People who don't know how to write a postcode

People who don't know how to write a postcode

I have been doing some Christmas work as a mail sorter. it's quite nice in the short term, but I doubt I'd want it permanently.

Anyway, it's shocking how many times mail comes up that has no space in the postcode, lowercase postcodes, or otherwise non-standard postcode that takes longer to read and sort.

Tip for everyone. It's one or two capital letters, followed by one or two numbers. Occasionally another capital letter. Then a space. This space is extremely important. Then there's a number, and two more capital letters.




SW17 6HR

B4 6UN

It's significantly harder to read:


ll5 3qt



I'm saying this for the benefit of the people receiving mail, not just as a rant. B2 0LP typed as B20LP is a lot more likely to end up going to the B20 district instead of the B2 district than it would be if it was typed correctly (with a space). Sorters go through a LOT of mail very rapidly, so most of it comes down to a quick glance which can be made quicker and more accurate by having the postcode formatted properly and big enough to pick out quickly. If it's not immediately obvious what the postcode says, you spend a few moments studying the address, which is a few moments not being spent sorting the next item, or worse, your quick glance tells you it's something different from what it really is, and it goes to the wrong place, taking longer to reach the recipient.


And now, my own postman has delivered me something that should have gone to a completely different road. Well at least he got the house number right....

Very specific, quality gripe! I'm impressed. You are right. It's not hard. People should just do it right!

Mildly relevant/interesting fact: some people think their postcode is (for example) EX1 OBD. It's not. It's EX1 0BD. This makes no difference when writing on envelopes, but causes problems with (some) postcode look-up systems.

Fun fact: HU11 is a postcode for Hull.

Another fun post code, located in Canada:



Since about the 1700's, or possibly earlier, when the Royal Mail service was formed.

Noooo stop using logic and reason and just let me moan about the Americanisation of our culture

Personally I think Xmas HQ is better than ho-ho-ho.

Royal Mail use their own Santa clearly, his address is:


Santa’s Grotto,



This is the best mail-related gripe we've had for a good while, it certainly makes a nice change of pace from hearing about yet another Yodel delivery.


Strangely you can't rely on that logic:

The Royal Mail employs Postmen to deliver Post

The US Postal Service employs Mailmen to deliver Mail

What on earth?

When did he move away from Lapland? Did they impose a mansion tax or something?

this whole thread is so mind-numbingly dull that it's actually exciting!

Canada can do better than that. There's a place just outside Vancouver with the post code V4G 1N4.

Wrong address or not it's pretty impressive that it is redelivered the very next day. The Royal Mail are capable of being complete nincompoops but when everything goes right it really is impressive that you can drop a letter in a postbox one day and it can be 300 miles away the next day, all for ~50p.

Fucking Darlaston mail gets sorted to Darlington all the time. Was the bane of my life back when I was a mail sorter. IT HAS A "WS10" POSTCODE, STOP SORTING IT TO THE DL MAIL CENTRE! Argh.

As well as people that send those ridiculously small Christmas cards. About the size of a postage stamp. Then they complain when they get lost, idiots.

We did enjoy ourselves occasionally though, I used to run one of the LSMs on nights (they probably don't have them in your office anymore, they probably use IMPs, but LSMs were like the final part of the IMP - in goes mail and it gets sorted into over 200 individual boxes) and I once fed a curly-wurly through the machine to see what would happen. It jammed.

yet another Yodel failed delivery


the 4 and 5 are A and S like a registration plate

This is part of the reason why there are six letters that never appear in the last two letters of a postcode - CIKMOV. Either they look too much like a number or they can be easily mistaken for another letter.

Sent a postcard to my dad as a kid that was addressed as

First cottage on the left - I think it's number 5? <village name> <county>

No postcode, and it still got there somehow. I'm both impressed and apologetic

That's because the post code system is a terrible system for reading and writing for all the reasons you explain. It's ambiguous as written (spaces in handwriting are often clear only by context and post codes have no context). The fixed-length portion is at the end, so you have to count from the back to find the break between inner and outer. Then there's weird addresses that people use &mdash; what in the name of the wee man is "London W1" anyway?

Seems like they left plenty of possibilities for people to mess it up. Spaces that have to be in the right place, and zeros that could be O's.

Surely hyphens would have been a better choice than spaces?

Don't forget PO0, that's a tricky one.

Postcodes are all we need. Seriously. The street address only becomes relevant when it's in the postman's hand. Town, county etc are just there for added insurance if the postcode looks too ambiguous.

I have a theory that if someone only put my name, house number and postcode on a letter, it would arrive through my door just as promptly as it does when they put the full address.

With very experienced sorters, I'd imagine the postcode is less important as long as the post town is there. Us guys are short term Christmas hires, though, so we're not likely to get that skilled at it before we're out. But personally, I'm already starting to hit my stride after only 2 weeks.

London W1 is a pretty sizeable chunk of West Central London. It was part of my territory when I was a courier. It's approximately the square-ish portion of the city between Marylebone Road and Piccadilly, bordered on the West by Park Lane and the East at Tottenham Court Road.

That's my guess. Feel free to look up a map and compare the real border with mine. I'm probably off by a little, maybe even a lot, but it's been a few years since I needed that kind of intimate knowledge.

tl;dr: postcodes (with property numbers) are the most crucial elements of a postal address. As long as both of those are present, delivery is certain. Without the postcode, it's still doable, but only with a post town.

So many people don't know their own address! They either give me the wrong flat/house number, leave out the name of their building/block, the incorrect postal town, or the postcode.

Postal towns really need to be changed to just match up with the local authority and Royal Mail need to tell companies to just stop using out of date postal counties - they aren't needed anymore! Those in Bristol hate seeing Avon as much as those in North Lincolnshire hate seeing South Humberside!

If you don't know your address, look it up for free here -

Oh, and don't get me started on telephone numbers! If it's a small town/village it will most likely be five numbers for the dialling code. Large cities/towns use three or four numbers. Northern Ireland is the only place so far that uses 028 across all of it - I think eventually the three numbers will cover regions, so 024 in Coventry will eventually cover the whole of the West Midlands.

Londoners are the worst for this! You do not live in the 0207 area code because it doesn't exist! If you try dialling seven numbers to someone else in London you will not get through! The whole of London is 020!

Oh right! I didn't get the "XM HQ". It's quite cool indeed. I like both to be honest.

EX1 OBD. It's not. It's EX1 0BD.

Unfortunately, a lot of people pronounce zero and the letter O the same!

You'd think that the postcode for Hull would be "U11".

Thanks sarcasm bot... Much appreciated

I'm not convinced they look at postcodes. We used to live at:

123 Fake Street



and we would get loads of mail addressed to:

123 Fake Street



BC20 9GH

Eventually discovered that the only way to get it redelivered was to cross out everything but the house number and postcode in thick black marker. If you put it back in the postbox with "delivered to the wrong address - please note this is for TinyTown" written on it, it would just come back through the door the next morning.

I'm not sure machines failed when I found something going to Pok Ful Am, Hong Kong, in London mail.

...I think someone misread it as Fulham

I have a theory that if someone only put my name, house number and postcode on a letter

I tried this with just a house number and a post-code and a second class stamp.

It did arrive, but one day later than one with the full address sent on the same day.

It also had a note on it asking for the full address.

When did we start calling post mail?

That's the biggest issue for me

Contrast. Black on red has very low contrast, making it hard to read for sorting robots and humans.