Post Office apologizes for returning woman's letter to Iraq-based son with "DECEASED" stamp

Not only did the Postal Service not deliver her letter, but they incorrectly told Najbar her son was dead to boot.
Not only did the Postal Service not deliver her letter, but they incorrectly told Najbar her son was dead to boot.

In September 2006, Duluth resident Joan Najbar sent a letter to her son, Sam Eininger, a National Guard solider who was stationed in Iraq. The next month, her letter was returned, unopened, but adorned with this stamp: "DECEASED"

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Fortunately, Najbar had been in touch regularly with her son, including a phone conversation the night before the letter was returned. But still, considering Eininger was still alive, that's a pretty outrageous and traumatic fuck-up.

More than six years later, the Postal Service has finally apologized to Najbar for the error.

From the Forum News Service:

Najbar in January said she tried "one, last-ditch effort" to resolve the situation by asking [Senator Al] Franken's office to intervene. On Saturday, she received a letter from Franken that included a letter from Anthony Williams, a Postal Service district manager for customer service and sales in Minneapolis.

"Please extend our sincere apologies to Miss Najbar," Williams wrote to Franken. Williams also said the Postal Service "will try to ensure" that a similar situation never happens again.

A Postal Inspector's office investigation at the time failed to track down who might have stamped the letter or why. The investigation was dropped, but Najbar said the Postal Service never even said they were sorry.

"That they didn't have a way to prevent this is a slap to all veterans," she said. "We're still at war. You'd hope they would have a system in place to prevent something like this. But apparently they still do not."

In 2009, Najbar sued the Postal Service in federal court over the emotional distress and lost income she incurred from "DECEASED" stamp, but the suit was tossed out the following year. So Williams's indirect apology will have to suffice.

Meanwhile, Williams's buddy Al Franken is taking the lead in the latest effort to save the dysfunction junction that is the Postal Service. From Businessweek:

The U.S. Postal Service has another would-be savior: Al Franken, the U.S. senator from Minnesota and former Saturday Night Live cast member. On Thursday, he and seven Democratic colleagues introduced a bill to "modernize" the financially troubled agency, which is losing $25 million a day.

By "modernize," Franken and his allies mean expand the Postal Service's operations. This is from his press release: "The measure would let the Postal Service look for innovative new ways to generate revenue by allowing post offices to notarize documents, issue hunting and fishing licenses, and allow shipments of wine and beer--all services currently prohibited at post offices."

There is also vague language about how the legislation would "clear the way for the Postal Service to help customers take advantage of e-mail and Internet services."

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