Aurora couple says USPS can't stop package from circling back and forth between Colorado, California

Birthday gift stuck in automated loop

AURORA, Colo. - When Mary Jane Tardif mailed a birthday gift to her daughter on July 15, she thought it would only take a few days to get to its intended destination in Lafayette California.

She's still waiting for it to get there.

The Aurora woman told 7NEWS that when she went to the U.S. Postal Service's website to track the package she saw that it was bouncing back and forth between postal facilities in Colorado and California.  

She complained to postal authorities, who told her they'd call back.

"They didn't call me back that day," she said. "They didn't call me back the next day."

Tardif's husband, Al, called customer service and was given a claim number.

"We were assured they could track it," Tardif said. "They asked if I minded if it came back to me. I said, 'I don't mind.'"

The package came back to Denver, but never made it back to the Tardif's home.

"I'm very frustrated," Tardif said. "I took them at their word that it would come back here, so we could deliver it ourselves to California."

Tardif says the Postal Service can't seem to get the package out of its automated loop.

"Every time you get somebody on the phone, you get a lot of apologies," Al Tardif said, "but they say there is nothing they can do."

Mr. Tardif said he's frustrated by what he calls a complete lack of customer service when dealing with the USPS.

He said, "The last person I talked to said, 'The only thing I can do for you is give you the number to Consumer Affairs.' No one will answer the phone."

Al Tardif said that when he told the customer service representative that he already had a letter from Consumer Affairs, the rep told him, "Oh, you have a letter from Consumer Affairs? Well, you've gone above us. There's nothing more we can do for you. Your package must be lost."

"I'm like really? This is the answer I'm going to get from you folks? I can't get anyone from Consumer Affairs to actually talk to me and tell me that it is in fact lost, but you're telling me you're assuming it's lost because I've gone above you?" said Al Tardif.

When 7NEWS asked USPS Spokesman David Rupert why the package wasn't delivered, he replied, "It's because there wasn't a full address on the package itself."

He said that whoever mailed the package used an automated machine to get postage and a tracking label.

He said they placed the tracking label over the address that was written on the package and then wrote the name of the intended receiver and 'in care of' on the new label, but didn't include the address.

When asked why the package keeps making a loop between Colorado and California, Rupert said it's a fully automated system that's reading barcodes and zip codes.

"Last year, we handled 3.6 billion packages in our system," he said. "That equates to about 10 million every single day.  Every once in a while, we'll have one that doesn't work right."

Rupert acknowledges that the package should have been returned to the Tardif's home in Aurora.

"Something went wrong with that," he said. "We're trying to figure that out and we do apologize for that one package."

Early Tuesday, Rupert told 7NEWS that postal workers had tracked the package to Oakland.  He said they were going to get it out of the automated system and would deliver it to the Tardif's daughter on Wednesday.

"I talked to the letter carrier who handles that address," he said. "We're looking for it, and even without the address, we're going to be able to deliver it as promised."

Late in the day Tuesday, Rupert emailed 7NEWS and said, "I'm not sure we'll deliver this tomorrow… not as clear cut as I thought."

When asked if they'd be able to deliver this week, he responded, "Still keeping my fingers crossed. Sorry I can't offer more than that right now."

The Tardifs in Colorado and California are still waiting.

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