USPS Package Tracking: Huh?

This story unfolded over the course of three weeks:

USPS Tracking
USPS Tracking

After the package visited Poughkeepsie for the second time, I contacted the local delivery manager. He was absolute baffled as to what was going on, but promised to intercept it and give me a call when it returned.

When I called on 22 November, I got somebody else who was also completely baffled. However, she could view a scan of the package and noticed an odd mismatch:

  • The package tracking info showed my name and street address
  • The tracking info had my email address
  • The package label had somebody else’s name & address in Rensselaer

As best as I can follow the explanation, automated routing machinery at each facility scans each incoming package and shunts it to a conveyor belt filling a bin, thence to a truck, and away toward wherever it’s going. Alas, the (bogus) tracking info associated with this particular package aimed it toward me in Poughkeepise, but, when it arrived, a human read the actual label and tossed it in the bin headed toward Rensselaer.

Upon arriving in Renselaer, the automation fired it back toward Poughkeepsie.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I buy plenty of “made in China” things, many shipped with tracking numbers, and tracking generally works the way you’d expect. Sometimes, however, the shipper does not tell me the tracking number and the first I learn of it is when tracking emails begin arriving from USPS. In other cases, no USPS facility along the way scans the package, whereupon the first notification I get happens when I open my mailbox and see the package.

In this case, I hadn’t bought anything close to the time when it would have been shipped and the tracking number didn’t correspond to any of my orders.

If this were an isolated incident, I’d shrug it off, but over the last year or two this is the third or fourth time this has happened, with packages from different Chinese sellers and another shipped from Arizona to Tennessee.

There was also a certified mail piece addressed to somebody at a nearby (easily typo-ed) address, delivered to our mailbox, but tracked as “handed to resident”. Whoops, indeed.

In all those cases, I got the tracking information from USPS, but the packages went directly to their destination. The extensive looping for this package was definitely a New Thing.

Nobody can explain how I (and my address!) get associated with these packages:

  • It’s obviously not a problem at the source, as I have no idea who the sellers / shippers are
  • To the best of my knowledge, they don’t know me, because their addresses aren’t familiar
  • The notices come directly from the USPS, so they’re associating me with a random package
  • It’s not a fault on my end, because I haven’t bought the items and don’t know they’re coming

Definitely a puzzlement …