How Many Packages Don’t Get Delivered? Israel Post Won’t Say

In an attempt to gauge how widespread the phenomenon is of packages going missing, in December 2018 TheMarker submitted a Freedom of Information request

Israel Postal Service branch in Modi'in, August 2018.
Amitai Ziv

The Israel Postal Service refuses to say how many packages aren’t reaching their destination, or what happens to them. Last year, the postal service handled a record 65 million packages weighing a combined total of 14.1 tons.

In an attempt to gauge how widespread the phenomenon is of packages going missing, in December 2018 TheMarker submitted a Freedom of Information request. TheMarker’s questions included what the postal service’s policy is regarding destroying mail items, how many mail items are destroyed every year and whether items are sorted before being destroyed. TheMarker also asked how long it takes on average until undelivered items are destroyed, and what the policy is regarding sales of undeliverable items.

In response, the postal service’s representative for public complaints and freedom of information compliance said in February that the postal service operates in accordance with defense establishment and regulators’ rules when it comes to destroying undelivered mail items. “We have no quantitative data in this regard,” it said.

Following the laconic reply, TheMarker called on the postal service to elaborate. Again, it declined to provide numbers, stating “there is a high success rate in finding senders or destinations.” Items whose owners cannot be found are sold at public auctions after 18 months, twice a year. It added that under international conventions, responsibility for items lies with the sender from the time the order is placed until it is delivered to the recipient.

Attorney Elad Mann, who submitted the freedom of information request on behalf of TheMarker, noted, “It’s disappointing to discover that the postal service, which is supposed to record and manage a precise tracking system, does not have sufficient data about the sales, destruction and storage of items it handles. This information could improve the public’s trust in the postal service.”

The postal service is a frequent subject of complaints among Israelis, ant its reputation for on-time delivery of undamaged goods — or delivery at all — is poor.

In a 2017 test by TheMarker, 15 people each ordered three products from five of the overseas e-commerce sites most popular with Israelis. Of the 15 items ordered, one never arrived and was lost in the system. The average waiting time from order to delivery was 26 days.