my boss opened a personal package that was addressed to me

This was originally published on August 19, 2010.

A reader writes:

My own postman is unreliable, so I often have book orders from amazon, and ebay sent to me at work. The other day, my boss opened a package addressed to me and was offended. He wasn’t offended that I had something mailed to me at work, he was offended by the subject matter that the book dealt with (sex). I asked him why he opened a package addressed to me and he replied that he is the boss and can open my mail if it is coming to a business he manages.

It is indeed legal. Postal regulations say that mail delivered to an organization, even if addressed to a specific person, is delivered to the organization itself, and the organization can decide how to distribute it from there.

But as is so often the case, the question of what’s legal is different from the question of what’s polite.

I don’t know if your boss opened your package on purpose or by mistake. It’s certainly not that hard to accidentally open someone else’s mail without meaning to; I’ll often just open anything left in my in-box without thinking to look at the address, and I’ve sometimes opened something meant for someone else by mistake. But if it was a mistake, the correct response is “I’m sorry, this was inadvertent,” not “too bad, I’m entitled to do it if I want.” And if it was intentional, your boss is an ass. So really, either way, he’s kind of an ass.

Now, that said, there’s also the question of what’s smart. Having books on sex sent to your work address, when it is sooooo easy for a package sent to a work address to be accidentally opened by someone else? Not necessarily the smartest thing to do. I don’t know if this was some academic treatise on sexual issues,  which really shouldn’t offend someone, or something a bit more, uh, lowbrow, but if it was the latter, you were kind of asking for trouble.

I completely understand the desire to have your packages sent to your work address. I used to do it all the time when I had a UPS man who refused to leave packages without a signature. But (a) not every business welcomes or even permits it, and (b) it’s not a good idea for things you wouldn’t want someone else to see.

{ 120 comments… read them below }

  1. Anne*

    Ouch. Yeah, I have the most laid-back office and boss ever, and I still get anything sexual sent to me at home, even though it’s guaranteed to mean a trip to the sorting office on the edge of town. Just on principle.

  2. Ann O'Nemity*

    Sounds like it’s time for a PO box.

    A few months ago I ran into a mailing dilemma with 2 cases of wine. A delivery signature is absolutely required, which is almost impossible with my work schedule. Although my company allows personal deliveries, I was worried about the kind of message it would send to receive such a big shipment of alcohol.

      1. Arbynka*

        If I saw two cases of wine delivered, I would probably get excited thinking that from now on, instead of water cooler, we will have wine cooler :)

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Haha, I know!

        I’m glad I avoided workplace delivery, since the boxes were covered in logos and alcohol-related warnings. And the 2 cases were divvied into 8 boxes, so I probably would have looked like a lush. (In reality, I ‘m not a big drinker but thought it would be cool to order some wine after touring a vineyard on vacation. And you’re right, the bulk price was much cheaper!)

        1. Anomnomnom(2?)*

          My office occasionally orders wine (and sparkling apple juice) for employee events and stocks a beer/wine fridge (and a nonalcoholic drink fridge), so I doubt anyone would’ve batted an eye. Although come to think of it, I still have a leftover wine bottle from one of those events in my desk, which is a little weird and lush-like.

          I’ll just have to bust it out dramatically – tomorrow would be good….

    1. Anonymous*

      Yes, who on earth would think it’s advisable to have a book on sex delivered to work! Still laughing…so sorry OP but get a PO Box service.

  3. Kat A.*

    Best thing I ever did was get a post office box for a mere $52 a year. And if the package can’t be sent to a PO box, then rent a box at one of those mail service chains like Mail Boxes Etc.

  4. thenoiseinspace*

    If getting a PO box isn’t an option for whatever reason, you could always try selecting the “yes, this is a gift” option. It should come gift-wrapped. Then your boss won’t know what it was unless he also unwraps it (which should tell you something about him) and even if he does, you’ve got an alibi – say it was a gift for someone else.

    1. Anomnomnom(2?)*

      That is quite brilliantly sneaky! “Don’t look at me, it was on my 2nd cousin’s wedding registry/ wish list…”

    2. Anonymous*

      I once read somewhere hat if you’re going to buy something embarrassing, buy it with a birthday card so it looks like a gag gift. :)

    3. FreeThinkerTX*

      Just want to note that most online retailers won’t automatically wrap something just because you checked the “Yes, this is a gift” option. They’ll leave the price off the packing slip, and maybe offer to put a gift message on the address label, but all the online retailers I just purchased every single one of my holiday gifts from wouldn’t wrap the gift unless I paid extra for it (at a cost of $3.50 – $15.00 per gift, depending on the site).

  5. Yup*

    This is one of those office culture things that varies hugely from one place to the next. At my former job, you weren’t allowed to receive any personal mail. It was a huge place with 5000+ employees, so their written and strictly enforced policy was no personal mail ever ever. At my current job, people get deliveries all the time and no one bats an eye.

    In general, I agree with the logic on why a workplace is *allowed* to open mail addressed to employees (security, business needs, accidental), but this boss still sounds like he’s on a power trip about it. I hope the OP got a po box or locker or some other solution for privacy.

  6. anon-2*

    Ann O’Nemity – it should probably be made clear – it is illegal to send alcoholic beverages through the US Mail.

    — also, some companies would be uptight if you had a case of wine sent to your work address – liability concerns. Especially if you had an in-office “wine of the month club”.

    1. anon-2*

      And I might add – having sexually-oriented materials sent to your workplace shows awfully bad judgement.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Not always, though. The author says that the book dealt with sex. It could be a book that deals with sex from a biological, anthropological, or sociological standpoint — i.e., not erotica — and I don’t see anything wrong with having that sent to yourself at work, particularly if you’re assuming the package will be brought to you unopened (as is the case in many offices).

      1. Sabrina*

        I think this is a state thing, not a USPS thing. I recall a few years ago when I visited a winery on vacation, and there were some states they could ship your purchases to and some that they couldn’t.

        1. De Minimis*

          Definitely dependent on state, although I think it’s a case where more states allow it than don’t.

      1. Arbynka*

        This. It is not allowed to mail alcohol, amongst few other things, via USPS. I have posted a link to the USPS site above but it is currently awaiting moderation. But, you can mail it UPS or FedEx.

        1. Nikki T*

          The USPS is working on getting that changed. They hope being able to ship alcohol will save the postal service..or something like that..

          1. Arbynka*

            Maybe USPS is adopting a piece of wisdom from one of my favorite bumper stickers. “Beer will save the world. I don’t know how, but it will” :)

            1. NutellaNutterson*

              A quick Google showed this, as of Nov. 2nd: U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched his plan to end the prohibition-era law that prevents the United States Postal Service (USPS) from delivering beer, wine and spirits to consumers, which puts them at a disadvantage with FedEx and UPS.


          2. FiveNine*

            I think there are two issues with the government being involved in shipping alcohol: The sales of liquor to underage people thing, which I don’t think has yet been resolved, and, you know, the whole collection of taxes (not just state sales taxes but the much steeper sin/excise taxes) on alcohol sales shipped across state lines.

              1. De Minimis*

                Yep…although there are some states where those companies can’t do business. I’m happily surprised that mine allows it!

            1. anon-2*

              When Prohibition was repealed – the federal government left regulation of the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages entirely up to the states.

              While there are federal taxes on booze, every state makes their own rules as to how it will be sold in their state – if they wish to sell it at all. For many, many years, Kansas and Oklahoma were “dry” states. In some parts of Alaska, mere *possession* of alcohol is a crime, treated like an illicit drug.

              The underage thing, and taxes are secondary – it’s actually defined states’ rights here.

              1. the gold digger*

                I had to explain to a beer-drinking New York friend who was applying to Texas Tech for grad school that Lubbock was dry.

                He told me that he knew it didn’t rain much there.

                1. Mishi*

                  You and possibly your friend might be happy to know that Lubbock is no longer dry! Took many votes and much wearing of sack cloth and ashes, but it finally happened. It still doesn’t rain much, but now we can drown our sorrows over the drought situation.

                2. the gold digger*

                  Mishi, that’s good news! My college roommate lived in Bledsoe, west of Lubbock, and she and her friends used to drive to New Mexico to buy beer at the Bloated Goat. That’s a name you never forget.

          1. anon-2*

            Thank you.

            I always knew USPS prohibited shipment of alcohol. This I knew, because when our daughter was in the military in Germany – she had arranged for wine to be shipped from an on-base fest. As a CO she had to confirm the method of shipment – the vendor said “DHL” — but he lied. He went Deutche Post, which hit USPS — and one of the two cartons due for our house was seized, the other made it through but we did receive notice that one was impounded and we could go to New York (I’m in Massachusetts) to pick it up.

            We were more concerned about the vendor being dishonest than losing four bottles of cheap wine.

            As far as ground shipments – some states, including mine, prohibit that because all alcohol sold in Massachusetts at the retail level must come from a Mass. distributor. Some states and counties across the country are still “dry”.. every state makes its own rules concerning sale of liquor.

            As far as wine shipments to the office – some companies might get a little antsy about distribution of alcoholic beverages in the office, even for off-premises consumption.

        1. Contessa*

          It’s definitely not legal in all states (such as mine >_> the situations in which you can mail wine are so limited as to basically not exist). I fell in love with a wine when we were in California, and it’s a crapshoot if I can find it in stores here, since I can’t get it mailed.

          1. cecilhungry*

            Sometimes you can talk to your local liquor store owner/manager (esp if you’re in a state where all the liquor stores ARE local), and have them order a case and sell it to you. Now, some wineries/breweries won’t ship to certain states at all, but this is often a good work-around if you really want a particular wine/beer (you will probably have to buy a full case, though, unless the store is interested in stocking the item).

  7. De Minimis*

    My workplace is even uptight about outgoing mail, you have to be a little sneaky if you want to drop a letter in with the other mail [the junior supply clerk will do it if asked, but if the head supply person finds out about it, yikes!]

    Seems like more and more places refuse to ship to PO boxes, so some type of competitor mailbox company is probably a better [although more expensive] solution.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I worked at a place where we had a mail room, and if you had personal mail and needed a stamp, or if you needed to send a package (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc), you just took it back and they’d handle it for you. There was a little envelope where you put in what you owed, or if you didn’t have the cash, listed what you owed, and you could pay it at the end of the month. It was SWEET.

      1. Ellie H.*

        That is fantastic! I wish my company did that but I work at a large organization. I admittedly occasionally mail a personal communication on the company dime if I don’t have a stamp (you just put it in the mail and the mail room stamps and seals everything) but I would love to not only be able to pay for it myself, but be able to mail out packages from work easily (I would feel too guilty about having the office pay for *shipping* a personal item!)

        1. De Minimis*

          I just want to drop off my outgoing mail, I don’t want them to stamp it because that would be illegal in my case [gov’t employer] but the supply manager raises a stink about even taking non-official mail to the PO. The junior clerk will slip in there, but he has to make sure his boss doesn’t see it.

          1. Poe*

            I am the official mailer at our office. I will take stamped personal mail, but I will not check that the address is correct, will not put in a return address, and will not check for correct postage. Since I have to walk to the nearest mail box to send mail, I don’t take personal letters unless there is work mail I’m already taking. It sounds like stupid rules, but people were genuinely surprised when their personal letters were returned for insufficient postage, or when they weren’t sent for several days because it’s pouring rain and there is no work mail to be sent and I don’t feel like walking all the way to the mail box out of the goodness of my heart.

  8. Becky*

    I would second (third?) the recommendation for a mailbox elsewhere. We have one at a local business that is similar to Mailboxes etc, and it’s only $5/month. They take in all packages and hold them for you. Another advantage is that if you are renting and move even once every few years you don’t have to update your address.

  9. Anna*

    That is crazy. I’ve NEVER had someone open a package that was addressed to someone else at work. Of course, our mail guy was awesome and always brought the boxes directly to us.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve never done it with a package I knew was personal, but when I handled the mail at Exjob, I accidentally opened someone’s personal mail once or twice. I would just tape a sticky note to it saying “Oops, sorry, slit the envelope before I noticed it was yours.”

      Most of my coworkers let me know when they were expecting packages. At Newjob, we are allowed to receive them but I let the mailroom know if I’m getting something. And I try not to do it too often.

      If it’s something huge and I have a rough idea of when it will arrive, I can work from home that day. But so far, that hasn’t happened, and I can’t think of anything where it would, unless I was getting Amazon White Glove service for a TV or something.

  10. A Bug!*

    AAM’s answer covers the content of the question, but I had some logistical comments for anyone with a similar problem.

    If you get a PO Box (and that’s the solution I recommend too, if it’s an option), you will need to be attentive to shipping options. UPS does not deliver to post office boxes, and if you have a package sent there by UPS, UPS will try to contact you to obtain an alternate, acceptable address, and failing that, will take the package back to the depot and eventually return it to the shipper. I don’t know if there is an exception for post office boxes in UPS stores.

    USPS will deliver to PO Boxes (I don’t know about ‘private’ boxes, though); they’ll leave a card in the box if the box is too small to receive a package, and then you go to the designated post office with ID to pick it up.

    If you have a trusted friend who doesn’t work during the days, then you might ask that person if you can have packages delivered there, care-of. This is actually the ideal option from my perspective, but it’s more dependent on circumstances than the PO Box, which is available to everybody who can spare the five bucks a month or so.

    1. Clever Name*

      I believe the UPS store can receive packages from any carrier. You can get a box there like the post office or Mailboxes Etc. My uncle split his time between two residences, and he had a UPS box at both locations so he could receive mail and packages while he was away from either.

  11. Ruffingit*

    I have enough trouble dealing with my own mail (sorting, answering, etc), I don’t want to open other people’s stuff. This boss is a jerk for doing that and then complaining about what he saw in the box.

    1. Jamie*

      I can see this being an issue, depending on the content.

      Devil’s advocate – policy allows people to receive personal packages at work (common) so I open the packages left on my desk. I never look at the address, I open whatever is left for me and on rare occasion I open something intended for the office manager or maintenance.

      If I opened a personal package where the contents were NSFW I would have an issue with it. Not because I care about what people read on their own time, but because what would immediately shoot through my head is “if employee A, B, or C had opened this I’d be in meetings with HR about how OP is creating a hostile work enviromnment subjecting them to NSFW material…there would be paperwork and it would be a bfd.”

      And I’d question the judgment of someone who had it sent to work without taking into account that it could be misrouted and opened.

      I agree with Alison, if it were an academic work on the topic that’s defensible…but if it’s in the world of porn or erotica? People can read whatever they like, but if something blatant was on someone’s personal phone or tablet and co-workers were exposed to porn that wouldn’t be okay in the office…so risking them being exposed to hard copies of it isn’t okay either.

      I’m not saying fireable – but the boss would be shortsighted not to address what could have happened if it fell into the hands of someone who would be offended.

      And heck, the boss has a right to be offended at knowing more about an employee than he should have to know. A book on knitting or rock climbing or ice cream making…all topics one can discuss in the breakroom without creeping people out. But very few of us want to know the details of what the people we work with find erotic.

      1. Ruffingit*

        The contents of the package are different from the act of opening the package itself though. I have a problem with someone opening the package at all if it’s not addressed to them. If someone is receiving NSFW material at work, then sure address it with them, but my point is more that opening someone else’s mail is crappy.

        1. Jamie*

          If doing it on purpose, I guess I would question a manager who had that kind of curiosity or time.

          But mail left in my inbox or packages on my desk? I don’t check that they’re addressed to me, I just open them and on the rare occasion they have me someone else’s package I just give it to them. I wouldn’t presume anyone would check names before opening what was left on their desks…because if it’s personal and innocuous it’s no big deal. I can drop off your misdirected shoes as well as misdirected customer material.

          Also, and maybe this isn’t relevant to every position, but I order stuff for other people all the time. If I’m out of the office or working from home and I know there’s a package on my desk and it might be the new laptop dock I ordered for you I’ll authorize someone to go in and open it up.

          While I do think micromanaging mail for the sake of being the boss is controlling and creepy (and a huge waste of time) I don’t think there should be any presumption of privacy for mail at work. It’s just way too easy for it to be inadvertently opened by the wrong person no one should be getting stuff there that’s problematic for others to see.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Yeah, I agree, which is why I said that if it’s NSFW content, you are within your rights to have a talk with the person receiving it. But, as a general rule, if it’s not addressed to you or you have no other reason to think it’s yours (as in, it’s not on your desk, etc.) then opening it is crappy. I’m not referencing people who would have reason to open something that may not be theirs, such as it being on their desk or in their inbox. I’m just talking purely about someone who opens mail that isn’t theirs and knows it isn’t.

        2. doreen*

          I suppose I’d have a problem if it was obvious that it was personal mail – but I’m not at all sure that I’ve ever had a job where it would be obvious unless it was coming from Victoria’s Secret ( and I did see that happen once). I’ve rarely had jobs where my employer occupied the whole building.Even in those cases, there were multiple offices/buildings served by a central mailroom so the any personal mail/packages would have to be adressed in the same way as business mail/packages. I get work related packages all the time – some of them are addressed to my predecessor, which of course I have to open. Others are supplies which are drop shipped from the vendors – and since the ordering is done through a central office, I never know where my printer cartridges are being shipped from. But they shouldn’t sit around for three weeks because they came from HP and the addressee is on vacation until then.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Clearly there are times it’s totally OK to open things that aren’t directly addressed to you. My beef is with someone who knows the stuff isn’t for them and opens it anyway. That kind of thing is crappy. If there’s a reason for you to open the mail, then do so. If you’re the type of person who opens everything regardless of whether it’s yours or not and you are doing it just because you can (as it seemed the OP’s boss was), then that sucks. That’s all I’m saying.

            1. doreen*

              I don’t see any reason in the letter to believe the boss knew it was personal and opened it anyway. He was maybe an ass for responding the way he did- but maybe not depending on how the OP asked. I know more than one person who would have said something like ” Who the hell are you to open my mail?” . In which case his answer doesn’t make him an ass.

              1. Ruffingit*

                I tend to believe he knew it wasn’t for him given that his response to why did you open my mail was basically “Because I can.”

            2. Jamie*

              Well, yeah if someone is doing it deliberately just to be an ass they need a new hobby.

              It’s funny, because although I rarely have stuff shipped to work I did get three packages at home this week that – if sent to work and opened by my boss – would give him an insight into the at home me that would leave him quite befuddled.

              (Late Christmas gifts: a tiara, Love’s Baby Soft cologne, and a crystal penguin. I have strange and varied tastes.)

      2. Anna*

        The thing is you wouldn’t have known about it if you hadn’t opened it, but the responsibility is still on the person opening it. The same thing could be said if it were a religious text and the person who opened it complained about it being a hostile work environment. To me this is like being offended that you read a diary with an entry that called you a snoop. Whether or not the boss technically CAN open it is not the same as if he technically SHOULD open it. He shouldn’t have opened it and because he shouldn’t have, he can’t be offended by what he found inside.

        1. Jamie*

          I’m curious, do you think there is an obligation for all who get packages at work to check every box before opening to make sure it’s addressed to them?

          How would that apply to work related packages which may be addressed to one person, but needed by someone in the office if the addressee isn’t there to open it? You’d have to cross reference the return address, and I have never worked in a place where that kind of presumption of privacy would be the norm.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah- this. I am not sure when I first became aware of it in the working world but I got told this is a company not a democracy. I was informed if I had personal mail/packages sent to the company I could expect that they might be opened by a company employee.
            Several things here: I was new to the working world so I took it as an explanation of what to expect. I appreciated being told BEFORE it happened rather than after. And part of me wondered why would people have stuff sent to their work address. (It later occurred to me that they bought a present for someone at home- that would be an explanation.)
            Maybe a misconception on my part, but I carried that forward to my other jobs and just assumed that my personal mail might be opened by someone else- either accidently or on purpose. The one time (in 30 + years of working)I had a package sent to work (I had to sign for it) involved at least ten people and weeks of talking about it. If I could have found any other way to deal with the package I would have happily done that.

            Do I think it’s fair that people open other people’s mail on purpose? No. But I can’t change it- I can only be aware and change what I am doing. Someone else said to me “do not expect the privacy you would get at home”.
            At least I got the heads up and sounds like there was no heads up in OPs work place.

  12. Kimberly*

    I have a box at one of those private delivery places next to the grocery store I go to. I cannot depend on having my mail get to me at home. Much better option than sending things to work, expecialy since I’m a teacher and the school is only open 180 day a year.

    The only problem I’ve had is that my bank sent my checks to the wrong adress, because they felt the delivery place wasn’t secure enough. Then they put a fraud alert on my account – so I couldn’t write a check for my computer. The whole reason I got checks to begin with. There was a branch down the street and the computer place held my computer while I went and got cash from them. Customer service and I had a heated discussion over the fact I’m an adult and can make my own decisions and that sending my checks the way they did meant a high probablilty they would either be stolen or thrown behind some bushes near my porch to be lost.

    1. Clever Name*

      Banks are weird sometimes about where they send checks to. Once my bank sent the new checks to a branch we used to bank out of, but didn’t tell us that’s where it went, so when the checks didn’t show up, we assumed they were lost or stolen, so we cancelled the whole box. Turns out, some of the numbers were overlapping with active checks we had written, which were also cancelled. That was a huge mess to unravel.

      1. De Minimis*

        Another thing I’ve found out the hard way, let your bank know when you move, even if the address they have for your account isn’t changing [I have mine go to a PO box at the town where I work since it’s more secure.] I had a lot of card transactions be rejected during my first week because they had thought my card had been stolen, even though I’d only moved about an hour and a half away. I was told that I was departing too much from the spending patterns that they’d been tracking all this time, so they concluded the card was stolen. Apparently I will have to remind them every few months that I’m living somewhere else, although that won’t really be an issue since they will no longer be my bank by then….

        1. Saturn9*

          Part of the algorithm that defines “spending patterns” is based on your address on file. Updating your address or notifying the bank when you go on vacation sets the algorithm to expect different patterns. If you don’t notify the bank that you’re moving/traveling but you call the number on the back of your card when a transaction is declined, there is a department specifically devoted to verifying that you’re making the transaction and putting it through.

          Fwiw, all banks are required by federal law to have an accurate physical address on file for everyone that has an account and there are financial penalties if they don’t do this (thank you, Patriot Act!), so there’s incentive for all banks to monitor your spending patterns. But at least you got to get all worked up and go on a passive-aggressive crusade over something that you could have easily resolved with minimal drama.

          1. De Minimis*

            Whoa. Someone needs some coffee, I guess. Talk about passive-aggressive.

            Still changing banks, not just due to this, just because they don’t have enough branches in my new location. There’s an ATM near the house so that isn’t an issue, but their local branches are in another part of town to where any other transactions are a major PITA.

    2. Dowager Countess*

      I never have my bank send new checks to my home. When I order new checks, I have the bank keep them at the branch so that I can pick them up.

  13. Dowager Countess*

    Hopefully by now the OP has a Kindle. Most new books are published in the Kindle format now, except for coffee table type books.

    I don’t think it was a good idea to have a book on sex sent to the office! Just not professional.

    I do know people who live in New York who have their packages sent to their offices because their building management got rid of the doorman they had for years because of cost-cutting measures.

    The found out their packages were just sitting in the lobby when they got home (yes the front door is still locked) and they didn’t care for their packages to just lie around for anyone to take them, so they had them delivered to their offices.

    No sex books though! That is what your local bookstore is for if you don’t want to go the Amazon route!

    1. Arbynka*

      I had Kindle, just switched to Nook HD. Still has Kindle app so I can read all the books from there and google play, so I can access my google books. And I can access all above apps on my laptop as well. I still love sitting with regular paper book, my dog curled up by my side, kitty in my lap, warm cup of tea… But I do travel a lot and read fast, so having an e-reader is such a blessing. Bit OT, sorry, just wanted to comment. I love reading. :)

      1. Dowager Countess*

        I love Kindle and my Kindle app on my phone. I also love regular books, but I live in 2 rooms with my hubby and I’m being crowded out. Yes, I’m an obsessive reader.

        Kindle books are also great for traveling. It’s so cool to sit in the car and order a book while my husband is driving. :)

      2. The IT Manager*

        :) Yes. I was in the military and when I deployed I’d travel with a few books and give my parents another stack of books for them to mail to me as needed. A kindle would have been awesome to avoid travelling with and mailing books. Deployments were great for reading, but that meant I went through a lot of book and even paperbacks add up.

        Now I still have a several shelves of unread book and books I check out from my library, but ebooks are still very conveinent. My kindle is lighter and smaller than a real books. And will stay open without me holding my place while eating. I still like having favorite books in dead tree form to look at and browse through, but I like the kindle for certain purposes too.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I have the Kindle app on my computer, but I really would like to read on an e-reader because it’s a pain in the ass to take my computer everywhere. I do take it when I travel, but I mean to work and stuff so I can read on my lunch hour. Or at an appointment. My phone screen is too small and I hate using up the battery on that stuff.

      4. AdminAnon*

        You’re brilliant! I switched from the original Kindle to Nook HD last year and have been lamenting the loss of my Kindle books (I still have the old device, but rarely use it). The Kindle app is such a perfect solution! Thank you :)

        1. tcookson*

          Is there any particular reason that people have switched from Kindle to Nook HD? I’m just wondering because I want to upgrade from the Nook SimpleTouch that I got a few years ago to a new e-reader. I’m thinking Nook HD, but was also wondering about the Kindle.

          1. AdminAnon*

            For me, it was mostly because I wanted to upgrade to an e-reader with additional (read: tablet) features and I happened to work at B&N at the time (holiday 40% employee discount + gift cards for the win).

            For what it’s worth, the Nook customer service is awful these days. My mom’s Nook started losing pixels and they sent her a new one, but it was essentially a factory reset–none of her books, apps, bookmarks, etc. She spent weeks getting everything back. Her best friend had a problem with her Kindle and Amazon sent her a new one set up exactly like hers had been–her books were on the same page, her bookmarks and apps were all there….it was awesome.

            TL;DR–If I were you, I would go for the Kindle HDX.

        2. Sarah in Boston*

          If you download Calibre (open source ebook manager), you’ll be able to convert your books to a format your Nook can read. It does involve an extra plugin for the books with DRM but it’s pretty straightforward.

    2. Tina*

      I love my Kindle, but there are still some things, especially for work, that I still prefer in book format. It’s still quicker to flip the pages to find a note than it is to scroll through notes and highlights on my Kindle.

      1. Arbynka*

        Yep. I don’t do highlights on my nook. Like I said, it’s a wonderful tool for traveling but it is not replacing for example, my textbooks.

      2. Dowager Countess*

        Oh, I prefer some books in book format, too. Although the book the OP ordered wasn’t for work, I presume. ;)

        I still believe that e-readers and “real” books can co-exist in harmony. Call me a dreamer.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I hope so, because most of our family reading material isn’t avaliable or appropriate for an electronic format: magazines, old paperbacks, children’s picture books, older technical books. And, since I have a different item to read at every location I do read (bed, toilet, work, library, kitchen) because I hate carrying the books around, I’d need a half dozen kindles at least. I guess…call me a luddite. :)

      3. AdAgencyChick*

        Agreed. I’ve found that the longer a book is, the more I want to read it in hard copy, so that I can flip back if necessary. Which is annoying, since the longer a book is the heavier it is also!

        This is a first world problem, I realize. :)

        1. Dowager Countess*

          I find the Kindle is great for those small books that are hard to shelve — romance novels, etc.

          Of course I never read romance novels ;)

          1. Esra*

            Ha! I’m pretty sure 99% of the Kobos on the subway are for smut. Ereaders have revitalized the industry.

      4. KJR*

        I still prefer to read magazines the old fashioned way, I find it confusing to do on the Kindle; I keep getting lost. Everything else is on my Kindle though. I just love it! I’ve got the Paperwhite version. It’s nice to be able to just set it up on the cardio machine at the gym vs. having to hold onto it (like a book) or get one of those book holder things.

      5. anon-2*

        And the battery never goes dead on a hardcopy book or magazine. If you drop it, it won’t break. You can share it without compromising your personal security.

        etc. etc. etc.

  14. Adam*

    Yeah, I never have anything personal mailed to my office as it’s company policy that the mail room opens EVERYTHING that passes through it. Perhaps you may want to look into renting one of those private mailbox stores that also accepts non-postal carrier packages?

  15. AB*

    We had the worst trouble with our mailman. Every single day, I received miss-delivered mail, which only made me wonder what of mine was floating around. Even when I had the flag up, they would routinely leave outgoing mail just sitting there. There was a bundle of letters that the mail person was either too lazy to actually figure out where they were supposed to go or send them back and he systematically dropped them in a different mail box every single day. The coup de grace was after the mail person delivered three of my packages in a row to the wrong houses. My medical insurance requires that you have your routine medications shipped through their mail order pharmacy. The nearest Post Office was 10 miles away, which doesn’t seem like much, but it was the big downtown office and had no parking. A PO box would have been super inconvenient. Luckily my husband’s office allowed personal packages to be delivered. I can only imagine what the boss would have thought if he’d gotten into my husband’s packages. I do most of my clothes shopping online (I’m picky and I hate shopping), and was on hormone therapy for my endometriosis. Hormones, dresses, and bras… my poor husband would have been mortified. Thank goodness we moved and got a better postman!

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      Having packages delivered has always been a ridiculous circus for me. I’ve finally trained the UPS and FedEx drivers that I really want them to leave my packages at the door. USPS has been the most difficult still and the postman just automatically leaves the “we missed you” slip even if I’m home! He doesn’t bother to ring the buzzer and I actually don’t think he has the packages with him at all. Yesterday however, I experienced a holiday miracle! I have Amazon prime and live in NYC so I’m now able to get those delivered on Sunday. I laughed when I heard that because of my ongoing package issues but surprise of all surprises, I had a package delivered yesterday by USPS! I hope it’s a sign that my luck is changing!

      1. Arbynka*

        That’s happening with my parent’s mail delivery in Europe all the time. We are sitting there and suddenly we get an SMS “we just attempted to deliver a package to you. sorry we missed you” I mean, we are sitting there. Nobody rang the bell, nobody knocked… Frustrating to say the least.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          I once had a birthday present left in the side passage of my house because it wouldn’t fit through the letterbox and all the cards and other smaller mail, which would have fitted easily, chucked in there too. What annoyed me about that was that I was actually in and could have answered the door if the mailman had only knocked.

      2. fposte*

        “He doesn’t bother to ring the buzzer and I actually don’t think he has the packages with him at all.”

        Yeah, I don’t think they do. I’m in one of those on-foot neighborhoods, and I don’t think they take the package out of the truck–just drop the slip off. Very annoying.

        1. Jamie*

          I caught someone in the act once doing just this. We were home and I happened to be in the living room and saw him jump out and leave the slip without ringing the bell…I opened the door and I was not a happy surprise – and he went to the truck to get my package.

          He claimed to have rung the doorbell, I rang it to prove it was not only working but loud…and I totally saw him.


          1. Sydney Bristow*

            Jamie, you are my hero today! When it happened to me while I was home, I heard the mailbox close but I wasn’t expecting a package that day so I didn’t rush out the door and he was gone by the time I saw it.

          2. Noah*

            I totally filmed my mail carrier doing something similar once. He ALWAYS just left the green slip and never attempted to deliver the package. I think my complaints to the local postmaster finally got him reassigned to another route. Our new mail carrier is awesome though. She once walked through a foot of snow to get a package to my front door.

    2. Zelos*

      Canada Post is phasing out delivery-to-door…as troublesome as mail delivery can be sometimes, I’m going to miss it. Hauling out to the post office on foot/transit/bike can be such a pain, and doubly so in the colder months. And while my workplace is open about receiving personal mail, I’d be hesitant about all but the most innocuous items.

      (They’re adding in community mailboxes, but the rare times I get mail they’re usually packages that I’ve ordered, which won’t fit in a community mailbox.)

      1. LizzyMay*

        I’m one of those who has had the community mailbox for year and years and unless you have a large package, it’ll fit in one of the package delivery compartments. It’s actually the easiest way to get stuff. Canada Post will lock the package in the package slot, put the key in your slot and you don’t have to worry about being home to get something or go to a post office to pick something up. I kind of love it, though I’ve never had door to door delivery so maybe I just don’t know better.

          1. S*

            When I worked in an office in Nevada, we had a community mailbox and I was tasked with getting the mail. One day the entire community mailbox was gone!! I couldn’t believe it! Someone (or maybe two people) had removed both bolts and taken the entire thing! Although I shouldn’t have been shocked since our office was near a low income neighborhood with the city’s trash services facilities only 100 feet away! It took about a week and we had another community mailbox. We were not too concerned about the missing mail since we only received ads and brochures from vendors.

    3. Poe*

      Just as a generic warning, if you have problems with a Canada Post mail carrier, and if you complain to the federal phone number, not just your district manager, they will ask you for your name and address and tell you it will be kept confidential. It won’t be: I complained that my entire building got mail only every other Wednesday, which was ridiculous and I missed an important change to my car insurance that cost me $120 because of it. For the next 8 weeks I got mail every day, and every single piece of it was muddy, soaking wet, ripped, had footprints on it, and some was smeared in dog excrement (my lovely magazines!). I was telling this story to a friend, and it turns out her mother had the same thing happen. MY mom told the story to a friend, and it had happened to her as well. Just my tiny PSA, sorry for the hijack.

  16. Lizabeth*

    Oh, this has such great potential to tweak the “delivery box opening boss”. I would order various books on “how to be a great manager” and include “Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie” (a great book BTW). I’d love to see his face when he opens it and sees the titles…heh! :)

  17. Samantha*

    I don’t really understand the indignation here. If your workplace doesn’t care if you receive personal mail there, great. If not, it’s not as if your civil rights are being trampled upon. You don’t have the same expectation of privacy at work as you do at home. I too have accidentally opened other coworkers’ mail because it was placed in my box. If you don’t want that to happen, rent a box at one of those places UPS and FedEx will deliver to.

    1. AB*

      I don’t think the indignation is over not being able to ship things to your work, it’s over the boss opening it. It would be one thing if the boss banned packages from being delivered, it’s another kettle of fish entirely if the boss says personal packages can be delivered at work, but then goes around opening them.
      My office doesn’t allow delivery of personal items, and it doesn’t bother me. That’s their choice. My husband’s office does, which is nice because not everyone has access to a PO or private mail box service. If his office didn’t allow it, one of us would have to take time off work to go pick up packages that require signatures.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yeah. Opening by accident is no big deal but this “that he is the boss and can open my mail if it is coming to a business he manages” is terrible.

  18. Julia*

    Trust me it can get worse. I am living on a foreign military base where you cannot get off base. The only way to get mail is through USPS delivered to work.

    All packages have to have custom form that states what is inside the package. Some companies are nice and are not descriptive. Like clothing.

    When I ordered 5 bras- each was described in detail (red lace, 38DD). Urrg. Thanks, my collegues did not need to know that.

  19. Anonymous*

    Your boss may also be combating a problem with this kind of material at work. Certain types of magazines will actually pay people to put their issues in public or semi-public places at work. My boyfriend was once solicited to put out magazines at work that the guy he had replaced used to put out in the men’s room. Yes, they were smut mags. No, my boyfriend did not take them up on the offer.

  20. Ashley*

    So – I work for a nonprofit and one of our policies is that the mail is all opened by one person, and distributed after we know what it is. Two reasons – 1. Fraud prevention – it ensures that any money that comes via the mail goes where it should, and that anything ordered (like office supplies) is accounted for. For example, donors sometimes mail cash – we’re not expecting the money, and wouldn’t miss it if it never appeared (ok, so they probably shouldn’t mail cash, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to handle it properly). 2. Preventing errors/mishandled stuff – for example, sometimes people send donations to a person they know in the office, who might not be the person who handles donations. Those checks can get misplaced by people who aren’t familiar with handling incoming funds, making for an unhappy donor.

    There are also reasons for properly directing business mail, regardless of who it’s addressed to. A new assistant once gave a letter to a program manager stating that we didn’t get a grant – which meant that she had lost her job. I would have preferred to tell her in person, both because it was crappy news to get in an impersonal letter, and because I had a different position to offer her. She was distraught and packing by the time I found out what had happened.

    That said, I don’t mind employees sending personal stuff to the office if they say something. We don’t intentionally open personal packages or letters (or read them after realizing they are personal), but it’s not unreasonable to expect that mail sent to the organization would be managed by the organization. This is a pretty common standard, and one recommended by many auditors. Also, it might not be much, but recognize that you may be using the company’s resources to receive and process your personal mail. Perhaps not a big deal depending on the company, but a simple upfront request could prevent any frustration or embarrassment for everyone. At the very least, add PERSONAL and CONFIDENTIAL to your name on the shipping address.

  21. Anonymous*

    Several years ago, while living with my parents, I had a gift for my mother shipped to my office (for obvious reasons). When I realized I had never received it, I went back and forth with the company who sent it out and they tracked it as having been delivered to my office. Lo and behold, it had come with a package of candy included in it, and my boss had thought it was a promotion for that particular candy and took it home. Furious, I called the local police chief and postmaster who told me that it was legal for him to do that. He ended up giving it back.

    1. Poe*

      Um, did you ask him for it before you called the police? Because if not, that sounds a bit extreme.

  22. Poe*

    My office lets people have personal mail sent to them, which means I sign for a LOT of parcels. One night a coworker was working late, a big van pulled up, and someone rang the bell. He ignored it, but they came around the building and knocked on his window. He went to the door…and was asked to sign FOR A PIANO. Yup, someone had a piano (okay, a very large keyboard with full size stand and bench) delivered to our office. They only worked part time, too, so everyone had to slide around the massive boxes in our front hall for 2 days.

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