another company keeps opening our mail and possibly stealing it

A reader writes:

I am an office manager and am responsible for distributing the mail at my office. The mail in my office building is delivered inconsistently (different mail carriers, inconsistent delivery times, delivered to the wrong office suite, etc.). It happens at least once per month where our mail gets delivered to another office/company on our floor.

The office manager of that company gets a pile of mail, flips over the whole stack without reading the addressee, opens everything with her letter opener, and then distributes it at her company. So when our mail accidentally gets delivered there, we get a pile of opened mail after she realizes it is not for her company. Also, she has never brought it over personally. She waits until the mail carrier comes the next day and has him/her bring it to my office.

She has opened some of our legal notices, checks for our company, and most recently an order of Starbucks gift cards that we gift to some of our clients. The Starbucks envelope along with a stack of other mail got delivered to their office and all came back to me opened the next day. It was taped up with scotch tape but 4 of the 10 gift cards we ordered were missing. When I asked her about it, she said she wasn’t there the day they were delivered. Additionally, I’ve walked over and talked to her twice about making sure she checks if she’s opening our mail.

It is legal to inadvertently open mail addressed to someone else. Obviously I can’t prove that she is doing it on purpose or that she/someone from her company stole the gift cards, but I want to elevate this and make sure it stops. I’ve started following up my conversations about the mail with an email. She has never replied. What else can I do here or should I drop it all together?

It’s easy to understand how this is happening — it’s normal to assume that the mail coming to you is indeed your own mail, and it’s a lot easier to just put everything in a pile and open it than to check the front of each envelope.

That part is more of an issue with your mail carrier than the fault of the office manager at the other company. You could try talking to the post office and letting them know that it’s been a consistent problem (although the fact that you don’t always have the same mail carrier may make it harder to resolve).

But the missing Starbucks gift cards is a bigger deal — that sounds like it could be deliberate theft.

Since she doesn’t work for you, the only thing you can really do here is escalate it to someone above her. You could go over there and talk to her manager or someone else in charge and say something like: “We’ve had ongoing problems with our mail being delivered to your office, which I realize is out of your control. I’ve talked to the post office but they’ve continued to do it, so I’ve talked to Jane a few times about whether she can check envelopes before opening them, since she’s accidentally opened legal notices and checks that were intended for us. I know that might slow her down and so I understand she might not be able to. However, the other day, she opened a packet of Starbucks gift cards that were addressed to us, and when she returned them to us, four of the gift cards were missing. At this point, I thought I’d speak with you about whether there’s anything else we can do to handle this going forward.”

The person you’re talking to might say she’ll handle it and be glad you told her, or she might tell you that there’s nothing they can do if your mail keeps coming there. It wouldn’t actually be unreasonable for them to take the stance that Jane is busy and needs to process mail quickly and that it’s unreasonable to ask her to check the front of every envelope, particularly if they get a lot of mail. (After all, you’re asking them to pay their own staff to spend time solving the post office’s mistakes.) And if Jane is known to have integrity, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the person to say, “Hey, we trust Jane; I don’t know what happened to your gift cards, but this is on the post office, not her.”

But it’s still a reasonable conversation for you to have, and it’s possible that it’ll pay off in a manager-to-Jane conversation that does change the way she’s handling this.

Beyond that, though, I’d focus your efforts on the post office, since they’re the ones who are causing the problem.

{ 279 comments… read them below }

  1. some1*

    Any chance that you can go to Facilities or the property managers of the office building, both regarding the inconsistent mail delivery and the issue with the other business?

    1. Jeanne*

      I’ve had to do this. You need to visit or call your post office and speak with the Postmaster. You probably have to do it multiple times but eventually they do better. The sorting is happening at the post office and then the postal worker needs to separate the pile for your building into the right sections. I’ve found if you’re persistent you can get results.

      1. Jeanne*

        Sorry, wrong place for reply. I don’t know if the building manager would help or not.

  2. Mena*

    This needs to be a conversation with the Postmaster (quickly!). They are obligated to deliver mail as addressed – and this isn’t happening. I was in a like situation and contacting the Postmaster fixed it immediately. Don’t delay further.

    As far as the other office manager, there isn’t a lot you can do. She is aware of what she is doing (not looking before opening) and isn’t changing her method of sorting mail. Better to go to the source of the problem (your mail carrier(s) and resolving at the root cause.

    1. AMG*

      Tell them that another option is to give you a paid-for PO box if they can’t work it out. Kind of a pain to have to go get it every but not a huge deal. But they should address it–no pun intended.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      YMMV on contacting authorities in the post office. My experience is that it will take hours to get a hold of the right person, and then it will take months of consistently reporting the same problem for it to be solved.

      1. Hannah*

        I once contacted the post office because mail for all 6 units in my building would get dropped into one lucky person’s box and they would either redistribute it to the other 5, dump it all on the floor, or do who knows what with it (trash it?) depending on the person. I had very low hopes that the post office would do anything, and we didn’t have a consistent mail carrier either, but actually after getting transfered around a few times, someone did listen to my complaint, and it did stop happening after that.

        Worth trying!

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        In my limited experience, attempting to contact the postmaster to resolve an ongoing issue has had zero effect whatsoever, no matter how many people I talked to and how many complaints I lodged. I’m 0 for 2. Both times the only solution was to move away.

        1. Mena*

          Very strange! I stopped into the Post Office and talked to the Postmaster in-person in under 5 minutes

          1. LawLady*

            Yeah, this is really going to vary based on location. The post office in my hometown in rural Wyoming is super accessible and helpful. But when the system ate a package of mine here in Bay Area, California? Hours and hours spent trying to contact someone and absolutely no help.

            1. Melissa*

              Yeah, in my experience small-town and rural post offices are so much better than big urban post offices. But it’s volume.

            2. Me Again*

              I’m not sure it’s a small town thing. I’ve had to contact the post office many times both in Long Island and in NYC and always got someone on the phone first try. Usually they had to investigate but I’ve never not gotten a call back within 24 hours.

          2. Bangs not Fringe*

            I don’t think she’s saying she was unable to speak to the postmaster, merely that the times that she has been able to were ineffective at best.

      3. the_scientist*

        I had absolutely no luck resolving issues with Canada Post. I ordered something from a retailer online, and the item was delivered incorrectly (I could track it online and it said it was delivered, but to an address in a different city). I’d paid for the item, and I wanted obviously to either have it or get my money back so I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with Canada Post trying to resolve the issue and their sole contribution was “sorry, the seller has to file a complaint with us”. The item never arrived and it took me SIX MONTHS to get a refund. I will never buy online from that retailer and I’m skeptical of Canada Post’s effectiveness after that, although I will say that the customer service reps I spoke to were endlessly polite and helpful (their policy just sucks).

        Also, I’m pretty sure that opening mail that is addressed to someone else is possibly in violation of federal law, I don’t know how enforceable that is, or whether that’s the case in the US, but that might give you a stronger leg to stand on?

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, helpful or not, it’s true here in the US also that the shipper is considered the customer and claimant for any shipping issues. In a way it makes sense, because they’re the ones who were responsible for the actual packing and shipping, so they should be the ones to communicate with the shipper about the issue.

          1. Abby*

            This was my understanding, too. Even though you often pay extra for shipping and handling, the vendor/shipper is the one who pays the shipping company to send the package out. Companies with good customer service should help you out if the item gets lost, but I’ve definitely dealt with vendors who were very difficult about sending out new items or issuing refunds when the carrier dropped the ball.

            I did run into one situation where UPS failed to deliver a next day air package and instead held it over the weekend. Thankfully, I didn’t pay for shipping in this case (it had been rushed to me when the vendor sent the wrong package the first time), but I did have to contact the vendor to let them know what had happened, in case they wanted to pursue a refund.

    3. BRR*

      Something similar happened to me personally, delivered to the wrong box in a duplex. I had to send a couple of complaints and the person in the other duplex sent a couple and eventually it was figured out.

      Also maybe a reminder to the other office it’s illegal for them to open your mail.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          In this case there have been repeated incidents where the person opened mail that was not addressed to them. That moves from unintentional to a demonstrated pattern of behavior. The OP has repeatedly talked to the person and they have not modified their behavior in any way. At that point it becomes negligence on the part of the other person.
          Yes, go to the post master first, but the other person needs to bear some responsibility too.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I agree, but it’s not illegal — and using that argument with them isn’t likely to make them want to alter their processes to help you when they don’t have to.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              I would argue that it does become illegal when there is a demonstrated pattern, especially when the other party has been warned several times.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I’d be interested in seeing if there’s any case law on this, but I’m really skeptical that that would turn out to be true since the post office is delivering it to them in a stack of their mail. (And I can’t see this being prosecuted regardless.)

                1. Sunflower*

                  IANAL but if someone got sued here, I’d have to think it would end up being the post office since they are the ones at fault and they continually do not provide the service that the sender is paying for

                2. Elder Dog*

                  “18 U.S. Code § 1702 – Obstruction of correspondence
                  Current through Pub. L. 114-19. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

                  Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

                  The relevant bit is “or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same.” That’s what Jane is doing, repeatedly. She opens it, and has allowed some of it to be stolen. It’s not an accident, and it’s not a mistake. It’s deliberate, and she needs to understand that’s more than just being rude.

                3. BethRA*

                  Elder, I think the key is actually: “with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another…”

                  The law specifically refers to intent, not just action, so it does matter if Jane continues to open OP’s mail because she’s too pressed for time to check the address first vs. deliberately looking to steal, etc.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  BethRA: Exactly, this doesn’t cover situations where it’s inadvertent.

                  It’s also irrelevant, since there’s not going to be prosecution over this…

                5. Alice*

                  Exactly! I open the mail and distribute it at my office. I have to open every piece. Not every day, but fairly often I will get something that is not for us and not realize it until after opening. Not my fault and I am not doing it on purpose.

                6. Meece*

                  IANAL either, but the point at which inadvertently opening another’s mail veers into “illegal” territory is when the person to whom the mail was incorrectly delivered fails to appropriately redirect it. So if you open mail delivered to you but for someone else and then keep it/cash the check/throw it away, that is illegal. But opening it because you didn’t bother to read the TO line isn’t.

              2. JoJo*

                If some gave me grief about ‘wrongfully’ opening their mail, I’d henceforth chuck it in the trash instead of delivering it to them.

                1. Melissa*

                  If you did it once or twice it would be understandable. If this was a repeated thing that you did on a regular basis, especially knowing that the mail carrier accidentally delivered their mail to you on a regular basis, that would not only totally suck but you also might be legally liable for it in the U.S. You’re not supposed to destroy other people’s mail.

            2. Elder Dog*

              Whether it’s illegal to open someone else’s mail or not, it’s illegal to steal gift cards from that
              mail. The other office manager is shrugging that off. She should be keeping it safe and she isn’t. That may have legal consequences for her. I’d call the company lawyer and have her send the other business’s CEO a letter maybe discussing bailment.

              1. Marcela*

                I don’t like legal threats, specially when they are just words, but as I can’t see any reason why Jane is not stopping this behavior, I’d be inclined to take the “letter from lawyer” route after/if everything else fails.

              2. Meece*

                But where’s the proof that the company sending the gift cards didn’t screw up the order? Or that the postal clerk didn’t steal some? You order 10, 6 appear … someone screwed up but it isn’t necessarily Jane and you’ll be hard pressed to prove it was.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            I agree. For a while I had a not especially great letter carrier and would get mail for someone else with a completely different name. The only thing that was the same was our house number. A few times, I accidentally opened them and then I would forget to bring them back to the mailbox to be returned for a few days or a week. But then I started looking over the envelope before I opened them, and would keep a pen in my car to point out the misdirection. Eventually we got a new letter carrier who is way better, but I still look.

            Also, I would add to the script: “while the 4 cards were missing, from what I understand Jane leaves the mail she’s accidentally opened for us to pick up on her desk where anyone can see it. So I’m not saying that she took the cards, it is possible that the order was filled incorrectly on Starbucks’ end or that maybe someone else who came to the office saw the open envelope on top and helped themselves.” Plus an “I’m sure you would not be happy if we were opening confidential mail meant for your office/people, such as cheques from your clients. I’m sure that’s information you wouldn’t be comfortable with other people knowing. Fortunately, we are not competitors of yours, but imagine if we were!” You might want to ask other tenants in the building if they’ve had similar problems — strength in numbers.

            But I mean seriously, how long is it going to take to quickly sort through all the mail, pull out the junk and glance at the address to make sure the mail is for that office? 5 minutes? Is this some sort of direct mail place that gets thousands of letters a day? Methinks Jane is a snoop and gets some kind of thrill from reading another company’s mail.

        2. BRR*

          First, I am not a fan of any approach where you get into legality. I like how the LW went and approached the other office manager directly.

          After doing a quick search (thereby becoming an internet expert), I think after notifying the other office multiple times that this has happened, it moves into a gray are of being an accident. I’m more bringing it up because I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask the other office to check what they’re opening and sometimes people need to be a little more serious about issues.

    4. The Strand*

      You can call the 1800 number. Better yet, find out the name of the postmaster and send a CMRR (certified mail, return receipt) letter to the postmaster for your city/region. I hate to say it, but when you’re dealing with service issues you usually have to address your efforts to the top of the food chain.

      I have had a couple of issues resolved in the past very quickly, including a really crappy one where a carrier plainly lied about delivering a time sensitive package and leaving proper notice. I wrote the postmaster for the major city where the package failed to be delivered, and I had a manager calling me back not long afterwards – and a full refund.

      1. ineloquent*

        There was a carrier in my hometown that was leaving bags of mail in a storage unit when he didn’t have time to deliver. Once someone wised up (it took about a year), it all was delivered with apologies. Didn’t make the multithousand dollar check to my brother any more valid, and certainly didn’t help the time-sensitive college paperwork situation he was in.

        1. Ella*

          Sorry, I can’t get over this comment. Especially compared to the update from the other letter writer. I want it to be a letter. “Dear AAM, I’m a letter carrier. I have a set route every day, but over the last X years the number of houses I’m expected to deliver to has increased, while the length of my shift has not. Consequently, I’ve been leaving undelivered mail in my storage unit for the last 14 months. The pile has become unmanageable. Should I tell my boss, or just run away?”

        2. Anonyby*

          I remember a news story many years ago about a mail carrier hoarding others’ mail in their van… They found main going back YEARS when they were sorting the mess out. It was shocking.

    5. anonNYC*

      Really? contacting the USPS actually helped? My husband & I had enormous problems with our local PO/mail delivery to our apartment building for the whole 8 years we lived there–multiple calls never solved the problem (s). I was a freelancer for a while and I had more than one check go missing, we had packages that got held at the PO for months with no notification until 2 months after the fact when they delivered the “final notice” (which was in fact, our first notice), items held for pick up (because we had no doorman, so they couldn’t leave them) were apparently thrown in a black hole in the back of the PO and when we presented a claim slip the answer would be “Well, we can TRY to find that, but…” I am not kidding. If you were picking up a package for your spouse, and your spouse had signed the consent, they would still insist that you present spouse’s ID (um, OK, why would I be carrying my spouse’s ID and why are you asking for that when there’s no indication on the slip that I need to bring that?). They almost tried to make me do that for my 3 year old but I pre-empted it by showing them my ID and explaining forcefully that he was 3 and therefore did not have a driver’s license (a claim they seemed skeptical of, but did accept eventually).

      OK, sorry, I know I am veering from the question at hand, but I think it needed to be pointed out that there is a high chance this OP will not have any success complaining to the post office about it. And I needed to vent–even though it’s been 2 years since we lived at that place and our new mail person is lovely.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah, it varies with where you are – and who’s in charge. We’ve had an ongoing problem locally where a) mail to #### X St is delivered to #### Y St instead (they are adjacent, but the two street names don’t resemble each other), or b) the always fun “off by one” error where we get mail for the folks across the street, they get mail for the house next to us, etc., all the way down our neighborhood.

        Also, not for us but in other areas of our town, missing packages.

        Repeated complaints failed to resolve the issues for us and for the folks reporting the missing packages. Until we got a new person in charge of things, and suddenly new complaints (not already filed as handled, because they didn’t go digging through old stuff) became very effective.

        1. Windchime*

          I love the “off by one” error. I get my mail in one of those big neighborhood mailbox areas, where you have to use a key to unlock your box. I don’t always check it every day, but the other day when I checked it I had TEN pieces of mail belonging to my neighbors up the street. TEN.

        2. GOG11*

          It also depends on who your letter carrier is. It’s best not to talk to my dad (a letter carrier) about work because you never know how long the rant might last :) He goes out of his way to provide really great service and some of the policies and methods used don’t lend themselves to providing great customer service for those who DO care…get someone who doesn’t and good luck :/

          1. Malissa*

            Amen! We (the whole freaking neighborhood) complained and got our regular mail carrier back 3 times in Kansas City. The dude was awesome. Not always quick, but 100% accurate. Why? Because he took the time to introduce himself to everybody in the neighborhood and cared about getting his job done right! Granted he’d get delayed because somebody would offer him tea on a hot day or he’d stop to ask about new babies. But the guy the next street over got his misaddressed retirement check every month.
            When he finally went to a rural route, where he could deliver mail from a truck we had nothing but issues with the next guy. Dude just didn’t care. He was all about the speed. I hand delivered the retirement check to the guy on the next street for 3 years. That guy got direct deposit when he found out we were moving.

            1. Happy Lurker*

              We had a very similar situation in our neighborhood too. I was so sad to see my mail lady retire and have had nothing but issues since. Last week I had absolutely no mail, no junk nothing for 3 straight days. Everyone gets junk everyday right?
              It has gotten so bad, that I went to my local PO a couple years ago and now have a shiny box where my netflix come the day they are supposed to, my credit cards and the bills show up quickly. I cannot recommend a PO box more. Yes, it is a pain to get to it, but everything is there, especially my packages.

              1. Malissa*

                I am happily in an area where a PO Box is free. I never have to worry about missing mail.

                1. PK*

                  What makes a PO Box more likely to not miss mail?

                  I ask because recently I went on a vacation and put my mail on hold to be picked up at the post office. In my stack of mail was 3 letters for 2 other addresses. So I’m not sure that I even trust the sorting at the post office itself to be correct.

                2. Chaz B.*

                  After reading so many horror stories with what I considered to be incorrect conclusions, I came to the same solution as Malissa – if your mail is critical and you’re having reliability issues, get a PO Box. Also, if the PO Box is having reliability issues, the Postmaster can resolve those issues a lot easier than issues not on the post office property.

        3. manybellsdown*

          Yeah, I’ve had no luck in two different STATES trying to get mail delivered correctly. And where I live now, all the streets are numbered. So I’m on 67th street and getting mail from similar house numbers on 68th and 66th streets. I accidentally opened my neighbor’s phone bill that had been delivered to me once, and was confused as to why I was getting a past-due notice. I’m sure they didn’t want me knowing they were several hundred dollars in arrears on their phone bill, but it was the same service I used and I didn’t see the name.

      2. MicheleNYC*

        I feel your pain. My favorite PO package pick-up story is when the package was addressed to my dog. They asked for Cuba’s ID and when I told them he was a dog. She just gave me a blank stare. I even told her the package was dog toys and only when I opened it in front of her to show her that they were squeaky toys did she let me take it!

          1. Lurker*

            The Cathedral Station on West 104th is the WORST. Check out their reviews on yelp. They are horrible, horrible, horrible!!

        1. Cactus*

          I once shipped a box from my grandparents’ house in one state to my apartment in another (full of stuff that wouldn’t fit in my suitcase) and addressed it to my cat. Glad it didn’t end up getting redirected to the post office.

      3. The Strand*

        You don’t complain to the office where the service is a problem. You complain up the food chain. One reason some people like the 1800 number is that it is completely independent of the local office and whatever their petty politics are.

        1. Rana*

          Yes. And if you can talk to the postmaster at the main location in person, that’s the best solution. (We had to do that when some new hires were “forwarding” all the mail they couldn’t figure out the address for.)

      4. Artemesia*

        I had the same problem — failure to deliver and then when I went to pick up the package for my spouse with the notice they wouldn’t give it to me. We had a PO box and had nothing but problems with stuff addressed to the box and lots of lost packages. I would have to make 3 trips to the PO and stand around while people wandered around saying ‘well it should be right here.’

        I now live in a highrise where mail is constantly misdelivered but at least we can take it back to the doorman or drop it by someone’s apartment if it looks important.

    6. Melissa*

      Yeah, I was going to say the same thing! My aunt is a postal worker and when I casually mentioned that a similar thing was happening with my personal mail at my home address, she strongly suggested that I call up the post office and let the postmaster know. Even if you get different mail carriers, your postmaster will know which carriers regularly go out to your location and can talk to all of them to encourage them to make sure they’re delivering mail as addressed

    7. Cath in Canada*

      We have this problem with our residential mail – say we live at 1234 West 56th, we sometimes get mail for 1234 West 55th or West 57th, and they get ours. Every time it happens I walk the mail round to the neighbour (everyone’s happy to do this, luckily – they bring ours round, too), and we both submit a misdelivered mail report on the Canada Post website. We’ve had to call the hotline and escalate the issue a few times when there were multiple incidences close together; that typically fixes the problem for about 3 months, and then it starts up again. I’ve decided that next time it happens I’m taking it to my (awesome) federal member of parliament; if he can’t help, I’ll contact the local media. It’s ridiculous not to be able to trust your mail delivery system!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        p.s. things that have been misdelivered include our neighbour’s tax refund cheque, and my husband’s voter information card for the last federal election. Important stuff!

    8. DJ*

      I recently contacted USPS because of mail issues at my home address. I called the 1800 number made my complaint. Within an hour (note I made the phone call after the lost office was closed), someone from my local post office called me, thanked me for letting them know of the issues and said that they had ensured my mail would be properly delivered the next day. Next day, it wasn’t. So I called the local number (livid because I saw the mail lady enter our neighborhood) and the result was that my mail was delivered that day. I was genuinely surprised at the responsiveness of my post office. So my suggestion is get your local number or go in person.

    9. Jessa*

      This happens at our apartment complex – mostly because the buildings are numbered 111 (a-f) next building 111 (j-l) etc. So it’s a number and 5 attached buildings (with separate entrances) of 6 apartments each. Each individual attached section holds ONE addressing number. Yes it’s a stupid way to have done it, but they can’t change the addressing plat now, because the additional numbers are in use in the buildings down the road.

      I have the local-to-us postal supervisor’s number on my phone. Not the 800 number the local number to the distributing post office. And she’s seriously great.

      If you can get the local number go for that first. They have more personal interest in getting it right. If not the 800 number works wonders. And keep a record. You may have to do this more than once.

      Although I’m not sure how the person opening the mail does not look (they may look after they slit it) but they have to determine who it belongs to in their own company. The amount of time it takes to sort it, then slit it, should not be much different to the time it takes to do it now. If the thing is sent to the CEO – personal eyes only, you should NOT be opening that, but handing it to the CEO. So unless you use a machine slitter (which do exist in large scale mail rooms,) they should be looking at the front first anyway.

      On the other thing, there should be a receipt from Starbucks with the cards. If they do it right, the card numbers are on it. I would call Starbucks and stop those cards. If the numbers aren’t on the receipt, they still might be able to help. Honestly if I were Starbucks, and it was four cards from a company that orders scads of the things to give to clients, I’d probably replace them either gratis or at a discount, it’s good for business.

    10. LQ*

      I’ve also had really good experiences with the USPS both where I am now (the mail guy lives in my apartment building so unsurprising that he’s good) and previously in small towns.

      (FedEx on the other hand?….HORRIBLE. I hate places that won’t let me choose the cheaper, faster, easier for me USPS delivery.)

  3. YandO*

    I would have your boss talk to the other company’s boss, to be honest.

    They might be a lot more inclined to take it seriously.

    1. Jessa*

      Oh and yes it’s not on them to deliver for the post office, but geez, they could pick up the phone and make a minute phone call to tell you to come get it.

      Also, I’d ask the boss to also call the post office and complain that they are getting mail that is not theirs. Both sides should be calling and making complaint.

      1. Witty Nickname*

        My two new favorite things are Amazon Fresh (now available in my area for Prime members and a delivery fee that is lower than any of the grocery stores around here!) and Starbucks Ordering (beta testing in my area). I drop my kid at school, get back in my car, use the app to place my order, and by the time I get to Starbucks 5 minutes later, I can just walk in and my latte is right there waiting for me!

        1. Anony-moose*

          I…must…what? That’s awesome. I want this with Whole Foods green smoothies but then I also hate myself a little bit for complaining that it takes me a whole 10 minutes to get a green smoothie before work in the morning.

          1. Witty Nickname*

            It’s really awesome; neither my kids nor I are morning people AT ALL so I am always rushing to get to work before my first meeting (or just at a decent time if I don’t have any meetings scheduled); not having to stand in line to order and wait for my coffee can be the difference between me actually getting coffee that day or not (I am picky about my coffee. Starbucks isn’t fantastic, but their iced latte drinks are at least drinkable and way better than the coffee machine in my office).

        2. periwinkle*

          Oh, I love the mobile ordering! If it’s been a weird day at work, use the app to order a tall mocha Frappuccino light with whipped cream. (Don’t judge! I keep Peet’s and an Aeropress at my desk and grind locally-roasted beans at home, but sometimes you just need a milkshake-type thingie.)

          Did you know that if you place the order at a Starbucks with a drive-through you can pick up your mobile order there instead of going into the store?

      1. kristinyc*

        Yeah, I had an iced latte from Starbucks this morning while I was reading the comments on this morning’s post. :)

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Similar failure here. Store brand beans brewed at home and brought in a Dunkin Donuts cup.

        1. zora*

          Yep, I’m drinking Peets.. just bc i really needed an iced coffee bc it’s so dang hot here.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Ha, I was coming here to comment that today seems like it’s sponsored by Starbucks. Apparently the drink of choice for assholes everywhere! :D

    2. Career Counselorette*

      No kidding, I didn’t even get to have coffee until 11 a.m. today and I was wanting it SO HARD reading this and the last post.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Nope, coffee is nasty. And were is the product placement for Dutch Bros? Their chocolate is wonderful and their baristas are always cheerful.

      2. Anonyby*

        No coffee or tea for me. I can’t stand the taste of either. It makes me a pariah amongst my friends–they all drink tea and several of them proclaim coffee as the drink of the gods.

        Me? Just give me a diet soda. Or hot chocolate, if I need to warm up.

      3. Jean*

        I don’t drink caffeine and don’t like coffee* which usually means I have decaf tea.
        At Starbucks I always get steamed skim milk & add cinnamon. Eliminates the what-to-order agony because I’m also unable to tolerate some of the spices that show up in decaf teas (e.g. ginger). But I only go to Starbucks if meeting a friend for “coffee” or seeking refreshment in an airport.

        *About twice a year I have decaf coffee anyway, either in the hopeless effort to wake myself up or because I’m visiting someone who offers it and it seems like a good idea with dessert.

  4. hayling*


    I’d definitely talk to the Postmaster General. They can usually sort these kinds of things out.

  5. Dr. Pepper Addict*

    Why does this lady open letters for people in her organization anyway? That seems odd to me and I’ve never worked anywhere that opens my mail before delivering it to me. Does that seem like an odd way to do things to anyone else?

      1. Euchre*

        This is standard procedure at every non-profit I’ve ever worked at, and I’m pretty sure it’s a government requirement in Canada at least. Our auditors (Canadian non-profits get audited every year) request that two people who do not have banking or cheque signing privileges open and date stamp all incoming mail, and record every cheque. I think it’s to avoid donations from being embezzled.

        1. grasshopper*

          It isn’t a gov’t requirement, but it is considered to be best-practice to have two people there to make sure that nothing goes astray, mainly because some people still send cash in the mail and that is untraceable. Auditors often go above and beyond what the actual requirements are in order to make sure that everything is above board and there are checks and balances to ensure that nothing can go wrong.

    1. UKAnon*

      Suggesting that her organisation starts distributing mail unopened until you can both get it sorted might be another way to go that takes the burden from her somewhat. The other option I can think of is to ask building management if their people can collect and sort mail from the mail carrier so that you should get a much higher accuracy rate in delivery.

      You could also pop over once a day and ask if Jane’s had any of your post (if you have the time) Inconveniencing her daily might convince her to check post a little more carefully.

      1. Guera* could stop by once a day just as the mail is delivered and ask if YOU can go through THEIR mail to find yours. I bet she starts paying closer attention after a few visits.
        If she is opening it and then distributing it I don’t see why she can’t look at the addressee before opening. She has to see who its for eventually anyway. I think she is being difficult but ultimately it’s the post office that needs to solve this.

    2. Ad Astra*

      I would guess that an assistant who works for a specific person might open that person’s mail, but anything beyond that strikes me as strange, and perhaps unprofessional. I’ve never received a piece of pre-opened mail at work, and if I did, I’d expect some kind of explanation along the lines of “Oops! I thought this was for me.”

      The only time I’ve ever opened someone else’s mail at work is when it was addressed to my predecessor. And even then I felt a little weird about it.

    3. SG*

      My former non-profit did this, unless the envelope was marked confidential. But….we obviously had to check the front prior to opening…

      1. Jessa*

        Exactly, you had to read the front first. Large scale mail room operations also often open stuff (particularly stuff that you cannot tell from the envelope where it belongs. A lot of people send mail to companies that does not say “attn: Martha Jones,” on it. Or “accounts payable,” for instance. So yes anything not clearly labelled has to be opened. They also might sort and open payment envelopes for the accounting department. So it’s not really that odd to be opening mail not labelled Private, but yeh you gotta read the front to find that out.

    4. T3k*

      I opened some of the mail for my last boss. Mainly, I was told to look out for any bills, as I was the one that entered them into our system. The rest of the mail I didn’t open and left on my boss’ desk (she’d later collect the opened bills once I had entered them).

    5. Judy*

      Right. At larger places, I’d receive mail with my name and mailstop highlighted, or if no mailstop was in the address, “MS 3” written next to my name. The person sorting would walk around and put the mail in mailboxes around the building. Here, with only 45 employees in this building, I just get the mail delivered to my desk by the AP person.

    6. Cat*

      It’s possible that most of the mail they get is addressed to a generic address or office and then gets sorted to the person who actually handles a given task.

    7. Nashira*

      Everything received at my office is opened and date stamped before it’s distributed, by the front desk person.

        1. Koko*

          Well, that’s a good way to discourage people from having personal mail sent to the office! ;)

      1. Phyllis*

        And not only opened and date-stamped, but documented on a daily ‘received mail’ log. Which was handy documentation on more than one occasion.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      At my old job, the office manager would open all of it, filter out the garbage she knew people didn’t want, sort it by addressee and then deliver it. If it was marked confidential, she wouldn’t open it; she would just deliver it to the addressee.

      It probably depends on the size of the office, whether there’s lot of confidential items coming in, employees’ preferences, etc.

      1. Chinook*

        “the office manager would open all of it, filter out the garbage she knew people didn’t want, sort it by addressee and then deliver it”

        Part of the reason this is done is to ensure that mail actually goes to the right department (ex: invoices to A/P instead of sitting on someone’s desk waiting to be opened for 3 months). You would be surprised how many places use the same contact name for all their mail even if it isn’t right (ex: the contact name may the field person they deal with but contracts should go to procurement, invoices to a/p and legal notices to either legal or the CEO).

        1. Chinook*

          Also, if you are in a company with any security threats, having one person opening the mail in a contained area who knows what looks suspicious is much safer than sending around an unopened envelope with white powder or a parcel with a body part (really happened in Canadian government offices).

    9. Apollo Warbucks*

      In my office mail is always opened by the post clerk and then distributed round the office, the only exception is anything addressed to HR which is left unopened.

    10. Felicia*

      They did it like this at a non profit I had worked for previously. It made more sense to open the things that were sent to the company generally, and then distribute it, though. But it didn’t bother me, because mail you’re getting at work isn’t really yours in the same way.

    11. BRR*

      At my old organization we received a lot of mail just addressed to chocolate teapots inc. There was a person who was responsible for opening general mail and sorting it.

    12. Margaret*

      My company opens everyone’s mail. Just because a client or vendor thinks they know the specific person something supposed to be sent to doesn’t mean they actually do. E.g., clients often address a check to pay their bill to the accountant that does their work, but if it was sent to the accountant it’d probably sit on their desk for much longer than appropriate before realizing that the envelope contains a check that the front desk should have processed immediately.

      They don’t open it if they have reason to believe it’s personal mail (an Amazon package, for example; or certain banks that mark things “personal and confidential” – an annoyance when I’m actually receiving copies of client’s bank statements and the front desk assumes that means it’s mine and *doesn’t* open it!). Otherwise, they know how things are supposed to be routed and get things in process much faster that way than if it they went through each accountant for their clients first.

    13. Ash (the other one!)*

      Unless we flag the office manager that we will be receiving something personal at work (which we are strongly discouraged from doing, but it does happen), everything gets opened. In part this is to make sure things get the right place — for instance I’m a PI on a project so invoices get sent to me, but really need to go to our finance office for processing…

    14. Heather*

      Mail is delivered to me opened unless it’s marked confidential. I’ve never worked anywhere where I opened my own mail.

    15. Graciosa*

      In those places that still have this done, it can be hugely helpful to have someone else screening the mail.

      This reminded me of a scene from an old novel (sorry I can’t remember which one, but I think it was a Georgette Heyer). Roughly paraphrased –

      Brother: Yes, my secretary gave me your letter.

      Sister: Your SECRETARY opened my letter!

      Brother (kindly): I employ him to open my letters.

      Sister: Surely not those from your nearest and dearest?

      Brother: Oh, no! Not from them.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        +1 for the Georgette Heyer reference! Frederica is also one of my favs. :)

        Want the actual quote? I shall supply the actual quote!

        “You can’t think, Louisa, how strongly tempted I am to accept your gratitude with a becoming smirk!” he told her. “But never shall it be said of me that I stole another man’s honors! Trevor gave me the office.”

        “Do you mean to tell me that Mr Trevor read my letter?” demanded Lady Buxted indignantly. “Your secretary?”

        “I employ him to read my letters,” explained his lordship.

        “Not those written by your nearest and dearest!”

        “Oh, no, not them!” he agreed.

        1. Graciosa*

          Thank you and Katherine for identifying the book, and thank you for the quote (which is written only about 50,000x better than my paraphrase!). I need to reread Frederica – possibly followed by everything else she has written. :-)

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            I tend to reread Heyer a lot. As in, I just finished The Nonesuch yesterday and started Sprig Muslin today. And I have them all as ebooks, which is how I was able to come up with the quote so easily. :D

            1. Aussie Teacher*

              I love Heyer! Didn’t know you could get them as ebooks though! (My autocorrect just changed ebooks to Ebola!)
              My all time favorite is These Old Shades.

              1. Meadowsweet*

                I love These Old Shades! Closely followed by Devil’s Cub, Powder and Patch, The Foundling, and The Talisman Ring…and all of the rest of them :D

    16. Elizabeth S.*

      At a particular division of a government agency where I used to work, all mail was opened and then given to the recipients’ immediate supervisors to pass along.

      I wanted to leave that division (for some odd reason), so I applied for other positions internally. HR sent a “thank you for applying” letter to my home address, but they mistyped it, and the letter was returned. So the mailroom decided to deliver it to me at work, where it was opened, and given to my boss…

      I did find a job in another division, where we are actually allowed to open our own mail.

    17. grasshopper*

      Standard practice in my office is that reception opens the mail. If things are directly addressed to someone then it is passed along to them, but often mail isn’t addressed to a specific person. In order to distribute the mail you need to open it to look at the content. However, it is supposed to be best-practice that there are two people present so that nothing goes missing from any envelopes.

    18. Anne S*

      I inadvertently opened a fair bit of mail for my co-workers in the campus job I had in college – I was working for a department that got a ton of packages that were a few books each (usually 8-10 packages a day), and my job was to open them and then distribute. Turns out that a personal package from Amazon, delivered to the office, looks a lot like an office book delivery when you’re working on autopilot through the stack left on the mail table.

    19. manomanon*

      I open all the mail for our organization with very few exceptions. Our program staff are auto-subscribed to a boatload of things most of which they also receive digitally. Plus we receive things addressed to old staff or mailings, solicitations etc. I don’t open benefits, investment or something clearly marked as personal/confidential mail but otherwise if it comes to the office I open it.
      This cuts down on the time our other staff spend dealing with mail instead of substantive work.

    20. Meg Murry*

      I worked at a company that had one person opening all the mail, which in theory was started up because of the whole “anthrax through the mail” situation back in 2001. It was pretty stupid though, because she was wasting her time opening my mail from my college alumni office, sitting in the middle of the building exposing all the C-level staff if there had actually been anthrax in the envelopes. It was beyond stupid and a waste of time, but it was in her job description, so she did it.

      However what is hysterical is that we manufactured a product that was just a white powder, and got supplies of it as well. So at any given time there was approximately 20,000 pounds of miscellaneous white powder on our facilty, ranging from 1/2 lb in a ziploc baggie up to 50 and 100 lb bags all the way up to super-sacks in the thousands of pounds. So how in the world could she tell anthrax from any of the other miscellaneous powder around our facility? Not to mention the fact that when someone wanted to send us a sample we would get Fedex envelopes with nothing more than a ziploc of white powder in them shipped directly to the dock door – and those went directly to our office, bypassing the center mail-opener. It made me roll my eyes every time I got my mail already slit open and then re-taped shut, but whatever, not my problem.

      1. Chinook*

        “which in theory was started up because of the whole “anthrax through the mail” situation back in 2001”

        Working in an industry where some people would like to see us disappear overnight, our mail room has received suspicious packages that they have had to call the police on. That being said, the mailroom is near the front door (so couriers can easily access it) and not in the middle of the building, which decreases exposure to the rest of the company.

    21. De Minimis*

      I used to be the backup mail person in my last job [a federal agency.]
      We were authorized to open any of the mail if we needed to, though the only reason we did was we couldn’t figure out the intended recipient from the address [like if it just had our mailing address with no department specified.]

    22. Stranger than fiction*

      Nope, all mail at my work is opened by one upper manager – its company property regardless who it’s addressed to.

    23. Miss Betty*

      It’s not unusual in a law firm. I’ve worked at firms where one person opens all the mail and distributes it and firms where mail is distributed to the addressee and her assistant opens it. In the firms where it was opened then distributed, they used a two-calendar system to make sure all court dates and legal deadlines were doubly accounted for. The officer manager who opened the mail put the dates on the firm-wide calendar, then the attorney would add them to her own calendar after receiving her mail.

  6. T swizzle*

    I don’t see why it would be so hard for her to check the stack as a whole before opening, that way its not like shes opening, checking, opening. It would be checking the whole stack, separating yours, and then opening. From past experience I don’t see how helpful USPS would be.

    1. Rita*

      Agreed. We get a lot of junk mail at my office, so either we waste time sorting out the junk or waste time opening stuff that is junk.

    2. AMG*

      Or get het to slow down. She might be embarassed if she saiys no, no mail and then the mail carrier has to deliver it. Especially if you have been there visiting daily.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I agree with you. I totally disagree with the statement that it might not be possible for her to handle the mail any other way. Really, how long does it take to sort through the stack quickly and pull out anything that doesn’t say Acme Company? In my opinion, that’s just laziness and being unwilling to change.

      1. Anonymous Ninja*

        It depends how much mail the company receives, how busy the office manager is and what her supervisors believe is the best use of her time.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        +1000. The office manager is looking at every piece of mail anyway. Why not sort BEFORE you go to town with the letter opener?

        (I also think she has time to walk your mail down the hall rather than giving it back to the carrier, but I could see it as her way of pointing out to the carrier “hey, you screwed up the delivery AGAIN.”)

    4. Artemesia*

      I agree. The obvious short term fix is for her to go through the stack address up quickly and sort out the mail for the other office and then proceed as usual.

      But I think a talk between your boss and their boss is the right idea at this point. The OP has already discussed this with the receptionist with no results. And it is inappropriate for the office manager to talk with the boss at the other office. It also signals the seriousness. If the Starbucks cards were stolen then what else may have gone astray?

      If they don’t want to be accused of theft then perhaps they need to fix the problem in their office so they aren’t pillaging the OP’s mail.

      And yes the post office is the primary problem and complaints should be made but that doesn’t mean this other office is also not a significant problem — so mentioning checks, legal documents and recent missing gift cards should go to the boss from the boss to signal how serious this is.

    5. Poohbear McGriddles*

      It’s got to be time consuming to have to open each piece of misdelivered mail (not to mention making mental notes of the intended recipient’s business and deciding if the occasional – alleged – pilfering of items is worth it)., then to deliver them to the correct office. Seems like scanning the outside of the mail before opening might actually save time.
      Not that that is the OP’s problem to solve.

    6. Salyan*

      As the person who opens & distributes mail in my office, I totally agree. It is much more time-consuming to open a whole stack of envelopes, pull out the contents, and then restuff half the envelopes than it is to scan the envelopes before opening. This person is either very set in her ways (read stubborn) or she actually likes opening her neighbor’s mail.

  7. Ad Astra*

    Do most office admins open every piece of mail they get without reading the front? It seems like this approach could cause plenty of trouble in her own organization, even if the OP worked the situation out with the post office. That’s just really weird to me.

    1. some1*

      I have worked at places where we were required to open everything, but I always sorted it first to eliminate junk or anything that was misdelivered.

      1. Ad Astra*

        After reading some of the replies upthread, I am beginning to suspect that my past offices’ spotty and sometimes nonexistent receptionist/admin support is a factor here.

        My new office/company is considerably larger and has its own mail department. I assume they don’t open anything because confidentiality is a big deal in our industry, and it wouldn’t be unusual for people in some positions to receive sensitive documents.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Good ones don’t. I used to open mail for my entire dept. at a former admin job but I was careful not to open things that looked personal. We often received mail that wasn’t ours and I would just put them back in the outbox to be redelivered (unopened).

    3. Sunflower*

      I feel like this is a huge liability. Reading legal documents not meant for your eyes seems like a real easy way to land in hot water. If I was her manager, I would be concerned for sure about the possible impacts on the org.

  8. Dasha*

    Could you guys get a PO Box? I mean I don’t know if that’s feasible but some offices do it.

  9. Elizabeth West*

    Well even if Jane’s not a thief, she’s definitely an idiot.

    I handled the mail for Exjob, and the PO carrier did this all the time. We constantly got mail for the place next door. It takes two seconds to glance at the envelopes and see if the mail is for you. Furthermore, most offices get the same mail all the time–if you see something you don’t recognize, you take a closer look. If you’re supposed to distribute it, you get used to looking for checks, etc.

    Now I’m not saying that this CAN’T happen. I’ve done it myself at home–accidentally opened an envelope that belonged to my neighbor because it looked like something I usually got. I taped it up and put a sticky on it–“Oops, I’m sorry; I thought this was mine,” and stuck it in his mailbox. For Exjob, I would either put a sticky on it that said “Not ours” and put it back in the outgoing mail tray or walk it over there, if it were a check or looked like it might be important.

    But considering the theft, it seems that Jane or someone at the other office knows damn well they’re getting the wrong mail and now could be looking at it as a source of potential goodies. Definitely say something to the Postmaster, and I would see about saying something to the other office. Perhaps they need to pull Jane off this duty and give it to someone else.

    1. Malissa*

      Jane may or may not be an idiot, but she is definitely wasting time. It takes less time to sort the mail into piles of junk, our and somebody else’s than it takes to open every single letter. I know this because the first thing I do with the mail everyday is sort through and toss the junk. I’d spend way more time opening it all.

      1. L McD*

        Yeah, I can’t really figure out a scenario where it’s faster to figure out who a letter or package is intended for by opening it and searching for the information inside – which may or not may even be there – vs. just glancing at the outside of the envelope first. Even if she ALSO has to open all of the mail, isn’t it more efficient to look at the outside first?

      2. Limes*

        I feel inclined to speak up for Jane here (a little). In college I was a file clerk for a law firm and part of my duties included getting the mail, opening it, sorting, stapling/paper clipping the envelopes to the depositions, motions, transcripts, files, blah blah blah that were inside and then distributing it to each person in whatever “special” place they had designated (one only wanted it on her chair, another on the bookshelf by the window, another on his desk, etc.).

        I was definitely required to open each piece of mail though and to be honest every place I’ve worked since does it the same way, so I doubt she’s opening it for fun.

        1. Zahra*

          But even in (reasonable) places where all the mail is opened, sorted, etc., if there is an history of mail going to the wrong company, they would first check the whole pile to make sure no mail gets opened that is for another office in the building. Also, see: federal offense for tampering with mail.

          I’ll allow for ignorance (after all, ignorance can be solved: educate the person), but something should be done on multiple fronts:

          – Post office: complain about misdelivering
          – Office that gets the wrong mail: complain higher in the food chain about confidential information getting out where it shouldn’t
          – Starbucks: make sure it’s not an error on their part and cancel cards that are lost
          – Own office: Take a few minutes’ break daily and get to the “letter opening office” to grab any mail that got misdelivered

        2. Marcela*

          What happened if there was a letter not addressed to you or your organization? Were you required to open it too? I’m curious about this point, for I can’t see why Jane is opening every single mail, including spam (which I do not doubt they receive) and then disposing of it, instead of doing the other way around, which would prevent opening letters not sent to them.

    2. V.V.*

      “But considering the theft, it seems that Jane or someone at the other office knows damn well they’re getting the wrong mail…”


      This situation reads too dodgy to be accidental. If the fact that this has happens continually and the other company doesn’t seem to think there is a problem and taking corrective action… then it is deliberate… if it’s not, they just don’t give a fig.

      I don’t disagree with Alison that the OP should be diplomatic… but I am sorry, it needs to be a part of this person’s job description to read the address before opening other company’s mail.

      1. V.V.*

        Blech! Grammar is just not in the bag this morning! I think I will go open some mail and come back later.

        1. Althea*

          I don’t know – asking might be a good first step, but if Jane keeps up this pattern, she can no longer claim she’s opening everything “accidentally.” That opens the company to a liability – what if it happens again, after the number of times OP has emailed and spoken to her about not opening OP’s company mail? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hold a much more law-based response as a backup. I don’t think anyone will be happy if gift cards, transit checks, or even larger sums and checks continue to “get lost” in the mail.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. One of the ways ‘intention’ is determined legally is if the person ‘knows’ they are doing something dangerous or inappropriate. If I open your checks accidentally, that is one thing; if I continue to open them after I have been notified that it is an ongoing problem then that suggests it is what I want to do i.e.intent.

        2. V.V.*

          If you are refering to my: “… but I am sorry, it needs to be a part of this person’s job description to read the address before opening other company’s mail…” statement I apologize.

          I meant this to read more as a stand alone: “How things would be if I were in charge of the universe” statement, as opposed to: “The powers OP should expect to wield upon others” statement, or a “Things Alison should tell people” statement.

          It was a badly placed non – sequitur (my editing is crap today), and meant to be directed at the world at large. Sorry.

      2. Anonymous Ninja*

        “it needs to be a part of this person’s job description to read the address before opening other company’s mail.”

        Disagree. That’s up to her supervisors to decide, not another tenant in the same office building.

        1. V.V.*

          I didn’t say it was for OP to decide, it just needs to be done for the sake of propriety.

  10. Carrie in Scotland*

    Does your office building have a lobby/reception area/receptionist? Would it be possible to talk to the building estate people and see if there’s a possibility of postal storage (boxes for each company in the building) or if there’s a receptionist for the overall building, could that be something of a solution, that you ask your postal carrier(s) to just hand it over to the receptionist and you collect it?

  11. Cat*

    I don’t see any reason to disbelieve that she wasn’t there on the day they were delivered. Probably she should have offered to try to find out who dealt with the mail that day in her absence, but if everything else has showed up okay, it seems likely that it wasn’t her who was stealing them.

  12. Today's Satan*

    I was an admin once. It was just as easy to stack the letters face up and take a quick peek before slicing open with a letter opener (which can, by the way, be used with the front of the envelope facing you), as it was to place the stack face down.

    1. nona*

      +1 You have to sort them sooner or later. I don’t get why you would open them without looking.

  13. Gandalf the Nude*

    Since Jane has already told you that she wasn’t there the day of the Starbucks delivery, you may want to factor that into your conversation with the boss, if that’s how you handle this. It would likely hurt your case if Jane really wasn’t there that day as it might look like your problem is with Jane, not the mail. Maybe just sub in “someone here opened” for “she opened”.

  14. Michelle*

    The missing gift cards is something that needs to be addressed with Jane’s manager, but I would also talk to the post office. I realize postal workers need to get mail items delivered quickly but continually delivering the mail to the wrong place is something that needs to get fixed. We had the same problem, so we got a PO box and that has helped with delivery but…

    …we have man working at our office who opens other coworker’s mail. He always pretends it’s an innocent mistake, saying it was in the wrong box or it should be addressed to him, but he is lying and I caught him at it. I came back from the post office put and all the mail in the correct boxes. He saw me coming in with the mail so I knew he would be in there in seconds, so I sort of hid beside one of the vertical files and watched him. He opened all his mail, then starting checking the mail in other people’s boxes. If he saw something interesting, he opened it. I let him do that 3 times then stepped around the file and asked him what he was doing. He turned beet red and stammered about it being in the wrong box. I said no, it was not in the wrong box because I watched you take it out of other boxes. You know we have had a couple of instances where checks have gone missing and I’m not saying you are taking them, but you do not need to be opening mail that is not addressed to you. If you should be receiving the mail, a coworker will give it to you and make a note for you to get the sender to change the information. This needs to stop.

    1. Dana*

      I don’t know why, but deliberately checking other people’s mailboxes and opening their mail strikes me as really sleazy. Props to you for catching him in the act and hopefully ending it!

    2. T3k*

      I thought it was actually illegal to (intentionally) open a piece of mail addressed to someone else. Though, of course, I’m not sure if it holds true in office mailboxes.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        The guy was clearly doing the wrong thing but I’m not sure it would be criminal in the same way as me opening your mail would be. He might be able to claim he was acting as an agent for the company and entitled to open the post.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        I think the buck stops at the door of the office, internal distribution doesn’t count. (IIRC there was a letter once about someone who was having thier personal mail delivered to the office and was upset that the mailroom was opening it, or something like that.)

      1. Michelle*

        I think a couple of coworkers have personal mail sent to the office (why I don’t know). One of the items is a young woman’s student loan statements. I know this because he opened it one day, put it back in her box and mentioned something to her about how much she owed. That was the incident that prompted me to catch him in the act.

        He has mostly stopped. He occasionally still spends just a little bit too much time hovering in front of the mailboxes and hot foots it out of there if I walk in. If a piece of mail seems personal or might be a check from a vendor, I either deliver it directly to the person or put it under their keyboard and email them.

        I mentioned it once to his direct supervisor and she brushed it off as a non-issue. Of course, she works at a different location 3 days a week and our location 2 days a week, so her mail goes to the other office. I wonder if he was opening her mail, if it would be a non-issue then?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know this because he opened it one day, put it back in her box and mentioned something to her about how much she owed. That was the incident that prompted me to catch him in the act.

          WHAT THE LIVING HELL????

          Why is this guy still working there!?!

          1. The Strand*

            Talking to someone about their student loans (which might have their social on it!) is a “non-issue”??

            Unbelievable, I agree, that this guy has not been s—canned.

            1. Mimmy*

              Good point! Michelle, did you bring that up as an example?? At least he’s mostly stopped, but I’m not too confident that’ll last :/

      2. some1*

        When I was receptionist (and had to open every piece of mail and date stamp it) I found out one coworker was having an affair with a guy who was in jail, one was being sued for child support (he was married), and the head of the dept (an attorney) had stiffed a court reporter for hundreds of dollars and she had tried to find him for years, finally found out where he was working and sent him an invoice.

    3. Artemesia*

      This guy should have been fired on the spot. Certainly he should have been formally disciplined. Hope this got escalated to the boss.

      1. Michelle*

        I mentioned it to his direct supervisor and she brushed it off. I said “Mike seems to be opening mail addressed to coworkers quite often. I’m sure it’s a mistake, but it continues to happen. Could you speak to him about being more careful to check who the letter is addressed to before he opens it? One letter he opened by accident had sensitive, personal information that he normally should not have access to”. She said that she was sure it was an accident and as long as the person who it was addressed to got the letter, she did not feel she needed to take the matter up with him. She felt he was discrete and would not share personal information. At that point I let it drop because even if I told her that he said something to the young lady about her student loan, I’m sure she would have had an explanation for that as well. I think he’s a bit of a golden child, at least in her eyes.

        1. Artemesia*

          But why when you saw him pillaging the other mailboxes did you suggest ‘I am sure it was an accident’? Why didn’t you say — I was standing and reading my mail nearby and saw him go into several different mailboxes opening and scanning letters, so it was clearly no accident? And why on earth not point out that you know for a fact he was not discreet and did mention what he had snooped to the snoopee. What a jerk.

          1. Michelle*

            I thought that if I framed it as an accident, she would be more receptive to that approach and actually speak to him vs. if told her that he was liar and I saw him taking the mail out of other boxes. They have almost a mother/child relationship where she will justify, defend and explain any mistakes he makes, so I thought the subtle approach would work better.

  15. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    Generally I agree with this: “it’s normal to assume that the mail coming to you is indeed your own mail” but given that this seems to be a frequent issue and the mail is still being mindlessly opened it does seem… maybe not intentionally malicious but at least a significant oversight on the office managers part. I’ve taken to reading the names on the front of all my mail because at work no one can remember if the mail goes above or below the name, and at home the mailman likes to bring us a lot of stuff addressed to the previous tenant (personally, not “Jane Smith or Current Resident”). Because I noticed a wrong mail pattern, I started diligently checking the names so I didn’t open the wrong pay stub or student loan statement again. While the problem absolutely lies in the mail delivery system I would still expect the office manager to keep her eyes peeled.

    1. Ad Astra*

      Heck, even at my own home I check the address on the front before I open something that might not be meant for me. It’s weird to me that someone gathering business mail wouldn’t think to do the same, given the close quarters and the fact that someone has already identified a recurring problem with delivery.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        I do this too! I don’t know if it’s a habit of apartment living, but I always check.

        About 1/3 of my mail comes addressed to former tenants.

    2. Jessa*

      Exactly, once you know about an ongoing mistake, you no longer have the luxury of presuming it’s correct. Also on mailboxes? Get arrow stickers and put them next to the names showing which way the box goes. Works wonders.

  16. Gene*

    With the rotating mail carriers, the delivery problems will likely continue, no matter how much you yell at the Postmaster. I know this, I live at 125 Veeblefetzer Way E and there’s a house at 125 Veeblefetzer Way W, both on the same delivery route. To top it off, when we bought the house, the family that lived there had a last name that differed from ours by only two internal letters in a 7 letter name.

    We got to know each other very well. Much discussion with the Postmaster would result in things getting better (but not prefect) for a while. If there was a gradual change, it was the carrier slacking off; if there was a sudden jump in misdeliveries, we knew we had a new one. Now that the other place is a senior adult care home, misdeliveries have almost gone away.

    You can, and should, raise a huge stink with the Postmaster, just don’t hold too much hope.

    Worst non-USPS was a gas range and furnace that the delivery people humped up to a second floor deck at the wrong house while installation people were waiting at our house when we got gas service.

    1. Arjay*

      I received a package for my unit number but for the address across the street which is an assisted living facility. I didn’t recognize the package, but the first thing I checked was the unit number and it matched, so I thought it was mine. I brought it in from the mailbox, and just as I was about to open it, I saw that it was the wrong street address. I brought it over there myself to drop it off. It was from Get Organized Now! and there’s still a part of me that wishes I had accidentally seen what was in it. I might be organized now if I had!

        1. Gene*

          That’s funny. We got a GIANT box of adult Depends dropped off on our porch last week. I couldn’t close the trunk of my car when I took it to them, it was so big. :-)

          1. Artemesia*

            Imagine how much less embarrassing it is to have them delivered then to carry the giant box out of the store.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        I had a guy drop off a package that was mistakenly delivered to him. I was like, “Oh thanks! Wait…” but he had already run off.

        It wasn’t for me or addressed to my address, so it became my problem to track down the recipient.

        Not amused by the good Samaritan!

    2. Ad Astra*

      This matches my experience with rotating mail carriers. In my case, we lived in a condo with a door code, which somehow affected package delivery but not, as far as I could tell, letter delivery. At least one of my wedding gifts was sent back to Target or wherever it was shipped from, which offended my aunt and cost us the griddle we had our eyes on. (Also, it appeared that some FedEx and UPS delivery people knew the door code and some didn’t, which led to a lot of headaches.) When I complained, things would get better for a while and then get worse again.

    3. Mimmy*

      LOL that happened to my husband when he first moved to New Jersey. He was waiting on some furniture at his home on 123 Jones Avenue in NJ, and they showed up super-late. Turned out they’d sent it to 123 Jones Avenue – in the BRONX!!

  17. M*

    Take it up with the post office and the big boss of the offending company.

    I’ve sorted mail. The time comes from sorting it correctly. There is NO time saved from opening everything and then sorting especially when you know there have been issues with receiving incorrect mail. It’s not that difficult to sort first. In fact it should be standard to avoid issues like this.

    Opening legal notices not addressed to you is a crime. You may not be able to prove who took the Starbucks cards but the legal notice concern should encourage the boss to insist his office manager pays more attention before it becomes an even bigger problem for them. Yes the Post Office should deliver mail properly but that doesn’t absolve the business from opening incorrectly delivered mail.

    1. Dulcinea*

      I agree, and I don’t think the OP should tell the mail-opener’s manager ” I understand if it may not be possible [because] it would slow her down.” Too bad. To my knowledge, opening other people’s mail IS illegal; if mis-delivery was a very rare occurrence then opening without checking the envelope first might be defended as a reasonable mistake, but it’s still illegal (the difference between an “I didn’t do it” defense and “I did it but I have a good excuse and shouldn’t be punished”, like “justifiable homicide) . Where mail is mis-delivered as frequently as is the case here, the policy should be to check the envelopes before opening, no excuses. Speed of work should not take priority over quality when it involves something this important. Besides, she has to read the addressees’ names either way to deliver to the correct people in her own office; whether she reads them before or after opening the envelope should not take any extra time (or minimal time if any).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If it’s delivered to you and you open it because you assume it’s yours, that’s not illegal. The post office is at fault here.

        I agree the office should be checking since it’s happened so much, but the OP has no power to insist that another company do that.

        1. M*

          The post office is at fault for delivering to wrong address so one could make argument that it’s not the office managers job to carry over to correct office (although how much effort us it really)? But there is NO excuse for opening mail not addressed to you. Especially when you are aware that mistakes happen. The post office doesn’t bear that responsibility the office manager does and while many want to shy from it any possible legal issue would be the fault of the manager for opening not the post office for misdelivering.

      2. Fuzzyfuzz*

        Agree here. It is a totally reasonable request, so the OP shouldn’t couch is as thought it weren’t. I also wouldn’t be impressed with someone who refused to change their process even though it was causing major inconvenience.

    2. Carpe Librarium*

      Not to mention, it’s much easier to sort mail while it’s all still in the envelopes, rather than handling a stack of recently-unfolded papers.

  18. lowercase holly*

    as a side note, you could contact starbucks about how you received with some missing. they might replace.

    1. Lisa*

      They may be able to cancel the missing gift cards – they all have unique numbers. Imagine if the thief tried to use it and couldn’t!

      1. grasshopper*

        That is a really good point. Contact Starbucks and let them know the numbers of the cards that you still have.
        Be clear that you aren’t necessarily expecting them to refund your money (since it wasn’t their fault and the cards may have already been used), but what you really want is that if someone stole the cards, those cards will then be blocked or have zero balance.

  19. A Cita*

    With rotating mail carriers, don’t discount the possibility that the carrier stole the gift cards. It’s not uncommon (and is why a lot of retail places now send gift cards via UPS or FedEx). With the package already opened, it would be easy to take a few.

    This is an argument for both speaking with the post master to resolve the issue and using caution with accusations when speaking with Jane’s manager.

    1. Dana*

      This is a good point. I sent a key chain in a regular envelope with a letter to my cousin a long time ago, but had mixed up her address. It came back to me because there was no such address, open, sans key chain. It said “Clear the road, I’m 16!” so I don’t know who would want that, but it had to be someone with the post office who had taken it.

      1. Mimmy*

        My sister had sent me a whole birthday package including cards hand-made by my nieces, plus a little bit of cash. I received it alright – all smudged up and sans money! (I think it was only a few dollars, but still!)

    2. Decimus*

      I would actually report the gift card theft to the Post Office police – they do have one, and tampering with the mail IS a federal offense. They probably won’t want to take the complaint but if you can make them take it, it might help solve your problem because one department can lean on the other one.

      1. Elder Dog*

        And just because a few people have had trouble filing complaints with the USPS doesn’t mean most people have or that it’s futile to try. Visit the local post office and talk to the manager there.

    3. V.V.*

      I am being nit-picky here (and off on a tangent) but neither UPS nor FedEx unimpeachable.

      I have had many SNAFUs with them, so much so, I will often choose a different distributor to do business with if my only options are to have my goods delivered by either FedEx or UPS (or most of the other carriers). I am sure other people have better luck, but I’ve had too many things delivered and/or lost (recovered) despite instructions to hold for pick – up because I knew I would not be home. My Grandma, by their own account, had stuff dropped in her yard (by the sidewalk apparently) and stolen more than once, because the delivery people were too lazy to enter the yard and ring the doorbell (she was home.)

      In my case, my Dad once sent me a care package via (one of these) despite my request for him to just mail it. Promptly after acceptance, the box disappeared. Though it was supposed to be delivered within a week, it wound up getting lost for 4 months. After weeks of waiting and then searching, it was found again, abandoned at a hub across the country stamped: “Address Unknown” in a pile of undeliverables.

      Of course this is where I should mention that this package was addressed to their own local “Store”, since my house was hard to find, and I was too naive to forsee the difficulty they’d have delivering to their own location. Why the package sat so long and wasn’t just returned to my Dad’s address on the return portion, I will never know. Eventually he got it back, and they refunded his money at least…

      In these carriers’ defense, (and lest I sound like I am being too Pro-Postal,) I am sure my success with USPS has in large part to do with having a PO Box. If they delivered to my house, I don’t know how much I’d trust them either.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, none of them are infallible.

        I feel like I must have done something to mess up my mail karma recently.

        I was part of a Reddit secret santa, and the package was damaged and deemed undeliverable by USPS.

        FedEx lost a certification card from work.

        UPS didn’t knock on my door when attempting delivery, then I tried to set up a same day pickup at the nearest location. Drove there towards the end of the day. Was told the truck would be back until after the customer service area closed so I wouldn’t be able to receive my package until Monday. When I asked if there was anything that could be don, a manager said he would have the driver redeliver to me that evening. The driver didn’t. I called around when I was told the truck would be coming back. Got put on hold for 20 minutes and then hung up on, and then hung up on again. Finally got through and asked if the driver was still out and whether my package would still be delivered that day. I was assured that they would. So I kept waiting. Gave up on waiting around 10PM. Wrote an email to UPS customer service. All they did was forward the information back to the original manager I spoke to, who denied all knowledge of the issue. I did finally get my package though, which is better than USPS or FedEx managed.

    4. Althea*

      It certainly could be the carrier, but it was Jane or her sub in the office that opened the blasted envelope so the gift cards would “slip out” somehow. I’m still looking at her on this one.

  20. Cari*

    First or second time, yeah that’s all on the post office, but when it’s consistently happening “it’s not our fault the mail carrier delivered to us” is not any where near a good excuse when you know this is happening frequently. At some point the actual opening of the mail without checking should be on this other woman because it’s not as if she isn’t aware of the issue by now.

    1. Friday*

      I agree. Depending on the size of the stack of mail, it should really only take about 5 minutes to double-check that the mail is actually hers. I don’t really understand how doing this could really slow her down in any meaningful way. Besides, adding in this extra step will save everyone headaches. She won’t be accused of theft (whether rightly or wrongly) and the OP won’t have to worry about having his/her mail opened.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Agreed. We normally get stacks of mail that are more than a foot high, but it only takes a minute to flip through and sort it. The bulk of it are reports we open in weekly batches, so that goes in one pile. Another division of our company shares our address, so anything for them goes in another pile. The obvious junk goes into the garbage. The rest can then get distributed. Doing it that way leaves only 1 or 2 envelopes to actually open out of 15-20. Win.

  21. E*

    I’ve had this issue with my Netflix movies in the past. Several times now they’ve come opened, so it’s obvious that the mail carrier or someone else in our mailbox row (I live on a dirt road) has opened and pre-watched the movie, especially since it then arrives a day after it is supposed to. Our rural carrier has also been known to put our mail in my in-laws mailbox, or we get mail address to another neighbor that is clearly not our address, not even close. I just put it back in the box and leave the flag up if it’s someone else’s mail. But on my stuff, I’ve called the local post office and they’re very nice about apologizing and checking on the problem.

    1. zora*

      what?!! Why are they doing this?? Do they know that Netflix is super cheap and they could just get the movie themselves??? I am so confused…..

      1. Artemesia*

        Some people are just nasty immoral toads. When we lived in Bloomington Indiana in an apartment building, our morning paper was routinely stolen from our doorstep (indoors). I was never able to catch them in the act but got in the habit of getting up super early (so not what I wanted to do ) to snag it before the creep who was stealing it got it. I complained to the carrier a few times and the company called and said that were sure it was being delivered — they had followed up and that it was being stolen after delivery.

  22. Meg Murry*

    Does some of your mail wind up in Jane’s office every day, or is it one of those once every week to once every month occurrences? Do you every get other people’s mail in your office, or is Jane’s office the dumping ground?

    Rather than through fits and get Jane in trouble, could you provide them with a stack of inter-office envelopes and your email address? Then rather than give it back to the postman, Jane can just throw it in the envelope and send an email that says “got a stack of your mail again, you can pick it up at the front desk”. That takes the “giving it back to the postal employee” part of it out of the loop, and wouldn’t be any harder than what she does now. Of course that isn’t going to work so well if Jane’s office winds up with mis-delivered mail for a bunch of offices – but if it’s only her getting your mail that could work.

    FWIW, I have a friend who worked as a temp at the post office. The way it typically worked at that office was that if someone called off, if it was a “good” route one of the full timers would jump on that, and then so on, until the newest temps got stuck with the crummiest routes. And there was no actual guidance as to how to traverse the route (you know – go down X street, then Y, then circle back down Z) – it was just “this is your territory, this is the mail going to that territory (in a box, completely unsorted), sort in (in a way that makes sense to you since we’re giving you no guidance), then figure it out and deliver it before X o’clock”. And more and more routes are being handled by temps, so expect to see more and more mis-delivered mail – not because people aren’t trying to do a good job, they are just overwhelmed and trying not to screw it up too badly.

    1. Ad Astra*

      That’s interesting information about temps working for USPS. It’s frustrating that the post office can’t figure out how to reliably deliver mail since that’s, you know, the post office’s entire reason for existing — and it’s not like they’re new to the mail delivery business. But at least now I’ll keep in mind that it may not be the carrier’s fault.

  23. TootsNYC*

    I get that she’s not looking before she opens the envelope.

    But how in the holy heck is she DISTRIBUTING the mail inside her office without looking at the front?

    She has to look at it to decide whose it is. When is she doing that?

    So yes, take it straight to the post office and point out the theft.
    And take it from your CEO to theirs, frankly. Not just the office manager.

    1. JoJo*

      Do that and I can guarantee that Jane will just throw out the mis-delivered mail from now on.

  24. Ellen N.*

    At one of my recent jobs the mail was opened by an electric mail opening machine. The person who opened the mail put in in the machine with the address side down, so if the mail was not for our office it would have been opened anyway.

    I think it’s sad that everyone assumes the loss of the gift cards was theft. The gift cards being heavier than the envelope that contained them might have slipped out.

    1. Marcela*

      But an envelope does not go around open, right? And when opened in Jane’s office, the cards would have ended somewhere, on the floor, in a corner, where somebody would have find them. And either they are returned, for I don’t think only Jane knew about the missing cards, or they were stolen. What other option is there?

      1. Meg Murry*

        Or that she didn’t re-tape the envelope back up very well and they fell out in the care of the post office employee or that one of the postal employees handling them took them. Or someone took them out of the stack that was waiting for the postal employee to pick them back up.

        Have you confirmed with Starbucks that all 10 were actually shipping in that one envelope? Did it have a packing slip saying “10 cards” in it? I don’t know about Starbucks, but I know when ordering from Amazon or Staples I have gotten 2 items in one box from one warehouse, then another in a separate box, then another 3 in a different box, etc – any chance the last 6 were sent separately?

  25. A Teacher*

    So in college I had a crazy room mate with a side of super crazy. Like stuff I can’t talk about here. Where I went to school, the dorm roommates shared one mail box, my roommate finally got busted because she was “tampering with US mail. Apparently it is illegal to open and keep others mail or do more than hand it off to the receipient, return to sender, or give back to postal worker. She ended up with 7 years probation for harassment and tampering with us mail. 4 years were for the tampering deal.

    1. E*

      My neighbor used to work for the post office for several years. He won’t even pick up our mail for us (mailboxes all in a row at start of our dirt road) because it is technically a crime, even if we asked him to pick it up.

  26. Office Managers Unite*

    I am the office manager for a DC nonprofit with a generic name that lots of others have in their title because it’s DC. Let’s say we’re called “National Defense Fund” for the sake of this. Well, we pretty much get the junk mail for any organization with “National” in their name for several blocks and it’s annoying as hell. It’s not my job to correct the Post Office and ensure they don’t deliver the wrong mail to me, I don’t have time to manage the Post Office in addition to my office, especially since the Post Office doesn’t really care.

    As for the missing gift cards, yes, that is a problem, but right now you are assuming the office manager stole them, which is a big assumption, especially if she told you that she wasn’t even there that day. Go ahead and go to her boss, but keep in mind that you’ll be saying “Your employee can’t control the Post Office, do something about it” and expect him to take you seriously, and you’ll also be calling his employee a thief, which will really make him want to bend over backwards to help you out (not).

    In case you don’t get my point, it’s this: Your problem is with the POST OFFICE only, they are the ones that need to fix this.

    1. T*

      My brother used to work retail security (now corporate security/risk). I remember he told me one of the rules to accusing anyone of stealing is they could never be out of your site. If they walk through a bunch of clothing racks with the item on them, you needed to let them go unless you could visually put the item in their possession again. It was a pretty big lawsuit if you detained them and they had dumped the item before leaving the store.

      That’s sort of what I think about this situation. Once the letters had been opened, they were accessible to probably multiple people at the other company as well as the postal carrier. How can you accurately say it was the woman who opened the letters? If the woman had realized her (or technically the postal carrier’s) mistake and then immediately hand-delivered the mail to you, you could safely accuse her. But by letting your opened mail sit around until the next day, she expanded the possible list of thieves to her co-workers, custodians, etc. I would probably just ask her boss to at least secure your misdelivered mail if/when this happens again as a courtesy since you’re neighbors in the building. I certainly wouldn’t accuse the employee of theft when you have no proof.

    2. Marcela*

      Oh, no. There certainly is a problem with the Post Office, but that doesn’t mean the other company is not creating another problem. Even worst, I see this a the signal of a -boy, this is going to sound very child-like- bad person. Jane is not helping because she doesn’t want to, simply. It’s not like she is asked to go out of her routine to help the OP. From the moment she opens the letters to deliver them to the right person, she HAS to look at the recipient. I get that it’s a pain in the ass to sort mail, but she has to do it or how can she redirect those letter? Nobody is asking she goes to OP’s company to give them the letters. Just to do what a normal, sensible and intelligent person would do: do not open letters not addressed to you (you equal yourself or your company). Mind you, I’m in the same situation but in a smaller scale: I receive letters and packages for the previous tenants of my place at least once a week. Is is annoying, I’ve tried almost everything the internet recommends and nothing works. The problem with UPSP does not grant me permission to open those letters and packages. I just don’t get why for some people is so difficult to put themselves in another person’s shoes.

  27. Shannon*

    My nonprofit has been dealing with a big mail issue, so I understand the pain here. It’s really awful.

    The continued opening of mail is silly to me – I don’t see any reason why you can’t do a quick glance at the mail to make sure it’s yours. Maybe I”m projecting because our zone’s post office is particularly well known for its inpetness, so we are used to double checking our mail.

    However, the Starbucks gift cards – you’re getting into Federal territory there if they did take the cards. I’d first contact Starbucks to make sure it wasn’t an oversight on their end (they should be able to track the cards and see if they’re being used/registered/whatever) and you need to contact the Postmaster General. When things get really serious (it was with us) you can contact your local police department as well.

    1. Shannon*

      When I said “you” in the second paragraph, I was referring to the other office manager – sorry!

    2. Rebecca Too*

      Also not sure as to why gift cards aren’t being sent via registered mail? If it’s signed for, and then opened by someone who is not the intended recipient, there you go. It’s like putting cash in the regular mail….how many of us would do that?

      1. dawbs*

        At some point though, it gets a bit silly–a $5 starbucks gift card that will cost me $1.25 and a trip to the post-office to send isn’t getting sent–it is WAY to much effort for the small gesture.

        One that costs me rifling through the drawer for a stamp and 34cents to send, that I can probably handle.
        I’d be annoyed if it got lost/stolen/etc, but really, considering how many MANY things I send that arrive perfectly, I’d consider it an acceptable risk (but honestly, I consider the $10 cash in a nephew’s birthday card to be acceptable risk too, so I might not be the norm here)

      2. Marcela*

        Well, I had one package sent with registered mail. Somebody signed for it, it wasn’t me or my husband, and it was not delivered at my place. But it was signed, claimed USPS, and even when our signatures didn’t look at all like the one they had on file, they refused to start an investigation or refund us. We even filed a theft claim, nothing happened.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          I had this happen with a package as well, “someone” signed for it that wasn’t me. USPS said their job was done and the mid-range department store I order from’s attitude was basically, “too bad, so sad, we’re not replacing it.”

          Thankfully a few Twitter posts that were retweeted got me replacement items! But I was just shocked that a random signature that clearly wasn’t me was good for both USPS and the retailer.

  28. TotesMaGoats*

    Unless she’s opening tubs of mail every day, is it really that onerous of a task to check the mail before you open it? I mean really, it’s a couple extra seconds to her routine.

  29. Van Wilder*

    I hope you also called Starbucks to cancel the gift cards and reported the theft to the police. If someone tried to use the gift cards, they could be caught on security footage. (Not that I expect the police to hunt down Starbucks thefts but at least you’d know you’ve done your part.)

    1. Jeanne*

      I also think that office manager might not be telling the truth about being there that day. Her manager could check.

  30. Kairi*

    Not to detract from the OP (I think there have been some great suggestions) but I’ve been having a somewhat opposite problem.

    I work as an admin assistant and I help distribute the mail. Recently, we’ve been getting mail from the previous tenant, and I’ve addressed the letters “Return to Sender”. I tried to call the company to get this resolved, and both times I got an answering service. I was calling to ask if I should send their mail to them, and ask them to request a change of address. The first time I got hung up on, and the second time I was told to google it (before I was hung up on). I finally called and asked to speak to someone in HR and I think they’ve finally resolved the issue.

    I just couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t want to receive their own mail!

    1. My 2 Cents*

      We had a similar issue. We kept getting mail sent to us for a company and it had our address. It was a small magazine so I Google the magazine and sure enough the website has our address listed as their mailing address. I had no idea what to do from that point because there was no other contact information listed.

      1. Zahra*

        If you have a similar problem, you can do a “whois” search: it’ll give you contact information for the domain owner. Sometime, the information is private, sometimes it is not very hard to find. For example, a whois search to my employer’s website got me to a site that referred to the domain name company (GoDaddy) and I was able to use the GoDaddy whois engine to get the billing information for the domain. Of course, if that too is wrong, there’s nothing you can do unless you want to engage in lengthier searches involving LinkedIn snooping, and other indirect means.

      2. Kairi*

        Yeah, it’s a similar issue here, as the address on Google is still listed as ours. I haven’t seen any other mail come in, so I’m hoping the post office sorted it out. Hopefully in your case they weren’t missing anything important!

    2. grasshopper*

      “Return to Sender” doesn’t always work. I know that Canada Post actually charges large volume mailers (ie magazines) to send ‘return to sender’ items back to the original source. Instead of paying for this service, the items are destroyed.

  31. Althea*

    I’m not really in agreement here… The response is weirdly blase about Jane doing her job. It IS her responsibility to look at the incoming mail and deliver it to her own people, and this is something she clearly sucks at. All she would need to do is check a few names before opening everything, and put the whole stack aside if the check shows the wrong people. This would actually save her time, considering she would spend many more minutes opening everything. It’s also rather a foolish thing to assume the items coming to you are always perfectly in order before proceeding. Sure, you should try to fix the problem at the post office as well, but it’s Jane that’s causing a confidentiality/security problem with the mail by opening all of it.

    I suppose the reaction is the same – talking to her boss – since you don’t control Jane.

  32. Minister of Snark*

    At this point, you’ve talked to Jane about this on multiple occasions and she is dodging further discussion. She may not be a thief, but she is clearly incompetent as, at this point, she is refusing to do a basic function of her job. It is not a great inconvenience to check the front of envelopes before opening them. She either needs to be counseled and retrained or moved to a position that doesn’t involve touching mail she can’t be trusted with.

      1. Minister of Snark*

        It’s Jane’s job to sort and open her company’s mail. Part of that job is separate out other recipient’s mail and not open it. She doesn’t even have to deliver the other company’s mail to them. She just has to NOT OPEN it. Maybe call or email the LW to let her know she has it, but I suppose if she lacks basic courtesy, she doesn’t have to do that. By ignoring that facet of her job and bulldozing through the mail without checking it, she is opening the company and herself up to liability. Not to mention, it’s just unprofessional and obtuse and lazy.

  33. Kimberly*

    I had this happen, when we moved. In our case the problem was same surname similar first names and the division between two routes down the middle of our street. We went to the post office a couple of times to say we were not getting mail and were blown off.

    Then the neighbors down the street tried to exchange mail with each other – realized there was now 3 third Family with surname on the street and brought about a months worth of mail down to us. I took the whole lot to the post office – and the problem was solved. In our case we had good mail carriers and they learned to look at the address not the names. (I go by Kimberly one of the the others goes by Kim, and a third by Kay so easy to mix up if looking at names.)

    If the OP has not distributed the Starbucks card – That I would report to the postmaster as straight up theft. That is what happened. 2 cards are missing from the package that was improperly opened.

    I would probably start a log that included the date, number of pieces incorrectly delivered to the OP, and number of pieces the OP gets delivered by hand from other tenants, and the number of open pieces of mail delivered a day late (including list of sensitive documents, checks, and missing items.)

    If I was the other woman’s boss she would get 1 warning to sort the mail for correctness first then open until the problem with the post office is solved. After that she would be gone – because she is behaving unethically.

  34. Mimmy*

    The mail in my office building is delivered inconsistently (different mail carriers, inconsistent delivery times, delivered to the wrong office suite, etc.). It happens at least once per month where our mail gets delivered to another office/company on our floor.

    Your post office must be the same one who covers our neighborhood! :P

  35. LV*

    I find it weird that this woman would NOT be checking the front of the envelopes. I have, in the past, sorted mail for a company and often times there were envelopes marked confidential and I was expressly forbidden to open them. Reading the front of the email is the first step in the whole sorting process! I am suspicious about this woman opening mail without reading the front of the envelopes. I can’t believe employees there aren’t getting mail expressly addressed to them, and this woman is still somehow justified in opening everything? Nope, not buying it.

  36. dustycrown*

    If Jane is distributing her company’s mail, she IS checking the front of each envelope. She’s just checking after she opens the mail, instead of before. You’re not asking her to spend any more time on this task. In fact, if she would sort your envelopes out before opening the rest of them, she would actually spend less time on the task, because she wouldn’t be opening your mail. Or having to tape it shut. But that’s a technicality, I guess. :D If I were in your shoes, I would manage to be at the door of their office when the mail is delivered so I could pick my stuff out of their stack. I would be a total pest about it. Eventually Jane (or the postal carrier) would get the mesage that you’re serious about this.

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