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Martin Smith

Pegasus Couriers MD

What happens to undelivered parcels?

If you are not at home, what happens to your parcel?

Waiting for a parcel delivery can be an exciting experience, but it can also be frustrating if it is late or doesn’t arrive. There are several reasons why a courier driver might not be able to deliver your parcel, and what happens to your parcel will vary depending on the reason. While sometimes it is human error, other times it can be related to several factors, such as the wrong address on the label or a hold-up from the sender.

Safe location or neighbour - sometimes

If the courier driver cannot deliver your parcel to your address, they can leave it in a safe location, but only if you have given those instructions.

This could be with a neighbour, in a secure building, or a designated safe place at your address. If the couriers cannot leave the parcel in a safe place, they will usually leave a note or automated notification on your account with instructions on arranging redelivery. In some cases, couriers also allow collection directly from the depot. Alternatively, if time permits, the courier may attempt redelivery later the same day.


It’s worth noting that some couriers are not permitted to leave a parcel in a safe place unless there are specific instructions to do so. This is because of the risk of porch theft. Theft of parcels is an increasing problem across the UK and the world. An estimated 10,485 parcels were stolen in the UK between 2021 and 2022.   Please read our article on porch piracy and theft for more details.

Undelivered parcels and what happens to them

Oops - Delivery to the Wrong Address

The most common reason for an undelivered parcel is that the address on the label is incorrect. This could be for several reasons, such as a data capturing error or the client providing the incorrect address. 

If this is the case, some companies contact the customer or sender to get the correct address. Other companies rely on the customer contacting the sender or courier provider to correct the information.

 If your parcel is delayed by a few days, I would suggest you check with the sender in the first instance.

Parcel Size and Value:

As explained previously, courier drivers don’t know the contents of the packages. However, in some cases, such as when delivering items like a Television, the content is marked on the box.

Most companies have policies regarding leaving bulky or high-value items in a safe place. If you are expecting such items, it is sensible to ensure someone is at the address to receive the parcel or use the courier’s app to re-arrange the delivery to a more convenient time. 

Tips and Reasons:

Some reasons why a courier might not be able to deliver a parcel:


Tips for ensuring that your parcel is delivered successfully:

  • Make sure that you provide the sender with the correct address.
  • If you are not home when the parcel is delivered, use the options provided to re-arrange delivery or give instructions to leave the parcel in a safe place if you are confident it is safe. 
  • If you are expecting a fragile parcel, ask the sender to mark it as “fragile” so that the courier and warehouse workers know to handle it carefully.
  • If you expect a valuable parcel, consider using a tracked delivery service.
  • If you have problems with your parcel delivery, contact the courier company or sender immediately.

Refusal to Accept the Parcel Due to Damage.

If the customer has refused the delivery, the parcel will be returned to the depot for further investigation. This could be for several reasons, the most obvious being damage to the parcel or the wrong address on the label. In the case of damage, the customer should get in touch with the sender. The sender and courier will need to resolve the damage issue and perhaps re-send the item if appropriate.
bulky or high-value items in a safe place. If you are expecting such items, it is sensible to ensure someone is at the address to receive the parcel or use the courier’s app to re-arrange the delivery to a more convenient time. 

Preplan for Busy Periods

Like the shopping centres get busy over Christmas, so do couriers. With the increase in online shopping, it is wise to get in before the boom. Last-minute online shopping often leads to issues due to sheer volume based on demand. Remember that several other factors can lead to delays such as damaged parcels, out-of-stock items, returned-to-depot parcels and so on.

What Options are Available to Customers if their Package is Undelivered?

If your package has not been delivered, several options are available. Firstly, contact the delivery company’s customer service team and request a redelivery attempt. This could be done either through their website or by calling them directly. Customers can also track their package online for updates on its whereabouts. 

Finally, if all else fails, customers can contact the company that sent the package for assistance.

Interested in becoming a courier driver?

 If you want to become a courier driver, apply on our website and we will call you back.


Become a courier driver today, visit our website for more information and to apply.


Other exciting topics we’ve recently covered include how one of our drivers rescue a stranded woman in the floods as well. More articles discuss Courier Driver insurance and professional courier driver tips.

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