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Why your package is late: mail and package carriers suspend guarantees, cancel routes, suffer delays

You’re welcome to ship a package in the United States right now, but it might not actually arrive at its destination. FedEx and UPS have suspended money-back guarantees. FedEx, UPS, and the USPS have loosened signature requirements, announced shipping delays, and have even canceled some shipping routes.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you’re sending or expecting a package, plan for it to be late.
  • Keep an eye on tracking information.
  • Do your best to be around when your package arrives. Since you won’t have to sign for it, you’ll want to make sure it’s not stolen.
  • Report damage when it happens.
  • Delivery people are overburdened right now! Keep that in mind during interactions.

Demand is up but supply chains are shaky

More people are staying home to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that home deliveries have skyrocketed. The U.S. Postal Service reported a 60% increase in package volume during the pandemic. Along with that skyrocketing package volume, workers have faced illness. Shipping companies have also had to deal with lockdowns and closed routes. Anecdotally, I’ve seen numerous reports of shipping delays and other jankiness. I personally have received several packages from Walmart and Sam’s Club, shipped by FedEx, that look like they were either crushed or ripped open.

A crushed Sam's Club box A ripped-open Walmart box.

Meanwhile, postal workers are overworked and understaffed. Approximately 15 to 20% of rural carriers were at one point unable to report to work due to COVID-19 while shipments are through the roof. The National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association submitted a grievance in June demanding relief for overburdened postal carriers.

More: It’s not just you: what’s going on with product shortages & what could be next

Adding to the mess is the civil unrest sweeping the nation. Our own Kelsey Donk’s nearby post office was burned to the ground, and one of Jon Stokes’s packages was delayed last month due to protests.

A protest-related UPS shipping delay

Find the most up-to-date information on the three service providers below.

FedEx

Last week FedEx published a document titled Service Impact of COVID-19, with some strong and worrying statements:

Due to the crucial role we play in moving supply chains and delivering critical relief, FedEx is considered an essential business. We will continue to operate under state-of-emergency and shelter-in-place orders recently issued in the U.S.

These restrictions are disrupting the global supply chain. Air cargo capacity is limited, and we’ve had to make adjustments so that our international networks can best deliver much-needed goods and services in this constrained environment.

FedEx has struggled so much in Michigan than it tapped the U.S. Postal Service for help.

To address supply chain disruptions, FedEx is taking the following actions:

  • Suspending its money-back guarantee.
  • Loosening its signature guidelines such that unless an adult signature is required, a simple name verification will suffice.
  • In some cases culling entire service routes, and placing restrictions on others
  • Services to and from many Asia-Pacific countries have been temporarily suspended, including in American Samoa and French Polynesia. Laos has experienced some service delays, and inbound service has been suspended in the state of Chuuk in Micronesia.
  • Shipments to and from China have been suspended, except for those carrying personal protective equipment.
  • Other places in Asia-Pacific, such as Cambodia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Guam, and Japan have shipping delays of up to 5 days.
  • Shipments from Europe to the United States, Canada, and Latin America cannot exceed more than 100 kg per shipper per day.

The FedEx document is 31 pages long, and there are numerous delays and canceled routes. If you do much international shipping, I encourage you to read the document for yourself to see if you’re affected.

UPS

This isn’t new, but as of March 26, UPS has suspended its service guarantee for all shipments. Fortunately, there are no country-specific service impacts like FedEx’s, at least not yet.

Like FedEx, UPS is temporarily loosening its signature guidelines so that a signature is not required. However, the driver needs to make some sort of contact with the consignee and see government ID, if required for a shipment (like alcohol).

U.S. Postal Service

Just as with UPS and FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service has had its share of COVID-19 related challenges. From its COVID-19 FAQ: “Postal Service Priority Mail® products and First-Class® packages may temporarily require more time to be delivered due to limited transportation availability as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

The U.S. Postal Service also has delays and broken routes, not all necessarily COVID-19 related. You can follow residential service disruptions online. Additionally, the U.S. Postal Service has suspended delivery to a large swath of countries specifically due to COVID-19, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chad, Cuba, Iraq, Sudan, and Uganda. The list is far too long to republish here, so I encourage you to check the USPS international service disruption list if you ship internationally.

Beyond the COVID-19 crisis, the USPS faces financial and political challenges. The USPS has struggled financially in recent years, and new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy reportedly told employees, in a leaked memo, to leave mail behind at distribution centers if plants are running late. It’s an unprecedented order that could cause future delivery delays. To make matters worse, the USPS has warned Congress that it could be insolvent before the end of 2021.

More: How to disinfect packages from COVID-19

Have you experienced shipping delays or other problems? Tell us about them in the comments.


  • 30 Comments

    • Michael Lass

      How’s Amazon doing with deliveries?

      2 |
      • Josh CentersContributor Michael Lass

        Pretty good here lately. A few delays, but things are largely arriving on or ahead of schedule and no damaged boxes.

        3 |
    • Gustavo Guevara Rojas

      I sent a package by EMS from July 10 and nothing is known about that package I think I lost the money and the package

      4 |
    • Nick

      I’m not sure if I’m allowed to disclose what I deliver for or where so I’m gonna keep this vague…..but the reason we loosened signatures right now is because idk if everyone is like this but with us u use your exposed finger to sign our scanner phone which obviously could spread a virus with ease depending on how many different people sign a day. At the start of the virus supplies for cleanliness were almost non existent it was hard to get our hands on the proper supplies from our terminal to clean them every single time someone signed. Also it limits our contact with you, the customer because no one wants to get sick ew lol. Alot of those packages u get that are destroyed isn’t the delivery driver, in my case it’s my loader. We don’t load our own trucks, they are pre prepared when we arrive every morning and after we quickly sort we get outta dodge to move massive weight like a gastric bypass. I’ve seen loaders, generally undereducated young kids that don’t care about what they are doing step on packages, throw them, one time I got in my truck in the morning seeing two full shelves free and every box had been chucked in the middle of the floor. Yes we are overstress about package volume but thats still no excuse, we are required to take proper measures if ur package did suffer some sort of damage because it’s not only unprofessional but down right embarassing when u have to give what used to be a rectangle now turned octogon to someone.  I’ve also seen other drivers just as careless, also take into account people don’t order essential things…but rather new flashy rims for their cars, tires every week, dining room sets, dirt bikes, windows, anything u can dream of….and oh gotta love sofas. We can only do so much to insure your package is okay before it’s destined to suffer damage. Also people order things when they live in the worst and weathered places on the planet expecting u to come bring it into their dining room, like sorry grandpa but I’m NOT gonna take it up your half mile long pot holed driveway with 4 German Shepard sitting outside barking up a storm, hell yeah it’s gonna be late.

      6 |
      • Candy Undisclosed Nick

        This is hilarious! I’m not sure where you are or which company you work for, but it is exactly the same working outta our terminal. And best of all the corporate folk always blame the driver for melted wax melts or dry ice that didn’t keep in the back of a trailer for 7 instead 5 days. Still make us deliver it in our trucks with it smelling of rancid meat and spoiled seafood. That is really embarrassing especially if female just fyi. You described all our areas right down to driveway with gramps and his dogs! Except today my worst stop was 11 mile long driveway. And just 2 rotties. And yes it was delivered to the door between the barking rotties.

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    • ann Underwood

      Hello to whom of concern I ordered a Guitar back in May and haven’t recieved it as of today and did a tracking it said it had been delivered which was a lie never got it and nobody can tell me where the package is ???? So what now??

      1 |
      • Ef RodriguezStaff ann Underwood

        Hi Ann — Thanks for the comment, but you should probably check with the company that sold you the item. This is a preparedness blog — maybe you clicked on the wrong link somewhere? Hope you get your guitar soon!

        2 |
    • Amtrak23

      What FedEx is doing with express shipments is uncalled for. Offering express at express pricing and then sitting on the package for several days and then moving it via their ground network is not right. Has I known it was going to move via ground and get delivered by a ground driver I would have just shipped it ground to begin with.

       

      The real kicker is the package I sent via ground arrived a day earlier than the express saver package, by the same driver who delivered the express package the next day. Seems pretty unethical really

      2 |
    • Alex Price

      Ups left my $1000 phone on my porch and never got a signature or spoke to anyone. No words can describe what I wanna say to them.

      0 |
      • Let's talk Alex Price

        No delivery company cares about what’s inside your package. They are all treated the same. Whether it’s a $3 bottle of shampoo or a $2400 computer. Service is service. To that effect, if your shipper did not require a signature than there was no obligation by the driver to attempt one. I make 160 deliveries a day and cover about 140 miles, your whack if you think I’m waiting to greet every customer unless required to do so. And the only time a cell phone is required is when Apple ours out a large new drop and there hasn’t been one in months. You have another option…. Request a hold at the facility and get it yourself. ✌️

        4 |
    • Geronimo527

      Most damaged boxes are Walmart, Sam’s and chewy. Pour packaging is the issue. Too heavy, not enough tape, cheap box material etc. I’m surprised how most make it without damage. Transit tested is just a stamp or pre-printed on boxes. If your package is damaged it’s most likely the packaging choice at the retail level.

      4 |
    • Michelle Blauvelt

      Look, I just want to say, as I do agree that a company should not be allowed to charge an extra rate for getting packages to thier destinations faster when they know they can’t honor this, it does give false narrative an makes a stressful time a bit more stressful.

      I also wanted to give the biggest shout out to all you essential workers. You show up, you do your best, and your risking your health and families as well. I think we can easily get caught up in corporate nonsense that the workers can’t do much about. It’s been months of this virus and your all out there still doing your best to get the job done. I hope we can do more for you soon as a nation, you all deserve it!! People don’t know what it’s like working through this, me included, so thank you for everything you do!! We do appreciate you❤️

      5 |
    • Appreciate this post so much. Mailed off 2 big packages back to the company that I received them from due to incorrect sizes. Believe  it or not the packages were never received by them…. All the while I’m thinking the packages were stolen . After reading this I don’t know what to think. It’s been almost a month and the packages are still floating around. Out of $500. SMH

      4 |
      • Dont give up hope just yet. A month may seem like a long time in transit, but from someone who has been an online addict for quite sometime now😄, returns take longer. I once had a mercari package sent back to seller (she tried screwing me😒 didn’t work haha) it took almost 2 months for some reason. Nearly everything I’ve shipped with a return label seems to take twice as long as it did the first trip. Was it sent USPS? Ask (the company) questions to ensure you are covered incase something like this happens.  (Altho I do believe all merchants are responsible to either refund or send replacement if return is lost in transit) they likely have insurance thru whichever carrier service they use, or theyd loose a ton on replacements and lost packages..So you’re most likely covered already. But for normal shipments you send, just add insurance. It’s only a few bucks more. But saves ya butt in case its destroyed or lost. (Aka stolen lol) I think they say to wait 14 days after expected delivery date to claim a lost package. And it has tracking so the company can see it was actually shipped and where it got lost. Call the shipping company cs and have them open investigation. It takes 72 hours then you can call back and ask about the outcome, they usually also call once they’ve finished it.

        It sucks waiting for a return to recieve a refund. Especially that high amount, no matter weather there’s a virus running rampant or not. But keep in contact with carrier and the merchant. Be persistent. I’ve realized if you just call once and wait for them to call you back or look into it, you will be waiting forever. they’re first response noe a days is something like “We appreciate your patience in these trying times. Rest assured your package is moving thru the system and will be delivered by the delivery date.” Then they now add something about covid and longer shipping times. Everybody now blames everything on freaking covid! Honest… most the comp I order from have had issues way before covid era. 🙄

        Good luck with your return!🙂 I hope it all pans out and the company is willing to work with you and not put up a fight. All that does is cause the customer more stress and puts a bad taste in their mouth.

        2 |
    • Orange

      I too work at one of those places and delays can happen from the extreme volume that is being processed/ the damages created by the extreme volume (specifically when places like Walmart package 40+ lbs of shite in a 10 lb box,literally), or if say Target sends someone a bottle of Tide that wasn’t properly closed or placed in a plastic bag (just in case of this occurring)and it leaks all over all of the packages that were around it during shipping, causing all the other packages to be repacked if they are even salvageable. Sometimes packages are picked up by the wrong carrier (not sure how this even happens) and are simply stored on shelves or in a specific “package purgatory ” until mgmt decides to send them to the appropriate carrier. Even priority mail or next day deliveries.  I know that everyone thinks that their package is special but you have to remember that thousands of packages are being processed per shift.

      In the interim, actual people are being overwhelmed/overworked beginning with warehouse employees. Just a little FYI for you all.

      3 |
    • Rory Oncale

      Amazing how Amazon can outdo the other companies. I hear no excuses from Amazon.

      1 |
      • John RameyStaff Rory Oncale

        Amazon is having plenty of their own shipping/logistics issues too.

        3 |
      • Not sure where you are but the Amazon drivers are complained about just as much. They also complain online about the working conditions and being overwhelmed. Google “Amazon driver deserted loaded vehicle at service station.”

        1 |
    • Glacier 2006

      I had ordered some cleaning stuff thru amazon and the package arrived OPEN. Didn’t make a fuss, just took pictures, sent them to the company and my items were replaced ( there were a few missing items).

      It’s not the driver’s fault, it’s the loaders. They dont give two shits about your package or mine. They are all over worked, and most are young kids, who would rather be elsewhere, I’m sure.

      Like a previous person said, if you’re worried about your pa kage being lost or damaged, pick it up at a local facility.  Or, just maybe, stop ordering NON ESSENTIAL ITEMS. Most stores are open again.. everyone is so worried about coming in contact with this virus and worried about their families.  What about the people delivering your phones, TVs, vacuums etc. They have families too. If people showed concern for the carriers,  maybe there wouldn’t be such a “back up” and such long delays.

      I know speaking for myself, the only time I order anything is if I can not get it in store and I absolutely need it.. not want it.20200715_17585320200715_175941

      5 |
    • Debbie Tye

      What about medications? I had a perscription from the 15th. Should have been delivered in 2 days. I still havn’t gotten it. Medication cannot be processed early, and in my case, I need this immediately for depression/anxiety. I have not taken it in all this time which can be dangerous for me.

      1 |
      • Pinkylose Debbie Tye

        As I stated before if you have issues like that. You should always have your MD. Send a 10day supply on hand to a local pharmacy. Because a late of mail is being delayed. These people are trying their best to get things out as fast as they could. They are over worked.

        If you can get meds from your local pharmacy till the mail order script come through. Then do that because insurance are doing overrides for this reason. I would know. You just have to call and ask them. As long as the pharmacy have the rejection. The insurance would go ahead and override the rejection.
        it doesn’t take for you all to call and give the person on the attitude. Because we have feelings and lives like you all. And it’s not nice that people call being mean to people that’s truly trying to help.

        2 |
      • Debbie Tye Debbie Tye

        I never get nasty to them. The pharmacy said they are frustrated too because their mail isnt being picked up. I did run into my mail girl and asked her about it and she told me that the USPS only send her out once a week.

        1 |
      • Pinkylose Debbie Tye

        Thanks for your understanding.
        it really sucks. And this COVID-19 is very depressing.

         

        2 |
      • Debbie Tye Debbie Tye

        Until I talked to her I honestly didnt know how bad it was for them. Although I do always see her sitting in her truck on her phone and not delivering anything 😡

        1 |
    • Josh CentersContributor

      I received a package from Sam’s that was sliced open.

      495F778E-0C55-4873-ACCD-ED67222AEF86

      1 |
      • That is legit not sliced. It is the paper packing tape they use. No matter how careful your driver is 99% of the time it is torn that way no matter what they do. The weight inside the package shifts because it is not the correct size or ability to contain what is inside it. If a smaller box was inside with a couple of those inflatable green bubble packs as soon as contents shift the tape breaks open. It’s more annoying to your driver than it is to you. Like the literal Bain of my existence some days picking up and trying to tape shut whatever fell out. 3 double packs of spaghetti sauce with 10 small packages of tortilla shells in one of the very large boxes. There is no way for it to make it all the way from original shipper to delivered without re taping it or replacing the packaging. Trust me your driver does not care enough to open the box. We pray it stays shut long enough to deliver it the first time driving to your house.

        3 |