If you write real letters…


Again, a letter has gone missing but this one really takes the cake. The envelope arrived sealed but empty. What the %*$#!

Now I know it contained a seven page letter filled with pen and ink samples, two Pear Tree Pens blotters, and a hummingbird bookmark when it left my house. It was carefully sealed and had more than enough postage. Of that I am certain. However, when it arrived at its destination, the envelope was bare though sealed. Do you think I can get refund?

If the United States Postal Service expects to survive, it must be reliable and dependable like any business. Recent experience has convinced me that Priority Mail is the only sure thing at the USPS and at $5 a pop, that’s virtual highway robbery for delivery of a single letter.

Whether it’s the machine mangled the letter or the envelope glue failed or the neighbor’s dog ate it for breakfast or a slew of alternate universe excuses, we rely on an unreliable entity. Unfortunately for writers of real letters, there is no other option though I think it is high time someone developed a transporter for inanimate objects. Now wouldn’t that put the Postmaster General’s knickers in a twist!

Note: Got a postal horror story? Please feel free to vent in the comments. I expect you’ll find lots of empathy here.


  1. The USPS is so poorly run in New Mexico that residents from all over the state had to request that their Congressperson and Senators intervene. I have a PO box now and rarely have anything sent to my house since I know it will end up at a neighbor’s home or in a ditch. Packages are not delivered to the door — they are put on top of or the foot of mailboxes where a note says “sorry you weren’t home for the delivery” as if we all live in our mail boxes. I request that all packages be sent via FedEx or UPS.


  2. We had a postal employee in our area arrested for stealing gift cards out of the mail. He was caught with card like envelopes last summer. My birthday is in June and one friend mailed a card I never received and two other friends I know always remember me, did not. I am sure all three cards ended up in this postal person’s booty–unfortunately for him they only contained well wishes!


  3. A mangled envelope was returned to me without it’s contents. So I asked for the items back, thinking there aren’t too many lost eye makeup brushes. They are still looking for it; probably at the North Pole.


  4. I had a similar problem where packages ordered from eBay arrived with a slit at one end and the contents gone. [They were shipped with tracking, so it thus showed delivery.] I contacted the postal inspector for my route and gave him the packaging. My carrier changed and now I have a good one. Still have problems with mail going to different neighbors when the substitutes are on, tho’. Contact your postal inspector. You don’t even have to put a stamp on if you address it to them, your city, your zip code.


  5. Possible alternate universe scenario: http://penpen.soup.io/post/110148588/CIA-Letter-Removal-Device

    But truly, I’m sorry this had to happen. I have had so many letters lost through First Class mail.


    • All I can say, Chris, is that certainly explains a lot.😀


  6. Recently we’ve been getting back invitations sent to people who have lived at the same addresses for 30 years, with a sticker saying “Undeliverable – improper address.” The addresses were computer printed and as legible as they could be, with info. that has always gotten the mail delivered properly in the past. Either the post office is relying on machines to read the addresses and they are typical government junk, or the humans reading the addresses are . . . Well, you can fill in the rest.
    We no longer send packages via USPS, have started paying all our bills on-line and are desparately looking for other methods of sending regular mail. I hope we’re successful before the next rate increase.


  7. I think that it is time to privatize USPS and let them compete with UPS, FedEx. Do you think the unions have outlived their usefulness?


    • Privatize the USPS? Good point, Sidney. That may well be the only way customers will get good service. Reducing delivery to five days per week would be fine with me and cut costs considerably, too. Not sure I’d buy stock though until the company proved it had what it takes to compete in the marketplace. Not much of a gambler am I?

      I’ll pass on expressing my opinion of unions here though others may wish to speak up. For many reasons I like to keep my politics and my art separate. However, send me an email if you would like to discuss it privately.


  8. When the snow melted last winter, I found on the ground below my mailbox a bill I had paid 5 months previous.


  9. I’m terribly sorry to hear about your lost letter experience (and that others have encountered the same problems).

    This past fall (the day after Veterans’ Day), my mother sent me a box of my old calligraphy supplies–a small exercises book, a set of nibs and a holder, nothing worth more than about $7. She sent it Priority Mail. It still hasn’t arrived, and neither her post office nor my own have any knowledge of where it might be. I’d suspect someone in the neighborhood lifted it, but we’ve never had any other packages go missing, and things from FedEx and Amazon look a lot more tempting than a regular Priority Mail box.


    • Well, that is discouraging, Holly. My experience with Priority Mail has been fine so far but most packages have been insured. Maybe that is what makes the difference. In other words, spend more money and you get better service. That brings the cost for even the smallest package to $7 or more. However, especially with the fuel surcharge, UPS is several dollars more. The FedEx site is not user-friendly and I was unable to calculate ground shipping for a comparable package without creating an account. Phooey on that!

      Bottom line is shipping with the USPS is more akin to legalized gambling than a sure thing.


  10. […] Inkophile’s Blog Fountain pens, ink, paper and more « If you write real letters… End That Junk Mail Deluge […]


  11. I’m sorry to hear about your loss, but at the same time I’m relieved to see another country suffering with their postal service as much as the Brits are. In this country, post is expensive, unreliable, late (it is now standard practise to deliver only once every 3 days!!!) and can go missing.

    There have been many discussions about privatising Royal Mail, mostly because our government like to privatise everything (!), but I do think that might be the best idea if service is to improve.


  12. I feel better just reading this. When we sold our last house, the person who purchased it had a similar last name. When it came time to have my mail forwarded, I began to get her mail, too. She got my mail–I don’t mean a stray magazine or two, I was getting her paycheck, her bills. I went to the post office and their reply? “Don’t sell your house to someone with a last name that close to yours.”

    The post office sells their information to mailing lists. Six years after the sale, and two moves later, I am STILL getting catalogs for this woman.


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