The number of products we’re buying online keeps going up and up, and that means you’re likely to have more and more packages coming to your address. When something you’ve ordered doesn’t show up, that can be hugely frustrating—and potentially very expensive too. Here’s what to do should that worst case scenario happen.
Note that most retailers and postal services will act differently depending on whether your package has gone missing in transit (which is clearly their fault) or has been marked as delivered and has subsequently gotten lost or been stolen (which may not may not be their fault, depending on the details of what’s happened).
Here, we’re going to focus on the former scenario, where the package simply hasn’t turned up at your address. If you suspect it’s been stolen instead, that’s usually a matter for law enforcement—and you’ll find that retailers and delivery companies will usually help with any investigations. There are ways you can try and minimize this from happening, such as using secure Amazon lockers for delivery.
However, it’s usually worth trying the missing package approach even if you think it was delivered and potentially stolen—some delivery companies will still take responsibility in some situations, depending on what you ordered, how much valuable it was, and how the delivery was recorded. There are no clear guidelines as to how your claim will be handled, because it depends on so many factors.
Check with the retailer
If a retailer has posted a package that hasn’t reached you, it will often be able to make a refund or insurance claim with its postal partner, before resending your order to you—but there’s usually a wait period before this can happen.
It’s a good idea to get in touch with the retailer directly to see what your options and their policies are. In the end, you might only have to put up with a substantial delay before you get what you actually ordered—not ideal of course, but better than doing without the product that you’ve ordered altogether.
We can’t cover every single retailer out there of course, but to take one example, Newegg asks that lost delivery issues are reported within a period of 15 days from the original expected delivery date.
US Postal Service
If your package has gone through the US Postal Service, then you’ve got a few options for tracking it down—the first one being to check the tracking status, if it’s available. That should give you some clues as to where the item might be.
You’ve then got two tiers of escalation you can try, which involve some form filling. The first is to complete a Help Request Form, which will be forwarded to your local Post Office in an attempt to find the missing package. If you don’t get anywhere with that, after seven days have elapsed, you can fill out a Missing Mail Search Request to get a more extensive search carried out.
Whether or not you’ll be able to file for a refund or for an insurance claim will depend on the type of service that was used to send the package. You can also contact USPS customer service directly to get more help.
Amazon will always give you an estimated delivery date and notify you when packages are dispatched—the company also recommends waiting 48 hours after the estimated delivery slot to do anything about actually tracking down the item you’ve ordered.
You then need to go through all the standard checks: Make sure the delivery address is right, check with neighbors to see if they’ve accepted the delivery, and have a proper hunt around your property to see if the missing package has been left anywhere.
If a package has been marked as delivered but hasn’t arrived, or has just been lost somewhere along the way, you need to contact Amazon Customer Service within 30 days. The process of getting help and a replacement item is usually quite straightforward.
FedEx has a comprehensive and reasonably easy to use online portal for filing claims for missing packages. You need to provide the usual details: Where the package was supposed to be delivered, what the tracking number is, a copy of the invoice for whatever it is that you’ve ordered, and so on.
The process is the same whether your package is lost, has been stolen, or had certain items missing from it—at least as far as registering the claim goes, if not in how it’s processed. You’ve got up to 60 days after the scheduled delivery date to file a claim.
You don’t need all of the supporting information right away—you can add it later—so it’s best to file a claim as early as you can. FedEx will keep you updated as your claim is progressed, and you can log into the online portal at any time for an update.
UPS has a fairly efficient claims process that you can use to track down a missing package and possibly get a refund or a replacement for it. You’ve got a window of 60 days after the scheduled delivery date to file a claim.
You’ll be asked to provide as much information as possible: Tracking numbers, item descriptions, delivery addresses, invoices for the goods, and so on. Depending on the situation, it might be that whoever shipped you the package files a claim with UPS rather than you.
To get started, head to the contact page on the UPS website once 24 hours have elapsed after the expected delivery date. UPS says that it takes an average of 10 days to process a lost package claim and issue any relevant compensation.