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Monday, November 15, 2021

Wrong Deliveries And How To Return Mail To Sender

Some say snail mail is dead, what with the electronic mail, cards, and digital messages you can send instantaneously. However, there are some things that are still meant to be physically mailed, such as forms, documents, and small items we just bought from an online store.  

When we purchase items or expect to receive something from the mail, we can’t wait to receive it at the earliest time possible. In fact, about 70% of consumers are willing to pay additional costs if immediate deliveries are offered, according to a Metapack survey done to determine how consumers felt about shipping and deliveries in 2018.    

This means senders, retailers and businesses must send out their packages as soon as possible, and without errors, if they want to retain customers and develop their brands. 

Unfortunately, since the shipping and logistics processes involve several stages, some things may not return the favor of the sender’s hard work. For some unknown causes, things can go wrong along the way.

Find out the most common reasons for wrong deliveries and how you can help send the mail to its proper recipient and return mail to the sender.      

Reasons For Inaccurate Deliveries

More often than not, people get annoyed after receiving a mailed advertisement placed inside the mailbox. These often unsolicited mails are part of a marketing ploy that makes one wonder how safe your personal information is when handled by third parties.    

  Opening a package or mail that’s clearly not for you is an offense. Thus, you need to return mail to the sender to avoid being held criminally liable for tampering.    

Below are the most common causes for wrong deliveries. We’ll discuss how to return mail to the sender in the latter section.

  • Documentation Errors

When a package is dropped off at a courier company, the sender has to provide correct and complete information about the recipient. Sometimes, though, mistakes could happen along the way. 

Honest mistakes may prompt the sender or courier service employee to inadvertently enter misspelled, inaccurate, and incomplete information when sending or processing the mail.       

The retailer may be too busy and overwhelmed with tasks, sending out hundreds upon hundreds of packages to multiple recipients. These unavoidable errors are the most common causes for wrong deliveries and why the courier will have to deal with a ‘return mail to sender’ notice down the road.  

  • Packaging And Order Fulfillment Mistakes

Another common cause for wrong deliveries includes errors in packing and fulfillment. Again, senders or retailers are often sending several batches of mail at one time. While they try to best to avoid inaccurate delivery, it’s never guaranteed. 

The wrong and an incorrect number of items are often what causes buyers to return mail to the sender for re-delivery, hopefully with the correct items this time. 

In some cases, the buyer will return the mail when the product is damaged along the way or if the item was defective in the first place.     

  • Wrong Address

It doesn’t matter whose fault it is but either the sender or postal worker who manually types in the receiver’s address to the system can put a wrong address on the mail. In some cases, the courier service uses address verification to validate and address, but it may not be accurate, too.  

Depending on the scale of the error, the chances of a mail being returned to sender because of wrong deliveries are high when the wrong address is written on the label. 

Wrong deliveries are perhaps not as problematic as delayed deliveries. But both scenarios can place the receiver and the sender in stressful situations. This is true, especially if the mail is expected to reach its destination as soon as possible and for emergency reasons.      

  • Technical Glitches

It’s amazing how technological advances have paved the way for seamless deliveries. But just because everything is digital doesn’t mean mail sending and shipping are completely free of errors.

Similar to humans, machines can sometimes malfunction and cause wrong deliveries. For instance, a courier worker may have missed scanning an item, which causes it not to be recorded in the system. 

In some instances, your mail’s status may be inadvertently tagged as ‘delivered’ even if it’s still in a shipping facility somewhere. Yet, in some cases, the receiver may have been given the wrong tracking number. When this happens, a recipient may return to the sender to ask for the correct details.              

How To Return Mail to Sender  

When mail is delivered to you by mistake, your instinct is to put the package back in your mailbox, which is not completely wrong. But there are a few things that you need to remember if you want to learn ‘how to return mail to sender’ properly.  

Scenario #1: Mail Delivered to The Wrong Address

 When you open your mailbox and realize that there’s one mail that shouldn’t be there, the delivery person must have sent it to you by mistake. Here’s how to return mail to sender, in this case:     

  • Put the mail or package back in your mailbox.
  • Notify your mailman about the mishap, for example, by placing a red note. 
  • If it’s a priority mail, call your courier company for proper instructions.
  • If you don’t want to put it back in your mailbox for security reasons, personally hand it to your mail delivery person. 
  • Alternately, you can drop off the package at the nearest post office or courier branch to make the return mail to sender process faster. 
  • Don’t write anything in the mail or tamper with the package in any way, as it can interfere with the return process. 
  • Don’t write ‘return mail to sender,’ either. 

Scenario #2: Receiver Doesn’t Live at Your Address

This often happens to persons who’ve just moved out of an address. If you’re the new occupant of the property in question and received a mail that’s addressed to the previous homeowner, here’s how to initiate the ‘return mail to sender’ process:     

  • Write or tick the ‘not at this address on the envelope or package.
  • It may be tempting to tick ‘return mail to sender,’ but it’s not the case. 
  • Don’t tamper with the barcodes that contain the details if you don’t want the mail to be sent back to your address.   
  • Hand the mail or package back to your carrier 
  • For United States Postal Service (USPS), you may use a mail collection box.

Scenario #3: Receiving A Mail That You Do Not Want

Yes, you can return mail to the sender if you don’t want the mail or package you just received. Here’s how:   

  • Write the word ‘refused’ on the mail or tick the box if available.
  • Don’t open the mail as it will void the ‘return mail to sender’ process. 
  • You can refuse an accountable mail, too. These may be in the form of certified or registered mail, collect on delivery, or priority express mail. 
  • If you realize belatedly that you don’t want the mail or item, place it in new packaging and pay for the postage to successfully return the mail to the sender. 

The Bottom Line 

Despite technological advancements in the courier and shipping sectors, some of the processes that involve human intervention and technical glitches may cause delivery errors.

While courier companies and shippers try to be as precise as possible, many things can happen along the way. 

Hopefully, addressing such errors will no longer be a headache with this guide.



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Kiara Dawson
Kiara Dawson comes from an Engineering background, with a specialization in Information Technology. She has a keen interest and expertise in Web Development, Data Analytics, and Research. She trusts in the process of growth through knowledge and hard work.

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