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Misdelivered mail: Getting USPS to respond

People living in parts of Bellevue say they're tired of re-delivering mail that letter carriers place in the wrong mail box. They insist the problem is more than just a mistake every now and then, and despite repeated complaints, nothing changes.

"It's ridiculous. It really is," said Joelle Slaugh.

From mail in the wrong mail boxes to packages on the wrong door steps, Slaugh and other residents say misdelivered mail has plagued their Southeast Bellevue community for more than a year. Slaugh is just thankful the neighbor who recently got her mail is honest.

"My American Express credit card and my bank statement with all my numbers- everything on it, went to her," Slaugh explained.

Slaugh says at one point she got tired of driving the misdelivered mail to the correct address. When she opened her mailbox and found several pieces addressed to a home 5 blocks away, she got in her car and drove to the post office.

"And I put it down and I said, 'Look. I'm sick and tired of doing your work. I'm delivering the mail for you that comes to my house. I could throw it away or keep it'."

Twelve blocks down the street from Slaugh's house, Anne Christiansen says she too gets mail addressed to people who live nowhere near her.

"It's going to an entirely different box, an entirely different street," said Christiansen.

Christiansen says a jewelry order she requested be held at the post office while she was on vacation in February was delivered anyway while she was gone. Her hold request was from February 5th through February 10th of this year. According to the USPS tracking information, the box was delivered to her mailbox on February 7th. Christiansen says the problem with that- is she has a private, locking mailbox and there's no way the package would fit in her mailbox. She says she's never seen the jewelry she paid for.

"I've reported this to the Bellevue Annex several times," Christiansen said of the chronic misdeliveries."

And they don't even ask for my address. They just say "Thank you for informing us.' and hang up."

Posts to the neighborhood Facebook page suggest Christiansen and Slaugh are not alone. So I went to local USPS headquarters in Federal way for answers. Don't the carriers look at the mail they're putting in our boxes?

"They certainly are supposed to" said USPS spokesperson Ernie Swanson. "The carrier needs to be more attentive. Whether it's the regular carrier or a substitute carrier, they need to be more attentive to the names and the addresses on the pieces of mail that they're putting in the mail box. And clearly that's not being done."

Swanson says he was told the Bellevue office has been dealing with changes in both management and carriers. "But that's no excuse," he added.

After he contacted postal supervisors in Bellevue- Swanson says they promised to make accurate delivery to Southeast Bellevue the priority it's supposed to be.

"The management at the Bellevue post office, and the annex, told me that they would check the carrier's case before the carrier goes out that day, to make sure that the mail is in the proper sequence," Swanson said.

Carriers are also being reminded to quickly flip through the mail and confirm the address, before putting the mail in the box.

As for what to do if you have a problem with chronic misdeliveries - Swanson says
Call the USPS Consumer Affairs office and file a complaint. You should also report it to your local postmaster. If possible, take the misdelivered mail to your designated post office and explain the specific problem.

Before you return any misdelivered mail, be sure to scribble through the barcode stamped on both sides of the card or envelope. The automated barcode generated in the sorting process has everything to do with where mail ends up. If you don't scribble out that barcode, there's a good chance you'll just get the same mail again in a day or two.

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