Imagine this; you've made an order for something that you've been wanting for a while, and now you're eagerly waiting for it to arrive. As days go by the delivery date gets closer, until you finally get the notification that your package has been delivered. But when you go to your door to check, it's nowhere to be seen. You might start to feel distressed about your missing mail, maybe you were looking forward to or even relying on the delivery for a birthday or special event, or the item could have been expensive and you're starting to fret about the financial implications of the lost package.
We understand the stress of a missing shipped item. We'll help you understand the delivery process that packages go through and give you steps for what you can do about the lost package. Lastly, we'll introduce you to a few things that you can do to prevent missing packages in the future, like using the reliable service of Bounce Package Acceptance.
Understanding the USPS package delivery process
Have you ever thought about what an item goes through once it's ordered, and until it arrives at your door via the USPS? Firstly, once the package is prepared by the supplier it's mailed out and collected by a postal carrier who then brings it to the local post office facility. There, everything is put onto a truck and brought to a mail processing plant where each letter and parcel is separated by size and shape, and oriented so that it's ready to receive its postmark and postage stamp.
USPS marks each piece of mail with a unique bar code that represents the address it's being sent to, which is read by a processing machine that directs the item into a bin based on the ZIP code associated with it. The journey continues to another processing plant where the bar codes are read and sorted so that the mail ends up with the right carrier. Once at the final post office, your package or letter is loaded into a truck by the carrier and eventually ends up at your mailing address. At that time, it's considered delivered. But, you may not have received it in your hands yet.
As you can see, the actual delivery process is pretty complex, and much of it is actually automated by machines. Although it doesn't happen very often, having a USPS missing package is not unheard of.
Taking action on missing mail
Although your mind might jump to the worst case scenario and assume that your item is lost or that you've been a victim of porch piracy, there are some things to do first. We recommend double checking your package's tracking number and USPS tracking information to start. If you do think that your parcel was stolen, you can also talk to your neighbors.
Another good idea is to look thoroughly throughout your property since sometimes USPS packages not delivered just don't make it to the front door. Check other entrances to the house or by the road, especially for large packages that could have been too heavy to carry to the entrance. Look in your mailbox or the common area if you're staying in an apartment, or maybe ask your neighbors because occasionally lost packages reach the wrong address.
Find other helpful tips on package acceptance and delivery in our article, How to Deal With Porch Pirates: 3 Strategies to Prevent Package Theft.
If your parcel is still missing, try one of these other steps.
The first place to go is to USPS, or United States Postal Service, directly. It's recommended to wait 24 hours before doing so in case your package is just going to be delivered late or had the wrong expected delivery date. If you complete a USPS Help Form you'll be provided with a confirmation number and they will put you in contact with USPS without delay. You can also call or go in person to your local post office. Doing so may put you in touch with your mail delivery person who can confirm if the package is in the truck or is missing.
Another useful tip is to ask the United States Postal Service for the GPS coordinates of your package. When they make the final delivery scan, they also save the GPS location scan information of each parcel. Using this GPS information can help you find out if it was given to the wrong address and can give you a place to start looking
Submitting a missing mail search request
If after seven days there is still no sign of your package, you can submit a Missing Mail Search Request. This can activate a parcel's tracking numbers in the USPS database and might provide you with updated tracking information. On top of that, postal service inspectors will know to check in with every step that your package took to try and find where it got lost on its way to the final destination. If you want to continue with this step, here is what you do:
Find the Missing Mail Request form on the USPS website and it will ask you for specific information including the sender and recipient mailing address, the approximate size of the package, your USPS package tracking number, the mailing date, as well as what is inside the parcel and any pictures to help them identify the product. A lot of this information can be found in the shipping confirmation email.
Once you've filled out all of the information, you'll provide your name and address and specify how you want to be contacted by USPS if they find the missing package. Submit the form and it will be sent to your local post office, which will begin the search.
Filing for a refund or insurance claim
Unfortunately missing packages don't always find their way home, but you can still get your money back if you file a claim with your insurance or ask for a full refund from USPS. Take note that refunds are only offered to customers who use Priority Mail Express or the Priority Mail Service.
If that's not you, then an insurance claim can be sent to USPS but will have to be done within the first 60 days of the item being shipped. It's also a good idea to contact the sender to see if they can help or to file a claim with them as well. In some cases, the sender will file a claim for the missing product as many of them have third party insurance.
Preventative measures for future USPS packages
Missing packages are rare cases but to prevent lost packages, there are steps you can take. It's always wise to double check your information when placing an order, like making sure that the shipping address and contact information are correct.
You can also get delivery insurance or ask for signature confirmation before the parcel is marked delivered. Another great idea is to send your parcels to Bounce Package Acceptance. Once delivered, your items will be safe with us until you pick them up.