Tuesday, April 06, 2010

USPS Clubs Baby Seals

I wanted to title the post "USPS Has No Sense Of Humor", but I was not trying to be funny. I was serious. I considered my mail serious art. Yet USPS rejected it. So much for the trouble. The title honestly reflects how I feel about USPS, justified or not.

The story begins when I read a post on creative young fellows at Syracuse University who came up with the concept of a Google Maps Envelope. Read the post before proceeding with my story here.

The creative folk I am, I decided to try it myself and after a couple of hours of experimenting with Google Maps and MS Word, came up with this masterpiece (addressed to a friend):


Then I waited for my friend to receive it, before I can post about it on Facebook. Little did I know that USPS isn't in the business of fostering creativity. Two days after I posted the envelope, I find my own mail in my mailbox, returned to sender. Here's the clubbed baby seal:


Yeah, they returned it. The envelope was still unopened, but I saw signs of (unsuccessfully) trying to pry it open without tearing it. I am glad that my glue was strong enough for them. I am glad for them too, because the letter inside was in Hindi which they wouldn't have understood anyway.

I knew I must have fallen foul to one of USPS' commandments, so I got searching on their website. Sure enough, their Delivery Address page listed my innumerable heinous crimes, including:

    • (Not) All capital letters
    • Punctuation
    • (Not) Two spaces between State and ZIP
    • (Not) Black ink on white or light paper
    • Fancy fonts and background patterns

I think the last two got me. Looking at the Return Address page, I noticed that I also made the mistake of not placing the return address on top left corner. This may explain why my address is crossed out, but I have always used this format (including over two dozen mails in US), so I don't know why it should matter.

So party's over guys. Concept is cute as a baby seal, but USPS would club it. Now don't try this at home...I mean don't try this in USA.

16 comments:

Mike said...

It was a good shot, and the envelope looked great! Hopefully google gets behind the other guys and then convince USPS to let it through.

Bharat said...

Did you do this manually then? I think I'll try to send this here in the UK and see what comes of it... Thanks for the idea!

Ambuj Saxena said...

Yes, I did it manually. I used a 9.25"x4" envelope size. Again, the idea is not mine. Do let me know if it works.

Ramesh said...

baapre who the hell uses USPS then .. apna india post delivers letters with addresses like near pappu's paan ki dukaan .. probably this is the one rare place where our public sector is better than a developed country ka ..

Matt said...

I thought the envelope idea was very creative. But then again, the USPS's purpose is to get mail out effectively and quickly. And if they did not have rules for how envelopes should be marked, it would take much longer to sort mail, and mistakes would be made. So I guess I value receiving my mail, and sending mail quickly more than I value your creative google map envelope.

Matt said...

I thought your envelope was creative BUT... the USPS's purpose is to get mail out quickly and effectively. If they did not have rules for addressing, sorting mail would take much longer and mistakes would be made. So I guess I value receiving and sending my mail timely than I do your creative google map envelope.

http://tricks-4-free.blogspot.com said...

great post :)

dunk pas cher said...

so nice,thank you

Don said...

I work for the USPS and have no comment on their rules concerning envelopes, but I really like the creative idea!

:)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be hard on them.

Most mail is not handled by a human in the sorting process. Your mail was rejected by the automatic sorting machine as unreadable by the machine and required human intervention.

What would be creative would be for you to figure out how and what areas these sorting machines scan - then make your envelope art such that it can be passed through the machines.

Anonymous said...

you will be pleased to know it works well in the uk the lovely people at royal mail will go through all sorts to send letters theres a wonderful book by harriet russell called envelopes in which she does just that. She sends adresses as words searches and all sorts of things I've tried writing the adress in japanese as well and some how it still got where it was going.

Nat

Maldives Hotels said...

Where do you got the envelope?

Ambuj Saxena said...

@Maldives Hotel, I printed it on A4 paper and folded it to make the envelope.

Ilja054 said...

Nice post...

Jace said...

Maybe you can another way to change!Hopefully google gets behind the other guys and then convince USPS to let it through.

Julie said...

I've made envelopes out of magazine pages and they were delivered with no problem.