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Box full of toys returned to USPS customer, twice

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UPDATE: The post master spoke with Kortering this week and says she's committed to getting the package sent off. 

All forms were filled out Monday and the package was shipped once again, free of charge.

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GONZALES - A woman has been trying to mail a package to her daughter in Africa, for two months. Twice now, the same package has circled the country and come back to Gonzales.

Kathie Kortering called 2 On Your Side about her bizarre experience with the United States Postal Service. Inside the box, are toys like soccer balls, stuffed animals, stickers, and plastic cars. This isn't the first time she's mailed a package to her daughter overseas, but it is the first time she's had so much trouble doing so.

"This package has been around the country more times than some people have been," said Kortering.

Her daughter, Kyla, is a volunteer with the Peace Corps. She lives in a rural village in Rwanda and teaches English to about 500 students. Kortering wanted to send some toys, specifically soccer balls, once she found out the children were playing soccer with a ball they had made out of rolled up rags and Duct Tape.

Kortering's journey with the USPS began February 3, 2018, when she paid $77.75 to ship the package to her daughter. Tracking information shows it never left the country.

"It went from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, from New Orleans to Miami, Miami to Jamaica, New York," she said.

The box was returned to her home in Gonzales on February 20, 2018. The post office had circled a mistake she had made in blue ink. Kortering failed to sign the customs paperwork.

She tried to mail the package again, this time with a signature. At first, Kortering says the post office tried to make her pay for the postage again since the package had entered the mail system. Kortering persisted and was able to mail the same package again, with new customs paperwork at the same post office where she shipped it the first time. She mailed that package and another one to her daughter. One of them made it to Rwanda, the other was mailed back to Kortering in Gonzales. It's the same package with the toys, that was mailed back to her the first time.

"And this one was returned to me yesterday," she said.

Kortering isn't sure why the package has been mailed back to her twice and filed an inquiry with the post office.

"There's no explanation on the box as to why it was returned to me," she said.

In response to Kortering's inquiry, the USPS says the postal service of Rwanda had advised the USPS the package was returned. Kortering is confused by this because the package never made it out of the country.

Kortering has no idea where the package has been for the month of March, but she assumes it took a similar route as the last time. Tracking information was not available. She's frustrated that the toys in the box did not make it to the children in Rwanda, but it's obvious she won't be mailing the items in the same box. She'll have to find another way.

Now since her box never made it to Africa, she wants the money she spent on postage returned to her.

"I want the $77.75 back so I can take everything out of that box and put it in a new box and send her the soccer balls," she said.

Friday afternoon, 2 On Your Side witnessed Kortering open the returned package. Inside the box were three deflated soccer balls, stuffed animals, a toy pony, Matchbox cars, calendars, stickers, a box of cake mix, and an air pump for the soccer balls.

The USPS tells WBRZ Kortering's package was returned to her because the items mailed were considered "hazardous or restricted."

After USPS learned more about what was inside the package, it tells 2 On Your Side the local postal management will continue to research the matter and contact the customer directly to ensure every effort is being made to meet or exceed the customer's satisfaction.

The USPS is investigating further and will update WBRZ and Kortering next week.

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