Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from one of the fans who entered our giveaway contest for a copy of the board game Terraforming Mars. Today we will answer the following question: “what happens when there’s a typo in the mailing address?”
It’s more common than you might think for people to make typos in their mailing addresses. As many as 4.7% of packages have to be reshipped because of shipping errors, and this can cost a business as much as $35-70 FOR EACH ONE. That’s a huge drag on company profitability.
This is where address verification comes in. Before you print postage, you can use an address verification tool, such as the one freely provided by UPS, to make sure your address is a real one. This is a simple process that can save a surprising amount of heartache and money for business owners.
Let’s say you’ve already sent the package and you haven’t verified the address. Let’s also go one step further and say that you definitely made a typo.
Is it time to panic? No!
Thankfully, there are enough people involved in the shipping process to find and correct small issues as they arise. While it’s tough to find hard data on the subject, we’ve found numerous threads on Reddit where people describe making small typos when sending packages. If you’ve made a small typo and the street number / apartment number and ZIP code are correct, chatter we’ve seen online suggests the package will probably go to its intended destination.
Let’s say that instead of writing “37401” for the ZIP code, you write “37041.” If you make a mistake with the ZIP code, it’s more complicated. Your package might be rerouted to its ultimate destination, albeit with a delay. However, there is also a good chance it will be returned to you. If you make a mistake with the street or apartment number, the wrong person will most likely receive the package.
Again, after sending a package with a typo, there is often nothing you can do to fix the issue. However, using address verification is free and can prevent this scenario from playing out in the first place!
The postal system is surprisingly robust when it comes to mistakes in mailing addresses. Small ones often don’t affect delivery at all and even big ones can often be worked around with delays. If you ever need to be absolutely sure that a package goes where you intend it to, use address verification before you print postage.
Can’t do that? At the very least, check the street number and ZIP code. That way, you can at least avoid the worst issues!