What happens to undelivered packages?


I have read all about undelivered packages. And that has also happened to me. But does anyone know what USPS, FedEx, ups, etc do with all the packages that are never delivered and never returned? Yes, I realize that most are stolen from or by the buyer. Some are destroyed or stolen by the carrier but their must be some small percentage that is retained undeliverable by the carrier. What happens to those? I am especially interested in the usps.



I worked for the USPS for years and if something is sent Media & Standard mail and is undeliverable it gets recycled. First class or better are the only ones that are returned when they are undeliverable.


I have a expensive package come back from Russia after 6 months, most are returned as long as they are readable but I have noticed the new policy on USPS now is that if you have an incorrect address, where they used to deliver it as they knew who the person was, now they return to sender so they can get paid again to reship, get your addresses correct people, they are out for money.


All live auctions at our Atlanta Mail Recovery Center have been canceled. All auctions of undeliverable, unclaimed, damaged, and claim-paid merchandise are now conducted online:

UPS does not auction these items to the general public anymore. Unclaimed freight is logged and housed for a period of up to five months. If a match is not made within that period of time the merchandise goes to a salvage vendor. Damaged items that claims have been paid on are also salvaged via salvage vendors.

FedEx uses an outside company, Northwest Research, to assist with missing or stray packages, but sometimes a search can end in vain. According to Northwest Research, after a certain amount of time, unclaimed packages go to Bulward Auctions in Salt Lake City.


If the return address is intact it will eventually find its way back to you. I had one go all the way to Germany and came back 2 months later





USPS has auctions, often in the Atlanta area.
Probably that is where packages with undecipherabe addresses go to rest.

Many lost packages got moved by people in the area, perhaps the recipient himself denies finding it because they want the charges reversed.


Thanks!!! This was the least of my concerns because I am not buying through such auctions but good to know.

I think some of my hopelessly lost packages over the years just walked away because buyer mail area was not secured and neighbors “helped” - themselves to some free products, perhaps quite useless for them LOL unless this is how they get their online sales inventory…


I shipped an expensive text book media mail with insurance by usps, and it was attempted delivery and no one was home. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that the buyer didn’t receive it until two months later. Delivery was attempted at my PO Box and I was on vacation. It was dropped into a black hole and could not be found when I went to pickup.

This book was lost for 9 months, and finallly showed up delivered to my local PO Box.


I as well, ALL undeliverable mail parcels, regardless of class, are sent to Dead Letter Office, now consolidated and known as the Mail Recovery Center and auctioned off. The ONLY mail EVER recycled was 3rd class letters WITHOUT address endorsements and UBBM, undeliverable bulk business mail. Media mail and third class postage is ONE WAY trip only, if undeliverable, it is returned to sender postage due, if refused, then sent on to Mail Recovery Center, NOT RECYCLED.

Edited by: Angel1953 on Jul 14, 2014 6:39 AM

Edited by: Angel1953 on Jul 14, 2014 6:43 AM


I’m not sure that’s necessarily true. While I don’t doubt that you worked for the USPS for several years, I disagree with your statement about Media Mail. All of our undeliverable Media Mail has been returned to us by the USPS postage due. Undeliverable First Class and above will be returned free of charge.


Only Domestic Mail is Forwarded, International Mail is RTS.


> “What happens to undelivered packages?”

I have 3 theories:

  • They auction it off if no one claims it

  • The mail fairy, takes them and redeliver them, probably to the wrong address

  • Thats where Santa clause gets his stuff, too much labor to hire all those elfs.

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