It’s estimated that 12% of parcel deliveries fail on the first attempt – that’s one in every eight. But what happens when a parcel can’t be delivered – where does it go, and how can a recipient try to get it back?

Unless you’ve specified a safe drop-off point, a courier can’t leave a parcel at an unattended property – particularly if it needs a signature. So if the recipient of the package isn’t available, the parcel will be taken back to the local depot to be held.

From here, it’s possible to rearrange delivery for another day when you know it will be successful. This is the most common result of a failed delivery, but on other occasions a delivery driver may retain the parcel for a follow up attempt the next day. Most couriers try to deliver a parcel as quickly as possible, so will return without being rebooked in order to complete the delivery.

Some couriers will offer a collection option from the local depot if a customer would prefer to pick it up – this is often preferred when a courier can only deliver during work hours, and the recipient is unable to be at home. A number of couriers, depending on the delivery, can also offer to deliver to a different address such as a workplace if permitted.

Usually a courier will attempt delivery three times. From here, it varies by courier as to what will happen to the parcel. Some will hold it at the depot for an extended period of time to await instruction either from the sender or the recipient. Others will return the parcel to the sender without waiting.

This is where courier services have an advantage over traditional mail – the extended tracking mean a complete sender address is always captured. If necessary, a parcel can always be returned to sender without any complications of an incomplete or withheld address, which can be an issue with normal mailings.

Technology is changing and better tracking options help to ensure parcel deliveries are becoming more successful. DPD Direct, launching this year, includes an app that can use GPS technology to detect when a recipient is at their delivery address – so if a delivery fails, but the person returns home later that day, another attempt can be made. Expect more advances as couriers try to ensure more parcels are delivered first time.

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