Lost Christmas package travels thousands of miles before arriving 2 weeks late

10:42 PM, Dec 30, 2013   |    comments
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WESTMINSTER - A postal problem put a damper on Christmas for a Westminster family.

Gifts from their grandparents in Texas made a cross-country journey to everywhere but the intended destination.

The family sent 9NEWS a newstip asking for help.

The Christmas package was sent US Postal Service Priority Mail from Abilene, Texas. It should have arrived at the Westminster home of Jackie and Doug Cox more than two weeks ago.

"It was supposed to arrive in two days and it took 19," Jackie Cox said. "It looks like it's been through a lot."

Cox was tracking the package online, which was full of gifts from her elderly father who is very ill and currently undergoing chemotherapy.

The box was visibly damaged during shipping, and even broke open. Rupert says one of the gifts fell out of the box and is lost.

"It just kept going and going back and forth," she said.

The package traveled from Abilene to Denver, Denver to Dallas, Dallas to Richmond, California, Richmond to Denver, Denver to Dallas, and finally from Dallas back to Denver.

It was whopping 6,100 mile journey, about one fourth of the distance around the world!

The Cox's claim calling their local post office got them nowhere; as they were told the package would be arrive "eventually."

9NEWS asked US Postal Service Customer Relations Coordinator Lisa Rupert, who explains this is a rare case of "looping," when a package bounces back and forth without ever reaching its destination.

In the Cox's case, the address was correct but the zip code was incorrect.

"Zip codes are a big thing with us," Rupert said.

Instead of 80031 for Westminster, the zip code was entered 88031 for Deming, New Mexico.

"It usually has to do with handwriting," Rupert said. "If it's a looping issue, it'll be the handwriting on the parcel that confuses our equipment when it tries to scan."

Rupert says a scanner misread the label.

Less than 24 hours after we called Rupert, she and her USPS team tracked down the box and had it promptly delivered to the Cox's house.

"We don't think that would have happened if we wouldn't have contacted [9NEWS]," Cox said. "It's a relief."

For the most part, USPS had a smooth holiday for package delivery, unlike UPS and FedEx.

December deliveries in Denver were up 34 percent over last year, around 700,000 packages.

Nationwide deliveries were up 19 percent, with 460 million packages delivered.
Rupert offers these tips to prevent postal delivery problems:

1) Clearly write down the mailing address and zip code.
2) Check your receipt to make sure it was entered correctly.
3) If you're reusing an old box, black out any barcodes.
4) Be sure to tape the entire label.
5) Write the address inside the box, just in case the label falls off.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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