What Causes a Delayed Delivery?8 min read


Written by:

It might have happened in the past that a package was not delivered on time. In this article, we are going to cover the causes of delayed delivery, as well as the reasons why some packages end up being a no-show after all.

Each day more than a million packages are delivered throughout Europe. Every international and big courier company has its own depots across international routes, where thousands of packages are stored and sorted both mechanically and manually. No matter the level of automatization of the processes, the human factor is still involved and thus, the risk of mistakes still exists.

There are many reasons that might cause a delayed delivery. We list here the most common ones.

How do I check if something is wrong, in case my package is delayed?

In order to see the progress of your parcels, make sure you check the tracking system that is available, provided by the courier company. In case you notice unusual statuses in the tracking system, you have to report them as soon as possible and contact the company you booked the courier services with, and you might find out why there is a delayed delivery for your parcel.

If the items are addressed to you, but you were not the one booking the courier services, you should contact the sender and ask for the tracking number.

Understanding tracking numbers

Usually, when your parcel is sent abroad, there is more than one postal service or courier company handling the delivery. Courier companies partner with each other in order to provide their services everywhere. This means that you may place an order with a specific courier company and in the end, your shipment can be delivered by a different one.

One carrier may only operate nationally and collect the package in the respective country, whereas the other courier company from which you actually requested the service can take over the delivery at some point and continue the service. They assign their own numbers to every package for their internal communication. Nonetheless, you will receive a tracking number from the courier company you booked the service with.

However, if you contact their partner courier company, they will not be able to locate your order in their system unless you provide them with the exact type of tracking numbers that they work with. In this case, you should specify in which courier company you booked the service and give them the pick-up or delivery address, as appropriate.

How often is the data in the tracking system updated?

Tracking system updates depend on how often the package is scanned. Packages are scanned in the local depots, but it may take from a few hours to more than one day until the system is updated.

If the package goes cross-country or it’s moving from one country to another, new information will be displayed only when the package is scanned again in a new depot. This doesn’t mean that the package has stopped moving or that it is on the schedule.

Each time the package is scanned, a new status appears in the tracking system. The tracking system should display the reason why there is delayed delivery. Sometimes, it might happen that you don’t see clearly why it happened.

Is your parcel taking longer than usual to get to its destination?

When booking courier services, depending on the service you choose (whether it is express or standard), you receive information about the approximate time of delivery. Therefore, you will know when to expect the package to reach its destination, even if you don’t check the progress with the tracking tools.

What are the reasons for delayed delivery?

  • Misspelt, incomplete or outdated address – when the courier driver tries to deliver the package to an address which is difficult to find, a new attempt of delivery will not be made unless the customer gives all the necessary and correct details. The courier usually leaves a note as proof that he tried to deliver the package.

! Remember to always check the confirmation e-mail where all the details of the order are usually listed. If your street name has recently changed and you haven’t received any mail there yet, you should write additionally the old name of the street (if there is enough space) in the order form or contact the courier company and give them this information.

  • Incorrectly completed order form –a postal code written in the field for the street number or vice-versa, a field left blank or a name of the city written in the field for the street name can cause a delayed delivery;

! You have to pay extra attention when you book the service through a booking engine and not through courier companies directly. Their order form is a general one and it is adjusted in a manner that could encompass all the requirements of different courier companies. While for some courier companies, a field left empty doesn’t impede the order processing, other courier companies might have difficulties in entering the request in their system.

  • Package redirection – if you decided to change the delivery address after the delivery service was confirmed and the information was entered into the system, a redirection will lead to the different delivery time and thus, a delayed delivery. Note that even if the new address is very close to the initial one, the information still has to be changed in the courier company’s system and reprocessed, which can lead to a change in the delivery date as well;
  • Delay caused by customs – this situation is encountered when the necessary documents are filled incorrectly or are missing;
  • Difficult access to the property – sometimes, the courier needs an access code in order to be able to enter the building. Make sure you provide this information when placing the order, otherwise, the courier will leave and a new delivery attempt will be scheduled for a new date;
  • Unclear writing due to bad printing quality – low pixels or grey ink can make the label hard to read and hard to be scanned. After trying to decode it, the courier might just return it to the shipper;
  • Marked as undeliverable – when the packages reach the first depot, they are scanned. When there is a suspicion that they contain any restricted items (lithium batteries for instance), they are marked as undeliverable;
  • Weather conditions – sometimes, unforeseen situations that are beyond the carrier’s control can affect the time of delivery. Bad weather can block the roads or slow down the transit and cause a delayed delivery;
  • The delivery address is a Postal Office – no courier companies pick-up or deliver the package to a P.O. box, so make sure you write a street address;
  • Failed delivery attempts – courier drivers have a number of packages that they need to deliver and collect daily. This means that most of the time they cannot go back to the same address where they have already tried to deliver the package. Moreover, they cannot wait for the shipper or recipient too long because any delay translates into another package not being shipped on the scheduled day.

! Usually, courier companies make 2 or 3 attempts to deliver the package, but on different days. If nobody is present at the address when the courier driver arrives, he will try to deliver the package again the next working day. After these attempts, the package will most likely be stored in the courier’s warehouse for 5-7 days and the customer can pick it up directly from there.

  • Refused by the recipient – this happens when the recipient is not informed about the fact that he/she should expect to receive a package. Make sure you let the recipient know that they should expect a package to be delivered to their address;
  • Temporary technical issues which cumber the carrier to provide services under normal circumstances and properly manage the situation – when this happens, customers are usually notified about the problem and are given a time estimation for the time necessary to fix it;
  • Maintenance work or building work – even though it is not a common reason, maintenance work around the building or in the building might make the delivery difficult;
  • Protective pets – dogs are very loyal and protective of their own territory, that is why you have to make sure your doorbell works properly and you hear it even though the dog might bark loudly;
  • Courier drivers have a prescheduled route – the time when your package gets delivered depends on whether your address is at the beginning of his route or at the end of it. Courier drivers usually work from 9 am to 6 pm (at least the courier service providers that we collaborate with). You should always bear in mind that during peak seasons, such as winter or summer holidays, due to the high volume of packages and intensive work, they might arrive after 6 and cause a delayed delivery.

    Do you still have some questions? Feel free to contact us!

Last modified: April 29, 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *