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Missing package? Package missing its contents?

If you have a package that

  • is missing en-route,
  • has Delivery Confirmation that says it’s delivered but the customer doesn’t have it,
  • you suspect was stolen,
  • has been rifled through or
  • has arrived without its contents

it may be time to contact the post office.  Shipping times may vary for different times of the year as well as different regions throughout the US, but if it’s been three weeks and you didn’t send it “Media Mail”, it’s probably time to look for it.

First, we ask the receiver to look around their porch, back door, garage, etc., and to check with the neighbors to see if the postal employee left it with them. It might seem obvious, but often packages are left where you wouldn’t expect to find them, and sometimes well-intentioned neighbors hold onto a package accidentally for a month. (Feel free to share the odd places you’ve found packages in the comments below!)

If you purchased Delivery Confirmation (DC), insurance or paid for one of the higher end services that includes a tracking number, you should start by calling one of three places:

  • the post office you sent it from,
  • the post office you sent it to or
  • the USPS toll free number 1-800-ASK-USPS

They will call each other about the missing package to see if it’s in either of the post offices. They can track the package using the DC number, even if you’ve already checked on-line, they are privy to more details that might help.

We had a package that was missing, and when I called the destination post office and the toll free hotline number they both saw that the package had arrived at the destination post office though I couldn’t see that online using the DC number. The destination post office said that they didn’t know what happened to it after that. The toll free number folks said all they do is call the destination post office, and, well, I already knew what they had to say…

When I asked the hotline person what happens next, they said nothing, that’s the end of the line. They told me that unless I bought insurance there is nothing else that can be done, but I found out that’s not true.

I asked the hotline person if the info was gathered someplace, so if lots of packages go missing they get an idea of what location/route was having issues. They said no, that’s it.

I just couldn’t believe that this information was unimportant, so after a good deal of research that I found the US Postal Inspector’s website. I don’t know why it was so hard to come across this information, nor why the USPS Help Hotline wouldn’t have directed me there when there was nothing else they could do, but it was and they didn’t.

Happily our package turned up–I think had I not been persistant with keeping the post office looking for it I would have had to re-send the shipment and take a business loss.

Even if you didn’t purchase insurance or delivery confirmation, you can report your missing package/missing contents to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by filling out this form:

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/MLNtRcvd.aspx

If you prefer to mail it to them, you can print out the mail theft report–it’s a PDF file:

http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/radDocs/Mail_Theft_Complaints.pdf

You may not get your money or goods back, but you can help the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and thereby everyone who uses the US Postal Service, by reporting any of the issues at the top of this post. If they aren’t made aware of problems, they won’t have a chance to fix them.

You can contact them by phone also by calling 1-877-876-2455 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in all time zones:

https://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/tollfreeno.htm

or check out their entire website for more info:

http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/


For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics

12 Comments | Add your own

  • . Lisa B | February 12, 2008 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    great information!!! thanks for sharing this!!

  • . Stacy | November 21, 2008 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, I’ll have to wait until Monday since the p.o that the package was sent from is closed on Saturdays. Great Post! Thank you

  • . admin | November 21, 2008 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Don’t wait just because the PO you sent from is closed Sat–try the destination PO!

  • . Walker | December 27, 2008 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I have found it useful to let the postman know you are waiting for a package and arrange a safe place for delivering it, just in case you’re not home! I had to do this after he was leaving my packages under the rug at my door – mind you, they were 15x15x5 boxes, not little at all!

  • . admin | December 27, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    LOL Walker–at least he was trying!

  • . The Beer Soap Compan | January 11, 2009 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I hope the packaged arrived safely. We had some problems with shipping this past holiday season too. Thankfully all arrived, even though some took over 3 weeks right here in the states.

  • . Kitty Baby Love | May 4, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Sweet! Thanks so much for the post :)

  • . Megan | May 4, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    As a USPS rural carrier associate AND and online seller, I commend you for posting accurate information on your site rather than complaints and all the rest. This information truly is helpful to those willing to go the extra distance!

    Thanks you for your effort and I really appreciate the unbiased accuracy without mudslinging. It’s refreshing :). Glad to hear your package turned up!

  • . GoTo | May 4, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Glad to help everyone! I really had no idea what to do when I started, but it was a big custom order and prospect of re-doing all that work for nothing really motivated me. :)

    Megan–Thank you for your kind words! The postal service over all is an amazing machine–I’m often impressed with the speed our packages travel for relatively low prices. Other countries postal services often charge so much more for so much less.

  • . Joy | May 4, 2009 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Not a package persay, but a letter. I don’t know where it got off to, but it was mailed right here in my city. It was post marked Dec 1996. It came in my mailbox summer of 2001!

  • . Walker | October 8, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Never thought I would have to come back to look for this info, I have my first lost package!!!

    P.S. The mailman has resorted to hiding packages in my alcove (porch), behind a column. A little more resourceful than under the doormat :)

  • . Kirstiekrafts | June 12, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    You’d be amazed at where delivery personel feel its appropriate to put packages. I grew up in the countryside and the number of times I had to go on a treasure hunt to find stuff that had been stashed is unbelievable. Here are my favourite 3.

    The coal bunker
    —————-
    My mother got a sewing machine delivered to the house for my 21st. It never showed up, there was no note left to say where it was and we started emailing about it not having shown up. About a month later, my mother goes out to get coal for the first fire of the year and finds a soggy, coal dust covered box in the bunker…voila, one sewing machine

    The Rabbit Run
    —————
    Similar story as above but with a yoghurt maker, was discovered the next day when I went to clean him out.

    And my all time favourite

    The Wheelie Bin
    —————
    Yeah, the wheelie bin. There was a post-it stuck to the door saying crypitcally ‘its in the bin’. Thank goodness it had just been emptied

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