Delivery Exceptions | 6 Common Causes & How To Avoid Them

Most people tend to monitor their tracking information closely when they are waiting for a package to arrive. The last thing that you want to see is a late shipment. You watch and wait for every status update as the package travels through the carrier’s infrastructure. What happens when you log in and find that your package has a delivery exception? You might be wondering what causes that and how long your package is going to be delayed? Keep reading, and we will give you six common causes for delivery exceptions, as well as some tips on how to avoid them in the future.


What Is A Delivery Exception?

A delivery exception is anything that delays your package while it is in transit. These delays could occur at any point along the route. There could be delays in transit as your package moves from one sorting facility to the next. There could also be delays on the final delivery attempt once your package is out on the truck for delivery.

Most of the time, a delivery exception will delay your delivery date by at least one day. However, these exceptions do not always delay your package. If the exception occurs early in the shipping process, then the carrier might be able to route the package so that it still makes it to its destination on time. Different carriers have different status messages that might appear when you search for your tracking number. Though the specific messages may differ, a delivery exception still means that your package has experienced a delay of some kind.


Common Causes Of Delivery Exceptions

So, what causes a delivery exception? There are many different things that might cause a package to be delayed. Here we will discuss some of the most common reasons, although your package could encounter delays for a variety of reasons that are not on this list.


#1. Inclement Weather Conditions

Severe weather can cause delays with your deliveries, especially in certain parts of the country and during certain times of the year. It is not uncommon for a blizzard to slow shipments in the Northeast during the winter or tornadoes to delay a shipment in the Midwest. This could happen as your package is moving from one facility to the next or once it’s on the truck for final delivery. Either way, weather conditions usually improve quickly, and your package should start moving again within a day or two.


#2. Customs Delays

This is the most common cause of delays in international shipping. When a package travels through customs, the agents there require proper documentation to be in place before the package can be cleared. This includes the commercial invoice, bill of lading, and packing slip. Customs agents might even require other documentation if they deem it necessary. Missing or incomplete documents will lead to a delay in your package getting through customs which will show up as a delivery exception on the carrier’s tracking page.


#3. Acts Of God

These instances are completely out of the carrier’s control. This usually includes natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, or other disasters that make the shipping routes completely impassable. Disasters like these can sometimes take longer to overcome than a simple severe weather event. In some cases, the carrier may have to attempt to reroute shipments on certain delivery routes to avoid the areas affected by the disaster.


#4. Missing Or Damaged Address Label

If a package has no shipping label, then it will be impossible for the carrier to deliver it. Labels can become damaged as the package moves through the equipment in the sorting facilities. When this happens, the carrier might not be able to read the complete delivery address on the label. If the label is completely destroyed, the carrier may need to attempt to locate other markings on the package like the tracking number or barcode that they can use to contact the shipper or recipient to determine the proper recipient’s address.


#5. Federal Holidays

With very few exceptions, none of the major shipping carriers operate on national holidays. This means that your package will not be delivered if the expected delivery date falls on one of those holidays. You will likely see your delivery status updated with a delivery exception to account for the delay caused by the holiday.


#6. Damaged Package

We’ve already discussed what happens when a shipping label gets damaged, but sometimes the whole package might be damaged. Carriers do everything possible to protect your package during shipment, but sometimes accidents happen. If the package is damaged more than just a little dent or ding, then a delivery exception will probably pop up. In some cases, they might need to return the item to the shipper and obtain a new package. This can have a big impact on the delivery time.


Delivery Exceptions With Various Carriers

When a shipment exception occurs, different carriers have different ways of relaying that information. The tracking status message that you see on the exception notice will likely be different based on which carrier is transporting your package. Here is what you can expect to see for each of the various carriers.


— USPS Delivery Exception

If USPS is delivering your package, then you might see the specific words “delivery exception” on the tracking update if your package is delayed. One of the most common reasons for a delay with USPS is an incomplete or incorrect address. USPS even allows you to sign up for text updates to receive updates and notifications regarding delivery exceptions on your package.


— UPS Delivery Exception

UPS specifically addresses delivery exceptions on their website. They state that a UPS delivery exception occurs when there is an unexpected or unforeseen event that may affect the delivery date of the shipment. They also mention that this often happens when damage to a package has occurred or an incomplete shipping address.


— FedEx Delivery Exception

FedEx often encounters delivery exceptions just like other carriers. FedEx states that a FedEx delivery exception occurs when a package experiences an unexpected delay while in transit. You might see a code on your tracking status that says “PMX.” This means that the exception has occurred late in the day, and the package will be returned to the shipping station for the night. Delivery is almost always reattempted the next day.


— DHL Delivery Exception

When a delivery exception occurs with DHL, you might see a message that says, “DHL Shipment On Hold.” This means that the package has temporarily stopped moving in transit. Most DHL exceptions are cleared within a week, and the package continues moving along its way. Since DHL is known for being an international carrier, customs delays are a common reason for an exception when shipping with DHL.


How To Avoid Delivery Exceptions

With eCommerce businesses continuing to grow, more and more items are being shipped to online shoppers. So, what can these businesses do to avoid shipment delays when sending packages to their customers? You can also use these same tips to avoid a delay when sending a package on your own.

Some shipment delays can be avoided, while others are completely out of your control. For example, there is nothing that you can do to avoid a delay due to a blizzard or flood. However, things like an incorrect address or incomplete customs documentation could be avoided.

When shipping packages, make sure that the address label is complete and securely attached. If the label is handwritten, make sure that the recipient’s name and address are written neatly and are visible. Unreadable address labels are more common than you might think, and they will definitely cause a delivery exception. Also, make sure that the label is securely attached so that it does not get torn off during transit. You might even decide to put an extra piece of tape across the label before package pickup occurs.

If shipping items internationally, make sure that all your customs paperwork is in order. Incomplete or missing documentation is the biggest reason for a customs delay. These delays can be avoided by ensuring that everything needed by the customs agent is completed and included with the shipment. By following these easy and simple tips, you can make sure that the delivery process goes smoothly and avoid unnecessary delays.


What To Do When A Delivery Exception Occurs

Many people wonder how to handle delivery exceptions. When you see one of these status exceptions pop up, what should you do? First, you should use the delivery management tools provided by your carrier to determine the cause of the delay. If you cannot determine the cause, you should contact your carrier’s customer service department to get additional information.

If the delay is caused by something out of your control, like a natural disaster or inclement weather, then there is nothing that you need to do. As soon as it is safe to continue with transit, the exception will be cleared, and the package will start moving again. However, if your carrier is missing information or documentation, then you will need to provide that to them as soon as possible. The longer you delay in providing the necessary information, the longer your package will sit with an exception. Once you provide the information they need, the exception can be cleared, and your package can get back on its way.


The Bottom Line

Delivery exceptions occur when an unforeseen event affects a package that is currently in transit. It might make the package undeliverable for some period of time and cause a delay in the final delivery date. Most of the time, there is nothing that you need to do to clear these exceptions, and your carrier will handle it and get the package moving again. However, there might be times when you need to provide them with additional documentation or information so that they can appropriately deliver the item to the correct address.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is a FedEx delivery exception with no attempt made?

This means that a delivery attempt was not made by the FedEx driver. This could be due to many different reasons. It could be anything like heavy snowfall, a tornado, a hurricane, or even a dangerous animal at the delivery location. In most cases, the package will be sent out the following business day for a delivery attempt.


What does the delivery exception “customer not available” mean?

This often occurs when the recipient needs to sign for the package. If the carrier is unable to locate the customer, then they cannot leave the package. This usually means that the recipient was not at home at the time of the delivery attempt. Since the carrier cannot simply leave the package at the address in this case, then a delivery exception will occur because the package was not successfully delivered. A re-delivery attempt will usually occur the following day.


What do I do if my package has a delivery exception?

Most of the time, you will not need to do anything if your package has a delivery exception. Your carrier will work on clearing the exception, and you should start to see your package moving along shortly. Most exceptions will clear within a week, so you should see your package moving along shortly. However, in some situations, you might need to provide your carrier with some additional information so that they can get your package moving along again.


What does delivery exception unable to deliver to addressee mean?

Unable to deliver to the addressee means that your carrier was unable to deliver the package to its final destination. This could be for a variety of reasons, from severe weather to dangerous animals at the destination address. You will usually see that the carrier will reattempt delivery the following day in these cases.

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