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What Is a Delivery Exception and How To Manage It?

Having goods delivered to your customers in the agreed-upon time frame is an important aspect of maintaining your business’ reputation. However, sometimes factors outside your and your carrier’s control can unexpectedly delay a shipment – which leads to a delivery exception.

Delivery exceptions are an expected feature of shipping goods. As they are a normal part of operating a business, it is important to know how they function and how you should handle them, especially if your customers turn to you for support when a shipment is delayed. So, we want to tell you why shipment exceptions happen and how you can manage them. Keep reading to learn more about this issue and ensure customer satisfaction.

What Is an Exception in Shipping?

A delivery exception, otherwise known as a shipment exception, means that your cargo has encountered issues in transit due to unforeseen circumstances, which may lead to a change in the delivery date of the cargo. Most carriers will notify you of the delay and the reason for the delivery exception.

Note that an exception in delivery may lead to a change in the shipping delivery date. It all depends on the complexity of the issue in question and whether it can be resolved in a timely manner. Professional carriers employ advanced tracking and shipping technology and have experience dealing with issues in the delivery process.

Even if your package experiences issues, your customers may still receive their orders on time. Depending on the type of delivery exception you encounter, it may not affect your business operations in any practical sense, or it may just be a minor inconvenience. Conversely, you may need to deal with delivery exceptions proactively.

Common Reasons for Delivery Exceptions

As was previously mentioned, delivery exceptions are part and parcel of shipping goods. Consequently, certain common causes of delivery exceptions have been identified. Some are relatively simple and can be dealt with on your end before you ship the goods. However, some are harder to predict and will need to be dealt with as they happen.

Delivery Exceptions You Could Potentially Prevent

Incorrect Address

Most often, the shipping carrier will return packages with an incorrect delivery address to their dispatch station or to the sender. This can delay the delivery time until the correct address is established. The simplest solution is to ensure that the shipping address is correct before shipping your package.

However, the label could be damaged at some point in the shipping process and cause a delay in the shipment. In such situations, your quickest recourse is to contact your carrier as soon as you receive the delivery exception notice and provide them with the correct address.

National Holidays

There are two reasons why national (or any other popular) holidays can cause a delivery exception to occur: 

  1. your carrier does not operate during these times; 
  2. the increased shipping volume is causing a delay in the delivery of your package.

There are a few options available to you if the holidays are causing a delivery delay. For one, you could contract with a carrier that operates during national holidays. Then, you could choose not to ship packages during national holidays. However, as most businesses see an increase in orders during these times, that is often not a practical solution.

If you are shipping your goods internationally, you also need to factor in the national holidays of the country you are shipping to. In case delivery exceptions are a regular occurrence during national holidays and significantly impact your business, you may wish to consider changing carriers.

Incomplete/Missing Documentation

This is not a common issue with domestic shipping. However, it is a common cause of delivery exceptions if your goods are shipped cross-border. You can make sure that all of the required shipping documents are provided to avoid delays in the delivery of your packages.

Regulatory Delays

Shipping some goods is regulated by specific laws, and consequently, they need to be shipped a specific way and require additional documentation/clearances. You should always consult the applicable laws and provide the proper shipping documentation if you are sending goods that might fall outside the scope of standard shipping regulations.

Delivery Exceptions That Are Hard/Impossible to Prevent

Damage and Loss of Goods

Even with the best protections in place, goods sometimes get damaged during transit. This can cause a delivery exception, as your carrier will likely return the package to the dispatch station. Besides packing your goods safely to minimize the risks, there is not much else you can do to prevent your shipment from getting damaged.

You might also experience your package getting lost in transit. It can happen due to criminal activity or simple human error. Naturally, a package being lost or stolen will cause a delay exception until it is recovered or a new one is sent.

While you cannot prevent your package from being lost or stolen, you can safeguard against the consequences. Most carriers provide insurance for such cases, but it often covers only a portion of the value. However, you can take out shipping insurance for high-value packages to protect against potential losses.

Natural Disasters/Inclement Weather

Sometimes, natural causes will cause delay exceptions to your shipments. Whether it is due to wildfires, earthquakes, flash floods, hurricanes, or any other natural cause, there is not much that can be done to prevent delays. The only practical option is to inform your customer that their package will be delayed due to severe weather conditions and will be delivered as soon as possible.

There Was Nobody to Receive the Delivery

If your customer was informed of the time of delivery and nobody was present to sign for the package, once again, there is not much you can do about it. The delivery will have to be rescheduled until such a time as a person is made available to receive it.

3 Consequences of Delivery Exceptions

Now that the common causes of delivery expectations have been explained, we can deal with the 3 most common outcomes of a delivery exception:

  • No significant delay – you may have been notified of a delivery exception, but the issue was minor or caught in the early stages of the shipping process. Thus it was handled quickly, and your customers still received their packages on time.
  • Late shipments – the delivery exception was severe enough that the package was delivered late but was still able to get to the desired destination. The delay can range from one to multiple days. A common cause of this delay is when nobody was able to receive the package, or the volume of deliveries disabled the driver from delivering the package on time.
  • The package was returned to the sender – This is the most significant consequence of a delivery exception. This can happen either due to damage to the goods or incorrect information being provided (address/necessary documents) and not being resolved on time.

How to Deal with a Delivery Exception/Delayed Shipment

Each situation is unique, and the actionable steps you can take will depend on the cause of the delivery exception and the consequences. However, regardless of the situation, you could do the following:

  1. Contact your carrier – You can get detailed information regarding the reason for the delivery exception and the likely outcome. If the exception will not cause a significant delay or the carrier can handle it in-house, you may not need to take any further steps. If the delay will cause an issue with your customer, you will find out what the specific issue is and how to resolve it.
  2. Contact your customer – You may need to contact the customer to ascertain whether any of the information they provided is incorrect and causing the delivery exception to occur. Even if this is not the case, you may wish to contact them to apologize and assure them that their package will be delivered.
  3. Resending the package – If the package was returned, you might need to communicate with both the customer and your carrier about resending the package or, worst-case scenario, negotiating a refund.

Delivery Exceptions Are a Regular Occurrence

As delivery exceptions are a regular aspect of operating a business and delivering goods, we hope this article has answered the question of ‘what does delivery exception mean’ and explained the likely causes and outcomes and what actionable steps you can take to prevent them or deal with them as they happen.

To lower the chances of experiencing a delivery exception or a shipping delay, you need to pair up with a reliable logistics company. UNIVAL Logistics is here to provide you with secure and user-friendly end-to-end shipping solutions. We also offer full-value shipping insurance for your valuable parcels! 

Get in touch with us and let us ensure the safe arrival of your goods.

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