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FedEx Potential Delay – A Complete Guide

You’re expecting a delivery from FedEx and you have received a “Potential Delay” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly? How long will your package take to arrive if you see this update? And is there anything you should do? 

Let’s take a look…

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FedEx “Potential Delay” – Meaning

FedEx sends the “Potential Delay” tracking update when a shipment encounters a delay or an exception in handling and FedEx is unable to accurately predict the delivery date. Importantly, the package is not yet delayed when you receive this update, however, FedEx suspects that the delivery date will change as a result.

Why Does FedEx Expect a Delay? The Process

So why does FedEx send out the “Potential Delay” tracking update if the scheduled delivery window has not yet passed? 

There are a number of reasons for this. One is that it helps to alter customer expectations on the delivery date, as well as prewarn the recipient of a potential delay.

FedEx is able to predict that a package might be delayed to the extensive scanning and handling that goes on during the shipment process.

With millions of packages flowing through the system at any one time, each being scanned at regular intervals along the journey, FedEx is able to recognize when an issue with a shipment has occurred.

As mentioned above, the “Potential Delay” update occurs when a package encounters a delay or an exception and a change in the delivery date is predicted.

Ultimately, FedEx has built its logistics so that it can determine when a shipment is falling behind schedule. This helps them to recognize the type of delay, where it has happened, and the best way to mitigate the problem.

This is all good in theory, it doesn’t stop FedEx from upsetting customers with late deliveries, however.

What to do if you get a FedEx “Potential Delay” update?

Fedex Potential Delay

When you receive a FedEx “Potential Delay” tracking update there is not a great deal you can do in the first instance.

Rarely will the update be accompanied by a change of delivery date/schedule, (see screenshot above). You are just being notified that a delay might happen.

Your best course of action is to remain patient and keep an eye out for further updates.

Upon recognizing the problem, FedEx will attempt to mitigate the issue so that the delivery remains unaffected.

If this is the case, your delivery window will not change and you should be able to expect your package in line with the original shipment order details.

If the “Potential Delay” does impact the delivery schedule, your tracking details will reveal this with further information in due course.

While you might not get the information you want regarding the progress of your shipment, you can also call FedEx customer services for more details.

I would not always recommend this, however, as the lack of information can be frustrating. You will often be told to wait it out.

Reasons for the FedEx “Potential Delay” Tracking Update

We have discussed FedEx delays and delivery exceptions in depth elsewhere on Mailbox Master

In fact, a large number of FedEx tracking updates are specifics surrounding particular delays.

Essentially, delivery exceptions can occur for everything from bad weather to incomplete documents for customs clearance.

If an issue can cause a delay, be it technical, logistical, administrative, or simply force majeure it will fall under the umbrella of delivery exception.

Ultimately, something has happened that has obstructed the “normal” passage of the shipment journey, and this has caused a potential delay.

How long will my package take after a FedEx “Potential Delay” update?

Fedex Potential Delay

I’ll use the “how long is a piece of string” cliche here. The time it takes for your package to arrive after a “Potential Delay” is reliant on a number of issues.

The nature of the delay, and how far into the package journey it took place (does FedEx have enough time to mitigate it?) all play a part.

As mentioned, in some cases FedEx will be able to get the package moving again fast enough so that the original delivery window is maintained.

In other cases (as in the screenshot above), FedEx will actually state an updated delivery time so that you are aware of when the item should arrive.

If a problem at customs clearance has occurred and the wrong shipping information was sent, you could wait weeks for your package to arrive, if it does at all.

Ultimately you will need to watch your tracking details for further updates, and contact FedEx if need be.

Final Words

Trying not to be frustrated with a FedEx “Potential Delay” is easy said than done. The unknown element of wondering whether the item will be late and how long by can make customers anxious.

This is especially true if you need to make special arrangements to collect the package.

Contacting FedEx will reveal little at this stage, so the recommended action is to be patient and watch out for any tracking changes so that you can plan accordingly.

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