Uh oh! My address doesn’t exist. Can you tell UPS?

Cathryn Daniels moves, but when UPS doesn’t know how to find her, she loses a package. Can the company help her recover her lost item?

Question: We recently moved to a new house, my sister-in-law ordered something for my husband online, but because it was a brand new address, she accidentally entered it incorrectly (one number off from our actual address).

The address she entered does not exist. When we realized the mistake and tracked the package, UPS said it had been “delivered” on the doorstep. When we noted to them that this doorstep didn’t exist, they admitted that protocol is to return the package to the shipping warehouse, but they couldn’t do anything for us if it was accidentally delivered elsewhere or stolen by the driver.

They would not give us information regarding the driver that day. It’s also suspicious, because the day it was marked as delivered, our street was closed for repaving. Then UPS closed our inquiry.

We would like to be reimbursed for the missing package and also request that a mark be put on the driver’s employment record. We asked our neighbors and they have not received the package, so we think he stole it. — Cathryn Daniels, Las Vegas

Answer: I would not be so quick to blame your UPS driver for this. Remember, your problem started when your sister-in-law entered the wrong address, which is an easy mistake to make.

UPS should have been able to track the package, of course, but it looks as if there’s plenty of blame to go around on this one.

Related story:   What to do when US Global Mail fails to deliver

I can see that you tried to establish a paper trail of correspondence between you and UPS. Unfortunately, UPS wanted to talk to you by phone. In its latest email to you, a representative says, “I am deeply sorry to inform you that we do not support these claims over email.”

I find that troubling. In a situation like this, you definitely want to have a record of your correspondence with UPS. Ironically, UPS keeps meticulous records of its packages, so to say that it doesn’t “support” your kind of claim by email is a little weird.

When a package goes missing, make sure you go through the recovery steps outlined on the UPS site. If that doesn’t work, try appealing your case to one of the UPS customer service executives I list on my advocacy site.

I contacted UPS on your behalf. It turns out you have an honest UPS driver, after all. When they tried to deliver your package, the street was closed for paving. A neighbor was waiting at the end of the street to sign for the package and he agreed to take your package to the house. But after the driver left he realized the address did not match, so he took it to another neighbor who had the closest matching address. UPS did a little sleuthing, found the package and delivered it.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • deemery

    Well, good for UPS for ultimately delivering the package. But UPS should be a lot more forthcoming about where it delivers a package, not just when the address is correct but more importantly when the package is not delivered exactly as addressed.

  • Rebecca

    I had a customer accuse me of stealing once. She literally stood in front of the store and screamed that I was a thief. It turned out the $5 – yes, you read that right, it was over $5 – was in one of her bags of groceries. She refused to look, because she insisted I stole it. She didn’t apologize when the bill was in the bag right next to her purse.

    My point being, the fastest way to get a customer service person to ignore you is to loudly accuse one of their (honest) coworkers of stealing. Someone can lose their job, let alone their reputation. I really hope the OP learned her lesson. Terrible behavior. I’ve been on the other side of this and have absolutely zero sympathy. The error wasn’t made by the driver, as was pointed out here. And the poor guy got accused of being a thief. The real wronged party here isn’t the OP, it’s the driver.

  • Jeff W.

    Technically, the headline should read “Uh oh! My address doesn’t exist. Can you tell my sister?”

    I also take issue with the request for a “mark” to be placed on the driver’s record. First off, that assumes guilt on the driver’s part, when in the end it was nothing on the sort. Second, any disciplinary actions are between an employee and employer (and in the case of the driver, the union as UPS is a union shop.) Leave the employee discipline to the company.

    Can’t tell the time frame involved, but it looks like the neighbor was not very neighborly and held onto the package longer that one would expect. I would make sure to not rely on that helpful neighbor for any additional favors.

    Not knowing the type of neighborhood she lives in, I know on my street, the USPS and UPS drivers will leave packages on the porch or by the garage and neighbors often claim mail/packages on behalf of neighbors. But I know in some areas, that would never happen. So let us not blame the UPS driver if he let a neighbor claim a package if that is the custom where you live.

    It really seems like you have a bad neighbor. And while UPS could have made the process easier, they did follow through and retrieved your package.

  • Rebecca

    Imagine a customer is getting nasty and accusing one of your (honest) coworkers of stealing? How would you react? She’s her own worst enemy. Had she simply explained the problem without accusing the driver of lying and trying to get him fired – she plainly states she wants consequences for the poor guy – I’m sure UPS would have been more helpful. The good part of this story is that the driver was vindicated, not that she got her package, which she admits was addressed to a nonexistant address.

  • Kerr

    I agree. If this whole scenario took more than a week, I would be wary of that neighbor.

  • michael anthony

    I feel for you. The overwhelming number of people serving customers are hard working and truly want to help you. Yet, something like this can get someone fired. You’re a better person than I, I’d have to bite my tongue!

  • Pegtoo

    She better have fresh cookies for this driver ongoing. (and a huge Christmas bonus)

  • The Original Joe S

    If I owned the store, I’d ban her from returning. Under pain of arrest. And follow thru.

  • The Original Joe S

    And a latte, with cinnamon, vanilla, kaluha, ha ha

  • The Original Joe S

    Can’t assume the neighbor is at fault. New to the house, maybe he didn’t see them for various reasons – work, school, etc.

  • The Original Joe S

    I had some ammo disappear from a shipment. My street smarts told me the driver broke into the box and stole it. Cops agreed, but couldn’t prove it. I waited to check the shipment until later in the day. Lesson learned: check it IMMEDIATELY. if the driver took it, it’ll be in the truck before he finishes up.
    Yeah, missing ammo? Police are VERY interested in that.

  • Rebecca

    The funny thing here is that my uncle actually did own the store. And the wonderful manager (the best I ever encountered in over 10 years of customer service type jobs) stood up for me. I was a teenager at the time, and he taught me how to treat my employees when I became a manager. He taught me that when a job is relatively disposable, you set yourself apart by how you treat the people that are usually scraping by. It isn’t common to have employees with double digit tenure in jobs like this, but it was common at that store. And he was the reason. Employees will put in the effort when they feel valued, it makes all the difference.

  • John Keahey

    Was UPS in the midst of sleuthing when Chris contacted them, or did they only start when he started his inquiry?

  • tio2girl

    I would still be upset with a UPS driver that hands the package over to someone who is neither the addressee or at the correct address without explicit permission. Good intentions can still have bad consequences.

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    Good for UPS. Call me unusually trusting but if a package went astray I would certainly not immediately assume the driver had stolen it and demand a bad mark on his record!

  • Mel65

    Our subdivision is new, within the past 4 years and we were one of the first houses. House numbering doesn’t always make sense for some reason. My address is “3057” and 2 houses down is “3075”. We get each others’ mail, package deliveries, and once–almost causing me a heart attack–a court subpoena that I started to shakily sign for until I realized it was for “Tracy” and that the address was incorrect.

  • Mel65

    True, although if they were new to the neighborhood PLUS the address was incorrect, the neighbor may have realized he didn’t know who the package was supposed to go to…

  • Mel65

    In our neighborhood, people will often sign for or accept packages for each other, if the delivery can’t be left on the porch or nearby. I’ve had floral deliveries left with neighbors, too. In one of our OLD neighborhoods many years ago, UPS required a signature for EVERY delivery because stealing things off porches was a thing.

  • tio2girl

    I once had a UPS driver sign for a package that was delivered to me so he could just leave it – an iphone. I was so mad! I stayed home specifically that day because I knew that I would have to sign for the package, only to find that he forged my signature and left it. Didn’t even ring the doorbell! (Mostly, though, I find our UPS delivery guys to be great.)

  • Chris_In_NC

    +100000.Thank you for your post.The unfortunate thing is the driver probably did get reprimanded for this. Many companies are so metric based that a complaint will go against the driver.

  • AAGK

    Why is UPS giving packages to random strangers. If the street is closed, ‘ attempt a second delivery. If the address doesn’t exist, return the package to sender. What is this nonsense about giving the package to whoever happens to pass by. Also, UPS should not mark a package as delivered when left with a neighbor. It should be marked, delivery accepted by (insert neighbor’s initials and address).

  • taxed2themax

    It would be interesting to see how it showed in his DIAD that day.. Normally addresses that don’t match the UPS database can’t have a PAL (Pre Load Assist) label applied to them, thus causing them to reject and require a manual correction – then they can be loaded into the drivers DIAD for that days dispatch. Even upline, some of UPS’ customer package systems (WorldShip for example) also have some basic addressing correction and detection functionality – so in many cases non-existent addresses are flagged and/or require a customer override before acceptance.

  • jsn55

    Wow, it takes gall to want to punish a UPS driver before you have any idea what actually happened. Lovely woman.

  • PsyGuy

    If i received the same run around by the USPS I would have likely come to similar conclusions as the LW. Why all the evasion, if your’e company/business has nothing to hide.

  • PsyGuy

    But people should also be more careful inputing the correct address, and not passing off their responsibility to someone else.

  • PsyGuy

    My understanding is that postal workers are not allowed to receive or accept gratuities.

  • PsyGuy

    The other reality is that when employees are going to commit theft with a customer it’s going to be on a much bigger scale (looking at you Wells Fargo), it’s not worth it to short change a customer a few bucks or take their package.

  • PsyGuy

    It was the post office, government building and all. I don’t think the post master could ban her without getting a TRO.

  • Fishplate

    Like all Federal employees, they can accept gifts under certain conditions, up to a value of $20. See the USPS web site for more information.

  • Fishplate

    Mel has it most likely right. New to the neighborhood, and a wrong address? How are you supposed to find them?

    Note that the OP said “one number off”…that could mean 1455 and 1456, or it could mean 1455 and 2455. The “neighbor” who received the package may actually live several blocks away.

  • Fishplate

    Permission is implicit, for low-value shipments. You generally have to add “Signature Required” to the waybill, or insure it above a certain value, to have it delivered that way.

  • exactlywatt

    It’s UPS, not the postal service. I don’t know if UPS has any company policies about accepting tips.

  • exactlywatt

    UPS, not USPS

  • MarieTD

    The story claims it was UPS, not USPS. The difference is significant.

  • Jeff W.

    All true, but then if the neighbor did not recognize the name, he/she should not have accepted the package.

    Note: If the difference was really 1455 vs. 2455, in most places that would be a distance of mile or more and stretches the definition of a neighbor. 1455 vs 1456 is likely or even 1455 vs 1555.

  • Tricia K

    When we moved into our house about six years ago, deliveries were complicated by our street not being recognized on GPS systems plus our town in their infinite wisdom name two streets that did not (and would not) connect with the same name. For at least the first six months we lived here, I noticed UPS marked our packages with the statement “address verified.” Maybe that’s not universal?

  • mmbNaples

    My mail carrier never ever refused Christmas cash.

  • joycexyz

    Too bad UPS uses the same term (“Delivered”) no matter what the circumstances. Yes, it was delivered, but not to the designated recipient. How are they to know that the friendly neighbor will do the right thing? And there’s no excuse for the obfuscation on UPS’ part.

  • joycexyz

    What the boss doesn’t know…

  • taxed2themax

    UPS marks it delivered, but there are several different methods that this “delivered” can take place.. The two most common are the traditional face-to-face and what’s called DR or Driver Release.. The different ways it is delivered is displayed on their external site — so there is a record of how that delivery took place.

  • AAGK

    I have UPS delivery all the time and the deliveries are always signed for by my doorman and I agree the tracking is detailed. In this case, I assume it was improperly marked as delivered to her address when it was left with Joe up the street. I don’t know about driver release or face to face but the release would be to the address on the label, no? I also think people need to take more responsibility for for things they order and not assume a UPS or usps worker is going to search for you or know your block is being repaved. If she knew @ repaving then she caused this problem bc she obv could see her delivery was scheduled that day but leaving it with a random guy without notification was a terrible idea.

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