Posts Tagged ‘United States Postal Service’

Service of What Happens When You Don’t Double Check: A Package Lost in Zip Code Hell

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Photo: fanpop.com

It’s not just Santa who should check things twice–so should I.

I didn’t immediately read the zip code the postal clerk put in the computer. She did not post the information in the digital portion of the credit card reader [photo right, below] and I didn’t think to ask her to do so nor did I look at my receipt.

The birthday gift was destined for New Hampshire in plenty of time. I don’t know if it will ever arrive. It has been lost in zip code hell since November 29.

Photo: stateofthenet.net

I first looked at the receipt to track the package a few days after my post office visit. My heart sank: The clerk had inverted numbers so it headed not to New England but to Maryland Heights, Mo.

A clerk at the Grand Central post office confirmed the correct address on the label–it apparently is in the system but nobody refers to anything but the zip code. She admitted that the wrong code would keep sending the gift back to Missouri.

This clerk was correct. I received 25 USPS tracking email notices confirming this–as late as this morning. The package arrived twice in Southern Conn. and once in New Hampshire–though not to the right post office–but it went back to Missouri after that.

I asked her if postmen and women read the full label on a package and she said, “sometimes.” She didn’t have faith in an option to stop the delivery which she said would cost me money and “didn’t always work.”

Back at my computer I found a lost package form to fill out online even though the package is misdirected. I got a standard reply from the appropriate postmaster in the correct New Hampshire town that stated he would look into it. But the automatic tracking emails kept on coming telling me where in Missouri the package was out for delivery.

Light bulb: I found the phone number, called the New Hampshire post office in the right town, left a message for Kirkland S. and he subsequently left a message for me on my phone later that day. He seemed to be optimistic that the package would arrive at its destination because he’d spoken with customer service.

Alas, I got another auto message announcing the package was again out for delivery in Missouri.

I again called Kirkland who admitted to having called 12 numbers before reaching someone in Missouri who would send a person to rescue the package and delete the incorrect barcode so that the machine could not read it.

He explained that up until now a human had not been near the package. Computers read the zip code.  My heart, once lifted, was once again dashed this morning when the auto-tracking email announced the package is out for delivery in Missouri. Kirkland S could not be more sympathetic and he seems almost as frustrated as I am.

I fear that if and when it arrives it will be in shreds. It wasn’t packed to be tossed from truck to truck to truck to truck.

I just sent a slew of Christmas packages and confirmed, on the credit card reader, that each zip code and address were correct.

I consider the mistake to be equally my fault because I didn’t check. Even Santa, as busy as he is, takes time to confirm who’s been naughty or nice.

It’s so easy to type wrong numbers on a keyboard. Mine couldn’t be the only misdirected package. Shouldn’t there be a simple way to fish out mail headed in the wrong direction because of a mistyped digit? Have you run across a similar glitch?

Service of Check Washing: My Check Becomes Your Check

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

Photo: handwritingdocumentexamination.com

Hank Goldman, a loyal follower of this blog, urged me to “write about the scams and games targeted at senior citizens purporting to be get-rich-quick schemes where the victim soon winds up being poor. They are related to the oldies where a voice with a bad phone connection claims to be a grandson asking for money.”

These schemes against the vulnerable aren’t new. Long before ATM machines a great aunt was taken to the cleaners by someone who had her withdrawing big sums of money from her bank account until a suspicious teller finally called her son. I don’t remember what the swindler’s story was or where she met him—just that it happened.

The elderly aren’t the only vulnerable targets either. Scoundrels give hope to the terminally ill and those wanting to look forever young, gladly sucking their money with placebos and short-term pricey solutions some of which may do nothing and others potentially more harm than good.

Photo: 1st.postalinspectors.uspis.cov

Back to seniors as marks. Goldman zeroed in on one trick: “the literal washing of checks, in acetone–nail polish remover. The bank information remains intact while the acetone erases everything that the check writer has entered… Then the perpetrator signs the check and enters the new amount.”

Where do they find the checks? “They fish them out of mail carriers’ large plastic boxes [photo below, center] parked in luxury buildings where they easily identify the envelopes meant for doctors,” wrote Goldman. “This happened to me with a check for my dentist. The perpetrator took it when the doorman was looking away. The dentist had a few instances like this.”

Photo: cvs.com

Added Goldman. “This trick is easily done if you use a regular ballpoint pen. Instead, use a roller ball pen because that ink is less easy for swindlers to wash off.”

I’d written previously about the new mailboxes in NYC in the “Sticky Mail Boxes” section of “Service of Wacky things People Do.” The boxes no longer open wide enough to accommodate a fat 9 x 12 envelope. They are designed with thin slits in which to slide a letter or two to prevent anyone from fishing for checks.

Nothing will stop those up to no good. I wonder how postal delivery staff will protect mail theft from open containers in future. Has one of your checks been “washed” or do you bank on the Internet exclusively? Have you heard of new scams we should know about?

Photo: mercurynews.com

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