Parcel like a boomerang. Why can an undelivered parcel come back to the sender?

When a parcel comes back to you, apart from your losses due to non-delivery of its content to the recipient (e.g. goods to the customer), you have to face paying the courier for the costs of parcel’s return trip. In other words, you pay twice and get nothing. What is the most common reason for a package coming back to you? As you can easily guess, the wrong address of the recipient tops the list of reasons.

Diligence in addressing your shipments protects you from the lion’s share of unpleasant surprises. You should also avoid risky forms of payment – especially cash on delivery.

Where do the problems with addresses come from?

Errors in addresses are a consequence of rushing, lack of attention, or entering incorrect data into your system. However, even a very careful method of completing consignment notes will not always protect you from parcels coming back. Sometimes it is the recipient to blame for submitting the wrong address which has been entered into the system. This is particularly common for shipments with a delivery date a long time in the future, when  meanwhile the recipient’s place of residence might have changed temporarily or permanently.

However, in many cases, only one wrong digit in the post code causes failed delivery.

Recipient unavailable or refusing to receive

Although it is not very common, it can happen sometimes that a customer refuses a delivery. The recipient does not even have to give a reason – they refuse and that’s it. This does not occur with pre-paid parcels – it happens much more often with cash-on-delivery shipments. That is why many sellers do not offer this payment option at all or make it possible only with a significant charge so as to discourage the customer from choosing this option.

Another reason for delivery failure is the recipient’s absence or unavailability. Despite all the efforts of courier companies, such as SMS notifications, emails or even a phone call from a courier, it is not always possible to deliver a parcel to the indicated address. The recipient may not be there or – and it’s not that rare – does not appear to be at home but with closed gates or unfriendly dogs running around the property.

Depending on the company, the courier makes at least one, and usually two or three attempts to deliver. Then the parcel goes to the parcel shop or depot. It may also be left in a parcel locker or at the company’s branch. All this in order to avoid sending the parcel back to the sender as it is an undesirable option for both the courier and the sender.

Wrong sizes, prohibited content

It is not worth taking the risk of guessing the parcel’s dimensions and weight. The parcel may come back to you from the automatic sorting centre before it is sent further. And even if it is accepted to be sent further, you will have to pay extra for the underestimated centimetres and kilograms.

Couriers do not open parcels. The exception to this is when there are reasonable suspicions that the contents of the package may be prohibited goods. In this situation, sending back such a parcel may be combined with an unscheduled visit by the police.

You should also remember that poor packaging can also result in a parcel being sent back. It may happen if the courier decides that your shipment may damage other parcels.

It is also worth reading thoroughly the carrier’s terms and conditions of service or asking their consultant a few questions. As in all other situations, there is no excuse for ignorance of the law or the terms and conditions while using courier services. Knowing what you can (or cannot) count on may spare you a lot of frustration and trouble.