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Does UPS actually investigate lost package?

Receiving a delivery from UPS can often feel like playing the lottery – you never know if your package is going to arrive intact, be irreparably damaged, or vanish into thin air. With over 20 million packages handled each day, some level of loss and error is inevitable. However, many customers complain that UPS does not take claims for lost or damaged packages seriously enough. So does UPS actually investigate reports of missing and damaged shipments? Let’s take a look at what really happens when you file a claim.

What causes packages to be lost or damaged?

There are a number of reasons why a UPS package may go missing or arrive damaged. The most common causes include:

  • Incorrect address – If the shipping label contains an error, the package could be delivered to the wrong location.
  • Theft – Packages left unattended are vulnerable to theft, especially if their contents are valuable.
  • Mishandling – Improper handling practices like throwing or dropping packages can damage the contents.
  • Truck accidents – Collisions or accidents in transit can cause packages to fall off trucks and become lost.
  • Weather delays – Severe weather like snowstorms can delay package delivery leading to loss.
  • Warehouse issues – Problems in UPS facilities such as incorrect sorting can result in misdirected packages.

While both UPS and the shipper aim to prevent these issues, some level of loss and damage is inevitable when dealing with millions of packages per day.

How do I file a claim with UPS for a lost or damaged package?

If you receive a delivery from UPS that is damaged or does not arrive at all, you can file a claim by following these steps:

  1. Report the problem as soon as possible. For damage, this means inspecting the package upon delivery in front of the driver and noting any issues. For lost packages, report the non-delivery within 5 days of the scheduled delivery date.
  2. Gather supporting details including shipment details like the tracking number, description of the damage/loss, and photos documenting damage.
  3. File the claim online at or by phone. For valuable items, high-value shipments may require additional information.
  4. UPS may request inspection of damaged items or proof of value for lost items. Save all packaging materials and damaged contents until the claim is resolved.
  5. You will typically be contacted by UPS within 9 business days with next steps on your claim.

The faster you can report the issue and provide details to UPS, the quicker your claim can be investigated and resolved.

What does UPS actually do to investigate claims?

When you file a claim with UPS for a lost or damaged package, what steps does UPS take to investigate your report? Here is an overview of their claims investigation process:

Reviewing the Claim Details

The first step in any claim investigation is reviewing the customer’s description of the problem along with any photos/video documenting damage or loss. UPS will verify the details like tracking number, weight, declared value, and addressed entered by the customer against the information in their system.

Tracing the Package Route

For lost packages or severely damaged shipments, UPS will trace the route the package took through their network based on the tracking scans. This allows them to identify where irregularities or mishandling may have occurred.

Inspecting the Package and Contents

In some cases of damage, UPS may request the customer retain the packaging and damaged contents for inspection by a UPS representative. They may also ask customers to bring damaged items to a UPS facility for inspection. This first-hand examination helps identify issues like insufficient packaging that may have contributed to the damage.

Reviewing Facility Records

UPS investigators can review loading and unloading records from the UPS facilities through which the package passed to see if issues were recorded by workers which may explain damage or loss.

Submitting Inspection Reports

Any UPS employees or representatives who handle a damaged package as part of the claims process must submit inspection reports noting extent of damage and suspected causes. Similarly, facilities along the package’s route must provide handling records to identify mishandling.

Following Security Protocols

For high-value lost packages, UPS security teams may review facilities along the route for any suspicious activity or unauthorized access that could indicate theft. They may also review security camera footage to observe package handling.

Typical timeline for UPS claims process

How long does it actually take UPS to investigate and resolve claims for lost or damaged packages? Here is an approximate timeline:

Claims Step Estimated Timeline
Customer reports loss/damage Within 5 days of scheduled delivery
UPS initiates investigation 1-3 days after claim filed
UPS traces package route 1-2 days after investigation opened
UPS inspects package and contents 3-5 days after claim filed
UPS reviews facility records 2-4 days after investigation opened
Claim decision made 1 week after investigation complete
Claim settled (payment or refund issued) Within 2 weeks of decision

The overall claims process typically takes 2-4 weeks from the time the customer first reports the issue to final resolution. However, it can drag on longer if damages require extensive inspection or investigation.

What factors determine whether UPS honors a claim?

When UPS completes an investigation into a lost or damaged package, what determines whether they approve the customer’s claim and issue a refund or payout? Here are the key factors:

Sufficient Evidence

UPS must be able to verify the customer’s reported loss or damage based on tracking records, facility reports, and inspection of the package. Claims cannot be approved without evidence establishing UPS’s liability.

Packaging Condition

If the damage resulted from inadequate or faulty packaging provided by the shipper, UPS is less likely to accept liability. The packaging must withstand typical shipping handling.

Declared Value

UPS caps payouts at the declared value of the package – this is the maximum they will refund for loss or damage. High-value packages require additional declared value fees.

Coverage Restrictions

Certain high-risk items like glass, liquids, electronics, and jewelry are excluded from basic UPS guarantees. Additional service fees like UPS Next Day Air Early A.M.® may provide enhanced coverage.

Timing of Claim

Claims must be promptly reported – ideally immediately upon delivery inspection for damage and within 5 days for lost packages. Excessive delays can impact claim validity.

Previous Claims History

Frequent claims from the same shipper may indicate inadequate packaging or possible fraud, making approval less likely.

In summary, UPS is more likely to honor claims that follow all policies, with evidence clearly documenting UPS liability due to mishandling or other error.

Does UPS reimburse shipping charges for lost packages?

When a UPS package is lost entirely and never recovered, you can request reimbursement for the shipping charges you paid as part of your claim. Whether UPS provides refunds of shipping fees depends on these factors:

  • Loss reason – If UPS accepts liability for loss due to mishandling, refund is likely. If due to uncontrollable causes like weather delays or incorrect address, refund may be denied.
  • Declared value – UPS allows higher total claim payouts for packages with declared value vs. basic coverage.
  • Claims history – Frequent shipping refund requests raise suspicion of fraud.
  • Proof of payment – Customer must provide documentation showing shipping charges paid.

In most cases of clear UPS liability, verified shipping fee reimbursement will be included in the total claim payout, up to the declared value limits.

Steps you can take if UPS denies your claim

What recourse do you have if you feel UPS improperly rejected your claim for compensation for a damaged or lost package? Here are some steps you can take:

File an appeal

Ask UPS to escalate your claim to a supervisor or manager for re-review based on new evidence or information not considered previously.

Submit additional inspection reports

Get detailed written damage assessments from yourself or third parties documenting why UPS mishandling caused the issue.

Check claim policy interpretations

Verify with UPS that you both agree on meanings of key policy phrases – discrepancies may impact the decision.

Involve shipper

Ask the merchant who shipped the package to contact UPS on your behalf regarding reimbursement.

Consult regulatory agencies

File a complaint regarding UPS with groups like your state’s Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau.

Take legal action

You can sue UPS in small claims or civil court to seek reimbursement – this option involves lengthy delays and legal costs.

Thoroughly understanding UPS’s criteria for claim decisions and having complete documentation of loss/damage helps gain approval both initially or through appeals. Legal action is a last resort option if all else fails.

Tips to prevent UPS damage or loss

While UPS does investigate missing and damaged package claims, the best recourse is preventing issues in the first place. Here are some tips to minimize damage and loss risks when shipping with UPS:

  • Pack items securely in a sturdy box using generous cushioning inside.
  • Don’t exceed box weight limits – overweight boxes are prone to bursting.
  • Properly label package contents and any special handling needs.
  • Add reinforced corners and strapping to boxes for large/heavy items.
  • Use puncture-resistant outer packaging for fragile contents.
  • Obtain delivery signature confirmation for high-value shipments.
  • Purchase additional declared value coverage for expensive or important items.
  • Inspect delivery immediately upon receipt and note any damage before signing.

Taking steps to prevent damage and loss in the first place is more reliable than relying on UPS claims processes down the road if something happens to your package.


UPS does have an established process in place to investigate claims for lost and damaged packages. However, they will only accept liability when evidence clearly points to their direct responsibility due to mishandling, incorrect sorting, theft, or other errors. Hoping for UPS to simply take your word on package loss or damage and promptly reimburse you is often wishful thinking. Your best bet is packing shipments with extreme care, documenting issues immediately, following all claims steps, and understanding UPS liability rules. With millions of packages in their system each day, some losses are inevitable – but UPS does seem to make reasonable efforts to honor valid and well-documented claims.