You’re expecting a package delivery via USPS and your tracking shows that the shipment is moving farther away from your address rather than closer to it.
Has something gone wrong with the delivery? Has USPS made a mistake?
Let’s take a look…
Summary: Why Did My Package Go Farther Away USPS?
There are a number of reasons your USPS Package may be moving farther away on its route to the destination; network optimization, consolidation of the package with other items, delays, or the package being misrouted being common causes.
USPS: Why Did My Package Go Farther Away?
It can be frustrating to look at your USPS tracking and see that your delivery is actually moving farther away from you rather than toward you.
The immediate reaction can be to assume that there has been a mistake and that FedEx is incorrectly delivering your package.
However, you know what they say about assumptions…
Anyway, there are actually legitimate reasons this is happening.
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1. Sorting Centers
USPS uses a network of sorting centers to process and route mail and packages.
Your package may be sent to a sorting center that is further away from your address before it is sent to the one nearest to you.
This is a common practice to ensure that packages are sorted and routed efficiently.
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2. Transportation Routes
Sometimes, there may not be a direct transportation route from the origin to your destination.
The package may have to go through other locations on the way to your address, even if they are further away, in order to reach your location.
3. Delays or Rerouting
Occasionally, packages can experience delays or reroute due to various reasons such as weather conditions, customs clearance, or unexpected logistical issues.
In such cases, the package may be sent to a different location to be sorted and redirected to its final destination.
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4. Tracking Error
It’s also possible that there could be an error or mistake in the tracking information provided.
A mis scan or technical problem can mean that the information you are receiving is inaccurate.
It is rare that the shipment will show as being in a location that it hasn’t reached, however.
5. Capacity Constraints
Sometimes, USPS may have reached its capacity limit at a particular location, which can cause packages to be rerouted to another location that has the capacity to handle them.
6. Routing Optimization
USPS uses sophisticated algorithms to optimize its delivery routes, which can sometimes result in packages being sent to locations further away in order to minimize overall delivery time and cost.
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7. Consolidation of Packages
If there are several packages destined for your area, USPS may consolidate them into one shipment, which can result in the package being sent to a sorting facility further away from your location.
8. Human Error
Finally, we have good old human error.
Mistakes can happen in the sorting and routing process, and a package could end up being sent to the wrong location by accident.
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What to do if Your Package is Moving Farther Away?
In light of all the points above, I actually recommend that you do nothing when you first notice that the shipment is moving farther away.
Logistics behind the USPS delivery network is a complicated affair.
Although “the crow flies” seems the most logical premise, (as in directly toward the destination), the way the package is currently moving will make sense in the context of the delivery.
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Of course, if there has been human error or a misroute has occurred, the shipment has indeed gone wrong.
However, USPS will make efforts to mitigate the situation so that delivery can take place as normal, (i.e the shipment will start to move toward the destination once more).
In any case, it is always best to keep track of your package’s status through the USPS tracking page.
If the delay increases or the deviation from the expected delivery route means your package is being held somewhere miles away, you will need to contact USPS for assistance.
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Overall, it is not uncommon for you to see that the package is moving farther away during the shipment journey.
The delivery network is made up of a hub and spoke system, which means a shipment may travel certain distances in the wrong direction in order to more efficiently move through the network.
If the package continues to go AWOL in the wrong direction, you should contact USPS for more information.
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I’m a 25 year veteran of USPS. I’m retired now, but as the editor of Mailbox Master, I can’t quite remove myself from the carrier industry just yet. 🙂