The other day, I noticed a message on my USPS tracking that stated ‘processing exception.’
What does a USPS processing exception mean? We looked into it and this is what we found…
What Is A USPS Processing Exception?
The phrase “Processing Exception” is a USPS update message which means your package delivery has been delayed because of unforeseen circumstances. This can occur for a number of reasons.
This article takes a look at the USPS delivery processes: how mail is tracked, what can go wrong, how you are informed of issues, and what you can do about them.
What Is USPS Delivery Messaging?
USPS provide a tracking service for most of their domestic mail products. Each piece of mail is assigned a tracking number. The sender (and receiver) can submit this number into the USPS tracking bar, which can be found on the USPS Welcome page or the tracking page.
The tracking page shows customers what a genuine tracking number looks like and where to find it. Submitting the number will bring up the latest tracking alert which has been assigned to your parcel. There are a number of ways you can access this information.
Package deliveries can be delayed, interrupted, or stopped for a range of reasons. There are so many possible unforeseen circumstances that the USPS has a document of codes used to assign a delivery status to each item.
“Processing Exception” is just one of these codes. It means that your delivery has paused because of exceptional circumstances, in other words, the delay is unexpected.
Why Are USPS Deliveries Delayed?
The USPS will deliver up to 143 billion pieces of mail in a calendar year – to at least 160 million addresses. There are many things that can go wrong (and do) to which the system is alerted. The issue must then be identified and fixed and the customer alerted.
Any one of the following interruptions can result in a “Processing Exception” or “Delivery exception” status:
- Fluctuations in volume of mail
- Availability of workers
- Weather conditions
- Road and traffic conditions
- Natural disasters
- Carriers unable to access delivery locations, either temporarily or permanently
- Carriers unable to find delivery locations
- Assigned mail class cannot deliver because there is no appropriate receiver (over the age of 21 or without ID)
- Assigned mail class cannot deliver because there is no one to sign for the package
- Carrier unable to leave delivery in a secure place
- Mailpieces are wrongly addressed or only partly addressed
- Mailpieces are wrongly addressed but accepted anyway (rather than being forwarded to the correct recipient)
- Packages with mailing information that is missing, damaged or unreadable
- Packages which come apart in the mail (and have no return address)
- Receivers refusing or not picking up mail
- Packages are stopped because they contain hazardous materials/items or items which are restricted or prohibited.
- Packages are stopped because the packaging features logos or advertising that is prohibited (icons featuring alcoholic products, for example)
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How Do You Fix A USPS Processing Exception?
USPS advise customers to first check the mail class you used for your package, check the delivery standard and take note of how long to wait before contacting USPS.
For example, if you used First Class Mail, the delivery standard is 1 – 5 days, and you are asked to contact customer service only after 5 days from date of mailing.
Priority Mail Express, however, has a guaranteed delivery standard of 1 – 2 days. Therefore, you should contact support as soon as this guarantee has been missed.
USPS Retail Ground has a 2 – 8 business day delivery standard but is not guaranteed. Therefore, you are advised to wait 14 days from date of mailing.
USPS also advise the constant checking of delivery status, which can be updated at nay time. If your “processing exception” is prolonged and there is no change to this status, you should submit an enquiry to USPS or visit your local Post Office. You’ll need your tracking information either way.
USPS have a Find Missing Mail page. Here you can begin (online) the process to find your mail. You can also complete this process at your local Post Office.
How Long Does A USPS Processing Exception Take?
There is no precise time unit given to USPS processing or delivery delays because the delays are both erratic and unexpected.
However, USPS offer a service called USPS Text Tracking, which alerts customers of the status of their packages. To access this service, enter your item’s tracking number on the USPS website. Then click “Text and Email Updates” and follow the prompts.
From the website you can elect one (or all) of the text tracking options offered:
- Expected delivery updates
- Day of delivery updates
- Available for pickup
- Delivery exception updates
You can also access delivery information by sending a text to 28777 (2USPS) with your tracking number as the contents of the text. The USPS reply will be the latest information on your delivery.
A further option is to send a text to 28777 (2USPS) with your tracking number and a key word. Keywords tell USPS the specific information you want, such as whether or not delivery has been attempted.
A keyword text request will consist of the package tracking number followed by the keyword. If, for example, you want to know all past and future activity on your package you would text the tracking number followed by a space and then “AA.” If you want to know future activity only, you’d message the tracking number followed by a space and then “AF.”
Notification of attempted deliveries is requested with “DND”, and delivery exceptions on a package, such as a weather delay or to schedule a redelivery, are both requested with “Alert”.
You can also stop the notifications (“Stop) or receive more information on the message codes (“Help”) or request all the notifications be sent to you (“ALL”).
Processing exceptions are a regular part of the USPS delivery service. If you receive a “processing exception” message in regard to your delivery, there’s no need to panic.
Check on the kind of delivery notifications you’re currently receiving and add the “Alert” code (for updates on the delay on your package) if necessary. Finally, contact USPS directly if the delivery status is not resolved.