Missing mail leaves customers with questions

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Music is life for Joy Gunderson.

It's what got her a scholarship to college.

It's also the reason her parents had to mail most of her belongings to Minnesota at the start of the semester.

While Joy and her mother, Carin, drove her harp to St. Olaf College, they could only fit so much in their car.

That’s why Joy's father, Jerry, decided to ship about eight boxes through the Postal Service.

Assuming the packages would arrive intact, Jerry didn't bother insuring the items, and you can probably guess what happened next.

“We got a note from the Postal Service saying that one of the boxes had come open in the postal center in Minneapolis, Minnesota,” Jerry said.

Missing from that box was about $300 worth of stuff, including a pair of organ-playing shoes, a metronome, and a framed photo from her high school graduation.

“That was in that box too so she lost everything sentimental that she had with her in that one box and that was difficult to hear,” Carin said.

All recovered items are shipped to the Postal Service’s lost-and-found in Atlanta.

Customers have 90 days to claim missing belongings, otherwise they're sold at public auctions.

Jerry says he submitted the claim forms, and even sent pictures, but never heard another word from the Postal Service.

“It doesn't sound like it's set up for people to get their belongings back, it sounds like it's just one big clearing house for all this stuff from all over the country,” Jerry said.

But the Postal Service tells 3 On Your Side that's not the case at all.

Spokesman Peter Hass says postal workers go to great lengths to return lost items.

“Our experts are in one location able to work on this basically non-stop, that's their job, is to try to reconnect the items with the proper customer,” Hass explained.

Hass says if an item isn't found, it's not uncommon for a claim like the Gunderson's to go unanswered.

But at the request of 3 On Your Side, the Postal Service says it is willing to make an extra effort to hopefully find their stuff before the next auction on December 17th.

Meantime, the Gunderson’s hope their experience serves as a message to you this holiday season.

“With Christmas coming there's a good chance they are going to be losing stuff,” Carin said, “So if somebody else doesn't have to make the same mistake we made, great!”

3 On Your Side will keep you posted on a search.

Of course, packaging your boxes properly is important, but the Postal Service suggests insuring them as well.

You should also attach your name and address on any items of real value to you, so they have a better chance of being returned if lost.

For more information on the public auctions, click here.