OKEECHOBEE — When it comes to receiving a package that does not belong to them, there are three types of people in this world — those who immediately try to return it, those who throw it in a corner to return later and those who say, “Merry Christmas to me.”
The immediate returners sometimes write a note letting the mail carrier know the envelope or package was delivered to the wrong address and then put it back in the mailbox right away. Some of them will even attempt to deliver the package themselves or contact the person to arrange to have it picked up.
Some people look at the package and realize it is not for them, but for some reason, it does not occur to them that someone might be waiting for that package. They toss it in a corner and figure they will take care of it someday. Maybe they don’t know what to do with it. They are not trying to steal it. They don’t open it or use it, but for the person waiting for the package, the end result is the same. He still did not get his package.
The “Merry Christmas to me” guy is a thief. He may not even believe he is a thief, but he is. Often people think this is one of those times when that old “Finders Keepers” rule comes into play, but it is not. You know it isn’t yours, and you have to make every effort to give it back.
Many times you hear, “I did not ask them to drop this package off here. It’s not my fault they made a mistake. Why should I have to go out of my way to fix someone else’s mistake?” Yes, let’s face it. It’s annoying to have to go out of our way because someone else made a mistake, but haven’t we all made a mistake at one time or another? If it were our package, wouldn’t we want someone to make a little effort? The Okeechobee post office delivers hundreds of packages a week, said former Okeechobee Post Master Bob Glenn, and on top of that, they are delivering all our other mail. Can’t we cut them a little slack?
According to Mr. Glenn, it is absolutely illegal to throw away or keep someone else’s mail. It is just like tampering with the mail and is a federal crime. If it was delivered by the post office, just write a note saying, “not at this address” on it, and put it back in the mailbox if it is small enough to fit in the box. If the address is correct, but the person does not live there, he said to write,”unknown.”
Amberlee Crimmins, manager of the UPS Store in Okeechobee says if a package was delivered to you by mistake, call 1-800-PICK-UPS, and tell them that a package was delivered to you by mistake and they will arrange to pick it up. They will sometimes tell you to return it to a UPS store, but Ms. Crimmins’ store does not accept those packages, because if they go back on the truck, they go to the center, and the center sends them back where it came from. She said if you open a package that isn’t yours and then want to return it, you will have to pay for the shipping cost. There are a lot of variables, but normally, you would just call customer service and have them call and have UPS come back and pick it up. “At least if they have good morals,” she said.
Debra J. Fetterly, strategic communications specialist for the United States Postal Service Alabama and South Florida districts, sent the following information:
“Despite our best efforts, occasionally mail is misdelivered, or is delivered to an old location for an individual. If you are receiving mail for the previous resident and do not know their address, simply return the mail piece back to the mail stream (by leaving in a collection box or other mail receptacle) with the notation ‘not at this address’ marked on the envelope.”
For Priority Mail Express items only, you can obtain the number of the Priority Mail Express Reporting Unit by calling:
For other misdelivered mail items (such as letters), if the mailpiece is delivered to the wrong location:
• Don’t erase or mark over the information, or write any type of endorsement on the mail piece.
• Place the item back in the mailbox or hand the item back to your mail person.
If the mail piece is delivered to the correct location but the recipient on the mail piece does not reside at the address:
• Write “Not at this address” on mailpiece.
• Don’t erase or mark over the address.
• Provide the mailpiece to your mailperson or drop into a Collection Box receptacle.
Destroying mail that was not intended for you may be prohibited by U.S. laws.
Willfully destroying mail is an act that may be punishable by the federal government.