MadMod Computing Phone: (203) 748-2960 (Danbury, CT)
E-mail: David Mawdsley

Improving Your Use of Postal Mail

Incoming and outgoing mail seems seriously delayed or takes a trip to an incorrect address first.

All letters are first scanned in strong light for a zip code. When found the scanner prints a barcode at the bottom of the letter corresponding to the zip code. An incorrect zip code makes the letter go on a detour--perhaps never to return.

At the destination post office, the letter is sorted for the mailbox or rural carrier using a second scanner that uses strong light. Poorly-written, or low contrast numbers and street names cause incorrect sorting which the carrier assumes were correct resulting in letters going to an incorrect street address.

What May Be Happening
Letters are being incorrectly read by the scanner because...

  • the zip code was incorrectly read resulting in an incorrect barcode at the bottom of the letter;
  • the "To" address was hand-written poorly;
  • the "To" address didn't have enough contrast with the envelope;
  • the "From" address was darker and/or more successfuly read than the "To" address;
  • the envelope had a window with a high-reflectivity paper preventing a read of the "To" address;
  • the "From" address on the envelope back was clearer than the "To" address on the front;
  • the zip code was written below the city, state line and perhaps where the bar code was written.
Mitgation Suggestions
  • Write (better Print) the "To" address large, clear and with a clear zip code in black ink in the middle portion of the envelope. (Businesses usually make addresses with a printer to avoid this problem.)
  • Be sure that if a "0" is in the zip code, it doesn't look like a "1" or a "9".
  • Be sure that if a "3" or an "8" is in the zip code, it doesn't look like the other digit.
  • Be sure that if a "7" is in the zip code, it doesn't look like a "1" or a "9".
  • Be sure that if a "9" is in the zip code, it doesn't look like a "0" or a "7".
  • Avoid using red, light green or blue for "To" addresses on Christmas cards.
  • Use another envelope if the paper in the envelope window makes the address appear hard to read.
Further Suggestions -- Protecting Your Identity
  • Outbound mail with enclosed checks or copy containing sensitive personal information should be mailed in post office mail drops--not using your curb mailbox. The red flag announces outbound mail in an unlocked box to thieves.
  • Inbound mail should be picked up regularly from your curb mailbox. Unneeded "courtesy checks" in in-bound mail from financial institutions should be shredded. Thieves could find and cash these checks if left in a curb mailbox.
  • While on vacation, have a neighbor pick up your mail. On a long vacation have the post office hold your mail.

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