What is a Delivery Exception?

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Malomo Staff


The rise of ecommerce businesses has undoubtedly changed the way we shop. With same-day, overnight, and 2-day delivery options becoming more of a reality and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are making purchases online.

While traditional shoppers have to put in more effort into searching for and finding what they desire, the test of online shoppers lie in waiting for what is already theirs (in case of online payment) or is supposed to be (in case of Cash on delivery).

And as the "Customer is the king," one of the keys to growth in any business is customer satisfaction. The happier your customers are, the more likely they are to shop from you again and to recommend you to others hence resulting in growth. Delivery exceptions, when not handled properly, can become a cause of displeasure for your customers and frustrated customers are the last thing you want if you are aiming for growth.

What is a delivery exception?

A delivery exception is when a shipment is held up in transit due to some unanticipated circumstances, thus causing an irregular delivery tracking experience. This may or may not result in a late shipment.

Reasons for delivery exceptions

A delivery exception can occur due to a variety of reasons ranging from a human error like label damage to acts of god like a tornado, hurricane, or some other severe weather conditions. We have discussed below some common causes of delivery exceptions.

Customs delays

Customs delays can often occur in the case of international shipping, thus causing a shipment to reach the customer later than the expected delivery day. Some of the common causes of customs delays are incorrect or insufficient information on the shipping label, failure to mention terms of sales, and failure to list the type of import or export. Taking care of these factors can you help you avoid potential delays and make your shipment delivery process seamless.

Bad Weather Conditions

Bad weather condition is a very common reason that can result in delivery exceptions. Whether it's heavy rainfall, a flood, or a blizzard, natural occurrences like these can cause traffic issues, flight delays, and roadblocks thus creating hindrances in the way of delivery.

Regulatory issues

Sometimes shipments can be returned due to regulatory and security issues. This can happen if your shipment contains something that is not allowed to be sold in the destination region or if it poses a security concern. Regulatory issues are more of a concern when it comes to international shipping. To avoid such issues it is important for businesses to be aware of the rules and regulations of the countries they offer shipping to and act accordingly.

Federal or regional holidays

Shipment can be delayed if a federal or regional holiday comes up in the place of origin or destination while the package is in transit. Moreover, in the case of a holiday, a lot of shipments can get bundled up due to delay in delivery and thus cause further delays.

Damaged and missing labels

If a label contains an incorrect address, is missing, or is damaged in a way that the barcode cannot be scanned, it results in a delivery exception. In order to avoid this problem businesses should pay close attention to what they are forwarding to the courier service and check the label for accuracy before sending the shipment for delivery.

Nobody to receive the package

When nobody is available at the given address to receive the shipment, courier companies take the shipment back. This can sometimes happen due to an incorrect address provided by the customer to the business or by the business to the courier service.

In the case of this exception, businesses should first determine where it went wrong. If a mistake was done on the part of the customers, then they should contact the customers immediately and ask them to provide the right details.

Delivery exceptions by carrier

Some reasons for delivery exceptions are more common for one carrier than the other. However, it is a common practice among all good carriers to issue a delivery exception notice that informs you of the reason for the exception.

FedEx Delivery Exceptions

FedEx delivery exceptions can happen due to a number of reasons that result in the shipment being held in transit. FedEx asserts that it makes every effort to deliver the shipments as early as possible despite the obstructions in the way and hence, an exception does not necessarily mean that the shipment has to be delayed.

USPS Delivery Exceptions

USPS delivery exceptions can occur due to severe weather, incorrect delivery details, and holidays. Different types of exceptions can affect the delivery time differently however if you try to track your shipment during this time USPS will show you an exception notice.

UPS Delivery Exceptions

UPS, just like other main courier services, issues an exception notice in case delivery problems are expected due to some unforeseen event. If you are interested to know the reason for the exception you can simply log in to your courier account and track the details. Along with showing you the details of the exception, it will also tell you the new expected date for delivery.

DHL delivery exceptions

DHL is a door to door delivery service that does not only serve the USA or UK but is used worldwide. The delivery exceptions can include holiday exceptions, inventory related exceptions, incorrect address, and weather delays. The best course of action as a business is to immediately contact the courier service for details and to keep your customers updated.

How to Handle a Delivery Exception

While some delivery exceptions can be controlled with little vigilance and care, others are just simply out of one's hands. In such cases where a delivery exception cannot be controlled, businesses must focus their energies on how they should be managed.

1. Contact the carrier

The first course of action to take is contacting the shipment carrier. You need to contact the relevant courier service and enquire about the problem due to which the shipment's delivery is marked as an exception. Once you know the problem, you should see how that problem can be managed and whether or not it will cause a significant delay in delivery. As an e-commerce business looking to grow, it is important that you manage the problem as soon as possible and try your best to get the delivery on time.

2. Contact the customer

In case the delay cannot be avoided, it is extremely important that you notify your customers about the problem at once. This may cause the customer to get frustrated at first but it is always better than keeping the customer in the dark and making them feel like that they have to wait for their order for an indefinite time. It is advisable to give the customers a new delivery date if the package is expected to be delayed or reassure them that it will arrive on time if that can be managed.

3. Resend the package or issue refunds

If the shipment is returned to you, due to some unforeseen reason, instead of reaching the customer, there are two things that you can do. You can either resend the package to the customer or you can issue a refund for the customer. Doing this may not seem very fruitful in the short term, but this will help you retain and gain customers and have a good effect on your business in the long term.

Delivery exception FAQs

The concept of the delivery exception can be a little confusing sometimes. Following are some frequently asked questions and their answers that will help you understand it better.

What does it mean when FedEx says delivery exception?

When FedEx gives the status exception it can be due to a number of reasons including holidays, some local event, weather conditions, and missing documentation. FedEx delivery exceptions are usually marked by a pmx code which means that the shipment will be out for redelivery the next day.

How do I fix a FedEx delivery exception?

If there is an exception status on a shipment you are sending through FedEx, you should contact them immediately and find out what is the reason behind the exception. If there is a mistake that you can fix yourself, do it immediately and request a delivery again. However, if the customer has given you a wrong address or was unable to receive the package you should contact the customer as well and resolve the matter accordingly.

How long does a shipment exception last?

Sometimes shipments get delivered on time despite having an exception status but at other times there can be a delay. How long a shipment exception will last depends on the nature of the delay and the policy of the courier company.

What does fulfillment exception mean?

Fulfillment exception when there is an issue with the address and the order cannot be shipped until something is done to resolve that issue.


Not all problems can always be avoided but they can surely be managed. A delivery exception is one such problem and managing it in the right way can go a long way for both the reputation and growth of your business.

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