Package hasn't arrived. No tracking number. Lost cause?
December 29, 2011 5:09 PM   Subscribe

Sent package from MN to Toronto 3 weeks ago. It hasn't arrived. I have no way to track it. Is this a lost cause?

I mailed a package via USPS from Minneapolis to Toronto on December 6th. I used whatever the lowest rate would be. Package had a single gift in it, and was medium-sized. My friend hasn't received it yet.

To my deep (deep!) regret, I didn't get a tracking number, confirmation/delivery receipt or insurance, and I no longer have the receipt for the transaction. I asked a clerk at the post office if there was anything I could do, and she said no. This sounds right to me, but I've received different answers from different people for the same question at this particular post office before.

The address was clearly marked and correct on the package, as was my return address. The only thing I can think of that was off was the customs amount - I hurriedly/accidentally wrote $20, while the item was actually $200, though I don't know how customs would know that (no receipt in box and gift was an ordinary-looking purse). I realized this after I had left the post office, and shrugged it off, but perhaps it's a bigger deal than I thought.

I've successfully sent an item to the same person/address before.

Is there anything I or my recipient can do to track down the package with these variables? My hunch is no, but I want to make sure there isn't something I'm not thinking of before we call it a lost cause and/or a cautionary tale to always, always get a tracking number and insurance.
posted by Laura Macbeth to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
Response by poster: I found this thread, where several commenters mention that US to Canada December deliveries are slow as hell. I hope that's the case, but I'd still like to make sure I'm covering my bases.
posted by Laura Macbeth at 5:12 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: Stuff can sit in customs for weeks. I have waited well over a month for packages coming the other way.
posted by Susurration at 5:21 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: Former shipper here: In theory, you should be able to call USPS and say, I sent this package from this postal code to this postal code and address on this date, can you find it for me? Or your friend contact Canada Post to see if it's being held at customs for some reason. But the USPS (for various reasons we've all been hearing about on the news and etc.) is pretty inefficient and often not terribly keen on helping you. And service is extremely slow, especially during the holidays. But that's my suggestion - you call the 1800 (because I've found that the call center people tend to be more willing to help). However, a lot of times in their own system USPS can't find things. It is probably sitting in customs, though, so your friend might have more luck on the Canadian side.

Don't feel too bad about not insuring it or getting tracking. It probably would have made no difference as USPS rather arbitrarily updates things not terribly often. I'd simply not use USPS again, frankly.
posted by sm1tten at 5:24 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: I've had packages take over a month *domestically* via USPS. Not regularly, but it's happened to me more than once. At this point, I never really consider it a lost cause...
posted by primethyme at 5:30 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: 3 weeks isn't that long for non-expedited packages. i've had packages sit in customs longer than that. I'd wait a bit longer. it will get there.
posted by purephase at 5:39 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is normal and annoying. I've had the same thing happen to me. I'd suggest that your friend call Canada Post just to allay your concerns, but regular slowness combined with holidaytime make this a totally reasonable, if aggravating, delay.
posted by jessamyn at 5:46 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: Agreeing - don't forget, count only business days. Because the Canadian Postal Service isn't so hot these days either. Unlike some places in the US, there's no mail in Toronto on Saturdays too, as far as already slow service goes. Regular Christmas cards took at least four days, if not more, this year - and that's just mailed within blocks. After all, the Canadian Postal Service advertises their small packet (under 1kg) surface mail to the US "in as few as 6 days" - like that's fast. So, it's been only about 15 business days, which, depending on customs or border issues, isn't unusual at all.
posted by peagood at 6:08 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: I usually expect to wait a month for anything to arrive from/reach Canada, and I'm only about ninety minutes from the border. So nthing the advice to wait a bit longer.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:27 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: As an parcel handling employee for the Canadian postal service, I wouldn't start worrying until at least a month has passed. As mentioned in this thread, both postal services are experiencing various serious issues (including staffing issues on the Canadian side), and once you are involving customs during the month of December, without a tracing code, yes it can take that long. Basically everything with a tracing code gets processed first and the regular parcels end up at the back of the line. Add to that the enormous swell in parcel volumes at Xmas time (especially coming over the border near Toronto which is a major distribution point) and there you go.
posted by smartypantz at 6:32 PM on December 29, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I feel much better knowing that this is a common issue. I'll wait a few more weeks before I take next steps. Thanks again!
posted by Laura Macbeth at 6:57 PM on December 29, 2011

I sent something out on the 16th. It was sent International first class and was supposed to arrive before Christmas. It showed up yesterday. Canada Post had a long holiday it seems.
posted by PlutoniumX at 7:45 AM on December 30, 2011

Response by poster: Update: sadly, the package never arrived. My Canadian pal called her office. Her office called mine. My office called me. We filed a claim with the Lost Package Department, but no luck.
posted by Laura Macbeth at 6:06 PM on March 21, 2012

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