Though the United States Postal Service has built a reputation for very fast and reliable delivery services, they are still responsible for handling millions and millions of packages every day – and some of those delivery windows are prone to go a little bit “sideways”.
Thankfully it’s not often that USPS packages get stuck in transit and arrive later than intended, but this is definitely something that may happen to you in the future.
While the USPS does a great job about updating their customers about any delays, providing you a “In Transit Arriving Late” status update when you check your tracking info, that might not be enough information to put your mind at ease.
Below we run through exactly what this tracking update means, what you can infer from this kind of update, and the steps you can take to figure out exactly what’s going on with your package and (potentially) move things along a little faster.
Let’s jump right in!
What Does the “In Transit Arriving Late” Tracking Update Mean?
As we highlighted a moment ago, getting the “In Transit Arriving Late” tracking update simply means that your USPS package has been delayed somewhere along its journey and isn’t going to be delivered on time.
For packages that are being sent to addresses in the United States this usually means that a package is stuck somewhere in a USPS sorting depot or a major delivery hub that reroutes millions of packages all over the country every single day.
For packages that are being sent overseas, this tracking update might also mean that a package has been stuck in customs or at an overseas USPS facility.
At the end of the day, though, the message is pretty easy to decipher – something has gone wrong, something has slowed down and delayed your package, but the package is still within the USPS infrastructure and (hopefully) will start moving again soon.
Why Was My Package Delayed?
A couple of different things can be the reason that your package has been delayed during transit.
One of the most common issues is simply that your package wasn’t scanned at the last USPS shipping or sorting depot the way that it was supposed to. This means that the USPS digital infrastructure and logistics “lost” your package even though it is still on its way to you.
A lot of these kinds of packages still find their way to their ultimate destination on time, updating the next time that they do actually get scanned in the system.
Another reason that USPS packages are delayed in transit is that they actually get physically lost somewhere along the lines of transit.
USPS sorting depots and shipping facilities are gigantic warehouse like operations, with all kinds of packages, parcels, and envelopes being sifted and sorted on conveyor belts almost around-the-clock.
It doesn’t happen a lot, but every now and again a package takes a tumble off of these assembly line procedures and gets lost in the shuffle somewhere.
Thankfully, the USPS does a pretty good job about tracking down these missing packages. They use the information within their digital logistics system to find the last known location for the package and start an in person search.
The second that your packages found it gets rerouted back along its journey (oftentimes with expedited and sometimes even overnight postage included 100% free of charge.
If a USPS package gets damaged somewhere along transit (maybe the box pops open, an accident crushes the box, or something else compromises the actual packaging itself) there’s likely going to be a delay, too.
This delay is going to involve the USPS investigating exactly what happened, trying to recover anything that can be recovered, and creating reports that are sent along with the items that have been damaged so that the recipient can initiate a claims process as quickly as possible, too.
There are even reports of the USPS tracking system simply going on the fritz every now and again, not updating packages that are still on their way – providing “In Transit Arriving Late” updates on packages that are going to arrive right on time.
At the end of the day, the USPS handles millions and millions of packages daily. With this kind of volume accidents and mistakes are likely to happen (though they are rare) and delays – while unpleasant – are always a risk that customers take.
What Can I Do to Speed Things Up?
There are certainly a couple of things you’ll have an opportunity to do to potentially speed things up, with the first being contacting a USPS employee to figure out exactly what’s going on with your package in the first place.
This can be done by reaching out to USPS customer service online or over the phone (1-800-275-8777), but you can also pop down to your local post office and inquire about why you’re getting the “In Transit Arriving Late” status update, too.
Another number that you might want to try is the Delivery Tracking Department for the United States Postal Service, with their number being 1-800-222-1811. They may or may not be able to give you more information that traditional customer service couldn’t help you out with.
Depending on the information provided to you from the USPS about the delay you may or may not be able to influence things at this point in time.
If the USPS tells you that something’s wrong with their internal tracking update service or that your package likely wasn’t scanned at the last opportunity, there’s not a whole lot that you can do but wait for your package to arrive.
If, on the other hand, the USPS tells you that they have physically lost your package you can provide them a lot of extra information about what was in that package, what the packaging looks like, and what the value of the items within were – possibly even jumpstarting a claims process, speeding that up and helping you get compensation if your delayed package never ends up arriving.
All in all, the smartest thing you can do is get a hold of the USPS to try and figure out why things are delayed.
The USPS has a great reputation for transparency, friendly customer service, and real help in these situations.
They know exactly how frustrating it can be for a package to go missing and to show up late. And while they may not necessarily be able to do something to help in that exact moment there’s nothing wrong with alerting them to the situation to see if there is something they can get moving for you.
How Are Things Going to Unfold From Here?
A couple of different things are going to happen after the “In Transit Arriving Late” message pops up in your tracking info.
Your Package Arrives Within the Extension Window
This might be the most common result of getting the “In Transit Arriving Late” message, and it’s generally the experience that most USPS customers are going to have when their package gets delayed.
The USPS lets them know that something happen to their package, the initial delivery date is going to be missed, and then (usually) provide an updated extension delivery window.
All you have to do is sit back, try to relax, and wait for your package to arrive within that block of time.
If you paid for expedited postage or shipping services you’ll want to get a hold of the USPS for a refund (partial or complete), too.
Your Package Shows Up Outside of the Extension Window
This isn’t an ideal result of getting the “In Transit Arriving Late” status update, but it’s a potential outcome that you’ll have to prepare for as well.
It may be that the USPS hasn’t been able to get things moving as quickly as they thought they’d be able to and that your package is going to be delayed just a little bit longer.
The USPS has a lot of experience with these kinds of situations and (generally) does a great job of making sure that they get packages to people as quickly as possible after they’ve been delayed.
Sometimes, though, outside forces and external circumstances can delay packages even more so – inclement weather, natural disasters, extreme USPS package flow, etc. Your package may be a day or two later than expected in these situations.
Your Item is Delayed Indefinitely
This is the worst outcome of all, and thankfully it’s very rare – but it does happen every now and again.
If you still haven’t gotten a package that was delayed during transit and expected to arrive later (maybe a couple of days later) it’s important that you reach out to USPS customer service straightaway.
It might not be a bad idea to wait five days or a week after the delivery extension window just to make sure that a further delay hasn’t happened. But any longer than that and the odds of your package showing up at all dwindle significantly.
No, you’re going to want to get on the phone or visit the post office to find out exactly how the USPS is going to remedy this situation.
Most of the time they’re going to fully refund postage and expedited shipping services (as well as any extras) and then replace or reimburse whatever it is you were having shipped to you as well.
This process usually involves filing a claim directly with the USPS, though. The claims process is outlined on their websites, but most people find that it’s a lot easier to navigate by working with local USPS employees at a neighborhood post office to get this taking care of just as quickly as possible.
You may have to follow-up a handful of times to get the kind of service that you are expecting in these situations, but the USPS will take care of your claim sooner or later!
Make Sure All of Your Packages Make It to You with US Global Mail and Their Virtual Mailbox
Of course, there is an alternative approach to having packages sent to you that can eliminate a lot of these issues altogether – and that involves signing up for a US Global Mail virtual mailbox account!
For more than 20 years now, the folks at US Global Mail have been the undisputed leader in the world of virtual mailbox services.
Providing their customers with safe, secure, and modern mailbox options that the USPS still hasn’t come close to competing with, there are a lot of advantages to using these virtual mailbox options – advantages that make signing up for this service a bit of a no-brainer.
For starters, you get a permanent physical mailing address for your virtual mailbox that you can use to protect your privacy and to enjoy a bit more anonymity when ordering things online or through the mail.
This address allows you to receive packages, parcels, and envelopes from all shipping companies (including USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, and more). That’s not something you’ll ever be able to do with a PO Box!
You’ll also get immediate digital notifications about every single piece of mail that hits your mailbox with US Global Mail, notifications that include what that package or envelope is and a digital scan or photograph of the mail as well.
Never again are you going to have to worry about driving down to the post office or checking your mailbox wondering the whole time what you’re going to find.
Instead, you’ll know exactly what you have received (and haven’t received, as the case may be) anytime you like – right from the comfort of your mobile phone!
Combine all of this with secure check depositing benefits, the ability to forward your mail to any address on the planet at up to 80% off of traditional retail rates, and so much more and it’s not hard to understand why thousands of people use US Global Mail to modernize their mailbox, too.
For more information or to create a US Global Mail account visit their website today!