USPS & Damaged Packages: 10 Common Questions (Answered)

The United States Postal Service is an excellent way to send packages, but sometimes things can go wrong.

Here are 10 common questions answered about USPS damaged packages:

What Happens When USPS Delivers a Damaged Package?

The post office is generally efficient at delivering parcels to their intended destinations, but occasionally things fall through the cracks.

When you get a damaged package from USPS, there are a few steps to take.

Take Photos of the Damage: 

It’s important to take photos as soon as possible after receiving your package to show any damage that occurred in transit.

This will help USPS see if they were responsible for causing any damage or if it’s something else entirely.

Document the Contents of your Package: 

If there was anything valuable or fragile in your box, document what was inside before opening it up.

How Often are USPS Packages Damaged?

Surveys indicate that 10% of packages in the USPS processes are damaged.

That might seem like a lot, but it’s important to remember that the post office handles over 6 billion packages annually.

While USPS is committed to delivering your package in the condition it was mailed, sometimes things happen.

Why do so Many Packages Get Damaged?

The USPS office is a busy place. Between the packages and letters, magazines, and other mail that goes through USPS every day, it’s no wonder that some of them get damaged in transit.

Here are the top reasons why packages get damaged:

  1. Drop or crushed packages during transit are at risk of getting damaged.
    • Damage happens when an employee mishandles a package or when it isn’t packed correctly in the first place.
  2. Packages can get damaged while being sorted at distribution centers because they’re often stacked against each other without cushioning material.
  3. Packages get damaged because of weather conditions.
    • If a package gets soaked by rain or snow, it can be ruined by water damage.
  4. If you don’t package the box properly, things can get pushed out of place while it’s in transit.
  5. If you don’t use enough packing material inside the box, it could shift during transit and get damaged.
  6. Packages could shift during transit and get damaged if you don’t use enough tape to hold the box together.

Does It Matter Whether the Package Is Insured?

If you’ve ever had to deal with the post office after a package arrived damaged, you know how frustrating it can be.

Unless you have a photo of the package before you sealed it, proving that USPS caused the damage will be challenging.

If there isn’t enough evidence, they may not pay any compensation.

If you paid for insurance for your package, which turns out was damaged during transit, you may get some of your money back.

Are USPS Packages Insured Automatically? (How It Works)

How Do I Report a Damaged USPS Package?

There are several actions you need to take if USPS delivers a damaged package to you.

In addition, the claim process is simple, but it’s important to follow the steps in order.

Determine Filing Timeline

The deadline for submitting is different for each postal service.

Whether or not your package was damaged in transit will determine the filing deadline, depending on the shipping date on your receipt.

Nevertheless, you must submit claims for missing or damaged items no later than 60 days from when the package was mailed.

Get Your Paperwork Together

If you submit your claim to USPS along with the necessary paperwork, you can expect a faster turnaround time for approval.

You should maintain the following paperwork for your claim until it is closed.

Tracking or Label Number

You can locate the label or tracking number on the corresponding label, online label record, shipping receipt, or sales receipt.

A label or tracking number will include between 13 and 34 characters.

Provide Insurance Documentation

You can find your proof of insurance in any of the following:

  • The receipt sent was originally issued at the time of mailing.
  • Outer package with sender and recipient names and addresses, including an insurance label
  • Copy of the printed, electronic online label or a hard copy of the application used to create the label and pay for insurance.

What Happens If A Prepaid Shipping Label Isn’t Enough?

Proof of Value

A mailed item’s proof of value is its purchase price or market value at the mailing time.

Any of the following can serve as evidence of worth:

  • Sales receipt
  • Bill of sale or invoice
  • Credit card billing statement
  • Proof of purchase from a reputable dealer, including a valuation or repair estimate
  • Transaction receipts that detail the buyer and seller, the purchase amount and date, the goods acquired, and the status of the transaction
  • Reimbursement of expenses paid as a result of recreating binding legal documents

Evidence of Damage

Evidence in the form of photographs demonstrating the damage’s full scope will strengthen your position.

The cost of repairs, if any, must be estimated by a reputable dealer and included with your damage claim.

Until your claim is resolved, hold on to the box and its contents.

You should take pictures of any broken goods before you toss them away. Additionally, packages that were not broken should not be resent. Instead, compile them with the damaged items and keep them safe.

If the package requires further inspection, you may be required to bring it in its whole to a nearby Post Office location.

Make a Claim Submission

The online claim submission process is the quickest and most convenient option.

If you cannot file your claim on USPS, you can do so via regular mail. Just in case, you should hang on to your supporting paperwork even after filing.

For online filing, use an existing USPS account or register for one for free. In this way, your account and claim case is linked.

If you cannot complete your claim in one sitting, you will be offered the option to save it and finish it later.

In addition, if you cannot submit your claim electronically, USPS can mail a Domestic Claim Form to you.

You can obtain a Domestic Claim Form by contacting USPS National Materials Customer Service via telephone.

How Long Does It Take USPS to Investigate a Damaged Package?

While the Postal Service will work rapidly to resolve your claim, you may not receive a response for a few weeks.

Once they have all the information they need, they’ll work on getting your claim approved and send you an email letting you know what happens next.

Depending on how busy things are at the post office where your package was delivered, it could take anywhere from a week to two months for USPS to get back to you about your claim.

Does USPS Refund Shipping for Damaged Packages?

If you have a damaged package, USPS does refund shipping charges for the damaged package.

However, there are some limitations to the damage coverage and what types of packages qualify for reimbursement.

After you file a claim, USPS Accounting Services will review your case. They can be partially or fully approved, and your refund will be based on this decision. Suppose the cost of your order is greater than its true market value.

In that case, USPS will not reimburse you for any additional costs incurred.

What Does USPS Do With Damaged Packages?

If a package is damaged, USPS will inspect the package and place a tracking sticker that says “damaged in transit.”

You should contact them immediately if you get a package clearly damaged by USPS.

In some cases, USPS will contact the sender to let them know there’s been damage to their parcel. The sender then can have their item picked up or sent back to them.

Does USPS Ever Keep Damaged Packages or Items?

USPS does not keep damaged packages or items. They are required by law to deliver them promptly.

Even if the package is damaged, they will still attempt to deliver it or return it to the original sender.

In most cases, items will be delivered in the condition they were received.

However, if an item arrives damaged, you’ll want to contact your local post office for more information about how it happened during transit and what options are available.

Can USPS Packages Get Damaged During Routine Inspections?

When you ship with USPS, your package is subject to routine inspections.

These inspections can include X-rays and visual examinations. If a postal worker sees something suspicious in the X-ray or during their visual inspection, they’ll open your package.

However, USPS employees are trained to be gentle and careful when handling packages.

If there are any issues with your package, the carrier will leave a notice of damage on the door or in your mailbox.


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