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Why all the hate for zip codes?

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Why all the hate for zip codes?

Old 04-06-06, 11:09 AM
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Why all the hate for zip codes?

I just filled out my 10,045,762th form on the internets for something I've ordered on line. And for the 10,045,762nd time, I had to do the following:
  • Type out the full name of my city
  • Select my state from a drop-down list
  • Type in my zip code

Is there any reason why filling in the zip code shouldn't auto-fill the rest of that information? I might have seen something like that 2 or 3 times in my life, but it's certainly not common.

It seems really strange to me that we have this 5-digit code in place that corresponds to our location, but we still have to constantly fill in details about that location.

I mean, if someone sent me a letter with my name, street address and zip code, they could find my house, right? Why do I constantly have to type out the city and find the state in that ridiculous pull-down list?

Just bothering me today...
Old 04-06-06, 11:10 AM
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Sometimes multiple towns or townships are within a single zip code. Zip codes correspond to a single post office. If the population for an area is low, it may be hard to justify having multiple post offices.
Old 04-06-06, 11:13 AM
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My zip code contains two cities. However, if you put "Salt Lake City" instead of "Murray" on a letter to me, it would still come to my house.

It's my understanding that you can leave off city and state completely and the post office would get it there just as fast. You could even put a completely wrong city and state, and as long as the street address & zip code are correct, it would get to your destination.
Old 04-06-06, 11:15 AM
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YOu can actually mail a letter with just the zip and four digit extension. ( you have to use all nine numbers) I have done it. However, other shippers do not have access to that detailed information, and will need the details.
Old 04-06-06, 11:18 AM
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The post office reads addresses beginning with the ZIP code and going backward, according to what I've been told. That's why the nine-digit ZIP makes it so much more accurate.
Old 04-06-06, 11:20 AM
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And the database would have to be kept up to date: here's a note from the Town Planners in my zip code.

"After three years of working with the US Postal Service, the town of [my town] has encouraged the postal service to conduct a survey of properties both in [my town] and on county land near the Town that have a [neighbouring town] ZIP code to determine whether residents would like to change their zip code to the [my town] code."

Anyway...I don't have a solution to the problem, but I have a workaround--RoboForm. 'Fill forms.' "Submit". Done.
Old 04-06-06, 11:27 AM
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I consider it a backup in case my handwriting is not legible. If one of my numbers in the zip is hard to make out, they still have the city/state to go by.
Old 04-06-06, 11:37 AM
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My friend who's back from England for a few days was telling me that postal codes there are so specific that that's what he uses for his auto navigation system, and it's never more than a couple of hundred yards off.
Old 04-06-06, 11:45 AM
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I always use nine-city zip codes and write them everywhere. Takes me another 10 seconds and if I can have one less postal worker go crazy...
Old 04-06-06, 11:56 AM
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I've noticed it mostly with the mapping sites - often I won't know exactly what suburb something is in, but I know the zip. The site never has trouble finding it if I know that info, but often doesn't find it if I type out a street address and put a "Drive" instead of "Lane" or something like that.

Just seems like we've gone to all this trouble to design the zip-code system and I still have to put city and state into everything.
Old 04-06-06, 12:04 PM
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Yes, zip+4 is eerily accurate. In fact, my neighbor directly across the street and I are the only people located within my "plus four" extension.
Old 04-06-06, 12:12 PM
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Why must it always be a drop-down box for the state? That always bugged me.
Old 04-06-06, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by grunter
Why must it always be a drop-down box for the state? That always bugged me.
Because there are are only a finite number of answers. When doing GUI programming, the developer must try to reduce the possibility of entry error wherever possible.
Old 04-06-06, 12:19 PM
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<--- sticks fingers in ears, closes eyes and sings "LA-LA-LA!!!"

Damn you and your infernal logic. I'm going to continue blaming "The Man" for those annoying drop-down boxes.
Old 04-06-06, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Mrs. Danger
YOu can actually mail a letter with just the zip and four digit extension. ( you have to use all nine numbers) I have done it. However, other shippers do not have access to that detailed information, and will need the details.
You can. Depends on the +4, sometimes it's just one building, sometimes it's 4 blocks.

Originally Posted by Groucho
It's my understanding that you can leave off city and state completely and the post office would get it there just as fast. You could even put a completely wrong city and state, and as long as the street address & zip code are correct, it would get to your destination
Yeah, they don't look at the city/state. That's merely a backup in case the ZIP is illegible or incorrect.


Anyway, the main reason for not auto-populating from the ZIP code is that it's extra work for the webmaster who will have to first get the database from the USPS (and constantly update it) and will have to set up yet another lookup on the web site.
Old 04-06-06, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by grunter
Why must it always be a drop-down box for the state? That always bugged me.
What I don't like is the various sort methods.
Sometimes the state is the full name
North Carolina

Sometimes it's the code
NC

If it's NC and sorted on that I can just hit N and go there, otherwise I have to hit it a couple times or point and click. And sometimes even though it's shown as "NC" it's sorted by the words, so NY comes before NC in that case.

NoDAK: So in your case, your zip+4 is actually a zip+1....
Old 04-06-06, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by NoDAK
Yes, zip+4 is eerily accurate. In fact, my neighbor directly across the street and I are the only people located within my "plus four" extension.
Zip+4 is usually within a single house, usually. Sometimes it goes to specific rooms in office buildings.
Old 04-06-06, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by namja
Anyway, the main reason for not auto-populating from the ZIP code is that it's extra work for the webmaster that the client doesn't feel is worth paying for.
Fixed.
Old 04-06-06, 12:44 PM
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my neighborhood in NYC has something like three names for one zipcode. Everyone calls it a different name. Some neighborhoods have unofficial names that everyone knows, but the post office and everyone else has something else on file. Everyone knows where DUMBO is in brooklyn, but there is no such animal in the post office database
Old 04-06-06, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by grunter
Why must it always be a drop-down box for the state? That always bugged me.
I agree. I live in Michigan so when I type M it goes to Maine and then I still have to scroll down; but if I type M-I instead of going direct to Michigan it jumps to Iowa. I wish you could just type in your state code and have it autofill.
Old 04-06-06, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by namja
Anyway, the main reason for not auto-populating from the ZIP code is that it's extra work for the webmaster who will have to first get the database from the USPS (and constantly update it) and will have to set up yet another lookup on the web site.
Oh that's no fun. I'd rather hang out with grunter and blame it on a vast conspiracy.
Old 04-06-06, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
Zip+4 is usually within a single house, usually. Sometimes it goes to specific rooms in office buildings.
comeone correct my math but if you have 9 total digits for a zipcode, doesnt that give the possibility of 1,000,000,000 total zip codes? and considering there are ~300,000,000 people in the US, then EACH PERSON can have at least 3 zip codes for themselves (and thats not considering all the kids and the fact that many people all live together and would only need one zip per home).
Old 04-06-06, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Jadzia
I agree. I live in Michigan so when I type M it goes to Maine and then I still have to scroll down; but if I type M-I instead of going direct to Michigan it jumps to Iowa. I wish you could just type in your state code and have it autofill.
Just keep tapping the M key. For example, I always hit it twice for Maryland.

I'm embarrassed to say that what I hate is the country drop-down box when USa listed alphabetically instead of right at the top. I get pissed that I have to scroll down thru hundreds of countries just like everyone else in the world.

C'mon man we're the friggin' United States of America. We should always be at the top where we belong.
Old 04-06-06, 12:57 PM
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also, ive always wondered this: is there someone along the whole mail sorting process that has to check every piece of mail by hand and put it in the correct "slot" due to zip code? or does the USPS have a machine that can read handwriting and sort them automatically? frankly i think its very impressive that the USPS can even deliver a piece of mail, even across town, within a couple days. all the work that has to go through just to get millions of different things to their correct places is amazing. (again, unless the USPS has created machines to do all this stuff...i have no idea)
Old 04-06-06, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by NoDAK

I'm embarrassed to say that what I hate is the country drop-down box when USa listed alphabetically instead of right at the top. I get pissed that I have to scroll down thru hundreds of countries just like everyone else in the world.

C'mon man we're the friggin' United States of America. We should always be at the top where we belong.

Yeah that bugs me to no end. USA should be at the top of the list damnit.

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