Why Is My USPS Package Going Back and Forth?

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If you’ve ever tracked a USPS package and noticed it bouncing back and forth between different facilities, you’re not alone. This phenomenon can be baffling and frustrating, especially when you’re eagerly awaiting your package. This article will delve into why this happens, how USPS handles these situations, and what you can do as a sender or recipient.


A USPS package might go back and forth due to reasons such as misrouting, damaged or unreadable barcodes, multiple labels, human error, or overloaded distribution centers. When the automated sorting systems or postal employees make mistakes, the package can end up being sent to the wrong facility, causing it to loop between facilities. If you notice this happening, you can contact USPS customer service, double-check the address, and monitor the package’s progress.

Common Reasons for a USPS Package Going Back and Forth

There are several reasons why a USPS package may seemingly travel in circles, including:

  1. Misrouting: This occurs when a package is accidentally sent to the wrong facility. This can happen due to employees forgetting to remove old routing labels from reusable trays and bags or overflowing mail bins at sorting machines.
  2. Damaged or unreadable barcode: The automated sorting systems rely on barcodes to route packages. If a barcode is damaged or unreadable, it can lead to sorting errors.
  3. Multiple labels: If a package has more than one label, it can confuse the automated sorting systems, leading to misrouting.
  4. Human error: Postal employees can make mistakes, such as incorrect scanning or mislabeling, leading to packages being sent to the wrong facility.
  5. Overloaded distribution centers: When distribution centers are overwhelmed with packages, they may send packages to other facilities to manage the load.

Understanding the USPS Package Tracking System

The USPS package tracking system assigns a unique tracking number to each package. This number serves as a digital identifier, allowing USPS to track the package at various stages of its journey. However, discrepancies can occur due to factors like unscanned packages, incorrect scanning, recycled tracking numbers, system-generated messages, bad weather, and technical issues.

How USPS Handles Misrouted or Misdelivered Packages

If a package is misrouted or misdelivered, USPS attempts to identify the issue and reroute the mail to the correct destination. In case of misdelivery, the recipient should contact USPS customer service with the tracking number and explain the situation. If the package is still unlocated after 7 business days, a Missing Mail search request can be submitted.

The Impact of Human Error

Human error can play a significant role in a USPS package going back and forth. Incorrect scanning, packages being sent to wrong states, and mistakes in address details can cause packages to get caught in a loop between facilities. Despite USPS’s efficiency in routing mail, human error can still cause occasional hiccups.

Weather and Logistics Impact on USPS Package Delivery

Extreme weather conditions can disrupt USPS’s ability to deliver packages on time. Logistics can also affect package delivery. For instance, packages being bulkier than regular mail require more trips back to postal facilities from delivery routes, leading to potential delays.

Addressing the Issue of a Package Going Back and Forth

If your package is looping between facilities, you can:

  1. Contact the carrier’s customer service.
  2. Double-check the address.
  3. Communicate with the sender.
  4. Monitor the package.
  5. Be patient.

USPS Measures to Prevent Packages From Going Back and Forth

While USPS relies on human intervention to resolve package looping issues, there are no specific proactive measures mentioned in the public domain. However, customers can monitor their package’s progress and contact USPS if they notice any unusual activity.

Preventing a Package From Going Back and Forth

You can take several steps to prevent a package from looping, such as verifying the shipping address, using proper packaging, using tracking services, contacting the carrier, requesting a package intercept, picking up the package, or using package receiving services.

In conclusion, while it can be frustrating to see your USPS package looping between facilities, understanding why this happens can help you take proactive steps to address the issue. Remember, in most cases, patience is key.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I notice that my USPS package is going back and forth between facilities for more than a week?

You should contact USPS customer service and provide them with your tracking number. They can help identify any issues and take necessary steps to rectify the situation.

Is there a way to avoid recycled tracking numbers?

USPS automatically assigns unique tracking numbers to each package. The chances of recycled tracking numbers causing confusion are minimal. However, if you are a sender, always ensure you remove any old labels on your package to avoid confusion.

What happens if my USPS package is damaged?

If a package is damaged during transit, USPS will attempt to deliver it. If the item is too damaged to be delivered, it will be returned to the sender. In case of damage, you can file a claim with USPS.

How does bad weather affect USPS package delivery?

Extreme weather conditions can disrupt USPS’s ability to deliver packages on time. In such cases, USPS typically alerts customers about potential delivery delays.

Can I change the delivery address of my USPS package while it’s in transit?

Yes, USPS offers a service called Package Intercept that allows customers to change the delivery address of a package while it’s in transit. However, this service is not guaranteed and is subject to certain conditions and fees.

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