You’ve Got Mail, But Where Did It Go?

West End Postmaster Justin Thomas Maggie Beamguard/Seven Lakes Insider


It’s a rare week in Seven Lakes when there isn’t a social media post by someone looking for a package they have been expecting. The unique mail situation of the community contributes to misdirected mail and packages, which may create additional concern around the holiday shipping season.

A document prepared for Seven Lakes West residents several years ago explains the complicated history of mail delivery.

In its early days, mail was briefly delivered directly to homes in Seven Lakes. But the roads were in such poor condition that the post office eventually refused delivery. 

Language in the original declaration of the community from July 27, 1979 indicates that upon the building of a central mailstation, individual mailboxes “shall be removed and no more mailboxes approved.” Numerous efforts have been made over the years to reinstate curbside delivery, but the U.S. Postal Service has rejected any such changes. 

Further complicating mail and package delivery are the two addresses held by each homeowner: a physical address and a mailhouse box number.

The history predates many who live here now and the West End Postmaster, Justin Thompson.

“The original agreements were made before my time,” Thompson said. “There are other developments that I’ve seen that are similar to this, but they’re laid out a little differently and are less challenging. They are not as big as this community.”

Thompson says the biggest issue for postal delivery is dealing with double addresses. Letters received at the post office with only a street address are “returned to sender.” But the U.S. Postal Service is able to match packages.

“We get a lot of packages that come in with just the physical address. We look them up, and if we have you in our database, we will put the box number on it and send it out the next day,” Thompson said. This extra step can cause a delivery delay of a day or possibly more during the holidays when volume is high. 

When postal workers process a delivery match, they buy time for the search by entering the package as “insufficient address.” Thompson says this causes confusion for folks monitoring their package deliveries online because it shows up on the receivers’ end as “returned to sender.”

The extra step of address matching introduces an opportunity for a mistake to happen, Thompson admits.

“I’ve got to read out the number correctly, my coworker has got to write the number correctly on the box. The carriers have to read the number correctly and put the key in the correct box.”

There are ways to increase the odds for successful package delivery. The most important thing an average resident can do is to make sure both addresses are listed on a package or any large piece of mail.

Another way residents can help keep the system moving is to pick up packages and empty mailhouse lockers in a timely fashion. Postal workers will be delivering to the mailhouse daily between Nov. 11 and Jan. 1 during the height of holiday shipping.

During the holiday season, Thompson says the volume of packages doubles. During the summer months they move, on average, fewer than 2,000 packages a day. From mid-November through December they move upwards of 3-4,000 daily.

Thompson believes that the supply chain issues that slowed down the last two holiday shipping seasons have largely been solved.

“There are a few bottlenecks every now and then, but overall things are looking pretty good. I expect it should be pretty much back to normal,” he said. 

Thompson does advise that those looking for a same-day pick up wait until after 10 or 11 a.m. to get it unless you already have a pink delivery slip or an alert that it’s ready for pick up. This gives the workers a chance to get everything scanned and sorted.

Private carriers bring an additional layer of complications for Seven Lakes. While UPS and FedEx will deliver directly to the door, if a sender opts to use UPS SurePost or FedEx Smart Post, the package will be dropped at the U.S. Postal Service for final delivery. 

Thompson says they receive UPS shipments in the afternoon. Those packages are processed the following morning and get delivered to the mail house later in the day.

There are other options for folks looking to minimize mail mix-ups. Small P.O. Boxes at the post office cost $37 for six months and $74 for a year. 

Private shipping companies like Pack Ship N Moore, owned by Steve Sikes, provide postal services as well. Located in Seven Lakes Plaza, Pack Ship N Moore provides mailbox rental for $111, which includes an administrative fee, key deposit and 12 month rental.

“You can use that for FedEx, UPS, DHL — whoever you want to use it for. Amazon knows where my address is. There’s smiley faces everywhere,” Sikes said.

An additional service Sikes provides is package pickup. For $2 you can have a package sent to his business address. Include a phone number in your shipping information, and he will give you a call when it arrives. 

The local shipping situation is not without its challenges, but an understanding of its ins and outs can improve the chances for successful package delivery.

Contact Maggie Beamguard at