Is it possible to ship a package that will intentionally not get delivered?


OK, long story, but a friend of mine ordered $600 worth of stuff from another person on a (reputable) specialty forum, and paid for it via PayPal. As for what’s in the package, let’s just say this friend is super into yo-yos.

My friend was wondering why this package hadn’t yet arrived after 2 weeks, so he pinged the person. Who replied with

  • a picture of a USPS receipt that looked 100% valid

  • a USPS tracking number that is 100% valid

However. For mysterious reasons of mystery, this package has been held by USPS indefinitely and isn’t getting delivered.

When giving this, uh … friend … advice about his situation, I want to believe this is just random chance, some kind of unfortunate internal USPS mixup. But the conspiracy theorist inside me is wondering “could this be some kind of trick?” Is it even possible to…

  • Put a random package full of random junk together at roughly the correct weight, easy ✅

  • Mail it via USPS to get a confirmation number, easy ✅

  • Do something weird to the package such that USPS will hold it for a long time, or indefinitely, and it is very unlikely to ever get delivered, or will be delivered very late. This is the part I am unsure about. How would you even do that ❓

I guess if you did anything patently illegal with the package, it could come back to you maybe, so that’s out. But can you put some dangerous kind of plausibly “whoops that was an accident” item in the package that will cause it to get held?

This friend has already opened a request with the USPS into the event using their online web form, and got a form email back, but nothing concrete.

I dunno, maybe my friend is just paranoid.


Could it be that the USPS left a card to sign and your friend never saw it?

I would go to the Post Office and have them investigate it if in doubt.


If you read the post, you’ll see that an investigative claim was already filed…


Give it time?

This reminds me of the lost $10k of SNES cartridges earlier this year. They were found eventually! :)


Yeah possibly, that’s what is going to happen no matter what, because it is the default! Great example BTW.

The simplest explanation (USPS screwed up somehow) is probably correct, but I started wondering just how much you could game the system, if you were truly evil. This is also how I design software.

Because people at Facebook, Twitter, etc were not doing this, that’s part of the reason we have the current problems we have.


They just lost the package.


Yeah I hope they find it, if that’s the case. This is a pretty unfortunate one to lose based on $ amount.


I’d go with the simplest explanation. I once had a package where every single day for a week the shipper would claim it was out for delivery, and it never arrived. I told Amazon, and they made another order. Then both arrived within a couple of days of each other.


I missed that line, my bad.


I had this issue happen with a package I sent once. I opened a claim with USPS… they never responded, literally never closed their investigation, could care less I paid for insurance. Weeks later though the person did receive it.

Based what I know about USPS, I’ve met a few people who work there and received stories, the delivery driver didn’t use the scanner right or anyone else along the line didn’t do their update piece.

It’s a lot more manual than you think.I also don’t ship things important via USPS, and I certainly won’t pay for insurance when I do send something cheap. It felt like a scam.


Based on the thread title my first thought was you could ship something illegal, but then a surprise shows up to your house and delivers you somewhere unpleasant.


Yeah, I’m not sure how it would even be possible to build a package that gets consistently not delivered for … reasons.


I remember watching a story about a postman who never delivered the mail (40k pieces).

Another, was hoarding it and was discovered when the Fire Department had to respond to a call. They couldn’t even get into the apartment there was so much of it piled in the room.


Make the package full of rock salt and a large, fragile bottle of water. It would get through the weighing process easily. Then when it’s tossed into the bin for sorting the glass bottle breaks and dissolves the salt, thus destroying the package.


I suppose if you send it to Santa?


Based on the amount of money the package is worth, could it be that they are holding it until import tax (not sure if that is the correct English phrase) is payed? Happened to me once: I bought a backpack on Kickstarter that never got delivered because I failed to pay the import tax (because I did not know I would be required to do so. The shipping company did mail me about it, but used such a non-descript topic in combination with an unknown emailaddress, that I thought it was spam…)

As for the original question of whether they can just hold a package indefinitely based on a suspicion, and the seller actually counting on that to happen to make a quick profit: that would be an amazing scheme (albeit not amazing for your friend, of course). I doubt it would be possible: eventually USP surely would have to disclose why they are holding it.


Obviously they’ve opened the package and are playing with your Yo-Yos.


Paypal has 180 days to file a claim, so your friend have lots of time left until USPS get their acts together.


Several years ago I finally convinced my wife to clean out the book shelf and sell back all of her movies she never watched (half of which were still sealed). I spent an hour cataloging those plus a bunch of old video games on Amazon’s trade in site and put them in a box that Macy’s had sent us. Amazon gave me a receipt for ~$90. This was around Thanksgiving time.

I brought the box to the UPS store but instead of affixing the label directly to box they put a little plastic insert thing on the box and put the label inside of the box.

About a week later this giant box is at my house from Macys. I open it up and notice it’s the box I sent to Amazon, and there was a cut in the plastic insert so the label fell out. So UPS decided to ship it to the only address they could find on it, which was ours. I looked up the Tracking and the package got all the way up Boston before getting lost.

I called up Amazon and asked them to give me a new label, as the box never got shipped. They kept arguing with me that their system doesn’t let them do anything while a package is in UPS’ hands. Finally after 20 minutes I was like:

Me: "Well what would you do if the package of was lost?"
Amz: "We would release the trade in funds to your account since UPS lost it"
Me: "Ok the package is lost"
Amz: "We will start a claim, just be aware that if UPS finds the package we will not auto-issue you the trade in value"
Me: “lol that’s fine, UPS won’t find it because it’s at my house”

Several days later Amazon issued me my credit and I went right back on Amazon, set up another $90 trade in order and shipped the box a second time for an additional $90 :D


I bet it went back to the sender. This happens a lot with yo-yos. Also, boomerangs.