How to Handle a Customer Who Provided the Wrong Shipping Address

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At some point in your business, you are likely to have a customer that provides you the incorrect shipping address. For example, they have recently moved and accidentally chose their old house address when placing an order. What’s a seller to do? There’s no “right” answer, but I’m happy to share how I handle this issue.

How to Handle a Wrong Shipping Address Before the Package has Shipped

If a buyer contacts you to change an address before the orders ships you have two options: 1) Make note of the address and ship to the alternative address provided or 2) Cancel the transaction and have the buyer replace the order with the correct shipping address. I generally prefer to cancel the order and have the buyer replace the order immediately. Why? Most marketplaces require that you ship to the address they provide you in the seller order notifications. If you do not ship to this address and a problem arises, it is likely that you will not be covered under seller protections. I also make a note to have in my policies that I can only ship to the address provided by the marketplace.

I send the buyer a message similar to this:

“Hello (Buyer name), Great! Thanks for letting me know about the shipping issue. In order to protect both of us, I’ve canceled and refunded your order. Please replace the order immediately with the correct shipping address. If you replace the order as soon as you receive this message, you’ll keep your spot in my order processing queue and your order will not be delayed. Thanks, (Your Name), (Your Business Name)”

How to Handle a Wrong Shipping Address After the Package has Shipped

Unfortunately, once the package has been shipped it is more difficult to change the address. As long as you have shipped to the address provided to you by the marketplace, you are usually covered under their seller protection. I’ll be honest, once the package is out of your hands – it is not your problem. However, a good business will try to help the buyer locate their package. Here’s the steps I follow when this happens:

  1. First, I often commiserate with the buyer. Tell them that you understand their frustration or tell them that you had that happen once yourself and you found it frustrating. This shows that you care about their satisfaction.
  2. Next, let the buyer know that as a seller you can only ship to the address that was provided to you by the marketplace. Suggest that they reach out to the marketplace regarding the issue.
  3. Check the tracking on the package. If the package hasn’t been delivered, you can give them the tracking number and tell them to reach out to the carrier to change the delivery address. (Just so that you know, some carriers will charge a fee for this service.)
  4. If you find that the package has been delivered, you can suggest that the buyer visits or calls the address if they can. (This may or not be practical depending on the circumstances.)
  5. Offer a coupon code for a replacement order. You shouldn’t redo the order at no cost, but you can extend an olive branch and help the customer.
  6. Last, thank the customer for reaching out and offer more assistance if needed.

I generally send a message similar to one of these:

“Hello (Buyer Name), Oh no, I know that this has to be frustrating to you. I’m happy to help you. I looked up the tracking number and it appears that the USPS (FedEx, DHL, etc) has not yet delivered your package. Call them at (provide phone number) as soon as you can and they can help you update your address. To save you time, I’ve provided your tracking number at the end of this message. Please let me know if I can help in any other way. Thanks, (Your Name), (Your Business Name)” – Tracking number: 123456780987654321

“Hello (Buyer Name), Oh no, I’ve had that happen to me the last time that I moved and it can be so frustrating. Unfortunately, as a seller, I can only ship to the address that is provided to me by the marketplace. I checked the tracking number and it shows that the package has been delivered to the address I was provided. You may want to reach out to (Etsy, Amazon, etc) regarding your shipping address to see if they can assist you. If you are unable to get the package from the address, I’m happy to recreate your order. When reordering, please use coupon code “SAVE” at checkout for a discount. Please let me know if I can help in any other way. Thanks, (Your Name), (Your Business Name)”

How do you handle incorrect shipping address issues? Share your method in the comments.

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