Returned packages are a large part of the shipping industry, and carriers send undeliverable packages back to senders for all sorts of reasons. Some of those include the carrier not being able to access the doorstep or mailbox, the recipient not being home, and in rare cases, overprotective dogs that bite delivery workers who try to get past them. As the sender, whether or not you’ll need to pay for a returned package depends on the carrier you used and the service you shipped with.
Table of Contents
- Returns vs. Return to Sender Packages: What’s the Difference?
- USPS Only Makes You Pay for Returned Packages for Lightweight USPS Ground Advantage Shipments
- What About UPS and FedEx?
Returns vs. Return to Sender Packages: What’s the Difference?
It’s important to note the difference between a package that a customer returns to you and a Return to Sender package, which a carrier deems as “Undeliverable” for whatever reason.
When a customer returns a package to you, you’ll more often than not be responsible for providing the postage, which you can include in your original shipment as a return label. Return labels don’t get charged to you unless they get scanned in by the carrier. At that point, you’ll be charged for the cost of the return postage plus any applicable small service fees.
A Return to Sender package, on the other hand, refers to a package that the carrier sends back to you because they couldn’t carry out the delivery. These situations have nothing to do with your customer or your recipient, since they likely never got the package in the first place.
USPS Only Makes You Pay for Returned Packages for Lightweight USPS Ground Advantage Shipments
For nearly all USPS services, you won’t be forced to pay for any packages that are returned to you. However, you will have to pay for a returned package in the case of some USPS Ground Advantage shipments under a certain weight.
USPS doesn’t offer free returns for Ground Advantage packages under 1 lb (1 pound) that are marked Return to Sender. Those packages will have postage due when USPS picks up the package or when it’s dropped off at the Post Office to be returned. On the other hand, USPS offers free returns for Ground Advantage packages over 1 lb (1 pound) that are marked Return to Sender.
What About UPS and FedEx?
Unlike how USPS handles most of their shipments, both UPS and FedEx charge shippers for packages that are undeliverable. If you ship with either UPS or FedEx, you have to pay the return postage for undeliverable shipments, as well as any additional costs of intercepting the package and any surcharges.’
Whether you’re a small business shipper or an individual sending a one-off parcel, you should keep in mind that none of the major carriers in the U.S. offer refunds for packages that are returned to you.