UPS missed my delivery. Can I get a refund?

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By Christopher Elliott

Sue Maier’s sister sends her luggage to London, but UPS misses the delivery by a day. Can she get her money back for the shipping costs?

Question

I’m hoping you can help me obtain a refund from United Parcel Service (UPS). It’s for a shipping fee that my sister paid to UPS to send me a package containing the contents of a backpack that I accidentally left behind when she drove me to the airport to board a flight to London. 

My sister shipped the contents of the backpack to the address of my hotel in London. We have tracked the package. The address she used is the accurate address. My sister paid $338 for Worldwide Express service in order to ensure that the package would arrive before my tour was scheduled to depart.

The package, which contained prepaid receipts for tour transports and excursions, as well as my camera and iPad, did not arrive until the next day, by which time I had left the hotel. I did eventually receive the package when I returned to the hotel a week later at the end of the tour. But it was of no use to me then since the trip was over.

My sister asked UPS for a refund. A store manager said she would receive a refund within 7  to 14 business days, subject to approval by UPS. But that was a year ago. 

Since then, UPS has offered $100 to settle the matter. I would like her to receive a full refund of $338, which is what my sister paid for a service that was not rendered. She paid a sizable fee to do me a favor and assure me that I had what I needed for my tour. And we did not get the Worldwide Express Service that she paid for and had every right to expect. Can you help me? — Sue Maier, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Answer

UPS should have delivered your package to your hotel on time. But I’m not surprised it didn’t. International deliveries are difficult — there are customs and other red tape to contend with, not to mention the long distance. I’ve had numerous “overnight” or “express” packages delayed for various reasons.

How to handle a UPS missed delivery

Shipping delays happen, especially during busy times like the shopping holidays. Here’s what to do if your UPS package didn’t make it. (Related: Here’s how to make a simple UPS refund problem complicated.)

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Track your package

Use the UPS tracking tools to monitor the progress of your shipment and stay informed about any updates or changes in delivery schedules.

Contact UPS Customer Service

UPS should notify you of any delay. But if it doesn’t, get in touch with UPS customer service to inquire about the status of your package. Ask for help. Be prepared to give your tracking number and clearly explain the problem. (Note: If you have to call, make sure you get something in writing, either by email or text message, to substantiate any claim.) 

Consider alternative delivery options 

UPS may have some difficulty getting the package to you. You might want to redirect your package to a UPS Access Point or reschedule the delivery.

UPS missed your delivery? Document everything

Keep a written record of all interactions with UPS, including dates, times, and details of conversations. You may need those if you have to file a claim. (Related: UPS lost my package! Is Amazon’s resolution fair?)

These simple steps will help you find your package faster. But UPS promises to do better — and it has put those promises in writing.

What about the UPS money-back guarantee?

UPS has a money-back guarantee, but it’s not that specific. It offers a refund on “certain” services to “selected” destinations. You have to review your order to determine if the money-back guarantee applies. I should note that using the word “free” with the money-back guarantee, as the website now does, is problematic. I’ve never heard of a money-back guarantee that costs anything. 

Reaching out to one of the UPS executive contacts on my consumer advocacy site might have helped. A brief, polite email, along with a few tried-and-true methods I’ve developed, might have prompted some action from UPS. After one year, you would think UPS would have given your sister a definitive “yes” or “no.” Instead, she just had the promise of a UPS store manager that she would get a full refund — but she didn’t. (Related: I shipped a computer with UPS. It arrived in pieces. Now what?)

It’s possible that your UPS package wasn’t eligible for a money-back guarantee and that the store manager spoke out of turn. In that case, someone should have let your sister know that a refund was out of the question. (And even if UPS had said that, I would have still taken your case.)

I contacted UPS on your behalf. The company responded shortly afterward and promised to investigate your claim. UPS issued your sister a full $338 refund.

About this story

I admit I was surprised by the outcome of this missed delivery case. We receive relatively few problems with UPS (far fewer than FedEx). But when we do get them, UPS almost never responds to our team. I’m not sure what prompted the company to help Maier, but my team and I are glad that it did. Maybe UPS is turning a new leaf when it comes to customer service. I certainly hope so. My thanks to everyone who helped with this — Dwayne and Mel in advocacy, Andy and his team in the editing department, Will in our social channels, and Dustin our artist. And thank you for reading and supporting the advocacy on this site. You’re the best.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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