Does USPS Make Mistakes? 8 Scenarios Explained 

The United States Postal Service is one of the world’s largest and most effective mail delivery services.

It delivers more than 150 billion pieces of mail each year, including everything from bills and advertising to birthday cards and letters to Santa.

Whether you’re sending a package or a letter, there’s no question that USPS does a great job at delivering your mail in a timely fashion.

However, mistakes do happen. This article will cover the most common questions about USPS mistakes and how to correct them:

Can the USPS Tracking Information Be Wrong?

If you’ve ever tracked a package with USPS, you know that the tracking information they provide can be pretty helpful.

You can track the whereabouts of your package at any time and find out when you expect it to arrive.

Yet there are occasions when the tracking data is inaccurate, and that’s not the only potential hiccup when monitoring your shipment’s progress.

Some examples of inaccurate USPS tracking information for your package are provided below:

  • Tracking Indicates Delivery – but the package has not arrived.
    • This usually happens when a mistake is made in the package’s sorting or delivery or when the package is lost.
  • Tracking Information Delivered to One Location – but delivered to another location instead.
    • This may result from human error or a technical problem with their sorting system or delivery vehicles.

If you’ve been waiting for your package for days, and it hasn’t been updated with any new information, then you might wonder if the USPS tracking information is wrong.

In this case, there are two possible reasons why this happened. Either the courier didn’t scan it correctly, or there are technical issues with the system.

When Does USPS Need A Signature? Check out our article for more information!

Why Is My Package Moving the Wrong Way?

If you’re checking the tracking for your package, you may notice that USPS has made a mistake and sent your package to the wrong city.

In these situations, the USPS will typically fix the error and send it correctly the day after.

There are many reasons why your package is going to the wrong city when tracking online.

These include:

  • A technical issue with USPS’ system or software
  • A human error made by someone who works at USPS

Can USPS Packages Be Delivered Without Being Scanned?

When you send a package through USPS, the package can be delivered without being scanned.

Here are some common scenarios why USPS packages are delivered without being scanned:

Faulty Machine:

The first scenario is if the machine is faulty.

If the scanner isn’t working properly, then it may not be able to read your barcode or other identifying information on your package.

Sometimes, this could lead to your package being delivered without being scanned.

Unreadable Barcode:

Another possibility is that if you have a barcode on your package that isn’t readable by USPS scanners, it may not be scanned.

This can happen if your barcode is damaged or illegible, but it may also occur with barcodes that were printed incorrectly in the first place.

Does USPS Scan & X-Ray Packages? Find out more here!

What Are Other Mistakes Most Common for USPS?

Even though USPS has a reputation for being reliable and efficient, mistakes happen.

However, in most cases, these mistakes are minor and can easily be corrected. Let’s dive into other common scenarios where USPS can make mistakes:

Lost Mail

If you’ve been waiting for a package that never arrives, you’re probably wondering what happened to it.

There are several reasons why your mail may have gone missing:

  • The address was incorrect or incomplete on the package label or envelope.
    • The sender should always double-check their address before sending the package.
  • The package was misrouted due to an error in sorting by an employee at one of the sorting facilities operated by USPS.
    • Contact customer service representatives at 1-800-ASK-USPS so they can investigate further and hopefully locate your missing items if possible!

Misplaced Packages

If you’ve ordered something online only to find out, it was delivered somewhere else, you know how frustrating this can be!

This happens because sometimes packages get mixed up or misdirected during delivery due to human error or poor record-keeping on behalf of the sender or receiver.

If this happens to you, contact your local post office immediately and ask them what they can do to help resolve the issue as soon as possible. You can also file a claim with USPS.

In addition, you can file a claim with the sender if they are responsible for the mistake.

For example, if they sent your package to the wrong address by accident or gave USPS incorrect information when shipping it out. 

USPS Delayed Mail Or Packages

When you send a package through USPS, it can be delayed for several reasons.

Some of these reasons are out of the control of USPS, but others are directly related to mistakes made by the postal service.

There are several potential causes for your package’s delay, the most common of which is the weather. If there is snow or rain in your area and the roads are too icy for trucks to drive safely, they will not deliver packages until the weather improves.

Additionally, suppose this occurs during an ice storm or blizzard. Your package may remain at a sorting facility for several days or weeks before it is delivered to its final destination.

Furthermore, mail and packages are more likely to be delayed during peak times like the holidays. Sadly, this is to be expected at this time of year, despite being a major source of frustration.

At this time of year, there is a great deal of mail traffic, both incoming and outgoing. Because of this, it is tough for them to keep to their routine.

Damaged Packages

When a package is damaged, something happens during shipping, and the contents have been compromised.

The damage could be minor or severe. Sometimes the item arrives broken or cracked, while others may have small dents or scratches on the surface.

You’ll usually see obvious signs of damage like crushed corners or torn seams on the outside of the box and possibly even some leakage from inside if there was liquid inside at one point.

A damaged package means some damage during shipping, ranging from minor damage, such as minor tears or dents, to significant damage, such as broken or missing pieces.

Damaged packages are usually the result of improper packaging materials being used for shipping purposes or other damage occurring during transit due to mishandling by the carrier itself or another party involved in the shipping process.

You can file a claim with USPS if your package was damaged in transit, or you can contact the seller directly.

Inaccurate Tracking Information

There are a few reasons your package might show inaccurate tracking information.

The most common reason is that the package was scanned in at the wrong airport or there was a delay in scanning the package and updating its status. This can happen when a package is sent through multiple sorting hubs before reaching its destination.

Additionally, if no updates have occurred after 24 hours, there are other possible causes for inaccurate tracking information:

  • The package may be having trouble with customs or other government agencies at its destination.
  • It’s possible that the package was damaged during shipping, rendering automated systems unable to read the contents.

Does USPS Reuse & Recycle Tracking Numbers? We explain!

Does USPS Take Complaints Seriously?

While the USPS handles millions of packages yearly, it doesn’t always deliver what you expect.

Sometimes, it makes mistakes. If something like this happens, they will take your complaint seriously.

If unsatisfied with your experience with USPS, you can file a complaint online using their system. This will allow the post office to look into the issue and correct any mistakes that have been made.

The USPS has a department called the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), whose job is to look into allegations of wrongdoing by USPS workers or contractors.

The OIG primarily investigates these crimes because they are pervasive in the industry and can be hard to detect when they are only happening at a local level.

As part of their investigation process, the OIG will typically interview witnesses, review evidence, and determine whether any laws have been broken. If they determine that there has been wrongdoing, they may refer the case to law enforcement officials for further investigation.


USPS Office of Inspector General – File an Online Complaint

USPS – Missing Mail and Lost Packages

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