USPS – Why did my package get routed in the wrong direction?

"Why did my package get routed in the wrong direction?"  This is a question we get asked monthly, and I figured I would finally figure out why.

Your mail found a friend! – Paired Mail
The most common reason for this is that mail sometimes gets stuck together. Though very rare, this situation is most common with the type of mailer we use for the majority of our shipments (self-seal Poly Bubble mailers, or peel-away envelopes). While hugely helpful for being sturdy and able to deal with the demands shipping fasteners can have, that sticky self-sealing tab can sometimes get aligned incorrectly, leaving a corner available to stick to a neighboring package. Another culprit is those mailers also tend to have a decent amount of 'gum boogers' that tend to stick to what they will. 


Weather – "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"

USPS attempts to have the most efficient process but demands outside norm force seemingly less efficient routes. Bad weather (severe winter storms, hurricane, power outages, etc…) can force closures of one area and disrupt the normal flow.  You can check with 1-800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777) or click the link below for current USPS Residential Service Disruptions that might be causing mail issues in your area:


Tis the season – Overflow to neighboring facility.
Seasonal influx of mail forced your mail to a different sorting facility.  In an effort to keep things moving when certain local hubs are overwhelmed, mail is often rerouted in what looks very weird to an outsider.  This offloading is similar to when we as an auto driver take a backroad to get around a known traffic issue.  The distance might be longer, but the time spent in traffic is sometimes substantially less.

  • Christmas – Hundreds of Millions of holiday packages expected between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day[1].
  • Christmas Returns – The flipside to Christmas joy.
  • Amazon Prime Day
  • Mail in ballots 

Outside the norm –

Covid-19 or similar unique situations put demands on the local system.  In the case of Covid, we saw a HUGE demand in online shopping while having labor shortages. Latest data I could find showed 3,000+ daily quarantines in the USPS family[2] and that was June 28, 2021 well before Covid Delta really started causing national numbers to rise. 


[1] USPS National News Article – Nov 7, 2019

[2] American Postal Workers Union, Letter to Union Members July 26,2021

Mail problemsPaired mailUsps

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