Mail ‘Return To Sender’ Policy Relaxed

December 2, 2011

Speaking today [Dec.2] in the House of Assembly, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Patrice Minors said that “mail with minor address infractions will now be delivered.”

The Post Office Amendment Act 2009 established a requirement for the proper addressing of all mail, and stipulated that all mail not properly addressed would be returned to sender.

Until recently, mail with missing or incorrect postal codes was considered to have an invalid or incorrect address. For the first six months of 2011 it was noted that 45% of all Return to Sender mail is postal code infractions – that is, missing or incorrect postal codes.

“I trust that this change will please the public greatly,” said the Minister.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to bring good news with respect to a more than two-year campaign that was designed to encourage the people of Bermuda to “Get Your Mail Right.”

Based on the commercials that I’ve seen over the period it was complete with a “Get Your Mail Right” jig. I won’t entertain you with my version of the jig this morning however so Members need not be concerned.

On a serious note Mr. Speaker, the Post Office Amendment Act 2009 established a requirement for the proper addressing of all mail. It stipulated that all mail not properly addressed would be returned to sender.

Until recently, mail with missing or incorrect postal codes was considered to have an invalid or incorrect address. Under the provisions of Regulation 63 of the principal Regulations, all mail bearing an incorrect or invalid address was returned to sender even if the address of the correspondent was known to the Post Office.

In cases where the sender could not be located, which generally means that the mail did not bear a return address, the mail was disposed of in accordance with Section 64 of the Regulations.

The savings to the tax payer have been significant – almost half a million dollars a year. The cost relating to the time used to deliver incorrectly addressed mail was approximately $30,000 – $35,000 per month. These costs have been eliminated as a direct result of the decision taken not to deliver mail for address infractions.

Mr. Speaker, following a review of the Return to Sender programme for the first six months of 2011 it was noted that 45% of all Return to Sender mail is postal code infractions – that is, missing or incorrect postal codes.

This is the largest category of Return To Sender mail and can be most easily processed without significantly impacting delivery standards or increasing operating costs. It is also the category of Return to Sender mail that is the most controversial from the public’s perspective.

Therefore, after some experience with the criteria associated with incorrectly addressed mail and in consideration of the public outcry with respect to undelivered mail, the Post Office acknowledges that non-delivery is a very serious consequence for a minor address infraction that could so very easily be fixed.

It should be noted however that the non-delivery policy has reduced incorrectly addressed mail dramatically. Prior to the 2009 amendments the Post Office processed approximately 7,500 pieces of incorrectly addressed mail per day; today there are only 1,500 pieces of incorrectly addressed mail on any given day.

Mr. Speaker, the readdressing of mail is a standard practice in all postal administrations within the Universal Postal Union (UPU) postal network. The degree of readdressing varies in accordance to the postal administration’s ability to provide this service without impacting its delivery standards for first class mail and operating within the confines of the regulatory requirements.

So today Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that mail with minor address infractions will now be delivered.

I am advised that by amending the way that the mail is processed in our mail processing facilities and sub post offices, that the Post Office can significantly reduce the volume of Return To Sender mail without negatively impacting operational efficiency, increasing taxpayer costs or impacting our local delivery standards for first class mail. This will also allow the Post Office to increase our current levels of customer service to the public.

A recent Customer Service Survey indicates that 85% of the respondents were pleased with the postal service. It is anticipated that this change in operating procedure, together with the re-classification of what constitutes an incorrect address, will assist us with further increasing satisfaction ratings without jeopardizing delivery standards.

Today, 92% of all mail is delivered within two working days and we expect this mail delivery rate to remain unchanged.

As a reminder Mr. Speaker, only those items with minor address infractions such as missing or incorrect postal codes will be delivered.

I trust that this change will please the public greatly and I take this opportunity to thank all of Bermuda for their diligence in taking the necessary steps to “Get Your Mail Right.” The collective effort has contributed to greater operating efficiency and decreased costs associated with mail delivery.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (43)

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  1. Erica says:

    Are you for real….the policy was silly to begin with….so people after becoming tired of not receiving their mail have started to use alternate means (email). NOW after so many were affected by this they review and relax the policy? I am not one to say it usually but it MUST be an election year. So many things that caused us irritation seem to be magically getting reviewed and corrected. I say bring on an election once a year if it means that reviews and amendments that make sense will occur!

    • Um just sayin says:

      I’m still receiving mail in my home mailbox addressed to someone else, clearly showing that persons correct address on the envelope.

      The address on this piece of mail is not my address but mysteriously keeps arriving in my mailbox – HMMMM GO FIGURE

      • Can u hear me now? says:

        The amount of correctly addressed mail that has turned up in our business post office box and location mailbox is alarming considering the new policy. Just this week we had mail that was addressed to the Maxwell Roberts building and we’re in Chevron House!! It’s unbelievably that mail missing or having an incorrect postal code was being returned in spite of them knowing exactly where it was intended to go, however the post office continually can’t get mail in the right post office box or street address when addressed correctly. Maybe the public should have a policy of returning all incorrectly delivered mail back to the post office instead of where it’s supposed to go. It would delay the mail even more, but the “powers that be” might get a clue as to just how incompetent they are!!

    • Tolerate says:

      Reading my mind. Why is all the dumb unnecessary laws upheld and passed all other times, but have an election looming; they are ALL listening to us now? Hope it ain’t too late as complacency bought down the UBP as well. People are tired of being ignored and having to pay the cost for poor governing.

  2. Jack Russell says:

    Government generated mail was the worst offender . I guess the dog finally got tired of biting on its own tail .

  3. sandgrownan says:

    “mail with minor address infractions will now be delivered.”

    Sounds like we are essentially criminals for something we cannot control.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      It is just civil service speak. Why say something in a simple straight forward way when you can fluff it up to make yourself sound self important?


    Obviously another blatant election ploy. Too little – too late. I’ve lived in a lot of countries and the mail system here is absolutely the worst. “92% of the mail is delivered in 2 working days” — are they joking? And can anyone tell me if reading is a criteria to get a job with the post office?

  5. Dee says:

    I ordered my photo Christmas cards from the US on 1st November, they were dispatched shortly after with an estimated delivery date of no later than 23rd November. They have still not arrived and its now 2nd December. In addition to that my office has been expecting a piece of important mail which we know was mailed in Hamilton on 14th November, instead of mailing it to our post box the sender mailed it to our physical address in Hamilton but that shouldn’t have been a problem as we have a cluster mailbox in our building. That piece of mail is now missing having never been delivered to either box.

  6. Mad Dawg says:

    Yep. An election is definitely coming soon.

    They are sweeping the roads, tidying up the hedgerows, fixing the street lights. Work permits are being processed a bit quicker.

    It’s election time.

  7. My two cents says:

    The most ironic thing is that stupid video in the post office the keeps singing “get yo mail right, get yo mail right” And I just wanted to go up to someone at the post office and say ” no You get YO mail right” cause you keep putting mail in my box that isn’t mine.

  8. @Work says:

    I still wonder how I get mail that has NO address. (Junk mail)

  9. Family Man says:

    Flip flop, flip flop ….

    I guess the Pee el Pee’s Christmas cards were all being returned to sender.
    Or maybe their Lamd’s End orders were all being returned because they misspelled the parish.

  10. JCS says:

    I think that when we receive mail addressed to “Occupier”, we should write across it “not known at this address”, and return it to the post office.

    • star man says:

      Anyway… the correct word is “Occupant!”. The word “Occupier” is clumsy.

  11. 32n64w says:

    Yet another example of the PLP Government reversing an ill-informed, ill-conceived and poorly executed initiative.

    When will the voters follow suite and reverse the PLP in Government?

  12. Sam says:

    I get mail in my P.O. Box that isn’t mine nor anyone else’s in who is addressed to my P. O. Box.

    How you figure that, yet I couldn’t get my own mail put in my home mailbox – but will get someone else’s.

    Yeah, after making their rounds and hearing all the complaints from the constituents now they are listening.

  13. In Mark's Opinion says:

    Is Common sense finally coming back to people with Degree’s . I have a Post Box , before the post office would put mail addressed to my house in my Post Box , but now say it has to be delivered to my house . Wonder if that will change too. They can save on gas for all the people that have a Post box already. Just put my mail in my Post Box where it is safe. Bermuda is a small place , people at my Post Office know most people in the Neighourhood , so why send mail back when people in the post office know where it is to be delivered . Let Common Sense run Bermuda , not stupid rules .

  14. Rick Rock says:

    It’s nice that the PLP is reversing some of the more stupid and idiotic decisions they have made over the past few years. Of course, it would have been nice if they hadn’t been such incompetent jerks to begin with.

  15. Family Man says:

    I wonder … now that they have more UBP converts in the Pee el Pee than the UBP has remaining, is this the reason they’re starting to reverse their ill thought policies?

    Are they becoming more UBP?

    • star man says:

      The PLP have been out-UBPing the UBP for a few years now….

  16. Shaking the Head says:

    Yet another reversal of an asinine mandate put in place by the PLP in the past 13 years. Lost count of the number now, but must be well into double digits.

  17. Mike says:

    And prey Dear Minister, do tell us….what is the cost of returning mail to the sender?

    On second thoughts – don’t bother. We know it’s costing you a fortune.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      How can the Minister claim that money has been saved by this stupid policy? Was the postal system downsized. Anyone made redundant with the lack of demand for snail mail as we all go to electronic mail? I don’t think so. There would be a meeting/strike in a heartbeat if anyone was let go.

      If anything it is a ‘make work’ policy to justify jobs being retained.

  18. Always a listener says:

    It’s no fault of the PLP. It was the Post Office staff taking this address situation a bit far. In my office we had sent mail to Fairmount Southampton Hotel and it was returned due to insufficient address. The postal code was missing. How many Fairmount Hotels are there in Southampton?

    • Rick Rock says:

      Not the fault of the PLP, it was the Post Office…?

      You do know that the Post Office is an agency operated entirely by the government don’t you? Who picks the Postmaster General? Look on There’s a link to the Post Office. Because it’s owned by the government. The government sets mail pricing and policies.

      By the way, I think the word is “Fairmont”.

  19. Dee says:

    Our mail delivery knows us, the ladies at our Post Office know us, they know where we live and have lived for 23 years, we have a mailbox on our boundary but a birthday card mailed to me from my son and his wife in the UK was returned to sender because my daughter in law was one digit out on the postal code!!!

  20. star man says:

    Through rain or sleet or dark of night, the mail must get through.


  21. 32n64w says:

    So what did the PLP Government do with the +1 million pieces of undelivered mail? Destroyed it … along with our reputation, economy, social fabric and good graces.

  22. THE HELL!! says:

    I’m receiving mail for someone else who did live in apartment #1 but doesn’t live there any longer. I live in apt # 2. I called the sender they said they need an address to send it to even after I told them the person no longer lives there. This has been going on for 3 years. This is KEMH.. I had to move my mail box 20 feet from where it previously was in order to receive my mail. So ridiculously funny.

  23. THE HELL!! says:

    What’s so funny is the time and energy it takes to send the mail back to the sender is so stupid if obviously the mail person knows, for example, John Doe lives at that address even if it is not the complete address so ridiculous. Some of their rules are so idiotic. You do have some educated idiots in high positions by the way.

  24. St.D says:

    What amazed me was the amount of overseas checks that our company did not receive because the address wasn’t 100% correct. Perhaps they realized that reversing the policy would help with Bermuda’s balance of payments.

  25. Rick Rock says:

    The truth is people are using snail mail less and less these days. We have email. At some point, we will need less and less postal workers.

    What they should have been doing for the past 5 years was IMPROVING the service, not ruining it.

    A million letters destroyed.

    Typical PLP. Thoughtless, short-sighted, utterly clueless.

  26. Jay says:

    I’d be very interested to see a study done on how much business the Post Office lost with its inane policy: how many people started using a courier service instead…

    And it turns out that the “problem” of imperfectly addressed mail wasn’t even a major cost for the PO. 45% of misaddressed items were only missing a postcode and were very easy to rectify.

    And the total cost saving – $360,000 per year. That’s not even $6 per resident per year. How insane must the PO managers be to think it’s a good idea to return deliverable items to the sender for the sake of less than $6 per resident.

    There are some truly demented people in positions of authority here.

    System of government seems to be: bring in an incoherent medley of hare-brained schemes, ignoring all warnings that they will be pointless and/or harmful, persist with them for 4 years or so, announce around election time that the schemes will be scrapped, hold election, repeat.

    • Rick Rock says:

      I like the way they throw out ‘savings of $30-35,000 per month’. They saved that by returning 1,500 letters a day to the sender? What utter nonsense.

  27. Shaking the Head says:

    When the PO started their nonsense, every item I received that is not a piece of real mail such as a flyer or a Govenment notice addressed to the Occupier or anything similar is written on and dropped back in the Post Office. That was done to improve the service, and I’m sure others did the same so it seems to have worked.

  28. Billy M says:

    The Bda postal “service” is, and long has been, a complete joke. Three weeks to get a letter delivered to the wrong box is not uncommon here. In the US, the USPS delivers MILLIONS of pieces of mail, much of it misaddressed, to addresses spanning four time zones (not counting Alaska and Hawaii), in a day or two at most. It’s possible, but it requires competent people who actually are willing to work for a living. No such people work at the Bermuda postal “service”.

  29. B, a Lady says:

    “I am pleased to announce…” Why are you pleased to announce that you are going to do something now that you were being paid to do all this time?

    Each week, opening my mailbox is like eating a box of chocolate – you never know what you are going to pick up!

    I beg of you, call an election please.

  30. BermyGurl says:

    Well I hope they get my address correct when the send me my refund from the “soon to be defunct” land licence law!