Friday, September 8, 2023

Maybe I Should Try the Pony Express

How would you like to go a full month without getting a single piece of junk mail? That sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, that’s what happened to my wife and me recently, and the no junk mail thing was indeed great. But there was one small negative aspect to this situation: for the entire month we did not receive a single piece of regular mail either. No letters, no magazines, no checks, no bank statements, no doctor appointment reminders, no birthday cards, and no bills. (The no bills part sounds great at first. But then when you discover you are delinquent in paying a bunch of invoices and your credit rating just took a major tumble, it’s actually not so great.)
So, how were we lucky enough to go an entire month without receiving a single item in the mail? That’s easy: we moved. Now, moving to a new home is not exactly an odd thing. People do it all the time. The Post Office has a simple “Change of Address” form to fill out. The last time we moved, we filled out that form and everything was fine. (Other than the fact someone at the Post Office typed in our new address incorrectly, so all our mail was forwarded to the condo unit next to us. But 50 feet away is much better than two counties away.)

Nowadays, however, the Post Office has instituted new safety measures. When you complete a Change of Address form, they won’t forward your mail until the new address has been verified. According to a letter carrier (who was more than willing to talk to me one afternoon about this issue for an hour while she sat in her mail truck and I stood in front of my mailbox), there has been a rash of change of address scams. Apparently, people were filling out bogus change of address forms and having someone’s else's mail forwarded to, for example, a seedy apartment they rented for a month. The scammer would go through the mail looking for cash, checks, and personal identification information. Then after a month, they would move on to a different seedy apartment and scam a bunch of other people.

As a result, the Post Office now has a multi-step verification process to make sure people are legitimately moving to the new address. However, as far as my wife and I can figure, telling the letter carrier that we’re definitely moving and having her reply, “I’ll take care of it,” is not a valid verification option. Going to the Post Office, filling out the proper form, and having the person behind the counter say, “I’ll take care of it,” also is not a valid verification option. And calling the Post Office two weeks into the no-mail saga, pleading with the gentleman on the line to start forwarding our mail, and having him say, “I’ll take care of it,” is yet another fruitless option.

The official verification process involves going to a Postal Service website and entering a special verification code. I did that. Then, a week later, I did it again. Then after another week, I did it two more times. Each of the four times I did the online verification process, I received a message saying everything was all set and I would be receiving my forwarded mail right away. Hmm, I guess different people have different definitions of the term “right away.” To me it means: by the end of the week. To the Post Office, apparently, it means: by the end of the millennium. 

If you would like to share your experience with the USPS, send me an email. But please, DON’T put a letter in the mail! 

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