 4:57 AM on March 19, 2011

If it is canpar, don't discount the possibility of a mix up. The last package I sent canpar was from Toronto to Cambridge, Ont.

Canpar sent it to Edmonton.

So it could be not from U of T. Or not for you.
posted by girlpublisher at 5:00 AM on March 19, 2011

A long-shot possibility: I work for the survey center of a university in the States. We sometimes send "signature required" letters to invite participants to random-sample surveys, but usually only to people who have been unreachable through regular mail or phone calls. Have you been ignoring any "junk mail" from U of T lately?
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 9:45 AM on March 19, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies, everyone!

@ hal_c_on and J. Wilson, I googled my name--no luck. I didn't find other people with my name affiliated with U of T. I'm not listed in the phone book either.

@ atropos, I don't get unsolicited books in the mail. I have reviewed books, but not in a few years.

@clearblue, hehe, I seriously doubt that I am receiving an honourary degree!

@L'Estrange Fruit, nope, I haven't done PSATs or LSATs, and I am in my 30s.

@Dreadnought and zahlipton--good points. Hm, this is making it seem even more mysterious, even if it's just a mix-up.

@soleo, the notices both state that it is a parcel rather than a letter. I think I am too curious as well!

@unlaced, nope, I don't know anyone who recently did a PhD there.

@Felicity Rilke, I will definitely come back and tell you what it matter how anti-climactic.

@girlpublisher, since I've been asking around about this, others have also told me of their bad experiences with Canpar. Yikes.

@faster than a speeding bulette, as far as I can recall, I've never gotten mail/had phone calls from U of T before.

Canpar told me they will hold the item for five more business days, so I will pick up the parcel by the end of this week.
posted by methroach at 9:18 PM on March 20, 2011

Response by poster: atropos and Dreadnought, you were both right. :) The package is indeed from U of T Press, and inside are books. Children's/YA books, to be precise--it looks like U of T distributes these imprints now. (I used to get these kinds of books, but never from UTP.)
posted by methroach at 9:11 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by Felicity Rilke at 7:13 PM on March 24, 2011

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