Not my mail!
November 21, 2005 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Someone is forwarding his mail (and his organization's mail) to me.

I rent a post office box. For whatever reason, someone else in the same town, who also has a post office box at a different post office, put in a forwarding order which specified my post office box as a destination. Mail for an organization he runs/belongs to also gets forwarded to me.

After I got a notice saying that I had to have all users of the box on file with the post office, I brought this to the attention of the postmaster, who took back the mail I got that day, and it stopped for a couple weeks. I left town for a week, and when I returned, my box was full, mostly with this guy's mail.

I've just been blacking out the delivery address, circling the return address, and writing "RETURN TO SENDER" on these pieces of mail and putting them back into the postal system. (I already tried just crossing out the address on the forwarding label and writing "INCORRECT FORWARDING ADDRESS", but all that did was cause them to send me the same mail with another label slapped on.) Also disturbing is the one piece of mail I got with the other guy's name and my address—no forwarding label—which seems to indicate that people are picking up (falsely) that he can be reached at my P.O. box.

I'm surprised that the forwarding party hasn't fixed the problem, since they haven't gotten (among other things) a couple of bank statements, several checks, and something from Sweden. (No, I haven't opened any of the mail.)

I have no contact information for this guy other than his old address, and if I write to that, I'll just get it back. And frankly, I don't particularly want to contact him.
posted by oaf to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What's your question? That's a pretty long quesiton without containing a question mark. I'd guess you question is "How do I stop this?"

My experience with the post office would be: keep bringing it to the attention of the postmaster until it's fixed. Ask if there's anyway they can cancel the forwarding since it's clearly being forwarded to an incorrect address. Keep crossing off the address and returning to sender. Also, it should stop in some number of months, since the post office will only forward mail for so long. It appears to be up to 12 months for a temp. forwarding order, but I recall a limit of 6 months when I moved last.
posted by skynxnex at 2:43 PM on November 21, 2005

Fill out a forwarding slip for this person, from your P.O. box address to his old address, if you have it; if not, forward it to the address of the main post office in your town.

Then, dump all of the old mail, with your address blacked out, into a mailbox.
posted by weirdoactor at 2:44 PM on November 21, 2005

Also: the USPS Customer Service Line - 800-275-8777
posted by weirdoactor at 2:45 PM on November 21, 2005

Response by poster: Yes, I would like it to stop.

weirdoactor: Won't that just cause them to send the mail in circles?
posted by oaf at 2:46 PM on November 21, 2005

Oaf, bring this to the attention of your Postmaster in writing. Also, when you give mail back to them, don't black out your address. You want them to see your address so that know it is wrong.
posted by alms at 2:52 PM on November 21, 2005

oak, weirdoactor's suggestion will work. I had a friend who had her mail forwarded away from her by an ex-boyfriend, illegally of course. She guessed luckily that he now had her mail going to his address and filled out a forwarding form to send her mail from his address back to hers. It effectively canceled her "original forwarding request" that he had made.
posted by cleverusername at 2:53 PM on November 21, 2005

Won't that just cause them to send the mail in circles?

Exactly. Bonus: it won't be going into your box anymore.
posted by weirdoactor at 2:54 PM on November 21, 2005

Response by poster: alms: If I don't black out my address, the mail will just come back to me.

Also, I'm a bit afraid to forward anything away from my box because I know (from previous moving experience) that the post office usually forwards more than they should.
posted by oaf at 3:22 PM on November 21, 2005

Yes, call the post office and tell them.

My family had a similar problem and this is what we were told (someone please correct me if they have newer/better info):

Instead of using the full name and address to identify mail to be forwarded within a zip code, the post office uses a combination of the street number and addressee. For example, John Smith at 1212 Main Street is recognized as Sm 1212. If you are Sandra Smalls at 1212 Park Place, your mail may get forwarded to his new address or you may get stuck with his mail.

I thought this sounded like an unbelieveably flawed system, but the phone call fixed the problem.
posted by annaramma at 3:32 PM on November 21, 2005

I'd suggest against a forwarding order. That happens when they're filtering your mail at your local post office and it's far from perfect. At some places, it's reeeeeal far. So you don't want your mail being forwarded somewhere else even if it only happens once in a while. Besides, this is more likely a screwup from that other post office - don't penalize the poor guy for their miskey.

Making it stop will probably require dealing with the office that sorts for the original destination - they're the ones forwarding it. If you can't get your office to deal with the problem you might write to them directly and include proof that you are the current owner of the PO box that this is mistakenly being forwarded to.
posted by phearlez at 5:04 PM on November 21, 2005

Have you tried contacting the person who is supposed to be getting the mail? He or his company may have contact information in the phone book or on the internet. I would think he is even more interested than you in getting the problem fixed.
posted by TedW at 6:42 PM on November 21, 2005

Bring it to the attention of the postoffice until they fix it permanently +1
posted by desuetude at 6:49 PM on November 21, 2005

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