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ASHEVILLE – Meg Ragland started receiving odd phone calls Wednesday at Plum Print, the business she co-owns in Asheville.
Callers from across the country had received invitations to the inauguration of Donald Trump, next week in Washington. Although the invitations themselves included no contact information, the callers told Ragland that the envelope included a number to call for more information – the number for Plum Print.
Worse, many recipients said the envelopes bore labels with their addresses, but someone else’s name. So, they weren’t sure if they should have been invited or not. And if they were invited, they weren’t sure what they were expected to do next.
After a flurry of calls, Ragland was able to track the envelopes to an Austin, Texas, company, Texas Mailhouse, which was inserting the invitations into the envelopes. But FedEx had been printing out the labels and handling the actual shipments from the Texas Mailhouse office.
Ragland told Carolina Public Press that once she made FedEx and Texas Mailhouse aware of the mistake, a FedEx associate said he could prevent her company’s number from appearing on the rest of the mailings. But he also told her that thousands of invitations had already been distributed.
CPP talked Friday with a spokesperson for Texas Mailhouse who confirmed the incident. He blamed FedEx for the problem and said his company was moving on.
FedEx corporate spokesperson Jim McCluskey told CPP on Friday that the company had investigated the situation and determined that the area code for the phone number printed on the return address labels was incorrect, though the names and addresses on the mailing labels should have been correct. Since the shipment included several thousand invitations, it’s possible that some went to outdated addresses, which generated more calls than those to correct addresses, creating the misperception of an additional systemic error.
McCluskey said FedEx has apologized to Plum Print for the problem. He could not confirm the identify of the FedEx customer — several government organizations are involved in sending out inauguration invitations — but did confirm that the contents were legitimate invitations to the presidential inauguration.
CPP has reached out to Donald Trump’s transition and inauguration teams, but received no response to a request for comment prior to publication. McCluskey said FedEx has communicated with the customer about the problem.
Plum Print has no ties to the Trump team, but does do business with FedEx. The company’s specializes in creating coffee table versions of children’s artwork.