Seasonal shipping: What to do if your packages didn’t arrive on time

Rights, Money

The three main shipping services in the U.S. — USPS, UPS and FedEx — all expected to see an increase in the number of packages delivered this season. FedEx expected to handle 290 million packages, UPS expected 585 million, and USPS anticipated 475 million.

If you haven’t mailed your packages yet, there’s still time with a few select services. Use this guide to be better prepared for the next holiday shipping season.

Did your gifts not arrive on time or at all? Read on for what to do if packages are lost, stolen or damaged.

Stop shipping disasters: Stolen, damaged and lost packages

UPS got in trouble two years ago when one of its deliverymen was caught stealing a package just delivered by FedEx. Earlier this year, a FedEx deliveryman got in trouble for stealing packages from a number of recipients, including the police. While unusual, it can happen. To prevent your packages from being stolen, try these tips:

  • Request the package be held for pickup; see below for details
  • Ship the package to your office or a place where someone is present to receive it
  • Ask a neighbor to watch for delivery and hold on to the package
  • Request delivery to your backdoor
  • Require signature if possible

In case your package is lost, damaged or stolen, insurance can cover it. USPS, UPS and FedEx offer declared value coverage, but you can supplement that with third-party insurance if your package is especially valuable. 

United States Postal Service (USPS)

2014 holiday shipping deadlines

Send your mail by the dates below to ensure it arrives by Dec. 25. Find the full list of dates for domestic, international and military mail on the USPS holiday deadlines page.

  • Dec. 2 — First-Class Mail International
  • Dec. 2 — Priority Mail International
  • Dec. 10 — Priority Mail Express International
  • Dec. 15 — Standard Post
  • Dec. 17 — Global Express Guaranteed
  • Dec. 20 — First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 20 — Priority Mail
  • Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express

Priority Mail Express and Global Express are the only mail types that come with a money-back guarantee. If the mail is not delivered by the specified date, you can file a claim to get your money back. 

Request hold for pickup to stop stolen packages 

For certain mail types, including Express Mail, Priority Mail, First-Class Mail and Parcel Select, you can have a package held up to 15 days at a designated post office. 

File a claim for lost or damaged packages

If a package is lost or damaged, file a claim. Most claims must be filed within 60 days, but for military mail shipped to an army, fleet or diplomatic post office, you may have up to a year to file a claim. 

Get coverage 

USPS offers several insurance options, including up to $5,000 of coverage with standard insurance and up to $25,000 on registered mail items. 

United Parcel Service (UPS)

2014 holiday shipping deadlines

Find the full list of key shipping dates for Christmas and New Year’s. Two to note:

Dec. 22 — UPS 2nd Day Air for delivery on Dec. 24

Dec. 23 — UPS Next Day Air for delivery on Dec. 24

Some mail types do include a money-back guarantee.

File a claim for lost or damaged packages 

Report a lost package or a damaged package so the claim can be processed for reimbursement. 

Get coverage 

On shipments with no declared value, the insurance is capped at $100. You can purchase additional insurance up to $50,000 per package with a declared value. 

Request hold for pickup to stop stolen packages 

UPS can hold your package up to five days. 

Federal Express (FedEx)

2014 holiday shipping deadlines

The last days to ship to make it on or before Dec. 25 vary depending on the package’s destination and what service you’re using, so check with FedEx directly. FedEx SameDay service is available 365 days a year, so you can send a package on Christmas for same-day delivery.

FedEx’s money-back guarantee policy gives them more leeway during holiday deliveries and, in some cases, suspends guarantees altogether during high-volume dates.

File a claim for lost or damaged packages 

You have 21 days, 60 days, or nine months to file a claim for package loss or damage, depending on mail type and claim. 

Request hold for pickup to stop stolen packages 

Call or go online and use your tracking number online to request hold for pickup service. 

Get coverage 

Like UPS, the maximum liability for packages without any declared value is limited to $100. Contact FedEx to find out how to purchase additional coverage up to $50,000 per package for many types of service.