Web forms & your address



  • Two WTFs that always get me when filling out web forms to request information on things:

    1. The address box - Why is it some web developers believe no one could ever possibly have an address that exceeds 25 characters. Guess what? I DO. It's so annoying to have to abbreviate my address in ways it really shouldn't be abbreviated!

    2. Your City - Ok. This one boggles my mind. I live in St. Paul, MN. ST. PAUL. Yes, technically it's Saint Paul, but why oh why must you enforce I type that? St. Paul is just as valid as anything else. If you absolutely MUST dictate how the city is written, then just require my zipcode and do it your own damn self!

    3. That's wrong, but I won't tell you how - This doesn't happen as much, but when it does it's very infuriating. Direction websites that demand a very specific address format, and won't tell you when you're wrong.  I enter an address that's something like "225 South 6th Street, Minneapolis MN, 55402" and have it map me to somewhere else. I hit GO and.... my starting address can't be found? Maybe I mistyped it? Damn it! Ok, let me try it again.

    225 South Sixth Street Minneapolis, MN 55402.... Nope
    225 S. 6th St. Minneapolis, MN 55402..... Nope
    225 S 6th St Minneapolis, MN 55402.... Nope
    225 6th Street S Minneapolis, MN 55402... Bingo
    Ah, nice, so what technically isn't even the correct address is the one they are looking for.

    Or just as annoying, it doesn't find exactly 225 South 6th St, Minneapolis MN, 55402 so it shows me a dropdown box asking which 6th street I want, and shows me every single combination of town & 6th street in the tri-county area.

    Anyway, just a few WTFs I ran into today hehe.



  • here is another.  why ask for city and state when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.  smart marketers who are supported by good programmers can have this information by running a simple query when accessing information about new leads and clients.



  • @bear_57 said:

    here is another.  why ask for city and state when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.  smart marketers who are supported by good programmers can have this information by running a simple query when accessing information about new leads and clients.

    Yes.  But remember.  We're here in celebration (or at least mockery) of the programmers that aren't that good. 

    And when was the last time you met a smart marketer?  I haven't.  I know they exist, but I think that they are exceedingly rare.



  • @bear_57 said:

    here is another.  why ask for city and state when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.  smart marketers who are supported by good programmers can have this information by running a simple query when accessing information about new leads and clients.


    We do that.

    Built this nifty site for Luxury Product X where you enter the zip code and the site gives you the nearest three dealers for Product X.

    Speaking of address formats, map24 has reduced their Location form from a complex StreetZipCityCountry fields configuration to one (1) single field. Apparently it parses addresses intelligently.
    Nifty.
    I usually enter addresses in it like so: [<Street> <Number>, <City>], as per normal in Dutchland.



  • @bear_57 said:

    here is another.  why ask for city and state when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.  smart marketers who are supported by good programmers can have this information by running a simple query when accessing information about new leads and clients.

    I'll answer that one, actually.  For customer-facing things, I ask for the city because of "vanity addresses", ie, locales that are actually part of a larger city, but are called something else by the people who live there.  For example, someone might live in a zip that's legally "Brandon", but actually call their city, "Paradise Point"

    Since I regularly get complaints when I don't at least ask the customer for the city, and REALLY get complaints when I ask for only zip but try to validate city, I follow the path of least resistance.



  • @Jeremy D. Pavleck said:


    1. The address box - Why is it some web developers believe no one could ever possibly have an address that exceeds 25 characters.

    Hear, hear!  A good many applications used to limit first names to 10 characters.  My name works fine (incidentally), but I can't tell you how many people I seen named "CHRISTOPHE"

    @Jeremy D. Pavleck said:

    2. Your City - Ok. This one boggles my mind. I live in St. Paul, MN. ST. PAUL. Yes, technically it's Saint Paul, but why oh why must you enforce I type that? St. Paul is just as valid as anything else. If you absolutely MUST dictate how the city is written, then just require my zipcode and do it your own damn self!

    3. That's wrong, but I won't tell you how-
    225 S 6th St Minneapolis, MN 55402.... Nope
    225 6th Street S Minneapolis, MN 55402... Bingo
    Ah, nice, so what technically isn't even the correct address is the one they are looking for.

    You obviously know this already, but many people don't know that street can have prefix directionals AND postfix directionals.  As you state, "225 S 6th St" is a different address than "225 6th St S".

    But here is an additional observation.  Even among people who live on such a street (either example) many of THEM don't know that there is a difference.  A LOT of those people couldn't write their correct address if they had to.

    In some places, an area might use both pre- and post-fixes in the same address.  At least there it is obvious that both are important and unique.  Somebody who lives at "225 SW 6th St NW" understands the difference between them.

    I only mention this because you may have been given the address of "225 S 6th St" by somebody who didn't even know the correct address was "225 6th St S".  Just a thought.  I've seen wrong addresses in print, in advertisements, business cards, a sign on the front of a building, even on street signs!



  • @bear_57 said:

    here is another.  why ask for city and state
    when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.




    It's very US-centric though. When you're building a site which can be
    used by pretty much anyone in the world, dealing correctly with US zip
    codes, UK post codes, French whatever, etc would just turn into a
    maintenance nightmare.



  • @icklemichael said:

    @bear_57 said:
    here is another.  why ask for city and state
    when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.




    It's very US-centric though. When you're building a site which can be
    used by pretty much anyone in the world, dealing correctly with US zip
    codes, UK post codes, French whatever, etc would just turn into a
    maintenance nightmare.

    Indeed, and while it doesn't seem so in the US, a single zip code can map to several towns in france (especially in rural communities where villages can get as small as a pair of dozen inhabitants)



  • Wait, are you saying that insisting on "city" and "state" boxes makes things less US-centric?

    Hint: the United States of America is rather unusual in using the "state" as an administrative division.  There's no "state" or "city" in my address, much less a "zip code".  I do have a "postcode" and a "county", though.

    You should only write a form that insists on any particular address format if you know that your form is only intended for use by people in a single country.  If your site is likely to be used people in multiple countries, for God's sake just have a single multi-line "address" box, or failing that generic "address 1", "address 2" and so on.  I don't know how bad the US education system is, but outside the US, most people are actually taught how to write their own address, and do not need their hands held to get it right.



  • @Iago said:

    You should only write a form that insists on any particular address format if you know that your form is only intended for use by people in a single country.  If your site is likely to be used people in multiple countries, for God's sake just have a single multi-line "address" box, or failing that generic "address 1", "address 2" and so on.  I don't know how bad the US education system is, but outside the US, most people are actually taught how to write their own address, and do not need their hands held to get it right.


    Sorry, but this is a bad idea. If you are actually going to send something to those users, probably using a parcel service like UPS, you are going to need street, ZIP code (or postal code), city and country code as seperate fields. Eighter your users enter this into the appropriate fields or you need either
    a) a clever algorithm to extract those fields from the text lines or
    b) a paid worker who does this by hand
    Either way, it's expensive and a possible source of problems.



  • I think you're replying to me.



    Hint: I'm not American.



    And no I'm not saying that.



    Let's look again:




    It's very US-centric though. When you're building a site which can be
    used by pretty much anyone in the world, dealing correctly with US zip
    codes, UK post codes, French whatever, etc would just turn into a
    maintenance nightmare.




    What I meant to say was that calculating anything from the ZIP/Post
    code
    would be a right pain in the arse given there are multiple countries in
    this world. And that even if you got it right you would never be able
    to maintain such a system.



    I don't think what I actually wrote was too far from that.



    I don't think I'm close to 'saying that insisting on "city" and "state" boxes makes things less US-centric'. As I didn't even mention city or states.



    I do have a "postcode" and a "county"



    You'd think I would have noticed that when I mentioned UK post codes.



    I'm sorry if the British education system (which I presume you share)
    either didn't teach me to write or didn't teach you to read.


    It's a shame it didn't teach either of us politeness. 🙂




  • @bear_57 said:

    why ask for city and state when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.




    Not entirely true. A single zip code can span several cities. But yeah,
    it'll get you close enough to the point where it won't matter any more.



  • @masklinn said:

    @icklemichael said:
    @bear_57 said:
    here is another.  why ask for city and state
    when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.




    It's very US-centric though. When you're building a site which can be
    used by pretty much anyone in the world, dealing correctly with US zip
    codes, UK post codes, French whatever, etc would just turn into a
    maintenance nightmare.

    Indeed, and while it doesn't seem so in the US, a single zip code can map to several towns in france (especially in rural communities where villages can get as small as a pair of dozen inhabitants)


    The same is technically true in the US as well, although perhaps less widespread.  And, as you say is the case, most common in rural areas.

    The ZIP code actually maps to a post office.  That office doesn't necessarily have to follow city lines for area of service.  In some cases (although less common) there CAN be adjoining cities, each with their own post office, and therefore own ZIP, but have some areas of one city serviced by the other post office.

    I used to live in Florida in the town of South Daytona (which had "it's own" ZIP) but was serviced by the post office that primarily serviced the city of Daytona.  So I had an address of South Daytona with a Daytona ZIP code.  People that I gave my address to were always trying to 'correct' my ZIP, and invariably changed it to be incorrect.


  • @marvin_rabbit said:


    Hear, hear!  A good many
    applications used to limit first names to 10 characters.  My name
    works fine (incidentally), but I can't tell you how many people I seen
    named "CHRISTOPHE"




    God I hate that.  My driver's license (NJ) actually says
    "CHRISTOPH".  Couldn't even allocate an even 10 characters, could
    you?  Now, I realize there's a limited amount of physical space
    for printing the data, but how hard would it be to collect all of it
    and them optimize how it's displayed?  My last name is only six
    characters, for Christ's* sake...


    • I also remember taking standardized tests in grammar school which
      only allowed six(!) characters for your first name on the form.  I
      was always amused by have my first name and middle initial displayed as
      "CHRIST J".


  • Try this one on...  😃

    My address line looks something like this (names/numbers changed with values of equivalent length):

    1234 East Message Post South Drive

    I live on Message Post South Drive (there are also North, East and West Drives...), and my address is located east of the east/west "center" for my township.  The address itself is too long to fit in 25 characters, so I sometimes have to write it as:

    1234 Message Post S Dr.

    leaving the "East" out completely (fortunately there is not a corresponding "west" Message Post South Drive) and shortening the rest.  Of course, "brillant" software often translates this into:

    1234 S Message Post Dr.

    S Dr.; 1234 Message Post  (Good thing the postal worker can apply human intuition, or I'd NEVER get my mail)

    1234 Message Post Dr. S

    etc...



  • @marvin_rabbit said:

    I used to live in Florida in the town of South Daytona (which had "it's own" ZIP) but was serviced by the post office that primarily serviced the city of Daytona.  So I had an address of South Daytona with a Daytona ZIP code.  People that I gave my address to were always trying to 'correct' my ZIP, and invariably changed it to be incorrect.

    I live in a relatively new housing development; my street was extended from an older development specifically for my house (and my neighbors, of course).  We've been there for a little over 2 years now.

    Only one of the online mappers has us, and they still misplace our actual address.

    For roughly the first year, I couldn't order anything online unless I had previously established the account with the vendor.  The first time, invariably, I was told that my address wasn't valid, because of the "new" house number.  "That street doesn't have house numbers in that range!"  Then, I'd call, finally navigate my way through AVR-hell and find a live human, and have them try to input my address into the same form I'd already tried.  And tell me what the website had already told me ... [b]Then[/b] they'd go to their internal system that allowed 'em to override the validation...

    For everyone's sanity, you need separate fields for city, state/county and ZIP™/postal code; any attempt to validate the address against the postal code is nearly doomed to be more trouble than it's worth.  Leave that part to the people that need it, the package carriers and the mappers.  This is one of those cases where the rest of us should settle for what works, and not try to prove our cleverness.

    "Premature Cleverness Considered Harmful" -- Me



  • @ammoQ said:

    @Iago said:
    You should only write a form that insists on any particular address format if you know
    that your form is only intended for use by people in a single country. 
    If your site is likely to be used people in multiple countries, for
    God's sake just have a single multi-line "address" box, or failing that
    generic "address 1", "address 2" and so on.  I don't know how bad the
    US education system is, but outside the US, most people are actually
    taught how to write their own address, and do not need their hands held
    to get it right.


    Sorry, but this is a bad idea. If
    you are actually going to send something to those users, probably using
    a parcel service like UPS, you are going to need street, ZIP code (or
    postal code), city and country code as seperate fields. Eighter your
    users enter this into the appropriate fields or you need either
    a) a clever algorithm to extract those fields from the text lines or
    b) a paid worker who does this by hand
    Either way, it's expensive and a possible source of problems.




    I like Iago's hands off approach, but I hear what you're saying, ammoQ.  You're just not going to develop some kind of universal address
    entry form that features every format used on the planet;
    someone is going to be left out, and they're gonna be pissed about it. 
    It seems to me that about the best you can do is figure out what fields
    the entity that handles your shipping needs from you and then present
    those fields to the user in free-text form.  Don't do any crazy
    validation, don't try to develop your own postal code database, and
    don't bitch and moan at the users just because they typed in something
    you didn't already know about.  For example, the USPS needs the
    following to send a thing to a place:


    STREET ADDRESS OR POST OFFICE BOX NUMBER

    CITY OR TOWN NAME, OTHER PRINCIPAL SUBDIVISION (ie, PROVINCE, STATE,
    COUNTY, ETC.) AND POSTAL CODE (IF KNOWN) (Note: in some countries, the
    postal code may precede the city or town name)

    COUNTRY NAME (UPPERCASE LETTERS IN ENGLISH)



    (from: http://www.usps.com/global/addressingintlmail.htm#H1)



    Since I'll be using the USPS to ship things to places, I'll ask the
    user for a Street Address, a City/Town/Municipality, a
    State/Province/County/Whatever, a Zip/Postal Code, and a Country.  If
    Mr. Fred User can't figure out which values to put in which fields,
    then he doesn't get his stuff.  He can update his info and we'll try to
    ship again, at his expense.



    Of course, this approach doesn't work for a service like Google Maps. 
    But, in general, I don't think most websites need to go to the great
    lengths that they typically do to validate addresses.



  • @nullbyte said:

    @bear_57 said:
    why ask for city and state when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.




    Not entirely true. A single zip code can span several cities. But yeah,
    it'll get you close enough to the point where it won't matter any more.
    <font size="5">I</font>nternationally speaking, I think the streetless Japanese system is the worst: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2224.html



  • @UncleMidriff said:





    Of course, this approach doesn't work for a service like Google Maps. 
    But, in general, I don't think most websites need to go to the great
    lengths that they typically do to validate addresses.


    makes me want to write a program that tells a server to print a letter that is mailed certified (with delicery notification), then the program waits (blocking all other proccesses BTW) until it recieves the reciept for the delivery or the letter is returned undeliverable.  then it procceeds to act on that return.



  • @cconroy said:

    * I also remember taking standardized tests in grammar school which
    only allowed six(!) characters for your first name on the form.  I
    was always amused by have my first name and middle initial displayed as
    "CHRIST J".


    Hehehe.
    Superb.

    "You trying to be funny, kid?"
    "NO SIR."



  • @tster said:

    @UncleMidriff said:




    Of course, this approach doesn't work for a service like Google Maps. 
    But, in general, I don't think most websites need to go to the great
    lengths that they typically do to validate addresses.


    makes me want to write a program that tells a server to print a letter that is mailed certified (with delicery notification), then the program waits (blocking all other proccesses BTW) until it recieves the reciept for the delivery or the letter is returned undeliverable.  then it procceeds to act on that return.

    With the throbber spinning in the corner and a message saying "Please don't refresh or close this window..."



  • Although there are post codes in New Zealand, they are not currently manditory. I have no idea what the post code for either my previous address or my current address is, and no intention of finding out. So that is another field on web forms that needs to be left optional, or face the "0000" that I would probably use as a default.

    The postal service are thinking of bringing ZIP codes in to make it easier for posties to sort the mail automatically or something.



  • I have a question regarding Zip codes....

    How the hell do you use a GPS if your zip codes cover a large area!!!

    In the UK, our postal codes define streets, or even parts of streets.  As such, you only have to enter AA11 2BB and it will direct you to that street.  Take the below as an example of my old old address!!
    (house number changed!!)

    44 Broadley Drive
    Livermead
    Torquay
    South Devon
    TQ2 6UE

    the above can be entered into a GPS with just 'TQ2 6UE' and then house number of '44' and BAM! - It'll get you there!!

    We can technically send our mail like:

    44
    TQ2 6UE

    using the Royal Mail!! (technically mind!!!, doesn't work though!)

    Maybe Zip codes should be changed!!! - I'm not at all saying that you should get rid of your multi numbered lines, just maybe have the numbers to define streets and then maybe have state abbreviations to define the state, something like:  DE-12345, which would be different to CA-12345

    Then maybe you could also have some royalty (and I don't mean 'celebrities'!!!), you could call them maybe King or Queen, you could also start talking proper english, like what we do!!!

    Oh dear, I think the caffine has gotten to my head!!!

    «going for a little nap»


    Cratig



  • @Cratig said:

    I have a question regarding Zip codes....

    How the hell do you use a GPS if your zip codes cover a large area!!!

    In the UK, our postal codes define streets, or even parts of streets.  As such, you only have to enter AA11 2BB and it will direct you to that street.  Take the below as an example of my old old address!!
    (house number changed!!)

    44 Broadley Drive
    Livermead
    Torquay
    South Devon
    TQ2 6UE

    the above can be entered into a GPS with just 'TQ2 6UE' and then house number of '44' and BAM! - It'll get you there!!

    We can technically send our mail like:

    44
    TQ2 6UE

    using the Royal Mail!! (technically mind!!!, doesn't work though!)

    Maybe Zip codes should be changed!!! - I'm not at all saying that you should get rid of your multi numbered lines, just maybe have the numbers to define streets and then maybe have state abbreviations to define the state, something like:  DE-12345, which would be different to CA-12345

    Then maybe you could also have some royalty (and I don't mean 'celebrities'!!!), you could call them maybe King or Queen, you could also start talking proper english, like what we do!!!

    Oh dear, I think the caffine has gotten to my head!!!

    «going for a little nap»


    Cratig

    Well we do have what we call ZIP+4, (or sometimes ZIP9).  This will identify specific streets and usually specific blocks.  Sometimes even sections of a block and the odd numbered side or even numbered side of the street.

    This is not required for hand-address mail, however.  It is only necessary for automated mail.  (Bills, adverts, catalogs, anything with a high volume.)  In exchange for a mailer using the enhanced addressing, there are significant discounts on the mailing price.  Even as far as 50% or more off a standard First Class mail piece.

    Since it's not required for manually addressed mail, most individuals don't know (or care!) what their ZIP+4 code is.  (Well, the +4 part, that is.  Everyone knows their 5 digit ZIP.)

    And actually, for the best discounts on high volume mail, there is even one more extra ZIP digit beyond the ZIP+4, and a Line Of Travel Indicator.  These are never even displayed in the printed address, but are encoded in the machine readable barcode printed below the address.  Using the Line Of Travel indicator, the mail can be automatically sorted in the actual order that the postal carrier walks the route.

    So we really don't have a problem with lack of granularity in our postal codes.



  • @Cratig said:


    44 Broadley Drive
    Livermead
    Torquay
    South Devon
    TQ2 6UE

    Cratig

    Ahh, Torquay... On the beautiful English Riviera, yes?

    In my opinion, (not shared by everyone over here) "Fawlty Towers" was one of your best exports!

    Regards,



  • @marvin_rabbit said:

    Well we do have what we call ZIP+4, (or sometimes ZIP9).  This will identify specific streets and usually specific blocks.  Sometimes even sections of a block and the odd numbered side or even numbered side of the street.

    A zipcode can also be so fine-grained as to belong to one building.



  • @Oscar L said:

    @marvin_rabbit said:

    Well we do have what we call ZIP+4, (or sometimes ZIP9).  This will identify specific streets and usually specific blocks.  Sometimes even sections of a block and the odd numbered side or even numbered side of the street.

    A zipcode can also be so fine-grained as to belong to one building.


    Indeed.  And where I live, some of those ZIP's probably serve more people than most of the ZIP's around here!


  • @marvin_rabbit said:

    @Cratig said:

    44 Broadley Drive
    Livermead
    Torquay
    South Devon
    TQ2 6UE

    Cratig

    Ahh, Torquay... On the beautiful English Riviera, yes?

    In my opinion, (not shared by everyone over here) "Fawlty Towers" was one of your best exports!

    Regards,


    Torquay is fine and dandy "English Rivera" et al.

    But it's full of old people!! - Please don't flame me, I'm not against old people per se but if your trying to ramance a bit on a nice beach and then some grandma and grandad sit down next to you with their deckchairs and teacloth hats it takes all the romance away!!

    I would recommend anyone to go to Torquay.  For those of you who are in the USA I do believe that one of your cruise liners goes to Torquay a number of times a year.  You could laugh at our little accent!!

    I found out not so long ago that the building they used for Fawlty Towers (which is really called 'The Glen Eagles') will be demolished!

    So anyone who liked Fawlty Towers and wants to take a photo of it before it goes, go to your local travel agents today!!!


    Cratig



  • @bear_57 said:

    here is another.  why ask for city and state when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.  smart marketers who are supported by good programmers can have this information by running a simple query when accessing information about new leads and clients.


    What makes me laugh are websites, that ask for my zipcode and state, but don't want to accept my zipcode (it's "05-200", because I'm in Poland) and neither "N/A" (there's no states in Poland) nor "mazowieckie" (that's my region's name) as state name. The real WTF is when they require country name and allows selecting Poland from dropdown list with usual neighbours as Palau, Philippines and Portugal.



  • @TheDauthi said:

    @bear_57 said:
    here is another.  why ask for city and state when you have the zip code.  zip code tells you both.  smart marketers who are supported by good programmers can have this information by running a simple query when accessing information about new leads and clients.

    I'll answer that one, actually.  For customer-facing things, I ask for the city because of "vanity addresses", ie, locales that are actually part of a larger city, but are called something else by the people who live there.  For example, someone might live in a zip that's legally "Brandon", but actually call their city, "Paradise Point"

    Since I regularly get complaints when I don't at least ask the customer for the city, and REALLY get complaints when I ask for only zip but try to validate city, I follow the path of least resistance.


    On top of that, redundancy is your friend.  Speaking as someone that works at a ecommerce company --  customers frequently suck ass at typing their own addresses.  They'll misspell, screw up zip codes (constantly!), pick the wrong city, and so on and so forth.  If it wasn't for a combination of our own error correcting, and the USPS's address correction service, a good 20% of our shipments would never show up (on top of the 20% that the USPS loses).

    The fact that the used book ecommerce industry has standardized on USPS media mail is a WTF in and of itself...



  • @UncleMidriff said:

    Of course, this approach doesn't work for a service like Google Maps. 
    But, in general, I don't think most websites need to go to the great
    lengths that they typically do to validate addresses.


    The thing is, if we get a bad address as an e commerce company, we can't ship your order.  Then we have to set your item aside, and email you, and pray you respond, rather than leaving us bad feedback a month later.

    If we've got a valid address, we can ship your item to you faster.  That being said, a "Yes, I'm sure this is really my address, for reals!" button would probably be nice.



  • @marvin_rabbit said:


    Hear, hear!  A good many applications used to limit first names to 10 characters.  My name works fine (incidentally), but I can't tell you how many people I seen named "CHRISTOPHE"

    I've only seen one person named "Christophe", and that was his real name. 😛



  • Okay. I'm a mailman; I might be able to shed some light on some things in this thread.

    As you state, "225 S 6th St" is a different address than "225 6th St S".

    This is only true when both streets actually exist. If they don't, mail addressed to either will go to the one that's actually there. If they do both exist, the post office will get lots of complaints. Cities usually don't do things like this. The post office does have a say in what the city names new streets. For example, where I work we have Bryant St, Bryant Blvd, and Bryant Ct. In order to keep them from getting mixed up, they share no numbers. One has single digit numbers, another has three digit numbers between 100-200, and the other has three digit numbers between 300-400.

    Somebody who lives at "225 SW 6th St NW" understands the difference between them.

    I would really hate to have an address like that on my route. Ouch!

    S Dr.; 1234 Message Post  (Good thing the postal worker can apply human intuition, or I'd NEVER get my mail)

    When we apply it correctly, noone notices. When we screw up because they wrote the address wrong, we get bitched at.

    Not entirely true. A single zip code can span several cities. But yeah,
    it'll get you close enough to the point where it won't matter any more.

    Well we do have what we call ZIP+4, (or sometimes ZIP9).  This will
    identify specific streets and usually specific blocks.  Sometimes even
    sections of a block and the odd numbered side or even numbered side of
    the street.

    This is not required for hand-address mail,
    however.  It is only necessary for automated mail.  (Bills, adverts,
    catalogs, anything with a high volume.)  In exchange for a mailer using
    the enhanced addressing, there are significant discounts on the mailing
    price.  Even as far as 50% or more off a standard First Class mail
    piece.

    Since it's not required for manually addressed mail, most
    individuals don't know (or care!) what their ZIP+4 code is.  (Well, the
    +4 part, that is.  Everyone knows their 5 digit ZIP.)

    And
    actually, for the best discounts on high volume mail, there is even one
    more extra ZIP digit beyond the ZIP+4, and a Line Of Travel Indicator. 
    These are never even displayed in the printed address, but are encoded
    in the machine readable barcode printed below the address.  Using the
    Line Of Travel indicator, the mail can be automatically sorted in the
    actual order that the postal carrier walks the route.

    So we really don't have a problem with lack of granularity in our postal codes.


    Mail can actually be sorted to delivery sequence without the sequence digit. Bar codes are 'sprayed' onto manually-addressed mail. A computer scans the address and interprets it, and decodes the address. It can then look up the +4 part of the zip, and from there, using the house number, figure out the sequence position. Most mail now comes automated this way. Ask your carrier sometime about 'DPS'. On any given day, I might get about twelve feet of DPS mail. But I'll only get about a foot of letters I need to work manually (barring things like boxholders, which don't have addresses on them, and mailers who SUCK and put BAD BARCODES on their mailings!)
    An important detail to realize is that a specific zip+4 can belong only to a single route, and a +4 can only cover 100 unigue addresses. A zipcode only covers 1000 unigue +4s, so a single zipcode can cover a mere 100,000 delivery points!
    Another detail is, for post office boxes, the +4 is the first four digits of the box number.

    If it wasn't for a combination of our own error correcting, and the USPS's address correction service
    The address correction service SUCKS ASS. I have a street on my route called 'regal ct'. It was just put in last year. When it was first built, people started moving in before it was in the national database. So when they put their forwarding order in, the address correction service incorrectly and SILENTLY changed everyone's address to raleigh ct. Mass mailers picked up on it too. The carrier with raleigh ct still gets almost all of my customer's mail. Only things addressed by hand ever have the right street name on them.
    Thankfully most of the people have figured out I have to depend on the other carrier to catch it and give me their mail, so they don't get pissed at me when their package doesn't come anymore.

    (on top of the 20% that the USPS loses).
    Bullshit.

    The fact that the used book ecommerce industry has standardized on USPS media mail is a WTF in and of itself...
    Priority mail is like 5 cents more. Ideally, all the mail goes through as fast as possible, but if theres too much of it at once, it's the media mail that gets left for last. Also, we don't use priority mail as doorstops.


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