I have a "new" address and ZIP code that appears to confuse UPS and consistently causes them to delay delivery of packages to me.

I've tried filing complaints with UPS itself, but to no avail: I tried talking with their local dispatcher but they still don't do much other than help finally locate and deliver the individual missing-package-of-the-week.

As a consumer, I don't even get to select which carrier the merchants I buy from will use so, as far as I'm concerned, UPS has a sort of monopoly here.

I've tried filing a BBB report, but it appears that BBB doesn't concern itself with requests for compensation other than refunds. I would like to make some sort of punitive claim against UPS, even if it is just symbolic.

What recourse do I have against UPS for their negligent service to me?

  • 6
    There is no recourse because there is no privity of contract. Your recourse lies with the merchant.
    – jqning
    Jul 10, 2015 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


Private carriers typically (and UPS in particular) only have a contractual obligation to the person who pays to send the package. Unless you're the one directly paying UPS to deliver the package you have no legal recourse because you're not a party to the "contract of carriage."

It does seem like you're suffering due to contractual and operational failures of UPS, but your recourse is against the merchant you paid for the goods, because you also paid them for delivery. The merchant has recourse against UPS under their contract if they want to pursue it.

Legally: UPS does not have a monopoly on shipping, and their contractual duty is only to their customer. The best you can do is encourage those from whom you purchase to aggressively claim against UPS for delays, and to use other carriers when possible.

  • 3
    Right. It's also worth noting that unless you chose a service like 1 or 2-day delivery, the carrier has absolutely no obligation to deliver a package "on time" - delivery estimates are just that, estimates.
    – animuson
    Jul 10, 2015 at 16:42
  • 2
    @cnst - I know and agree. But law is almost certainly not the answer to this sort of problem. There are other ways to apply pressure to a company and/or to seek their help, given that we live in a vaguely meritocratic/profit-oriented/free-market society. You might get some practical advice for dealing with this sort of problem at lifehacks.stackexchange.com
    – feetwet
    Jul 10, 2015 at 17:13
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    @cnst Not all problems fall within the realm of law. Sometimes, the solution is "shop elsewhere." That said, keep in mind that a potential claim against the merchant is independent of their claim against the shipper (for instance, if Fedex gives a package to USPS and USPS screws up, Fedex is liable to their customer whether or not they go after USPS)
    – cpast
    Jul 10, 2015 at 17:24
  • 1
    @cnst: Lawsuits are a last resort, and rarely practical for routine commercial disputes. If you contract with a merchant for delivery of goods by a certain date then your terms of service with that merchant should outline your recourse for failures. For consumer mail-order commerce the easiest approach is to pay with a charge card and make a charge-back if the merchant doesn't satisfy its obligations. If the merchant contracts with other parties to satisfy its obligations you are not normally a party to those sub-contracts. This is the legal reality. But other practical solutions exists.
    – feetwet
    Jul 11, 2015 at 3:49
  • 1
    @feetwet, but doing a charge-back is impractical -- it would bring one back to square one, except for the time wasted, which won't be returned or compensated, plus one'd have to acquire the goods in person, likely having to spend more time and money again; this would hardly be the resolution anyone would be happy with.
    – cnst
    Jul 11, 2015 at 4:02

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