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Delivery Exception: An Ultimate Guide on What It Is and How to Avoid

Courier is confused due to a lot of packages to deliver. concept of overwork
Featured image credit: alphaspirit/iStockphoto.com

Thanks to Amazon, online shoppers today want faster deliveries, even same-day or same-hour. So, receiving a delivery exception notice from one of your carriers can create unwanted customer service problems.

For example, your customer might leave a bad review online or ask for a refund, while you might still be busy investigating and figuring out solutions.

Can you afford that?

This guide will thus help you understand what delivery exceptions mean, how you can handle them, how you can minimize delivery exceptions, and so on.

Let’s take a deep dive into the matter.

What Is a Delivery Exception?

“Delivery exception” is a logistics term that refers to an unexpected event, roadblock, or challenge that prevents or delays delivery of a package to the customer.

NOTE: A delivery exception doesn’t always mean late delivery though. It could mean that there was a roadblock that halted progression or required your attention somewhere along the journey during the package delivery process.

Why Does the Delivery Exception Happen?

Delivery exceptions can happen due to the following reasons:

  • Severe weather conditions
  • Customs related issues
  • Unreadable shipping addresses
  • Error in the delivery addresses
  • Federal holidays
  • Lost package

Let’s take a look at the reasons in detail:

Error in Delivery/Shipping Address or Damaged Labels

Delivery glitches happen due to either an incorrect shipping address or a damaged label.

  • Address Issues: Even the slightest mistake in the apartment number or zip code can cause problems in delivery. This can lengthen the delivery time.
  • Damaged Labels: If the courier is unable to read the delivery address or scan the barcode, the package may get delayed. It is called a delivery exception due to damaged labels.


During peak holiday seasons, disruptions in courier services are common. If there is a national holiday during the transit, packages may not be delivered.

Also, shipping carriers don’t operate on federal holidays. This can cause a delay or delivery exception if the carriers have a backlog of shipments.

Pick-Ups and Deliveries

The pick-up exceptions generally take place when the delivery person of a logistics company fails to find the products scheduled for pick-up or the delivery address.

In such a case, the customer has to resubmit the pick-up or delivery request.

Loss and Damage

Accidents can happen on the course of delivery, even after the delivery companies have put the safety measures in place.

  • Damage: If the package is damaged, the item is generally returned to the initial dispatch station with a damaged note attached.
  • Loss: Shipping companies may find that a package is missing, preventing the delivery. In such a case, the customer will receive a loss exception notice.

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Weather Conditions or “Acts of God”

Delivery of packages may get delayed due to an impassable delivery route caused by a natural disaster (flood, wildfire, tornado, hurricane, and so on) or other weather issues.

These natural disasters are also called “Acts of God” because they are beyond anyone’s control. They can cause unpredictable delays.

Delivery Exceptions May Vary Between Carriers

  • If you use FedEx, you may sometimes receive a notice code “PMX”. In that case, the package(s) will not be delivered through the courier’s normal route. Thus, the shipment was either returned to the nearest delivery station or the delivery person will reattempt delivery the next day.
  • The most common reasons for delivery exceptions for USPS are holidays and incorrect addresses.
  • The most common reasons for UPS delivery exceptions include unknown address, shipment damage, and “signature not received”.

How Can Delivery Exceptions Affect Logistics Businesses?

Delivery exceptions can affect logistics businesses in five ways:

1. Inefficiency: Delivery exceptions are resource-intensive as you have to utilize your existing resources to manage the exceptions. As most businesses lack the resources for handling the exceptions, it leads to inefficiency.

2. Wasted resources: Delays are caused by the delivery exceptions, costing you potential revenue loss.

3. Lost overhead: The overhead bill of a logistics business increases when it has to provide additional truck rolls, delivery runs,          support team members, dispatchers, time, and other resources to deal with the delivery exceptions.

4. Poor customer experiences: If the delivery exception leads to a delay in delivery, the business may have to bear the burden of negative customer ratings and reviews.

5.  Hurt bottom line: The profit margin drops when a logistics business has to refund the shipping cost.

How to Respond to Delivery Exceptions?

If there are delivery exceptions, an eCommerce business may respond in the following three ways:

  • Contact the Carrier

When you receive a notification about a delivery exception, you should track the exact status of the package online and know the reason for the delay. Then, call the carrier and try to find out whether the issue can be resolved by providing them with the correct address or other details.

  • Contact the Customer

If the shipping address of the customer is incorrect, try reaching them to verify their address and make corrections, where needed.

Also, let the customer know (either by calling them or sending an email) of any possible delay in the delivery or half of the operations.

Don’t forget to thank the customer for his or her patience. Turn a suboptimal situation into a positive experience by maintaining transparency and offering help in every step of the delivery process.

  • Refund or Resend the Package

If the package can’t be delivered due to a delivery exception, always contact the customer to seek permission to either resend the package or refund him or her. If the item was damaged during transit, the shipping insurance will cover the same.

How to Avoid Delivery Exceptions Using Route Optimization Software?

There are several ways route optimization software like Route4Me can help you avoid delivery exceptions because of the powerful features such software offer:

Advanced dynamic route optimization technology

Route4Me’s multi-stop route planner can help you avoid delivery exceptions by streamlining your routing and scheduling process.

The software’s dynamic route optimization technology instantly and automatically calculates the most efficient routes, estimates the arrival times, and helps plan future deliveries in advance.

The delivery scheduling software also factors in multiple constraints, such as weather, traffic, avoidance zones, and left turns so your drivers will never get stuck on the road and will always make on-time deliveries.

Apple Maps or Google Maps delivery route planner cannot factor in such a wide variety of constraints.

Customer Portal

The best route planners, including Route4Me, come with a  customer portal feature that allows your customers to track a wide array of information about their deliveries (such as the estimated time of delivery, the identity of the driver, and custom fields) and monitor the same in real-time.

This information minimizes customer interaction with the delivery personnel and other works related to administrative and customer services.

Route4Me’s customer portal allows your customers to log in to Route4Me using a tracking number or the customer’s Account ID to monitor the status of an inbound visit. The customer portal shows them as much (or as little) information as you want to reveal to them about the visit.

Customer Alerting and Notifications

Route4Me’s delivery route planner comes with a customer alerting and notification feature that notifies your customers whenever their packages are nearby.

    • For example, customers can be notified with approximate arrival time (with up to five-minute accuracy).
    • Customers can know that their deliveries are arriving when the delivery person comes within 5 miles, 5 kilometers, or 5-minutes of their locations.
    • Customers may receive automatic SMS text messages or an email with a tracking URL so that they can know where the delivery driver has approached.

Therefore, the customer is always in the loop and the customer service team will have minimum involvement in low-value activities. Also, your customers would love transparency.

Moreover, when customers know when they can expect their deliveries, they are more likely to be available to receive the packages and you will have fewer failed deliveries.

Real-Time Tracking

The best route planners come with vehicle tracking features. For example, Route4Me’s route planner app, with a one-second refresh time, can help you know about your drivers’ progress and activities in real-time.

It offers you up-to-the-minute Dynamic Route ETAs as well as Dynamic Route Manifests, making it easier for you to monitor on-road movements.

So, if anything goes wrong, you can immediately take corrective actions. For example, you can keep track of aggressive driving, drivers slacking off, and vehicle breakdowns.

Bulk Geocoder

Route4Me’s route planner comes with a geocoding feature that automatically rectifies any wrong addresses entered into the system.

Our bulk geocoder can geocode thousands or even millions of addresses per day.

Managing this volume of geocodes would have taken weeks or even months of work manually, but with the help of Route4Me, you can manage thousands and millions of geocodes almost instantaneously.

Route4Me provides four types of geocoding: mobile app geocoding, web app geocoding, desktop/command line geocoding, and API geocoding.

So how do you avoid delivery exceptions? Do you have any questions? Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Want To See For Yourself How Route4Me Can Boost Your Profits?

Whether you want to slash the time it takes you to plan routes for your drivers, increase the number of stops they can make, or keep your customers satisfied knowing that your drivers show up on time… Route4Me helps you achieve that!

Start Free 7 Day Trial


About Route4Me

Route4Me has over 34,000 customers globally. Route4Me's Android and iPhone mobile apps have been downloaded over 2 million times since 2009. Extremely easy-to-use, Route4Me's apps create optimized routes, synchronize routes to mobile devices, enable communication with drivers and customers, offer turn-by-turn directions, delivery confirmation, and more. Behind the scenes, Route4Me's operational optimization platform combines high-performance algorithms with data science, machine learning, and big data to plan, optimize, and analyze routes of almost any size in real-time.