Skip to main content

Not even the president is immune to mistakes in address management

For everyone, no matter how prominent they are or how well-known their contact information might be, address management is always a legitimate concern. You never know when someone might make a mistake that leads to an important mailing getting misplaced. No one is immune to this problem.

Not even the president of the United States, believe it or not.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Barack Obama and his family recently failed to receive a Christmas gift because of an addressing error. Instead, gifts intended for the Obamas were sent to another family in the Chicago area. The presents included photos from the White House that were meant for Eleanor Kaye Wilson, godmother of the Obama's children.

The photo book was labeled for "Mama Kaye + Papa Wellington from Barack, Michelle + the girls." Instead, it was sent to the family of Alane Church, an unrelated woman who lives north of Chicago.

"It's very special, very special," Church said of the photo album, in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. "Private moments of their year of 2013 together."

She then redirected the gift to Wilson, its rightful owner.

A White House official acknowledged that the mailing was sent in error and vowed to look into the problem.

"There was an errant delivery, but we're appreciative of the effort underway to make sure the gift arrives at the intended destination soon," the source said in an email.

Sue Brennan, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, added in an email statement that the agency "takes issues like this very seriously, and we are investigating the matter."

Unfortunately, such mistakes in address management are happening all the time, both to high-profile public figures like the president and to small and mid-sized businesses everywhere. Without more attention to data quality, personal and corporate entities will continue making such mistakes with future mailings.