What is USPS Processing Exception – A Comprehensive Guide To Understanding Tracking

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Seeing a “processing exception” notice on your USPS tracking can be confusing and concerning. This article will explain what a USPS processing exception is, why it happens, and what you can do about delivery delays. Read on to demystify common shipping issues and get your packages delivered on time.

What is a USPS Processing Exception?

A USPS processing exception means there has been an interruption in the delivery process for a mail piece or package. It indicates the item has been delayed while in transit for some reason.

Processing exceptions can occur at any point between the item being accepted by the Postal Service and being delivered. Common reasons include:

  • Incorrect address
  • Damage to the packaging
  • Issues with customs processing
  • Inclement weather conditions
  • Problems scanning the barcode/tracking number

The tracking status will update to “processing exception” to show it is experiencing a delay. However, this does not necessarily mean the item is lost or will never arrive. Most packages are only briefly held up before proceeding to delivery.

Why Would My Package Have a Processing Exception?

There are a variety of reasons a USPS processing exception could occur. Here are some of the most common causes:

Inaccurate Addressing

If the shipping label contains errors such as an incorrect street name, ZIP code, or apartment/unit number, it can cause delays in routing and delivery. The local post office may need to investigate where to send the package.

Damage During Transit

Sometimes packages can become damaged while being processed and shipped. If a parcel appears tampered with or the contents are exposed, the Postal Service will halt delivery to contain the situation.

Weather Events

Inclement weather such as snow, heavy rain, or flooding can temporarily disrupt transportation and mail processing. Your package may get held up until conditions improve.

Customs Processing Problems

International shipments need to go through customs before final delivery. Issues like missing paperwork or unauthorized contents can cause packages from other countries to be seized.

Barcode Scanning Errors

USPS relies on automated systems to sort and route packages. If the barcode is damaged or unable to be read, it can cause a processing hiccup.

What Are Common USPS Processing Exceptions?

The most frequent processing exceptions and delivery scans you may see include:

  • “In Transit, Arriving Late” – The package has missed its expected delivery date and may be delayed for a day or two.
  • “Available for Pickup” – The item is being held at a postal facility for retrieval instead of being delivered.
  • “Delayed” – Similarly, the package is currently held up while in transit.
  • “Arrived at Post Office” – The parcel has arrived in the local delivery area but there may be additional handling before delivery.
  • “Departed Shipping Partner Facility” – The package left the shipper’s site and is in initial stages of postal network transit.

How Long Do USPS Processing Exceptions Delay Delivery?

Most processing exceptions only result in a brief 1-3 day delay. However, occasionally packages may get stuck for longer periods depending on the reason:

  • Incorrect Addresses – Could be held up for a week or more awaiting identification.
  • Damage – Up to 10 days waiting for next steps depending on severity.
  • Weather – Typically just 1-3 days during the storm.
  • Customs – Could be weeks or months if documentation issues arise.
  • Barcode Problems – Usually a few days at most to identify the proper route.

While processing exceptions can be a nuisance, they are usually resolved quickly by USPS staff. If your package has not updated after about a week, you may need to take action to locate it.

What Should I Do if My Package Has a Processing Exception?

Here are some tips on dealing with delivery exceptions:

  • Be patient – Allow a few days for the exception to clear up on its own. Many resolve once the Postal Service identifies the issue.
  • Check the tracking status frequently – This can give you clues on what went wrong and if any progress is being made.
  • Contact USPS customer service – Ask for more details on the cause and expected delivery. They can investigate from their end.
  • Request redelivery for accurate address issues – If you provided the wrong details, you can have it rerouted properly.
  • Inspect the packaging when received – Make sure your items were not damaged before accepting delivery.
  • File a claim if needed – For lost or damaged goods, you can submit a claim to be compensated.

As frustrating as processing exceptions can be, they are a recoverable occurrence. With some patience and checking in with USPS, you can get back on track for on-time delivery.

Can I Get a Refund for USPS Processing Exceptions?

For USPS shipping services like Priority Mail Express, you may be eligible for a postage refund if your guaranteed delivery deadline was missed due to a processing exception.

To request a refund or credit:

  • Call USPS customer service at 1-800-222-1811 to report the delay.
  • Provide your tracking number and information on the expected vs. actual delivery date.
  • A representative can submit a refund request on your behalf.
  • Eligible requests should be approved within 30 days after initiating.

Refunds are generally not available for other shipping classes like First Class or Priority Mail since delivery timeframes are estimates. But for EXPRESS service, a processing exception means USPS failed to meet its commitment. Just be sure to promptly contact USPS about qualifying late deliveries.

Avoiding USPS Processing Exceptions: Packaging and Addressing Tips

While some processing exceptions are unavoidable, you can take steps to minimize delays by ensuring careful, accurate packaging and addressing:

  • Only use sturdy boxes in good condition – No rips, holes, or dents.
  • Pad contents generously with bubble wrap or packing peanuts.
  • Use strong tape designed for shipping. Reinforce all edges and seams.
  • Make sure the shipping label is secured smoothly without wrinkles or folds.
  • Print addresses clearly and completely – Include recipient name, street, city, state, ZIP code.
  • Verify the address by double-checking public records.
  • Include apartment or unit numbers if applicable.
  • Write addresses manually if prone to computer typos.
  • Attach paper with addresses inside the package as well in case the label is damaged.

With extra care taken during packing and addressing, you can avoid many hiccups that lead to frustrating delivery exceptions. Sending complete, undamaged parcels using accurate details goes a long way towards timely delivery.

USPS Processing Exceptions Happen – But Your Package Will Arrive!

Seeing a “processing exception” scan for your package can certainly be worrying and inconvenient. But with the scale of USPS operations, it is impossible to avoid occasional hiccups along the delivery journey.

Now that you understand the common causes and resolutions for processing exceptions, you can stay informed on where your package is and when to expect delivery. While delays can be bothersome, your mail or parcels will eventually arrive safely in almost all cases. Just hang in there and keep an eye on the tracking updates!

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Processing exceptions mean a temporary delay, not necessarily a lost package
  • Incorrect addresses, weather, customs, and damage are common reasons
  • Contact USPS if stuck for more than several days to locate it
  • Check tracking frequently for updated delivery estimates
  • Claims can reimburse you for missed EXPRESS service guarantees
  • Careful packaging and accurate addressing helps avoid exceptions

With this knowledge, you can navigate USPS processing exceptions assured that your mail and packages will ultimately complete their journey and reach their destination.

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