What Happens If a Box Opens Up During USPS Shipping?

Improperly secured  boxes come open during shipping.
Improperly secured boxes come open during shipping. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

United States Postal Service employees make every effort they can to repair boxes that have opened or been damaged. This is one of the main reasons for insisting that a return address be on the package. Packages get damaged, and if the recipient's address should be missing or torn off, the package can be returned to the sender.

Actions Taken by Post Office Employees

If a box tears open during shipping, the postal worker who finds it will check the contents, close the box and tape it together. The worker may not be aware of any pieces or parts of the shipment that may have fallen out before the box was closed. If the worker is able to determine what is missing and it has been found, it is placed back in the box. Postal workers do all they can to keep the package en route to its destination. Notations may be added to the outside of the package indicating it was torn during shipment. A small package or letter may be placed in a clear envelope that contains the notation.

Insurance Claims

Claims for damaged or missing items in a box are usually presented by the mailer. It can be presented by the addressee but he must have the original retail receipt for the purchase of insurance. If the mailer paid for the insurance, then only the mailer can file the claim. An addressee who chose to pay for the insurance when the order was made, such as in an online purchase, is entitled to file the claim. Proof of loss may be required. These regulations apply to insured mail, COD, registered insured mail and insured express mail.

Limitations on Filing Claims

There are time limits for filing claims. For an insured package that is found to have been damaged or missing contents, the claim must be filed within 60 days of delivery. The limitation for express and express COD packages is 90 days. Registered and registered COD; insured mail and regular COD have limitations of 180 days. Packages sent to APO and FPO addresses have a one-year limitation for filing claims.

Post Office Recovery Department

The Postal Service has a recovery department that is usually referred to as the dead letter office. For a package or letter to end up there means that every effort was made to save and ship the package but the Postal Service was unable to do so. Package contents are investigated further. Many times, an invoice or order receipt will be found in the package that leads to the owner or shipper. Unclaimed and undeliverable merchandise, and package contents are then auctioned off to the public by the Postal Service.

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