Nothing sends customers into a tizzy faster than a missing package.  Once it leaves your hands, there’s only so much you can do to find one of these waylaid packages.  Tracking SHOULD tell you where it is, but if it wasn’t scanned in at a step, it can appear to vanish in transit.  Or sometimes it even shows as delivered, but your customer still doesn’t have it.  International shipments can be particularly difficult because tracking doesn’t really work very well once it crosses the border… if at all.  At that point, the customer can often the package a lot faster than you can playing phone tag.  They just need a little reassurance that it’s not gone, its just temporarily mislaid, and here’s how to get it.

Here’s some common ways to resolve common “where’s my package!?!” woes.

Package is late but not yet showing as delivered

The customer thinks it should be there but it does not show as delivered yet.  Urge patience, but give a general time frame of HOW long to wait before contacting you again about the late package.  If the package travelled over a holiday, make sure to remind the customer this may cause a delay.  In most cases, they either won’t contact you at all, OR will send you a note saying it did arrive a day or so later.

Sample message:  “I’m sorry your package hasn’t arrived yet.  It went out on Thursday, but it may running late because of the holiday on Monday.  Give it another three days to arrive.  If it hasn’t arrived by then, drop me a note back and I will look into it.”


Package is showing at the customer’s local post office, but not as delivered

This usually means the package is either ready to be delivered the next day, or is too big to fit in their mailbox.  If it’s too big, they should have been left a note saying they need to pick it up.  Like the late package, this almost always resolves the issue.

Sample message:  “Your package should either be delivered tomorrow or you should have gotten a note telling you to pick it up at the post office.  It’s easy to accidentally throw out one of the package notes as junk mail, so if it’s not delivered tomorrow, go to the post office and ask if they’re holding a package for you. If they don’t have it, drop me a note back and I will look into it.”


Package is showing as delivered, but the customer does not have it

For whatever reason, the package has been delivered to the wrong address OR has been put somewhere odd.  If there was a unit, suite, or box number, this often means it may have been delivered to the BUILDING but the wrong unit has it.

Sample message:  “Your package shows up as delivered according to tracking.  Here’s the tracking number.  If it wouldn’t fit in the box, the postman may have put it somewhere odd.  Check your porch or garage.  Also check your neighbors to either side and see if it was left with them.  If it doesn’t turn up, drop me a note back and I will look into it.”

Sample message for addresses with unit numbers:  “Your package shows up as delivered according to tracking.  Here’s the tracking number.  If it wouldn’t fit in the box, the postman may have delivered it to a central mail room or the supers office.  It’s also possible one of your neighbors may have it.  Check with the your neighbors to either side, they may have it. If it doesn’t turn up, drop me a note back and I will look into it”

An international package is missing, and you can’t track it

Patience!  Many customers underestimate how long packages will take to arrive.  It can be a little hard to estimate how long international packages will take, but check the rubric I use.  Use that to come up with an estimate of how long to wait.  If it’s beyond that time, tell them to check directly with the post office.  I find that usually solves 99% of lost international packages.

Sample message:  “Packages between here [your location] and there [their location] usually take around X-Y days to arrive.  Try going to your post office and asking directly if they have a package for you. They should have left you a package notice if they’re holding it for you or they’re holding it for customs reasons.  Sometimes those get misplaced or you may have accidentally discarded the notice as junk mail.  Check in at the post office and they should just be holding it for you.”


None of this worked

Usually by the time you’ve gone around this many times, late packages have arrived and ones that were being held have been picked up.  A package totally falling off the face of the earth is actually fairly rare.  I usually have only one per year, out of more than a thousand items shipped.  If it truely does seem to be missing, you want to try calling both YOUR post office and the one that should have received the item.  This will often shake any remaining packages loose.

Sample message: “I’m sorry none of that worked.  I’m going to call my post office and see if they can get more information.  Can you please give me the phone number for your local post office? I want to make sure I have the right branch. I’ll call them both and get back to you within X days.  If it turns up in the meantime, please drop me a note.”


If this doesn’t turn it up, either start arrangements to replace the item or refund them.

Sometimes it WILL turn up even after you’ve refunded or replaced it… and the customer will send you a note to pay you anyway!  Not everyone will, but if they were happy with your attempts to locate the package, this is more likely.




2 thoughts on “WHERE’S MY PACKAGE!?!”

  1. Hi Nora – The only problem I had reading this article was the first sentence. “Nothing sends customers into a tizzy faster than a missing package.” where it should say, “Nothing sends ‘booksellers’ into a tizzy faster than a missing package.”

    That was true or me at least. I hate getting those messages. BUT!!! Having a plan will take off most, if not all, of the stress involved. True re: actual missing packages. Not once have I had a package truly go missing. Had two take a month and a half to be returned due to bad addresses in England and Germany.

    Thanks for this posting. Never dawned on me that a simple game plan such as this will end or at least lessen the distress.

    • Oh the missing package can certainly get the bookseller pulling his hair too! The first few are always the worst because you think of all the horrible things that could have happened to it. was it abducted by aliens, was is savaged by wolverines, dropped in a puddle? OH WOE.

      after you’ve had them take their sweet time arriving, it gets easier. But usually its still the customers first time, so they’re usually more frantic about it.

      I’ve had very few packages NEVER show up anywhere. They may take months to return home, but they usually turn up eventually.

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