When UPS, FedEx, USPS, and other carriers send a package to the wrong address, it’s possible to get your mail back on track. However, it will depend on the mail carrier and where your package is in the shipping process.
We have the steps to take when packages are sent by or through Amazon, eBay, FedEx, UPS, and the USPS.
What to Do If You Sent Something to the Wrong Address
When you realize you’ve sent something to the wrong address, it can be pretty frustrating. However, if the item hasn’t been delivered, there’s still the possibility of getting it on track to its intended destination. If the item has been delivered, things get a bit more complicated, but you may still be able to correct the problem.
Generally, you should first contact the mail service to determine what steps you can take. Sometimes, the carrier may be willing to send an employee to the incorrect address to pick up the item. You can also attempt to contact the person who may have received your mail in error. If the person who received your mail is unwilling to give it to you, it’s considered mail theft, which is illegal. In the worst-case scenario, if you contact the recipient and he or she insists on keeping the package, you can report the incident as mail theft to the carrier and/or police.
Below, we’ve outlined the steps you should take by retailer or shipping service.
- Before the package has shipped: If your package has not yet entered the shipping process, you can change the shipping address, as shown in a tutorial on Amazon’s website. You will have to do this as soon as possible, as Amazon orders are often labeled and processed within hours of being received. If your order is marked as “Shipping Soon,” it’s too late to make an address change.
- After the package has shipped: If your order has shipped but has not made it to its destination yet, there’s still a chance you can get it to the proper address. Contact the seller immediately to let them know about the mistake. There are two ways the seller may respond:
- The seller may contact the shipping service and recall the item. If this works out, the seller will cancel your order and issue you a refund. You’ll have to create a new order with the correct shipping address. Be aware that some shipping services charge a fee to recall an item; the Amazon seller may subtract this fee from your refund.
- The seller may tell you they can’t do anything once the item has shipped. You can try to file an A-to-z Guarantee claim, but if the incorrect shipping address was your mistake, you may not have a claim. However, Amazon may decide to refund you anyway as a courtesy. You can also try to contact the shipping service yourself. The carrier may be able to reroute the package if you provide them with the tracking number.
- After the package has been delivered: Once your order has been delivered, it’s a lot harder to get your package back. Technically, it’s illegal to open or keep mail that does not belong to you, but it is an offense that often goes unchecked. Make sure you notify the seller that you did not receive the package and you believe it was sent to the wrong address. The seller may be willing to contact the shipping service for you to inquire about sending someone to pick up the package. You could also try contacting the carrier yourself; give them the tracking number and explain what happened.
- Before the package has shipped: eBay’s rules state that a seller can’t send an item to any address except the one provided upon payment. If the seller breaks this rule, he or she will lose their Seller’s Protection, according to an eBay customer service representative. This means the seller is unlikely to make an exception for your mistake. However, if your item hasn’t been sent out, you may still have a chance to remedy the situation. First, go to your purchase history and find the item(s) you bought. Then, select “ask to cancel order” from the drop-down menu on the right. You will want to contact the seller and let him or her know what happened. Oftentimes, the seller will accept the request to cancel and refund the order. You can then place a new order with the correct shipping address.
- After the package has shipped: Since eBay doesn’t have any specific rules about this, you should contact the seller and see if there is anything he or she can do, such as recalling the item. Most sellers will try to help because they don’t want to receive negative feedback. If the shipping service returns the item to the seller, the seller can cancel the order and you can repurchase the item(s). If the seller is unable to help, you can contact the shipping service yourself; give the carrier your tracking number and explain the situation.
- After the package has been delivered: If the mistake was yours, the eBay seller is not responsible for your order being sent to the wrong address. You can still contact the seller to see if he or she is willing to help, but, overall, there isn’t much the seller can do. You can also try contacting the shipping service to see if the carrier would be willing to send someone to retrieve the package and deliver it to the correct address. If the item is returned to the seller, you can ask the seller to send it to the correct address, according to eBay’s Customer Service page. So, if you can get whoever receives your item to send it back to the seller, you’ll have a better chance of getting your purchase.
- Before the package has shipped: If FedEx hasn’t shipped your package yet, you can either contact customer service at (800) 463-3339 or call the FedEx location you visited to send your package and let them know you made a mistake. As long as you can provide your tracking number, FedEx can correct the address for you.
- After the package has shipped: FedEx can often reroute packages that are already in transit. Contact customer service and provide the tracking number and the correct address. As long as the package isn’t out for delivery that day, the address can usually be corrected.
- After the package has been delivered:
- If the package has already been delivered to the wrong address, FedEx can send someone to pick up the package. A FedEx customer service representative said there is no fee to retrieve the package; however, you will be responsible for paying any fees associated with shipping the package to the correct address. Be aware that it’s also up to the person who incorrectly received the package to work with FedEx to get it back to you. If the recipient dismisses the FedEx worker who comes to pick up the package or claims they never received it, then you may need to report the incident as mail theft.
- Sometimes, a package is delivered to an incorrect address even though you got the shipping information right. When this occurs, you’ll receive a delivery exception notice that says, “Delivered to address other than recipient.” FedEx customer service confirmed that this happens when a package is delivered to a neighbor’s house or a receiving room like a leasing office. If you receive this message, you can try checking with neighbors to see if they received the package. Your other option is to call FedEx and provide them with the tracking number so they can put a trace on the package. This means FedEx will research exactly where the package was left and, if need be, pick it up and deliver it to the correct location. You will need to contact FedEx within 14 days of the package being delivered to the incorrect address in order to have them investigate the delivery.
- Before the package has been delivered: With UPS Delivery Intercept, which you can use by signing in to your UPS account online, you can intercept a package by following the UPS Delivery Intercept instructions. If you don’t have a UPS login, you can still correct the address on a package by visiting the tracking page. UPS also has instructions on how to correct an address on its website. Alternately, you can call the UPS location you visited to mail your package or call customer service at (800) 742-5877.
- After the package has been delivered: If UPS has already delivered your package, there’s still a chance you can get it sent to the correct address. UPS may be willing to send someone to retrieve your package. In this case, you’ll need to go to a UPS store and create a new label with the correct address. A UPS driver will then pick up the package from the incorrect address and deliver it to the correct address. You will have to pay for the new shipping label, and the retrieval fee will depend on the dimensional and weight of the item. If the mistake wasn’t your fault, UPS will retrieve the package and deliver it to the correct location free of charge.
- Before the package has shipped: If your package hasn’t shipped, call the USPS immediately to see if your mail can be retrieved. Be aware that the USPS may be unable to retrieve any mail that doesn’t have a tracking number.
- After the package has shipped: If your mail is in transit, the USPS may still be able to retrieve it if it has a tracking number; unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done for mail that doesn’t have a tracking number. The USPS Package Intercept service lets you redirect your mail as long as it hasn’t been sent out for delivery or delivered. This service can be used on packages and letters, as long as there is a tracking number or barcode associated with the mail. The intercept fee is $13.95, plus additional postage.
- After the package has been delivered: Once your mail has been delivered, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done. If it has a tracking number, the USPS may be able to help you get it back by sending someone to retrieve it. You can contact USPS for help or request a missing mail search on the USPS website. If not, it will be up to the person who received your mail to take the proper steps to return it to you. If you remember the address you accidentally sent it to, you can try searching for the person’s information online and ask them to return the item. You can also report your mail as missing or stolen to the USPS, but there is no guarantee that USPS will be able to find it and return it to you.
What to Do If You Receive Something That Was Sent to the Wrong Address
It’s common enough to receive your next door neighbor’s mail, but what do you do if you get mail addressed to someone you’ve never heard of? First of all, don’t open it. Not only is it illegal to open mail that doesn’t belong to you, but some mail carriers may refuse to return packages that have been opened. For the most part, returning a letter or package that doesn’t belong to you is pretty simple. Below, we’ve outlined how you should return mail delivered by different retailers and carriers.
If you receive an item that doesn’t belong to you, the best thing you can do is contact the mail carrier responsible for delivering it. Give the carrier the package’s tracking number (they can help you locate it over the phone if you don’t know where to find it) and let them know that the package doesn’t belong to you. They should send someone by to pick it up. After that, you’ve done your part, and it’s up to the mail carrier (and potentially the buyer) to get the package to the correct location.
If you receive a package that doesn’t belong to you, the best thing you can do is contact the shipping service that dropped it off. Let them know it isn’t yours, and they’ll send someone to pick it up. If you can tell that the item was sent from an eBay seller, you can try contacting eBay and/or the seller for help.
3 & 4. FedEx & UPS
If you receive a package that isn’t yours, you should contact FedEx or UPS and let them know. Typically, the carrier will send someone to pick it up and take care of the rest.
If you find that the USPS has given you someone else’s mail, it’s simple to send it on its way to its correct owner. If the address on the mail isn’t your address, you can simply put it back in the mailbox or give it directly to the mail carrier. You may want to put a note on it stating “wrong address.”
If the mail has your address on it but a different person’s name, on a blank portion of the envelope, write “not at this address”; take care not to cover any important information such as the address or return address. Then, put it in the mailbox with the flag up or return it to the mail carrier or to any USPS mailbox.
How to Avoid Sending Something to the Wrong Address
To avoid your mail and/or packages being sent to the wrong address, here are a few steps to take:
- Delete or correct any incorrect addresses on Amazon, eBay, and other online shopping accounts. Often, people accidentally choose a past address from their saved addresses; deleting these will help you avoid making such a mistake.
- Make sure that when you move, you notify USPS of your change of address. You can visit your local post office or change your address online.
- Get a tracking number for your package, whenever possible. Whether sending a package or a letter, most carriers offer package intercept services, but you will need to provide a tracking number for this service.