How To Handle Etsy Shipping Problems

If you sell physical products online, you’ll eventually come up against a problem with an address, a shipping label, or a delivery. Because Etsy sellers don’t deliver the products themselves, we’re at the mercy of the postal service, so we need to be ready to handle problems as they arise.

Whether you buy your shipping labels from Etsy or another service, or you go to the post office itself, you’ll eventually find yourself dealing with some type of problem. This article is written mainly for US sellers regarding the US postal system, but most of the solutions can be applied to international mail as well.


Table of Contents


Post office packaging signs

What to do when Etsy says the address is wrong.

If the Etsy shipping labels system says that the shipping address on the order is incorrect, it could be a formatting issue that’s easily remedied. If that isn’t the problem, you can google the address, or contact the customer to verify that the address is correct.

I run into this occasionally, and it’s basically a problem of the postal service wanting a specific format for addresses.

For example, some people will abbreviate their cities or streets in a way that the postal service computers don’t recognize. If you change that, it will usually accept the address.

Sometimes the place that the customer lives in is a new neighborhood and isn’t in the postal system correctly yet.

This seems to happen pretty frequently for smaller towns, so if you can look the address up and it shows up on Google maps, it’s probably okay to mail.

Sometimes the zip codes are wrong because there have been changes on zones made and the customer is still using the old one.

In those cases, it’s usually better to go with the zip code that the post office suggests since that’s what they have in their system.

Again, Google it to see if you can find any more confirmation and if it looks right then you probably don’t need to worry about it.

If you can’t find the address in Google, or you’re just not convinced that it’s okay, contact the customer to see if it’s right. It’s better to hold off on sending the package if it means that you can avoid problems with delivery.



How to edit a shipping label on Etsy.

If you’ve already printed the shipping label, you’ll need to refund it and repurchase in order to change the address. An address on a label that’s been purchased can’t be altered because the post office won’t deliver it, so it will need to be redone.

Shipping label refunds might take a couple of weeks to process, but as long as the label hasn’t been used, it will usually be refunded eventually.

Refund label button
Refund label button

To ask for the refund, go to the order itself in the finished orders section and look for the tracking number, then click on “refund.” That will bring up a refund dialog box where you’ll choose a reason.

Select the reason for the refund
Select the reason for the refund.

Once you choose a reason and submit the refund request, another dialog box will pop up to ask if you want to buy another label. If you need to do that, this is the easiest way to do it so that you don’t have to go find the order later.

Once the label refund request is put in, the order will be moved back to your unfulfilled orders and you can purchase another label from there if you didn’t do it right away.



What if an international Etsy order says the address is wrong?

If an international order says that the address is wrong, it could be because the address is written in a foreign language. The US Postal Service needs the address to be in English in order to go through customs, so a translated version is probably all that you need. If that isn’t the case, you may need to contact the customer to verify the address.

If you need to translate the address, Google translate is usually enough as long as you also include the original version of the address.

You can also check with the customer to see if there’s an English version of the address that you can use.

If you do have to translate the address, it’s a good idea to print out the original language version and tape it to the package so that it can be used once the package is in the country it’s going to. That’s likely to be more accurate than a translated version, and having both on the package won’t prevent it from being delivered.

Just make sure that the address on the purchased shipping label is in English for customs!


For an article about the pros and cons of selling internationally on Etsy, click here.


How to change the shipping address on Etsy.

How to change the address if you’re a customer.

When you place an order on Etsy, there are multiple opportunities to verify the shipping address. Make sure that the address that you enter on the order is the correct one, and check the verification email that comes after the order is placed to make sure it’s correct.

If something happens and the address ends up being entered incorrectly (it does happen) you’ll have to contact the seller as soon as possible so that they can change the shipping address on their end.

Because Paypal sometimes defaults to the Paypal address, you may need to change the address on Paypal if you’ve moved recently and that hasn’t been updated.

If you realize that the address is incorrect and the package has already been sent, there’s nothing that the seller can do to redirect the package. You can try to file a package intercept with the post officeOpens in a new tab. but there’s an additional charge for that service if they can do it.

The Etsy seller is not responsible for sending another item to you, or for issuing a refund if the address that you entered was incorrect! It’s the buyer’s responsibility to verify their address.

How to change the address if you’re a seller.

If you need to edit the shipping label on Etsy, you can do that directly in the order page itself. On desktop, click the order and on the right side there will be a box with the shipping address and a button to edit it. Click the button and change anything that you need to.

One thing to remember is that Etsy might not save the edit if you do it ahead of time, so double-check if the customer asked you to change the address.

Edit address box.
Edit address box.

The edit address box might also have a suggested address that will be formatted the way that the post office wants. The box above shows the suggested address with the zip+4 format and the periods removed after the abbreviations in the street name.

If the address that’s suggested is the one that you were going to use, just click that box.

If not, click “edit” at the top, then enter the new address.

Be aware that changing the shipping address to one that the customer didn’t enter can cancel any seller protection that Etsy might decide to offer, so sometimes it’s better to cancel the order and let the customer reorder with the correct address.


What to do when the customer’s address is wrong and they won’t respond.

If the customer’s address is wrong but the customer won’t respond to your convos about it, you have a few options. You can email, extend the processing time, or cancel the order. You can also send the package after researching the address if the changes that you need to make aren’t drastic.

If you decide that you can’t send the package because the address isn’t verifiable, you should contact the customer through the Etsy convo system first.

If they don’t respond, you can use the email address that’s included with the order to contact them directly. To find the email, click the little triangle to the right of the customer’s name, and the dropdown that opens up will include the email address.

If there’s no response after that (within 24 hours or so,) you can extend the processing time of the order if you want to give the customer more time to respond. You can extend the processing time of an order once, so make it for a long time period!

This will also trigger an email from Etsy’s email address telling the customer that the processing time has been extended, so that usually makes them pay attention.

If there’s no response from the customer at all and you’re not comfortable sending the package, you can always just cancel the order. If the customer was non-responsive until then and they still don’t get in touch with you, there’s not a lot that you can do.

Sometimes it’s better to cancel and not send the order to the wrong place!


What to do if an Etsy package is returned because of the wrong address.

If an Etsy order is returned because the post office was unable to find the address, you will need to follow your shop policies about what you do when this happens. In general, the choices will be to either re-send the package or to refund if it’s something that falls within your refund policies.

It’s important to have shop policies filled out for this type of situation so that there’s a clear guideline for how you’ll handle it. This is for you and for the customer so that you both have a clear framework to use.

Make sure to include guidelines about whether you will refund the entire price, or hold back shipping charges to cover your cost. This is especially important if you offer free shipping, because the displayed price of shipping will be zero. You’ll need to explicitly say that you will refund other than the actual cost of the original postage label.

You should also check to see if there are laws about whether you are legally required to refund the full price including shipping or not if the reason for the return was a mistake made by the customer. Some countries have strict laws about returns, so you need to make sure your shop policies follow the law.


Packages at the post office.
Packages at the post office.

The Etsy order is showing delivered, but the customer says they didn’t get the package!

If the shipping label tracking says that the order was delivered, but the customer says that they didn’t get it, you can help them by offering advice about how to find where the package is. They can also check with the post office if it’s a US delivery, because mail carriers have GPS locators on their scanning devices. This should tell the customer exactly where the package was delivered.

You are not responsible for refunding or shipping another item if the tracking says that it was delivered. If the customer files a complaint with Etsy or the credit card company, they will generally close the case in your favor if the package was marked as delivered.

This isn’t guaranteed with Etsy these days, but it’s usually what happens.

For an article about the Purchase Protection Program that Etsy now has in place to handle this kind of situation, click here: Etsy’s Purchase Protection Program for Sellers

This doesn’t mean that you can’t offer suggestions about how to find out where the package is. The customer should check to see if anyone else brought the package inside, or whether the mail carrier left it somewhere “safe,” like a back porch or somewhere sheltered.

They can also check with neighbors to see if they received it, but a lot of people don’t want to do that.

The most effective way to find out where the package is would be to take the tracking number to the post office and have them look up where the scan shows that it was delivered. If it was left at the wrong address the post office has to send someone out to get it back.

Sometimes customers don’t want to do that either, and they demand a refund or a replacement. Don’t refund or replace until all avenues are explored, including the possibility of package theft.

If the post office says that the package was delivered to the correct address, the customer should fill out a stolen mail report with them, and also file a report with their local police. This seems like a lot, but mail theft is a federal crime, and as porch pirates become more brazen, the police need to be able to track patterns of theft.

Even if the package was stolen, you’re not obligated to replace or refund. The customer is responsible for providing a secure location for mail deliveries, and you have no control over what happens when it’s delivered.

You might want to offer a discount on the purchase of a replacement item, but you aren’t obligated to do that.

Make sure to put all of the ways that you would handle these situations in your shop policies, then you can make exceptions to them if you feel like the situation deserves that.

Also, it’s possible that the package was scanned in as delivered at the beginning of the route, but not actually delivered. That happens fairly frequently, and sometimes things will show up the day after it says it was delivered.

It’s worth it to tell the customer about this, and let them know that it’s possible that it could show up in one or two days. If they call the post office to check, it’s pretty common that the package will show up that day.


What if the Etsy order was delivered to the wrong address?

If a package was delivered to the wrong address, the post office will be able to see that by checking the GPS coordinates on the delivery scan. They will then be responsible for finding the package and delivering it to the correct address.

This usually involves having the customer call or visit their local post office to find out where the scan was located, but sometimes customers don’t want to make the effort to do that.

As sellers, the post office might not want to give us a lot of information, but we can usually call the post office and try to find out where the packages are.

If a customer says that they called and the post office wouldn’t give them any information, it’s worth it to call to see if we can get the delivery location. Sometimes they didn’t call, and other times the post office will try to brush the customer off, so we might be able to get the information we need by calling.


The Etsy seller mixed up two orders and sent them to the wrong addresses!

If you send the wrong packages to customers because you mixed them up, it’s your responsibility to get the right merchandise to the customers. In general, unsolicited merchandise, Opens in a new tab.which this would qualify as, is considered to be a gift, and the recipient isn’t legally obligated to pay for it.

Depending on the cost of the item, or if it’s a one of a kind item, you might not be able to replace it easily. If that’s the case, you can purchase another shipping label and email it to the customer to print out so that they can send the package to the correct person, if they’re willing to do that.

However, sometimes it’s easier and faster to just send another item, since you’ll be relying on each customer to mail the merchandise to each other.

You can work with the customers to see what their level of willingness is, but in my time selling online I’ve mixed up a few packages, and it’s generally easier to just send new items to each person and let them keep the first one.


For an article about buying Etsy shipping labels, click here.


What to do if the order tracking isn’t being updated.

If the post office isn’t scanning the tracking number as it moves through the system, a package can look like it isn’t moving at all. This is generally not true, and the package is probably on the way to the customer as usual, but there’s no proof of that if the tracking isn’t updating.

The first thing to do would be to go to the USPS website and sign up for tracking updates. This sends all the scan information to your email, so you’ll be able to track where the package is.

I’ve found that signing up for these updates will usually knock something back into place, because the tracking will start showing up again.

If the package seems to be stuck somewhere and hasn’t moved for a few days, it’s possible that there’s a delay at a post office distribution center or something like that.

Signing up for updates can also help get it moving again, but sometimes there’s no luck and the package tracking just doesn’t seem to be moving.

If that’s what’s happened, you can ship another item to the customer and ask them to write “refused- Return to sender” on the first package without opening it if it does eventually arrive.

If they don’t open the package, the post office will return it at no cost to the customer, and you’ll receive the product back. If they do open the package, they’ll have to pay for the return shipping.

If a package seems to be lost in the system, you can try to file an insurance claim, but not all packages qualify. You’ll need to enter the tracking number on the post office insurance claim website page to see if you can file a claim for missing mail.

For a more in-depth article about pre-transit and in-transit tracking messages, click here.


Where to find the tracking information for my Etsy order.

To find the tracking number on an Etsy order, go to the order page and look for the number in the order itself. For the most updated tracking information, click on the tracking number to go to the USPS website, since the Etsy site doesn’t always update as quickly as the post office site does.

Customers can find their tracking information in their profile under the purchases and reviews section.

If a customer checked out as a guest, the tracking number will be in the confirmation email that Etsy sent when the order was placed, but it won’t be on Etsy itself, since they don’t have an account.

Etsy guests can create an account and claim an order after the fact, but they’ll need to have the order number to do that.

Kara

Kara Buntin has run a home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 46,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO.

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