When the HPLC Water takes a Tour of Wine Country (Parcel Misrouting)

The item is in stock in the local warehouse, the order confirmation comes in, the item ships as predicted, and then it all goes sideways. The package has gone to the wrong place and the item you thought was a sure delivery is now not going to deliver as predicted.

A map of the San Francisco Bay area with a pin in Suisun City, California, near Fairfield north of Oakland and the bay.
UPS misrouted a package from Tracy, CA. Instead, it made it to Suisun City, CA. In this case, they caught their mistake and corrected it.

Managing Delayed and Misrouted Items

UPS and FedEx make mistakes. Busy times for them exacerbate these (e.g. holidays). 
The best defense against delayed shipping is planning ahead and not being in urgent need of any item/reagent.
However, once it’s shipped and misrouted/delayed, here are some actions to be taken.

  • Don’t panic
  • Check tracking page and see if it updates within a day: UPS and FedEx do catch misrouting and correct it.
    • This works if it’s a non-temperature sensitive item that can be delayed a bit
  • If other delays crop up, contact the supplier and have them contact UPS/FedEx (they have direct contacts with shipping scientists don’t):
    • Customs delays – ask what FedEx/UPS need (usually a form)
    • UPS/FedEx claim an incomplete address – ask supplier to inform of full address
    • Weather delays/system issues – contact the supplier for a replacement if item is temperature sensitive

If a scientist does need to contact FedEx/UPS, call and say “agent” over and over again to get a human. Sometimes you can get a human by interacting with their online chat and say “no” when their automated system asks if they answered a scientists’ query (the systems then ask for a phone number and will call you quickly).


Misrouting and delays is one strong reason to pay attention to tracking numbers.

A UPS tracking page indicating a delay in delivery. It also indicated the last scanned location as Suisun City, CA.
An example of a UPS tracking page with a misrouted parcel that UPS caught and was working to re-route.

In the end, the misrouted HPLC water did enjoy its tour of wine country and was only a day later than scheduled.

Glossary

Local Warehouse/Delivery terminal – a distributors closest warehouse/hub to a delivery location
Tracking number – an alphanumeric code that allows tracking of shipments with a delivery company (UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc) 
PRO number – an alphanumeric code that allows tracking of a shipment with a freight company (YRC, R&L, UPS freight, FedEx freight, etc)
Tracking page – web page to check status of a shipment and any potential delivery issues/delays
Temperature Sensitive – an item that is perishable/has to be kept cold for it to remain viable as a reagent

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