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What Recourse Do You Have When USPS Loses Your Mail?

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The United States Post Office processes about 472.1 million pieces of mail each day, and hundreds of millions of Americans rely on the post office to deliver their mail quickly and accurately. But when something goes wrong, it can be a real hassle.

Vandalism at the Mailbox

Lynn Goldman is an adoption attorney, and her business is helping her clients navigate the complex adoption process. She often has to send important documents to move along adoption cases, and she has always relied on the USPS to deliver her documents. But recently, she ran into a major problem.

Goldman had prepared a package containing several important original documents, including the birth certificate of the child to be adopted, the marriage license of the adoptive parents, and forms signed by the biological parents relinquishing custody and giving the child up for adoption. These documents were critical for moving the adoption process forward and required by the courts. To send this sensitive package, she chose USPS Priority Mail, which allows her to track her package. All she had to do was drop it in the mail and wait for it to be processed.

She went to her nearest mail drop and slid the package into the mailbox. But she never got any tracking information. So she returned to the mailbox, only to find it covered in tape. The post office said that the box had been vandalized, so it was closed off. But Goldman had no idea what might have happened to her package, and the post office was no help. They said it would be three to four months before the damaged mailbox was opened.

No Responsibility

Goldman wasn’t getting any answers from the post office, so she turned to TrustDALE. We reached out to a regional spokesperson for the post office, and all they could tell us was that they had no record of the package reaching them. So Goldman is left with few options. She is currently asking the court to accept photocopies of the documents instead of the originals that are lost in the mail.

Unfortunately, when a mail piece goes missing, there is not much you can do. The USPS has a special exemption from being sued for lost packages. But out of the hundreds of millions of pieces of mail, the USPS handles each day, almost all of them arrive just fine, and at much lower prices than private services like FedEx and UPS. So we can’t say that we recommend against sending important documents via USPS. We have also helped consumers with cases where UPS and FedEx have misplaced packages, so there is no guarantee with them, either. Instead, what we recommend is that you take the same precautions Lynn Goldman took. Any time you are sending valuable documents, make sure you have photocopy backups in case there is an issue. Also, if you are sending via USPS, use priority shipping with tracking. In her case, it didn’t help, but in many cases, it can help locate a misplaced package.