There are times when customers mail items along with correspondence. When the envelope goes through automation, the object inside wedges against machinery and the item works its way out. Other times, customers accidentally drop possessions into mail collection boxes by mistake.
To handle the situation, every mail processing plant has at least one clerk assigned to finding the owners of these loose-in-the-mail items. The loose in mail clerk searches for one week to reunite customers with their property. If the mailer can’t be located during this time, the item is sent to the Mail Recover Center in Atlanta, GA, where additional investigative work takes place.
Loose in Mail Clerk Rose Bell reunited a businessman with the $3,000 he accidentally mailed with his letters.
At the Cincinnati Processing & Distribution Center (P&DC), Rose Bell is the loose in mail clerk.
Recently she was given an envelope which contained a large amount of money. The envelope had a company name in the corner and the amount of the cash on the front of the envelope.
"I make it my goal every day to try to find the rightful owners of any items mistakenly placed in the mailstream," said Bell. In this case, she says she went on the Internet to locate the company’s phone number.
When she called, the owner said it wasn’t his, but that he would pass on the information to his business partner. Soon after, Bell received a call. "At first he was confused. When I explained, he said, ‘is it my $3,000?’
"He told me he had accused his wife of taking the money," Bell said shaking her head. "He was so happy to receive his cash back, he wanted to cry."
He said that he had planned to purchase a cashier’s check with the money and laid the cash on the seat of the car, along with his mail. When he scooped up all the mail to drop in the collection box, the envelope with cash went along with the stamped envelopes.
Rose says she was delighted to be able to assist the customer. "Some days I call on my detective skills to match up items left in the mailstream with their rightful owners."
In Bellmawr, NJ, a customer called Consumer Affairs about a letter with military dog tags inside. "He said he was mailing his son’s dog tags to his ex-wife and was very upset the dog tags hadn’t arrived," said Consumer Affairs Manager Catherine Sinesi.
"He was upset with himself too because he mailed them in a plain envelope not allowing for the fact that the envelope would be processed through automation," she said. "When Loose in Mail Clerk George Henry was called, he said the tags had been found."
The gentleman and his wife lost their son in August 2009. He was killed in Afghanistan.
Reuniting customers with their property is a service covered by the price of postage.