Post Office Behind the Times

Checking my mail upon return from the honeymoon, I was rather surprised to see no mail forwarded with those little yellow USPS labels waiting for me. I submitted the official change of address form online on September 29th and received instantaneous e-mail confirmation that it had been received.

So, I call the helpful folks at my old post office and ask if there had been a glitch. She said that filling out the form online always causes trouble because the results go to the entire postal district and it takes three weeks or more to get the notification. Indeed, she still hadn’t gotten mine.

Wouldn’t you think filling in the information online in digital form–for a nominal fee, no less–would be faster than scribbling the information onto a postcard which has to be manually deciphered and transcripted? I certainly would.

Ironically, I had just defended the USPS in a comment on a previous post (and stand by that particular claim). But, gee whiz, they’re more than a decade behind in netcentricity.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sortapundit says:

    I used to work for the British Post Office, and in the spirit of the company I’ll wait 3-5 weeks before commenting on your post.

    p.s. This was an automated response. In order to improve customer service all of your human readers are away on a day-long training course at the local country club. We appreciate your patience.

  2. McGehee says:

    “Your post is very important to us…”

  3. sortapundit says:


  4. Michael A says:

    It would not surprise me to find that the electronic notification goes to some obscure office where someone transcribes the information (by hand) onto one of the postcards normally used which is then mailed to your old post office.

  5. I’ll also defend USPS from a lot, because I find them to be pretty damn reliable for getting a package from point A to point B in a reasonable (if somewhat unpredictable) period of time for a really cheap amount of money.

    But there’s one other area where I’ve noticed a serious shortcoming: online package tracking. I’ve had packages that took three days to get to me, and when I got them the USPS web site STILL only said, “We’ve recieved notification to pick up this package.” And that’s pretty typical, not an unusual case.

    Yeah, they need to get with the ‘Net.

  6. Alan says:

    I have found that my local mail carrier and the staff at the local post office have always been very helpful in explaining how to do business with the USPS. The information you get from the USPS web site or their call center does not always reflect how the system actually works in the field.

  7. Herb says:

    True to form:

    “US MAIL by US MULE”

  8. frankr says:

    Im going through a divorce where we both still live in the same home. After not getting the third debit card from my new bank account, I got a P.O. Box and hand wrote my change of address. To this day I still get mail at my home address. It’s been almost 2 months since I hand delivered my change of address to my post office. My advice, let each person or company know about your change of address by going online and changing your address at their website. Its the only way that really works.