Sending a package in the mail can be a stressful process, and there are any number of reasons why the wrong address might end up on the envelope or box. If the recipient is not where you expected or you mix up labels, you might suddenly realize your package is going off to the wrong place – and you can’t stop it.
Fortunately, there is something that you can do about this. You can utilize a service called USPS Package Intercept, provided that your parcel is eligible for this. It does incur a fee, but it will allow you to reroute your mail to the corrected destination, ensuring that the parcel arrives where it should be, instead of going to the wrong place.
What Is The USPS Package Intercept Service?
The Package Intercept service is provided by USPS, and it allows people to get in touch with the postal service and request that a piece of mail gets redirected. There are many reasons that you might need to use this service. For example, the recipient may have:
- Accidentally input an old address
- Used a friend’s address
- Intended to send the parcel to a friend or relative, but sent it to themselves by mistake
- Made a mistake in the address
Alternatively, the sender might have put the wrong address on the parcel (for example, if they were sending multiple parcels) or made a mistake when writing it out.
Any of these can mean that a package gets lost or goes to the wrong place. Depending on the importance of the package and how time-sensitive the contents are, this can be disastrous, and the USPS Package Intercept Service is a great way to divert a misdirected parcel and get it going in the right direction again.
How Do You Use USPS Package Intercept?
So, if you have found that you need to use this service, what do you do? The first step is to make sure that your parcel is eligible for the Package Intercept service, because not all post is. You may find that you cannot divert the parcel, especially if:
- Your item is addressed to a Commercial Mailing Receiving Agency
- Your item is being redirected to a PO Box
- Your item bears hazardous materials markings
- You have used USPS Marketing Mail post
- Your item is a non-mailable item with surface-only transportation labeling
You should usually be able to redirect parcels that:
- Are under 108 inches (total length and girth)
- Are domestic USPS mail services with USPS tracking (or with extra services barcodes)
If in doubt, it is always worth trying to redirect your mail if you can. However, you may find that this cannot be done and your package must go to the original address that was placed on the package.
Once you have verified that your shipment allows you to use this service, you will need to log into your account with USPS at USPS.com. There, you will be provided with an estimated total for the cost of redirecting your package, which you must agree to. Note that this is only an estimate, and the actual cost could be a little higher or lower.
Once you have submitted the request, USPS will attempt to locate and redirect your package. If they do this successfully, you will be charged a fee of $15.25, which is the standard Package Intercept fee. You will also be charged for any additional postage if the package must travel further or by different means.
The package will either be redirected to your new recipient, held at a local Post Office for pick up, or returned to you to be re-sent with the correct information.
How Do I Pay For USPS Package Intercept?
Once your package has been successfully redirected, you will be charged for the service. Usually, you will be asked to input credit card information when requesting a Package Intercept service. Your credit card will then automatically be charged for the full amount when the parcel is redirected.
Certain customers can also buy some additional services when they pay for the package to be intercepted. For example, they can pay to insure it or get a signature confirmation when the package is delivered.
They can also pay for Adult Signature Restricted Delivery (e.g. if the package contains alcohol or weapons) and Adult Signature Required. These are not available to all customers, however; you must be a retailer or a commercial seller in order to access these additional services.
How Will My Redirected Package Be Sent?
It’s important to note that all redirected mail is sent as priority mail, regardless of what shipping method was originally used. That means that often, you will have to pay extra to redirect packages, especially if you have used one of the low-cost shipping options.
However, the need to use Priority Mail for all redirected parcels can be a problem for businesses that ship their mail using one of the cheaper options, because they have to pay extra to redirect it using a faster mail stream, on top of the redirection fee.
As a business, you may wish to pass this cost on to the customer if the parcel was wrongly directed due to their error, but if the error was on your business’s end, you will have to swallow the cost.
Should I Use USPS’s Package Intercept Service?
Using this service can save you having to replace a package that has gone to the wrong place, so it may well be worth doing. However, if you are sending low value items that are not worth paying more than $15 to redirect, it is probably a better idea to simply treat the package as lost and ship a new one out to the corrected address.
Bear in mind when making this decision that you will also be liable for any additional postage costs incurred while redirecting the package, including upgrading the mail to a new service.
What Happens If I Don’t Use USPS’s Package Intercept Service?
If you do not utilize this service, the most likely outcome is that the package will be delivered to the wrong address, and it will not reach your recipient. You should discuss this with the intended recipient to see if they can get the package mailed on if that is feasible.
Alternatively, you will probably need to replace the package, or refund the order (if you are sending items to a customer). Although this is annoying, the Package Intercept service is the only way to get a parcel redirected to try and get it to the right place.
I Don’t Have A USPS Account – What Can I Do?
Not everyone uses the internet, and many people who send parcels every day will not have a USPS online account. How can they redirect packages that have been wrongly addressed?
The best and simplest solution is to make a USPS account if possible. This allows you to access many features, such as tracking, and lets you make changes to the address on your package.
However, there are a few other strategies you could try, although there are no guarantees that these will work.
Firstly, if you have just dropped the package off, consider calling your local Post Office. There is a small chance that they will be able to allow you to alter the address on the package if you are able to prove you are the sender.
In general, however, this will not be allowed as tampering with mail that has been sent is considered a felony, and will only be permitted in certain situations.
Your next option is to call the Post Office near to where the item will be delivered. In some cases, this Post Office will be able to hold onto the parcel, ensuring that the intended recipient can collect it from there, rather than it being sent out and delivered to the incorrect address.
However, this only works if your recipient is close to the wrong address, and can drive to the Post Office there. Your recipient may have to request this, rather than the sender, so let them know if you are having problems and this is a feasible solution.
What If I Am A Recipient?
If you are expecting a package and you realize that something is wrong with the address, you might be wondering what you should do about it. The first thing to do is to contact the sender. As the recipient, there will not be much that you can do, because you did not pay for the package to be sent.
Inform the sender that the address is incorrect, and ask them to ship it to a different address. They may request that you pay the fee for using the Package Intercept service, or they may ask you to cancel your order and make a new one. It is possible that the retailer will say there is nothing that they can do.
If the wrong address is local to you, you might be able to call your Post Office and request that they hold onto the parcel when it reaches them, rather than attempting delivery. They will not reroute the parcel to you, because this is open to abuse, but you may be able to collect it from them.
You will need to take some identification that proves you are the intended recipient, so make sure your name matches that of the package you are planning to collect, or take the person whose name is on it.
This is to reduce the risk of mail theft and ensure that mail gets to the right places. Your Post Office should not release the package to you unless you can confirm your identity.
What If My Address Is Correct But The Parcel Is Wrongly Delivered?
If you believe that the package has been sent to the wrong place, you must contact USPS. This is true whether you are the intended recipient or the sender of the parcel. They should be able to use their geolocation service to find out where the parcel has been delivered to.
Because USPS use tracking services and log where parcels are at every step of the journey, it ought to be possible for them to trace the parcel. They will then collect it and should be able to redeliver it to the correct address, or hold it at the local Post Office for the recipient to collect.
It is relatively rare for mail to be delivered to the wrong address, but it does occasionally happen. If it occurs, make sure that you take prompt action to recover it. If you are the intended recipient, it is a good idea to inform the sender, as well as to contact USPS yourself.
You may need to speak to a manager or supervisor so that they can access the geolocation service, but they should be able to recover your package for you.
Remember to take some ID so that you can prove who you are and that the package was intended for you.
Putting the wrong address on a package is an annoying and often expensive mistake, but it can be corrected provided you are willing to pay the fee for redirecting the package (and it is one that can be redirected). It is always a good idea to double-check addresses before mailing out expensive or time-sensitive items, in case there is a mistake.
You can take the headache out of receiving packages – especially if you have multiple addresses to manage – by using a Virtual Mailbox from US Global Mail. This will help to ensure that you have everything sent to the same place every time, whether you are at home or not. You can then collect packages whenever it suits you!