What Does “Tendered to Returns Agent” Mean for Your USPS Package?

tendered to returns agent

Seeing the tracking status “tendered to returns agent” can be puzzling if you’re expecting a delivery. This tracking update indicates your package is being returned to sender by USPS rather than making it to the intended destination. But why does this happen and what should you do?

When a USPS package gets handed off to a returns agent, it means the post office has determined they are unable to complete delivery of the item for some reason. Now the package is on its way back to the original shipper through the returns process instead of proceeding to the recipient address.

While this may be disappointing news if you were awaiting the package, don’t panic yet. There are actions you can take to potentially correct the issue and get your package delivered successfully on a second attempt.

Common Reasons for Return to Sender Packages

USPS packages get returned to the original sender rather than delivered for a variety of potential reasons:

  • Incorrect shipping address provided – This is one of the most common triggers, where the delivery details are inaccurate or incomplete. Checking the full, correct recipient address against the shipping label is important to look for discrepancies. Even small typos can prevent successful delivery.
  • Insufficient postage paid – If the package weighs more than the postage amount paid by the shipper, it may get bounced back rather than delivered. Carefully weighing packages before mailing can help avoid returns for insufficient postage.
  • Refused delivery – If the recipient is not available to accept the package or rejects it upon delivery, USPS will send it back rather than leaving it. Communicating with recipients prior to shipping can prevent refused delivery returns.
  • Prohibited or restricted contents – Trying to ship hazardous materials, restricted items, perishables, or other non-mailable contents through USPS can result in packages being returned to sender. Following USPS guidelines on allowed package contents is key.
  • Excessive damage – Badly damaged packages may be returned if USPS determines the condition too hazardous for delivery. Adequate packaging is important to prevent transit damage that could cause a return.

What Should You Do if Your Package is Returned?

If you receive notice that your USPS package was returned to the shipper, take these recommended steps:

  • Contact the sender/merchant to notify them of the return and request they verify the original shipping address. Ask them to double check for any discrepancies with the complete correct recipient address that may have caused a delivery failure.
  • Review the delivery address yourself also and compare it against the intended recipient’s full, accurate address details. Look for any typos, omissions, etc. that could have triggered the return.
  • Pay for return postage – For residential packages, the original sender is responsible for covering the postage costs of returning the package to them. This needs to be taken care of before re-shipping.
  • Investigate the package contents – If prohibited materials may have triggered the return, remove those and re-pack the box with only mailable contents before attempting redelivery.
  • Improve packaging if needed – If packaging damage contributed to the return, re-boxing the contents with reinforced materials can help ensure successful transit on the second try.
  • Request redelivery once any issues are addressed – Have the shipper resend the package with the corrected recipient address, postage, allowed contents, etc. for another delivery attempt.

With a little diligence and communication, many returned packages can get delivered on round two!

FAQs About USPS Return to Sender Packages

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about packages returned to sender by USPS:

Why is my package being returned if delivery is not complete?

USPS returns packages to senders once they determine the item cannot be delivered as addressed, whether due to an incorrect address, insufficient postage, refusal by recipient, or other issue. This gets the package back to the original shipper quickly so any problems can be corrected for re-shipping.

Who pays for the return shipping costs when a package can’t be delivered?

For residential mail, the original sender is responsible for return postage expenses. For commercial mail, the merchant and recipient address who covers return costs.

How can I avoid USPS returning my packages to sender unexpectedly?

Carefully verify recipient addresses, weigh packages accurately, ship only mailable contents, and pack items securely to avoid common return triggers like incorrect addresses, insufficient postage, prohibited contents, and packaging damage.

What happens if the original sender refuses a returned package?

If the shipper refuses a returned package, USPS may auction it off, dispose of it as waste, or deem it dead mail. To avoid this, senders should always accept returned packages and correct any issues for redelivery.

How long does it take USPS to return a package to the sender?

On average, packages returned to sender take 2-10 days in transit after being handed off to the returns agent. Specific timeframes vary based location, destination, and other factors.

Don’t Let Returns Delay Your Package

While having a package returned to sender can be an unexpected hassle, being aware of common causes for returns and taking action to correct issues can often get your item delivered on the second try. Verify addresses meticulously, handle packaging with care, follow postage requirements, and know prohibited shipping contents to minimize returns. With some diligent preparation, your USPS packages can arrive without incident.

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