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January 10, 2007 6:00 PM   Subscribe

We're having a seriously annoying (snail)mail issue. Help!

Is there any way I can get the post office to stop delivering mail for people who no longer live here?

On any given day at our apt building (3 units) we get 2-4 times the amount of mail for people who no longer live here then for people who do. Junk mail, subscriptions, personal letters, bills, you name it. I know that I can't put in a change of address form for these people. Is there any other course of action I can take? A form I can fill out? The unwanted mail piles up for a month or two and eventually gets tossed, and its a hassle for everyone who lives here. The mailman could not care less if I tell him not to deliver it and there doesn't seem to be any information on the USPS site about this kind of problem. Im located in Brooklyn if this helps.
posted by fidgets to Law & Government (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can go complain at the post office and they will probably take the other people off that address. You should go really early; most of the post offices in brooklyn are continually congested or so it seems.
posted by shownomercy at 6:18 PM on January 10, 2007

In my experience, no, there's nothing you can do (at the post office).

If the people put in change of address forms, they'll forward for a while, then return with new addresses marked. If the old tenants don't put in change of address cards, though, the PO has no way of knowing, so they keep delivering.

Understandably, they don't take mail instructions from people other than the ones the mail is for. They're going to keep delivering as long as people keep sending.

Three options:
1) Write a letter to the sender of each piece of mail, based on the return address, indicating that the addressee has moved. Eventually, you'll stop getting mail for that person.

2) Contact the ex-tenant, and demand respectfully request they put in a change of address form. Note: this would benefit them, too, but if they're lazy, they may not think that's a good enough reason.

3) Keep a big trash pail right next to the mail box, so you can just dump anything unopened right into it without carrying it into your apartment. Bonus: junk mail solution as well.
posted by ctmf at 6:18 PM on January 10, 2007

My problem is probably less severe than yours, but I just write "No such person at this address" or "Addressee no longer lives here" and then stick it in a mailbox. (I guess this then goes to the return address, so maybe it serves the same purpose as writing a letter to the return address, but if anyone knows better, please chime in.) This seems to work. Then again, my mail service has been pretty terrible, so perhaps all the other mail for these former tenants has just been lost.
posted by Airhen at 6:29 PM on January 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I usually cross out the address & write "Please Forward."
posted by miss lynnster at 6:43 PM on January 10, 2007

The unwanted mail piles up for a month or two

Why are you letting the incorrect mail pile up?... Airhen and miss lynster have the correct solution... Simply write "Incorrect Address" or "Please Forward" on the front of the envelope and toss it back into the mail.
posted by amyms at 6:59 PM on January 10, 2007

Ditto on what airhen said, write no such person at this address and dump it in the mailbox.
posted by perpetualstroll at 7:05 PM on January 10, 2007

When I had a similar (and equally severe) problem, I actually had a rubber ink-stamp made that said "Unknown at this address." Stamp, return to mailbox. Saved me a bunch of time.
posted by trip and a half at 7:11 PM on January 10, 2007

Working for a University that sends out large mailings I echo Airhen's suggestion. Though our policy is 2 pieces of returned mail constitute a bad address.

That solution also saves YOU postage.
posted by imjosh at 7:13 PM on January 10, 2007

yup, just scribble "moved" over the address on the envelope. Drop it back in the box. Solved.
posted by defcom1 at 7:17 PM on January 10, 2007

When this happens I write 'return to sender, addressee no longer at this address' on the envelope and then pop it back in the post.

In Australia, at least, this mail will often be redelivered to companies -- I know this, because it used to be my job to update our databases when we received return to sender mail from our mailed out promotions.
posted by jasperella at 7:24 PM on January 10, 2007

We get a lot of mail for faculty, staff and students who were here 10 years ago or more. I just write "return to sender" on the envelope and put it back in the mailbox. Our biggest culprit are industry newsletters - although we are getting half as many as we used to because I sent them back. It took about two to three tries for the newsletters for the not-here people to stop coming.
posted by sutel at 7:26 PM on January 10, 2007

Rather than writing "return to sender, addressee..." on every pice of mail, simply print this in bold on a few pages of avery address labels and when you have a big pile of the mail, stick the labels on'em and dump them in a nearby mailbox. It'll save you a bit of writing.
posted by mds35 at 8:22 PM on January 10, 2007

I had a similar problem. The delivery person I spoke to told me to tape a note into the inside of the mail box door (or wherever it would be best noticed by the person leaving the mail at your place) that says something like: "Only accepting mail for John or Nancy Smith".

There is more than one delivery person in my area, so he said this would be the best way to get the attention of the person leaving the mail on any given day (since it wouldn't always be him)... and they would get the point that only mail addressed to the names on the note should be put in the box. This seemed to work for the most part.
posted by RoseovSharon at 8:48 PM on January 10, 2007

What everyone said about writing "Not at this address, return to sender" - or whatever note you choose - but make sure you mark out the address underneath the name (it's now your address anyhow) - then just pop them back in the mail. In the past if I didn't mark out the address the post office would sometimes deliver the mail to my address a second time. After that I started to mark the envelope up in blood red pen with a big arrow pointing out the sender to return the thing to. Because dangit, I hate getting even more junk in my mail than my allotted amount!
posted by batgrlHG at 12:46 AM on January 11, 2007

I knew you would find a solution to this problem Hivemind, you're the best! Next time we hang out I'll totally buy you a beer, I owe you one.
posted by fidgets at 9:07 AM on January 11, 2007

I've had a similar problem. I keep getting bills for someone who does not live at my address (and probably never did). I kept marking the mail "not at this address" and leaving it for the mailman but new mail kept arriving. Finally I went to the post office and told them about the problem. Mail for this person has slowed considerably but we still get a piece every so often.
posted by maurice at 9:19 AM on January 11, 2007

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