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Common Shipping Issues And Problems

Bradley Johnson
Table of Contents

The ins and outs of how to ship a package appear simple on the surface. First, you need to know how to measure a box for shipping and then use a shipping cost estimator to determine your costs. 

Second, you can use a shipping policy template to inform your customers of your procedures, and offer service options like overnight shipping and flat rate shipping. Once this is all set in place, you can sit back as your carrier delivers everything perfectly, right? Well, things are a little more complicated than that. 

There are common shipping issues and problems that plague every carrier, no matter how big or impressive their fleet is. If you dive headfirst into the shipping world unaware of these setbacks, you may get discouraged rather quickly. 

Continue reading to learn the most common shipping problems and a few steps you can take to mitigate them. 

USPS Shipping Issues And Problems

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the largest shipping carrier in the US, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless. With more than 120 billion packages delivered each year, there are bound to be some mishaps.

Here are some of the most common:

Delivering To The Incorrect Address

One of the biggest USPS shipping issues is when they deliver to the incorrect address. Out of each problem faced by USPS customers, this tends to be the most common. 

Whether the delivery driver made an error or the address was inaccurate to begin with, a package to the wrong destination is annoying for all parties affected. It may even result in a refund request. To mitigate this likelihood, double-check your recipient’s address before buying postage.

Slow Processing Times

Slow order processing is another commonplace USPS hiccup. This refers to the steps completed at processing facilities, such as accepting packages, assigning them to drivers, and putting them in the correct trucks. There can be significant lead time between all of these steps, sometimes as much as one or two business days.

Package processing is necessary to confirm postage sales, check the safety of packages, ensure packaging matches the label, and more. If any of these requirements aren’t met, USPS staff will return it to the sender. 

The most common reason for a package not getting processed quickly is the box didn’t match the label. For example, if you purchased Priority Mail postage but placed your item in a Priority Mail Express box, USPS will send it back to you.

They aren’t going to ship a package with cheaper postage than required, because there’s no easy way to retroactively charge customers. Be 100% sure you’re placing your item in the correct box before dropping it off at USPS, otherwise both you and your buyer will be frustrated. 

Estimated Delivery Times, Not Guarantees

Another drawback of USPS is most of their shipping services don’t come with guaranteed delivery timeframes. The only one that does is Priority Mail Express, which will be delivered within 1-2 business days. If your package isn’t delivered within this timeframe, USPS offers a money-back guarantee.

To maximize the likelihood of a timely delivery, try to get your eCommerce shipping done on Tuesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays are good because your package goes out after the hectic pace of Monday, and Fridays are good because it’s the end of the business week. Packages are still processed on Saturdays and it puts you one day ahead of the next Monday rush. 

Not sure which shipping carrier to go with? You can get the best of each world with our own built-in shipping tools. BlueCart eCommerce consolidates the buying power of our customers to negotiate superior rates from over 60 shipping companies. 

Calculate shipping costs by weight, issue an RMA number for returns, print labels with a thermal shipping label printer, and more. Book a demo to see how BlueCart’s tools can level up your business. 

FedEx Shipping Issues And Problems

FedEx is the third largest shipping carrier in the United States and was the first to offer competitive global air freight. Since the company’s founding in 1971, they’ve expanded to offer additional services like cold freight, overnight delivery, and international shipping. 

Unfortunately, there are still FedEx shipping issues that affect the company’s productivity and popularity among consumers. Here are a few of the biggest: 

Late Delivery Times

FedEx’s on-time deliveries comprise only about 90% of their total shipment volume. This is compared to USPS’ 93% and UPS’ 96%. A 3%-6% difference may not seem like much, but this is the equivalent of millions of packages being delivered late. 

FedEx does offer a money-back guarantee for late deliveries, though. You can request a refund or credit to your account if they miss their published delivery time by even one minute.

In an industry where timing is everything, a package that’s even a few hours late can negatively impact several things. Unfortunately, sellers have little control over exactly when a package will be delivered. The best one can do is use the right eCommerce packaging, apply labels clearly, and drop the box off on time.

Insufficient Staffing

Another struggle FedEx often faces is insufficient staffing. As eCommerce trends point to easier shopping and faster shipping, more packages have to be shipped out in less time. Without enough staff to handle growing demand, some packages are invariably delayed.

The company’s on-time deliveries used to hover around 96 to 97%, but suffered significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, FedEx’s Norcross, GA, facility experienced several complaints throughout summer 2020. 

UPS Shipping Issues And Problems

UPS is one of the largest and most competitive eCommerce shipping companies in the United States. The company is well known for its reliable timing during holiday shipping periods, but that doesn’t mean they are perfect all the time. 

Here are some common UPS shipping issues and problems:

Insufficient Shipper Documentation

Sometimes a product was packaged well, but it was missing documentation. Whether you’re sending a commercial shipment but it’s missing a net 30 invoice (an invoice is required) or an international package missing its Certificate of Origin, lack of paperwork does slow down deliveries. 

UPS tends to have speedy deliveries but if you forgot to include required documents, your package will be returned or held at a processing facility. Double check that all paperwork required for your shipment is included before shipping, especially if you’re selling in an online marketplace.

Recipient Unavailable

Another common UPS shipping problem is when your recipient is unavailable. Whether they were at work during delivery, missed the delivery driver, or simply weren’t home, getting this timing right is tricky. This is particularly troublesome if you’re learning how to ship beer or how to ship food, as these products are perishable.

While you can’t know when a delivery driver will be in a particular area, you can inform your recipient of common delivery times. This can help them plan their schedule according to the most likely delivery window. The worst-case scenario is the delivery driver will try again on the next business day, or your recipient will need to pick it up at a nearby UPS office. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Common Shipping Issues and Problems

Without shipping technology and distribution networks, most modern physical product businesses wouldn’t exist. Being able to deliver goods through dropshipping and different types of marketplaces is largely thanks to today’s shipping carriers. 

That doesn’t mean shipping companies execute everything perfectly, though. There are several shipping problems that are caused by the businesses themselves as well as accidents and unforeseen circumstances. To better understand what causes shipping problems, take a look at the frequently asked questions below: 

​​What are the problems of shipping?

There are several shipping problems that affect major carriers, including too few employees, rising costs, governmental regulations, and inclement weather. A lack of employees is the primary obstacle to successful shipping companies, as you need a certain amount of staff to deliver hundreds of packages each day. 

Rising costs are also a concern, as carriers must charge enough to turn a profit but not too much to scare customers away. Governments tend to enact more regulations as the years go by, often in an attempt to limit environmental pollution, which bulk shipping carriers tend to generate more of.

Finally, bad weather--such as rain, heavy snow, and strong winds--is a common deterrent to successful package delivery. If it’s unsafe to be outside, packages may be delayed by one business day or more. 

What are some of the problems that are caused by shipping at least 3?

Three of the top problems caused by the shipping industry are water pollution, air pollution, and landfill waste. Cargo ships are responsible for around 18% of air pollutants, like nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. 

A little less than 10% of all landfill waste comes from packaging material, which is fairly significant. Too often, even materials that can be recycled are simply tossed out for the sake of convenience. 

Water pollution is an issue too. Cargo ships utilize ballast water, which balances out the hull of a ship while cargo is being unloaded. Water is pulled into the hull at one port and released at another, which is aquatic waste and causes marine life disruption. 

Why is shipping delayed?

Shipping can be delayed for many reasons, but the most common are bad weather, incorrect addresses, and carrier mishaps. Severe weather like tornadoes, snowstorms, and heavy rain prevent the transfer of packages from distribution centers to trucks and trucks to destinations. 

An incorrect recipient address is the second leading cause of delayed shipments. Whether a single character was missing on the label or an entire street was wrong, this is an issue that can be easily fixed. 

Finally, shipping carrier accidents do occur. Perhaps a delivery driver brought one too many packages to a particular house, or misread an address in their multi stop route planner. A package may have been left at a distribution center when it was supposed to go out for delivery. 

Getting Your Shipments In Shape

Working with a shipping company isn’t always a clear-cut experience. They may ask you to complete paperwork that you haven’t previously or require a certain type of packaging, but it’s all to help your shipment get delivered.

Despite real-world imperfections like insufficient staff and terrible weather, one thing you can count on is that shipping companies are happy to win your business. Stand-up organizations like UPS and FedEx work tirelessly to offer competitive rates and reliable service. Verify that your recipient info and packaging materials are sufficient, and you’ll be in great shape.