Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Correct Address: the Post versus the Addressee

Tags: address formats, international addresses, postal service, correct address

Sometimes an address is given one way by an addressee and differently by the postal authority (Post) in the same country.  Obviously the Post delivers the mail and knows the correct address and its preferred format.  Still, there are times when I use the addressee's version of the address.  Here's when and why.
  • The addressee is a customer and insists that the Post's version of the address is wrong – and the addressee's version is deliverable.  The customer's good will and continued business are worth more than a technically correct address.
  • The addressee does not provide some address element, most frequently a postal code but sometimes a province abbreviation, in a country where they are technically used in addresses but are rarely seen in practice.  If that element code can be looked up easily and inexpensively, we add it to the address.  However, spending a great deal of time or money is normally not worth it.
  • The addressee's version of the address is standard practice and deliverable, although the Post has introduced a new system of addressing.  The Posts in some countries have introduced new addressing systems that have never become widely adopted and are not easily available.
And here's when and why I would use the Post's address rather than the addressee's version.
  • The Post provides a discount for mail with their version of a correct address.  Any customer who objects that his address is incorrect may need an explanation.
  • The mail may not be delivered or may be misdelivered without the missing element.  Many countries have more than one town with the same name and many streets with the identical names and numbering.  Without a province or a postal code, the mail might be delivered to the wrong one.
  • The Post has recently implemented a new address system and is phasing out delivery to "old-style" addresses, rendering them potentially undeliverable.
Ultimately, the deliverability of the addresses, potential postal discounts, the importance of a particular customer and particular piece of mail, and the cost of correcting the addresses must all be taken into account.  The importance of each of these elements in relation to the others will determine what address is the correct one to use in each case.