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The Real Deal: Letter from Chatham to Hudson Travels 350 Miles

Updated: Thursday, April 10 2014, 01:54 PM EDT

CHATHAM - One piece of mail, sent to a destination just 10 minutes away took a 350 mile detour to get there.  It may sound like a mistake but apparently it's common practice for the US Postal Service. 

Jonathan Davis sends a lot of mail in his line of work.  Last week, he needed to get a letter from Chatham to Hudson, so he sent it via priority mail.  "The same day, I mailed a priority letter to California and it had the same expected delivery date and it just seemed a little odd to me that the one letter was going a total of 14 miles and the other was going over 2500 miles but they were being delivered on the same day," says Davis.  So, he decided to do something he normally doesn't do, track the letter. 

Davis's receipt shows the letter traveled from Chatham to Springfield, Massachusetts and then to Kearney, New Jersey and then back to Hudson, NY.  Essentially, the mail made one big, 350 mile loop.  "I think they could do things a lot more efficiently and then perhaps not have to cut Saturday delivery and perhaps not have to close post offices in rural areas," says Davis. 

A spokeswoman for USPS says "Like others in transportation and delivery services, the economy of scale, combining items from many destinations and sorting compatible items to common destinations, helps us keep overall costs of service affordable...we use the larger processing centers to help finalize the many moving parts for final distribution at hometown post offices."

Davis isn't buying it, saying he's also concerned about the impact on the environment, "to use all that gasoline and contribute to all the pollution and increase our carbon footprint, it's really troubling," he says. 

To that, USPS says, "just as it is not efficient for you or I to run one piece of mail from one point to another, the postal service does not operate with single-piece efficiencies, trucks are full and transportation is scheduled to meet the stated deadlines."

Deadline or not, anyone who sees the path Davis's letter took, might have the same reaction he did.  We want to know what you think? Is there a better way?  Post your comments below:

The Real Deal: Letter from Chatham to Hudson Travels 350 Miles

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