Mail is a funny thing. The majority of mail is just useless spam or marketing material and the rest is bills. Of course in the world of online shopping there are an increasing number of packages being sent to people. During the coronavirus one industry that did very well was the online marketplace as people stopped going to retail stores and started shopping online. There are many fears that when the pandemic is over people will continue to prefer shopping online and retail stores will face a tough market squeeze. One of the worst parts about mail though is when the letter intended for you goes somewhere else or when you receive a letter that is not actually for you. What should you do?
If you are getting something in the mail that is important and you want to ensure it reaches you then it is best to get your package tracked. This will allow you to see exactly where it is and where it ends up. This means that if it gets lost you will be able to see exactly where things went wrong and likely resolve the situation. If you receive mail that is not for you, it is a little more difficult.
While you may be tempted to open the mail to determine whether it is important or not, this is a crime. You are not allowed legally to open mail that is not addressed to you. This could contain sensitive information that you have no right to see. Be very careful about this. While this may sound like a technicality and not something that is actually enforced, it is. Many people are very cautious about their mail and there are numerous examples of housemates “accidentally” opening their housemate’s mail and facing prosecution.
If mail reaches you that has the wrong name and wrong address on it then the solution is simple. If the correct address is somewhere nearby you can deliver it yourself and call it your good deed for the day. If the address is somewhere far away then you need to put it back in the post. It is a good idea to indicate what went wrong by adding a post it note to the letter so that the same mistake does not happen again. I have a strange enough surname in the neighborhood I grew up in and after living there many years someone with the same surname moved into a house down the road. We started to receive all of her mail even when people addressed it correctly. The postman assumed that all people with that name lived at my address.
If the mail reaches you and has the correct address but the wrong name then it was likely meant for the people who lived there before you. While you may be tempted to throw these letters away (especially if there are a lot of them) this is not a good idea. Opening or disposing of mail that is not for you is a crime. While you can likely throw it away and pretend you never got it, that is not exactly an act of kindness. Keep in mind that while this mail is probably spam, it may not be. It may be an incredibly important piece of information that the person needs. Imagine if the person that lived at your house had applied to an adoption agency and had just been notified that they were going to receive a child. Without your help they may never know.
Of course it is not likely that this is the case but you must treat every piece of misplaced mail as if it is. If we assume everything is marketing material then we will end up throwing something of value away. It is better to assume it is valuable and ensure it finds it’s correct home than to assume it is not valuable and throw it away.