I don't live there, give me my package!
April 2, 2008 8:52 PM   Subscribe

The post office, Google Earth, and all other mapping systems are wrong about my address. Help!

I've tried to have a few packages delivered to an admittedly rurally situated house, but they always end up at a house closer to the main highway. I checked a few online mapping services, and indeed, the house is listed well up the street from where it actually is (in fact, the road is shown to dead-end before you reach my house.) Apparently everyone follows this system, delivers to a house up the street, and goes along their merry way.

I'd considered talking to my local post office, but there's no way I can contact all the different services that will be delivering to my house. I shop online a lot and really need to fix the situation, so neighbors (who aren't particularly trustworthy) don't keep getting my packages. What can I do?
posted by Phyltre to Shopping (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get a PO Box or deliver to work?
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 8:56 PM on April 2, 2008

Tons of map services use Navteq data. Navteq has a Map Reporter section of their website where anyone can report map errors and incorrect address placements.

The process is slow, and it is even slower for the correction to make it out to all the various places that subscribe to their data, but it's easy to do and definitely a start.
posted by everybody polka at 9:06 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have a similar problem (our house is on an odd intersection and is alternately identified as being on two different streets) and I talked with the U.S. Post Office. Basically the local government insists the house is on one street whereas the USPS says that street address does not exist, and wants to deliver to the other.

After I called, USPS "flagged" the address so that mail addressed to either would get properly delivered. It's worked fine for over a year now, though I suspect mail to the USPS-disfavored address is a little slower.

Anyway it's worth a call to USPS and also maybe checking with the local government regarding what they think is the address (e.g., for property tax purposes). I wouldn't be surprised if UPS and FedEx had some sort of geographic information system for rural areas, so maybe check with them too.
posted by exogenous at 9:10 PM on April 2, 2008

I would do what everybody polka suggests, and in the meantime get a PO Box like ISeemToBeAVerb suggested.
posted by smitt at 9:16 PM on April 2, 2008

Incidentally the other major mapping data provider is TeleAtlas, and they also have their own map reporting system. I don't know who the delivery services use, but I have read that the majority of 911 centers use TeleAtlas data, so it is probably worth correcting there as well.
posted by everybody polka at 9:51 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Google Maps lets you drag your address to where it really belongs now.

(Search for your address on Google Maps, then click "Edit" and drag your house/marker to its true location. Use the satellite view to bring it to its proper location if the maps view doesn't show the true end of your street. Help page here.)

I don't know what kind of map service the major delivery services use, but this might be a good start?

(Also, you might make friends with the people who generally get your stuff delivered to them. Seems like a good-neighbor sort of strategy is your best bet at present.)
posted by purpleclover at 9:57 PM on April 2, 2008

We have a similar problem, where the road we're on is "xyz Rd" as all the local signage says, but the mapping services and the USPS have it as "xyz Ave" which it was about 40 yrs ago.

The mapping services refuse to fix it until the USPS does, whereas USPS says "it's both xyz Rd and xyz Ave", so they won't fix it.

This leads to weird directions being given by GPS systems which say "Take the XYZ Road exit, and turn right onto XYZ Ave". But all the signage says "XYZ Road", so people get lost.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 10:04 PM on April 2, 2008

Sometimes when you buy stuff online, you can leave delivery instructions, usually for the carrier, like "leave between screen door and main door" or "don't leave in the open". You could try doing that when possible. Something like "Green house further down the road NOT blue house #1234"
posted by gauchodaspampas at 10:10 PM on April 2, 2008

When I have had this problem, rural address that is approximate and people drop packages just about anyplace, I use the second line on my address to explain my house a little more clearly. So my address would read

My Street Address
My Town, Vermont Zip Code

This helps but does not always solve the problem. People have given you good advice for fixing maps, you might want to aslo do some social engineering and

1. Talk to the neighbor that lives there about possibly mis-deliverred packages or clearer signage [a "this is not Phyltre's house!" would be ideal but you could settle for "this is 123 Elm Street, keep going to get to 145 Elm Street" Make it seem like the packages are boring stuff, not computers or whatever, so they don't seem interesting
2. If the post office messes it up, you can complain and they will track it and deal with it. They have forms, many forms, for this sort of thing.
3. really it's going to be Fedex, UPS and DHL you have to deal with mostly. Call them up and ask them what the heck you are supposed to do about this. If you're in a rural area there's a good chance you're going to have the same driver for a while so you may be able to actually tell them where you live and make it stick

A lot of this is also going to depend on whether people want to help you, so even though this can all be incredibly frustrating, try to keep your cool as you talk to people and maintain the "see, we all want the same thing here!" attitude and I think you can get a lot of this straightened out.
posted by jessamyn at 10:13 PM on April 2, 2008

This doesn't directly address your question, but as long as you are making phone calls - call your local police and fire departments and make sure they know where you live too.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:08 AM on April 3, 2008

We too have a rural address and all of the suggestions above are great.

In particular, I have learned that we do have a regular UPS guy in our area who now knows how and where to deliver our packages. He's definitely the most direct link to getting my package. I learned this the hard way when our UPS guy was on vacation for a couple of days.

Our local USPS office was really helpful too, mostly because there is one delivery guy in the area who now also knows our house, names, etc. (I still am not sure what this means but when we were establishing our address with him, he said he had to put it in his "red book" and get it filed with USPS.) He was also able to look up the address for our house, we didn't actually know it-- maybe there is a different address (unknown to you!) that would lead them to your house instead?

FedEx is still a problem, but we rarely get FedEx packages. In general, when I am ordering online I check to see what shipping service they use and that has now become one of the deciding factors before ordering. I have found FedEx home delivery to be a particular nightmare and am now avoiding using them whenever possible!

One other suggestion that I used before getting things straightened out is to have all USPS packages delivered "general delivery" so that they were left at the post office. You need to fill out a form with them to make this okay, but it was a relief to know that my (USPS) packages would just be there.
posted by picklebird at 6:09 AM on April 3, 2008

You could arrange to post an obvious sign at the 'wrong' house clearly notifying delivery persons that deliveries meant for [your address] belong down the road?
posted by onshi at 6:54 AM on April 3, 2008

As far as the safety of your packages is concerned, the best solution will be to get a box somewhere that can accept UPS, FedEx, and DHL. In most cases this won't be at the post office.

I don't know any way to make sure things never get delivered to the wrong house. I used to live in an area with wonky addresses and UPS and DHL would regularly deliver packages meant for other house numbers or even streets, sometimes leaving them in the yard instead of actually putting them on the porch. If you get a lot of things, you might contact DHL, FedEx, and UPS -- how many more services will be delivering to your house, really? If you order pizza or flowers, give directions over the phone.
posted by yohko at 10:27 AM on April 3, 2008

I'd ask the neighbors if you could put a trail-like sign at the property line, you know a simple horizontally mounted 2x4 with one end shaped to a point. Something simple like "231 Rd - 1 mile west", pointing in the right direction of course, and easy to read from the distance of a delivery truck stopped outside.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:34 PM on April 16, 2008

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