The No. 1 Reason Your Package Says It's Delivered When It Hasn't, Ex-USPS Worker Says
You might just have to be patient, USPS says.
Once upon a time, Americans had to wait weeks to months for their mail to be delivered by horse-drawn carriages and steamboats. Fortunately, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has managed to speed up the process over the years. And now, we're able to track our packages online from the time we place an order to the moment our postal carrier is supposed to arrive. But it's hardly a foolproof system: Sometimes this tracking information will list a package as delivered even if we know a USPS worker hasn't shown up to our door yet. As it turns out, there may be an explanation. Read on to find out why some packages get marked as delivered before they've arrived.
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Millions of packages go missing daily in the U.S.
An exorbitant number of packages are being shuffled across the U.S. every day. But they don't all end up making it to the intended recipients. Researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute estimated that in 2020 alone, 1.7 million packages were stolen or lost every day in the country. Meanwhile, Swiftlane reported that in May 2020, missing package reports had increased by 128 percent across all four major U.S. carriers: USPS, Amazon, FedEx, and UPS.
According to a report from The New York Times, roughly 15 percent of all deliveries fail to reach customers in major areas like New York City because of package theft and other problems, like deliveries being made to the wrong residence. "It's an issue every time I have to order anything. Do they offer tracking? Is it too big for a mailbox? Do I have it diverted?" Brooklyn Heights resident Julie Hoffer told the newspaper. "I can't have my medications delivered here or anything that is essential. I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that it's getting worse."
When it comes to the USPS, at least, sometimes your package isn't actually missing. Instead, you might be receiving it well after it's been marked as delivered.
Your package might say it's delivered when it hasn't been.
If the status of your USPS package says "Delivered" and you can't find it, the agency advises that you first check any of the places your carrier may have left it. This includes your mailbox, porch, garage, and exterior doors. "Please check all potential delivery locations at your address," the agency says. "Carrier may have placed it in a secure location out of view of the street, such as under a mat or near a back entrance."
Still no luck locating your package? While you might assume it's been stolen, don't stress just yet. This status does usually mean that your package has, in fact, been delivered, but that's not always the case, according to the Postal Service.
"We apologize if you have not received your item as indicated," the USPS says on its website. "In rare cases, package may show as 'delivered' but could take [an] additional 24 hours."
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There's a common reason for this issue.
So why was your package preemptively marked as delivered? According to those who've worked for the USPS, it seems to be a result of the agency's scanning process. In a Quora thread, Patty Byars, a former USPS mail carrier from 1999 to 2003, said that postmasters will check to make sure all parcels and mail have been scanned at the end of each day. This results in the possibility of somebody having "scanned it as delivered instead of attempted," she wrote.
"There are many different scenarios that could have happened but the main thing is it didn't get sent out with your carrier somehow and everything that has a barcode must be scanned by close of day," Byars explained.
You may still need to reach out to the USPS.
If it's been more than 24 hours since your package was marked delivered and it still hasn't shown up, you can contact the USPS. According to the agency, customers can send a service request by email to their local Post Office facility for a follow-up on their package. "You will receive a confirmation number and a contact within 2 to 3 business days," the Postal Service says.
You can also submit a "Missing Mail" search request seven days after the original date of mailing and up to 365 days after. "The Postal Service will attempt to find and return your lost item(s), but submitting a search does not guarantee a successful outcome," the USPS notes. "We will return any mail piece from which we can locate a good address or match with an official search request."