Although over 97% of parcels are delivered successfully, there are some occasions where packages do go missing. ParcelHero delivers thousands of shipments every month, and our customer services team have learned just how track down a parcel that our partner carrier may have misplaced.
What actually happens to a parcel when it goes missing? How do you go about finding a package that has gone missing? Do some couriers really have warehouses of lost parcels?
How do parcels go missing?
There are a variety of reasons for a parcel to go missing while on the way to its destination. Most commonly, a parcel’s shipping label becomes damaged, obscured or dislodged during the shipping process. As your shipping label is scanned at each stop of its journey and is then routed onwards, having this label missing or obscured becomes a significant issue.
If the label has been completely removed or obscured so significantly that you cannot make out the delivery address, it is impossible to discern the final destination. Parcels with a separate return address on the package it will be returned to the sender (or the sender will be contacted for more information). If there is not, however, then package cannot travel any further and is often placed into storage.
Some other reasons for a parcel going missing include packages being incorrectly addressed, and simple operator error. Regardless of the cause, parcels that go missing are often simply stored in the last depot that they have passed through.
How to Find a Lost Parcel
Step 1: Make your claim within 30 days of collection date
Step 2: Complete ParcelHero’s Lost Parcel claims form
Step 3: Your courier will undertake a search of their warehouses and hubs
Step 4: Your parcel, once found, will be delivered or returned to the sender
How do couriers find lost parcels?
When a package is reported as lost, the parcel carrier conducts a search, beginning from the last depot in which the shipment was scanned. During this process, thousands of packages are sorted through and investigated. Because the problem is often related to the lack of a shipping label, those searching for the parcel have to identify it by size and shape.
It is a difficult process, and with thousands of parcels to sort through in each depot, is a lengthy process. Investigations take a minimum of seven days, with many taking longer. If after ten days the package has not been located however, the parcel is acknowledged as lost.
This is not the case for all partner couriers, however. In some cases, there are warehouses exclusively used to store parcels that cannot be delivered for a variety of reasons. In this case, searching for a lost parcel becomes faster and, often, more successful.
What happens to parcels that are not found?
Sometimes it’s not possible to be sure that the parcel that has been found is the correct parcel, or simply not possible to find the parcel at all. However, lost parcels don’t just lurk in depots or warehouses – after a varying period of time, they are collected up and disposed of.
In the case of some carriers, this is done by auctioning off lost goods. Others share the goods out between members of staff. Some, like the Royal Mail, have encountered controversy when high value lost goods have appeared on eBay – including one case where the goods were seized by the police in order to ascertain the owner.
However, this is very much the exception rather than the rule. For the most part, your parcels are delivered without a problem. In fact, millions of packages are delivered safely across the world every year. When they are not, however, you can be sure that ParcelHero will help you find the parcel that has gotten lost along the way.
For more information on lost or missing parcels, you can visit ParcelHero’s Lost and Damaged Goods Procedures.