By: James McAllister


Are you tracking your package on UPS, and see that there’s been a sortation delay?

This may be accompanied with a message like, ‘We’re sorry this package has experienced a sortation delay. The package has been rerouted to the correct destination.’

While any message with the word ‘delay’ in it is never something to get excited about, the meaning behind this is actually pretty straightforward.

So, in this article I’ll be covering what sortation delays actually are, how long they will delay delivery, and how you can potentially get reimbursed as well!

What Is A Sortation Delay With UPS?

UPS Delivery Vehicle

If you see a sortation delay message on your UPS tracking page, this means that UPS has sent your package to the wrong sorting center by mistake.

Contrary to popular belief, packages do not go straight from the first UPS facility to your door.

Instead, UPS sends them to various sortation facilities along the way, so the packages can be adequately sorted, and sent out to different locations.

This ensure packages going to the same geographical area end up together, regardless of where they originally shipped from.

For one reason or another, a sortation delay message shows that UPS mistakenly sent the package to the wrong sortation center. This will result in an additional delay while the issue is sorted out, and the package ends up back where it needs to be.

How Long Will This Delay The Delivery Of My Package?

So now, the question likely on your mind is this – how much will the sortation delay affect me? How much longer will the package to arrive now that UPS has made an error?

Unfortunately, it can be hard to know for sure, and may depend on what UPS sorting center the package was accidentally sent to.

Typically, the delay can add additional transit time of 2 to 4 days.

Thankfully however, the fact that you’ve seen the sortation delay message on your tracking page shows that UPS is aware of the problem, and has already taken steps to remedy the situation.

At this time, the best thing you can do is to pay attention to the estimated delivery date that UPS provides on the tracking page.

The estimated delivery date takes into account all of the data that UPS has about your shipment, and it also factors in any additional time that will be caused by delays.

If no estimated delivery date is available or it simply states ‘Delay’ where the estimate delivery date should be, don’t worry. You will likely see one pop up as soon as your package arrives at the next UPS facility, and can be issued another scan by a UPS employee.

So, remain patient and continue checking the UPS tracking page for updates!

Will UPS Offer Reimbursements / Refunds For Delays?

We can all agree that delays are at the very, least frustrating. This is especially true if you were really looking forward to your package arriving quickly.

In some cases however, deliveries are so time-sensitive that the item may be useless to you if it doesn’t arrive on time.

For example, purchases intended to be given as gifts. Or, perhaps you’re leaving for vacation, and won’t even be available to collect the package if there are significant delays.

This can lead you to wonder – what are UPS’ policies surrounding late deliveries? Will you be able to get any sort of refund or reimbursement if they deliver late – especially since they admitted that the delay was their fault?

Unfortunately, it depends.

First things first, it will be the shipper who will need to file a claim with UPS, as they are the ones that paid for shipping.

Technically, this means that the business relationship is between UPS and the shipper. They will need to be the ones that work with UPS to sort out whether or not they are eligible for a refund.

Secondly, only shipping services with delivery guarantees (like Next Day air) are eligible for refunds if the delivery is late.

However, when it comes down to it, the inconvenience is for you, the receiver, not the shipper.

So, contact the shipper and explain the situation. Many online merchants (like Amazon for example) will offer reimbursements on shipping fees if the delivery is delayed, so you may be able to get some sort of refund if you ask.


Sortation delays are frustrating to experience, especially since UPS has admitted that it’s completely their fault.

Thankfully however, these delays tend to get sorted out quickly, and only impact the total transit time of your shipment by a few days.

I hope that this article has answered your questions, and UPS will manage to deliver to you soon.

If you have any other questions about UPS, please ask them using the comment form below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Wishing you the best,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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