Dear USPS:

Regular readers may recall that the Post Office had a little trouble forwarding mail from North Puffin to South Puffin earlier this year. That’s not the only difficulty the Post Office has caused.

I tried to order a body cap and rear lens cap from Canon to replace the ones I’ve somehow lost track of. They’re not lost, darn it. I know they are in this house somewhere.

Canon doesn’t pay me to use their brand (don’t I wish) or even lend it to me for free (ditto), but I have standardized on Canon gear. I use a different brand of printer, though.

Canon Body & Lens Caps

The Canon site wouldn’t ship to me. See, their USPS address confirmation system doesn’t recognize my address. Amazon does. Adorama does. 47th Street Photo does. eBay does. UPS does. FedEx does. DHL does. Paypal verified it. Even the Post Office manages to ship things to me.

I called the 800 number and related all that to a rep. I also told him that I’m a Canon pro and wondered how they would get me a lens or a body if I broke one on a shoot in East Dumfuck. I didn’t ‘splain that I would never, ever pay the price to get a replacement in the field.

He suggested I send it to another address. I told him I had the same problem with my South Puffin address because the Post Office doesn’t recognize South Puffin street addresses either, because they don’t deliver mail there. We have P.O. boxes or carrier pigeons or nothing at all. Not to mention shipping it to Florida didn’t do me a lot of good.

I asked the rep to escalate me to a supervisor.

Yes, steam was coming out of my ears. I hate having to micro-manage this crap.

I ‘splained it all over again. He was adamant that he, too, could do nothing. He said he could try to escalate it to the marketing department to have them do something.

The supervisor told me he looked it up on Google and couldn’t find it.

“Wait a minute,” I said. I plugged in my address. “There it is. Has a satellite view and a little arrow pointing to my house and everything.”

He was abashed (at getting caught) but still wouldn’t do anything.

That’s when I told the supervisor I’d probably have to move to Nikon.

After we hung up, I tried to get Canon to ship to a friend’s address on a private road in St. Puffin Bay. Nope. USPS doesn’t recognize that, either, because she gets her mail at a P.O. box.

Interesting aside: I later updated my address on my actual Canon account page. Even Canon accepts it there.

I did get some underwear ordered successfully but that came from Walmart.

Lifeline phone service provides free cell phones to America’s “financially disadvantaged.” You can’t get the phone if you have only a P.O. box, though.

And then it happened again.

I tried. I really did.

I found a nice Garmin GPS with the nice pinch-to-zoom, capacitive multi-touch screen, that comes with lifetime NA Maps, voice-activated navigation, route avoidance, speed limit, and lifetime HD traffic. It’s manufacturer refurbished and was a great, great price.

I put that puppy in my shopping cart, you betcha.

Then Garmin said I had to change my shipping address.

I mined the Garmin website and Google for a Customer Service number (took many pages, many clicks). I sat through the Garmin Customer Service disconnecting me. I finally talked to Brittany. She couldn’t ship to me either.

“We use the USPS to ship our products.”

“Great! Put in my P.O. Box in the shipping address.”

“We don’t ship to post office boxes.”

I pounded my head on the desk.

I asked for a supervisor. And waited. And waited. I had been on hold 10 minutes when I found the same GPS at Amazon, shipped free, no tax, for $3 less.


Oh, yeah. Amazon had the lens caps too, so I’m all set.

USPS Address ManagementThe only hope is to convince the USPS to update its address list for about 21 million folks like me.

Addressing made easy? Address changes made easy? Riiiiiight.

Post offices in small areas often have fewer than 100 boxes, but stations in a  Central Business District may offer over 100,000. The USPS has over 150 million delivery points: residences, businesses and post office boxes. The longest regular rural route is Route 2 in Gridley, KS. The carrier travels 182.8 miles daily and delivers to 258 households, farms, and businesses.

Some people opt to rent a P.O. Box at the post office for convenience, security, or exclusivity but sometimes the USPS requires people to sign up for a box and have their mail exclusively addressed to that box. In either case, their home and business addresses aren’t even on file with the USPS and the address validators built on the USPS data fail.

The U.S. Postal Service has over 21 million P.O. Boxes.

21 divided by 150, carry the eight … That means that up to 14 percent of all delivery addresses people give to online sellers aren’t “in the system.” Millions of people are struggling to get their packages. The entire populations of Jackson, WY, Key Colony Beach, FL, and hundreds of other cities do not have home or business mail delivery service. Residents are required to use a P.O. Box to receive their USPS mail.

It wasn’t that long ago that I could get mail addressed to


and it arrived no problem. Now I can’t get a package and it is the Post Office’s problem.

All the Post Office needs to fix it is to include the physical address line in their database even if they themselves ignore it (they do).

2 thoughts on “Dear USPS:

  1. The USPS Inspector General says “one in seven people in the United States change their address each year. Naturally, this creates a tremendous challenge for the Postal Service, which strives to maintain a high-quality repository of current addresses.”

    Ya think?

    The comments to this short article are illuminating.

  2. Sure. You cite a legitimate problem that the Post Office DAMNED SURE ought to fix… except that bureaucracies are spectacularly unresponsive to requests for improvements to customer services. Good luck with that.

    This is MY pet postal peeve: when the U. S. Postal Service decides to consolidate Post Offices (which from an operational efficiency standpoint is NOT a bad idea) they do one thing in particular which I find OUTRAGEOUSLY stupid and annoying. They seem to think it necessary to erase any references to the geographic areas or hamlets served by the little post offices gobbled up by consolidation. Both locale names and zip codes disappear, so it appears as though all those areas are now part of the locale of the new, LARGE central post office. This becomes confusing for realtors (since local taxes and schools and such probably vary in this new, larger area. It is difficult for people in the shipping business who dutifully follow the USPS and describe their facilities (e.g Fedex drop boxes) as being in the locale of the Post office, which may be NOWHERE NEAR the hamlet the box is actually in.

    This is SO stupid. They could have set up the new central office, PUT THE NAME OF EACH HAMLET (and associated zip code) on that new building, and shut down the small offices. THEN there would be none of this confusion.

    WHY is the Post Office so stupid? This has been an issue for DECADES.

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