Chicago Postal Service: Stop Tampering with My Mail

I’m used to having my mail ripped open at the edges. It’s Chicago, and in some ways… it’s the price you pay for living here.

Over the holiday season (or with birthday cards), oftentimes you’ll see a little rip in the corner. It’s typically something small where someone could stick a finger in and open up the card within the envelope… and to see if there’s any money inside.

Usually when I see something done to my envelopes I shrug, I think “What can you do?” and move on. I get a little angry, but that’s about it. On average, I’d say I see a ripped envelope maybe once every three or four weeks.


This was in my mailbox yesterday.

It’s not a huge deal, as the letter was a bill from Blue Cross, Blue Shield. Thankfully it wasn’t a bank or credit card statement. But still – regardless of the contents, I think I have a right to expect my mail will arrive clean and untampered with. Seeing this blatant rip (more blatant than usual, I guess) got me pretty upset.

What makes it worse is that, most times, my visits to the post office have been highly unpleasant. They typically involve encounters with rude or bored employees, who have little to no patience/empathy for the folks on the other side of the counter.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had a few great experiences. But on the whole, I’d say those good moments were rarities. Most folks I know HATE going to the post office.

My guess is companies like UPS and FedEx started because they staffed folks who weren’t gigantic jerks. Or maybe those companies took off because they didn’t root through everyone’s mail.

Wow, I’m finding myself getting more worked up writing this, than I was last night seeing that letter. I ended up calling the USPS and lodging a formal complaint. They took my info down, and at best… I’ll just keep calling everytime I see a letter that’s ripped.

Due to how many stops a letter makes, and all the waystations and different people in between… I’m sure it’s pretty difficult to pin the blame on, or catch, an individual. Still though – I’d love to hear how they go about dealing with this sort of thing, or if there’s just some large list somewhere that just keeps getting added to.

My grandma, whenever she sends a birthday or Christmas card, literally covers the back flap with stickers to prevent folks from peeking inside. At first I used to laugh when I received her letters, but now… it’s not so crazy a notion.

And sometimes, even those extra stickers don’t prevent someone from just ripping them off.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. This is an issue I sympathize with completely. I have never experienced such horrible postal service anywhere in the country. I’m comparing it to small towns and large cities alike ‚Äì it’s absolutely abysmal in Chicago. The thing that gets me more than anything is some of the rudeness and yes, actual insults, I’ve encountered while trying to deal with employees (i.e. purchase a basic service and mail my item). More often than not I walk out in disgust. It’s amazing that paying for and receiving such a fundamental set of services can be such a nightmare in a major American city.Also, I regularly receive mail at home for incorrect addresses that are located blocks away. I shudder to think how much of my own mail is appearing at other houses!/end mini-postal-rant

    Allison Reply


  2. Whenever I send anything through the post I always tape the envelope shut after sealing it. I feel like with the tape it’s really easy for anyone to notice on the other end if it’s been tampered with. I read somewhere a few years back that the postal service in Chicago was one of the worst in the nation. So all those times I get bills from local companies that exist mere miles from my home, and the letter is post dated weeks before I get them I always seem like that is justified. The sticker idea seems like a good one too!

    Justin Reply


  3. My mom (who is probably the age of your grandma) tapes every envelope she sends. And when I say tapes, I mean TAPES. You need a jackhammer.

    Robin Reply


  4. Oh, and one more thing….I’m thinking maybe this is our tip that we should all buy stock in whoever makes Tyvek, since they make envelopes…..

    Robin Reply


  5. I watched a thing once how be-stickered envelopes were actually stolen more by postal sorters ’cause there was likely to be Grand-ma cash inside. That’s low, stealin’ the birthday cash.

    Jannie Funster Reply


  6. The worst is netflix. Once we had just the flappy part that you rip off when you get the dvd arrive in a plastic bag with an apology letter from the post office. Ridiculous.

    Marty J. Reply


  7. Oh and btw…you have to go check out my latest post. You’ll LOVE the site I talk about. Well, assuming you didn’t already know about it. Pretty funny stuff.

    Marty J. Reply


  8. I find myself having to send packages pretty frequently due to the whole etsy thing, plus bookmooch, etc. I will go out of my way to make sure I mail them from the post office branch in the next city over because the employees there are so delightful. The one nearest to me is staffed by obstinate, unfriendly people, (to top it off, it closes at 3:30 which makes it practically impossible to pick up certified mail if you work a normal workday) and I am SURE my mailman has helped himself to packages and failed to even attempt to come to the door with certified letters even after filing a complaint (because, of course, one ought to just stand at their mailbox all day).I’m looking forward to moving just to change post offices!

    Mellzah Reply


  9. PCH blues!I get mail as we all do. However, only mail from Publishers Clearing House is tampered with. I wonder why a security seal is lifted OR envelopes are slightly open on a corner only on mail from PCH?? Does someone suspect there is money inside? Hmmmmm!

    Ray Reply


  10. This happens to me all of the time. It drives me nuts, too. The strange thing is, it happens on mail that is usually bulky (i.e. large manila envelopes with several documents inside; or, #10 sized envelopes with several folded pages inside). Who on earth is doing this, and why? It can’t simply be about money. It makes me think that mail is being monitored or spied on. Perhaps I should complain at the Post Office and see what they say to me…

    Eric Reply


  11. I had another incident with the postal service a few days later. It’s worth noting that my friend Dustin believes the rips are from mechanical mail sorters… which makes sense. Comparing the two side by side, they’re very similar.

    avoision Reply


  12. I am so sick of my mail being opened. I hate to point fingers, but it is most definitely Chicago and I have even narrowed it to the downtown post office. I am infuriated and I can’t believe this continues to happen. There has to be SOMETHING we can do. What these jerks don’t realize is that they are stealing, basically, from the very people who provide them with a job! If we weren’t mailing things, they wouldn’t have a job! Has anyone tried to do more about this situation? I am way overdue, but I finally sat down tonight after YEARS of tampered with mail and stolen money, and writing a letter. I took pictures of my envelope and intend to send to every outlet possible. Sure, one person can’t do anything, but if a lot of people make this a big deal, things have got to change, right?!? Where is the supervision and cameras in these facilities?!??!

    Kristin Reply


  13. so i work at at general mail facility where the mail is sorted over night. 99% of mail goes through mail sorting machines. the letter in your picture has a green mark where it had trouble going through the machine. this is from the belts that move it through the machine. it causes tension and pops open the mail.

    mike Reply


  14. I agree that most of the problems are probably due to mechanical mail sorting machines. However, having lived in Chicago and in other cities besides, I have NEVER received as many torn, ripped, mangled, or otherwise messed-up pieces of mail as I did when I lived in Chicago. So why are Chicago’s mail sorting machines that much worse than anybody else’s?

    Also, this, from 2007:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9615598

    Juliet Reply


  15. This happens everywhere. I live in the country outside of a small southern Indiana town and I see the flap corner lifted on mail several times a week. BTW, if you receive a letter that has the flap taped down, how do you know it wasn’t taped down by a postal worked after opening it?

    Also, did you know that the front of every piece of mail is scanned and an image of it saved for surveillance purposes? I always put my return address label on the back. Of course, maybe they scan both sides…
    Face it: we are being monitored all the time. Like on “Person of Interest”.

    Beevo Reply


  16. Every one of the letters mailed to me barring a few had similar ripping marks on them. I dint give it much heed as I initially thought it was a security measure to ensure people are not sending/receiving objectionable materials.

    Vijay Reply


  17. More and more convinced these types of rips are the result of automated sorting machines. Not to say I haven’t seen envelopes having been opened around Christmastime, but those are definitely different tears.

    avoision Reply


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