FedEx Shipment Exceptions: What You Need to Know

Author: Bryan Van Suchtelen
August 07, 2023

FedEx is a premier parcel company for good reason. Whether you're shipping from Los Angeles to New York or from Chicago to Europe using FedEx International Priority, FedEx Ground, FedEx Express, or FedEx Ground Economy, with a FedEx tracking number in hand, FedEx will ensure your goods arrive at the point of destination on time. At least, almost every time.

Sometimes, despite their best efforts, unforeseen circumstances might arise that temporarily delay the package in transit. Bad weather, flat tires, damaged barcodes—any one of these unpredictable events could cause a hiccup in the delivery process, known in the logistics world as a "shipment exception" or "shipping exception."

FedEx Shipment Exception

But what is a FedEx shipment exception exactly? Why do they occur? And how can you best navigate these unforeseen logistical roadblocks? 

Here’s your complete guide to what you need to know about FedEx delivery exceptions that may occur. 

What Does Shipment Exception Mean? 

In a perfect world, every FedEx package travels from sender to receiver, on time and without any hitches. But logistics is a complex and multifaceted orchestra involving millions of parcels moving about the U.S. daily. In 2022, FedEx alone shipped nearly 10,000,000 packages each day through different means like FedEx Ground, FedEx Express, and FedEx Ground Economy.  Tracking information is vital in this process to ensure transparency.

Given this sheer volume and the myriad factors that can influence delivery, there will inevitably be occasional snags, some of which are entirely beyond FedEx's control, like a late shipment due to bad weather or a customs delay.

When such disruptions considered outside of FedEx’s control occur, FedEx designates them on the FedEx website as a "shipment exception.” 

These shipment exceptions, although typically rare, can disrupt FedEx's scheduled delivery and potentially absolve them from failing to fulfill their contractual on-time obligations. 

How Does a FedEx Exception Work? 

FedEx Shipment Exception - Mobile
FedEx offers real-time notifications and FedEx tracking to provide a detailed view of a parcel's progress, keeping both senders and recipients informed about the delivery status. 

If you ever face an issue, you can always contact FedEx customer service for assistance.

When a shipment exception occurs en route, it notifies both the sender and recipient, alerting both parties to possible disruptions in the delivery date schedule. This alert doesn't automatically mean the package will be delayed. Just that it might be and the circumstances causing it were beyond their control. As noted on the FedEx website, "We work hard to deliver every package as soon as possible, so a delivery exception doesn’t necessarily mean that your shipment will arrive late." 

This notification system serves two purposes for FedEx:

  1. Acts as a proactive measure to ensure maximum transparency and manage customer expectations appropriately. 
  2. Acts as a legal exoneration, shielding FedEx from any potential liabilities or responsibilities relating to delays beyond its control, such as a shipping delay due to an unexpected event.

Common Causes of FedEx Shipment Exceptions

The term “exceptions” covers a variety of scenarios that might prevent a package from meeting its expected timely delivery schedule, including: 

  • Address-related exceptions – In some cases, a package may be delayed en route to its destination when the courier is unable to complete the delivery due to an incorrect address. Or, the recipient might not be present to provide the necessary release signature. FedEx will then provide an exception notice, indicating a delivery delay. This is a common shipping exception scenario.
  • Customs-related exceptions – Customs delays, such as improper documentation or unpaid duties, could cause customs to hold or reject the delivery, resulting in an unexpected event known as a "shipping exception."
  • Operational exceptions – FedEx relies on a fleet of planes, trains, trucks, and boats to deliver parcels and freight. Operational interruptions like mechanical failures or logistical issues, such as road closures or airport delays, can result in shipping exceptions.

Fedex Operational Shipment exceptions

  • Weather-related exceptions – Inclement conditions and natural disasters can cause late delivery disruptions, if not render delivery outright impossible. During such events, FedEx prioritizes the safety of their employees and equipment while working diligently to resume services as soon as conditions permit. Weather exceptions include: 
    • Heavy rain
    • Thunderstorms
    • Mudslides
    • Flooding
    • Fires
    • Blizzards
    • Snowy or Icy conditions
    • Tornadoes
    • Hurricanes
    • Earthquakes 
  • Package handling exceptions – These happen when the package itself has problems that prevent delivery. It might be a damaged package, or it might have an unreadable shipping label.  

In most cases, if a FedEx delivery exception prevents FedEx from completing their delivery on schedule, they will attempt to deliver the package as soon as possible. However, if there's an issue like an incorrect address, FedEx may hold the shipment until it is resolved. You may need to contact FedEx to resolve the issue and avoid further shipping exceptions.

The Impact of FedEx Shipment Exceptions on Delivery 

Navigating the intricacies of FedEx shipment exceptions can be a complex challenge for businesses both large and small. While many of these exceptions are entirely beyond a sender's control, it remains imperative that every feasible step is taken to mitigate the risk of such occurrences. After all, shipment exceptions, despite being largely unforeseen, can have profound consequences for businesses, including: 

Customer Dissatisfaction and its Effects on Business

When FedEx shipment exceptions interfere with customer expectations, this can swiftly ricochet into dissatisfied customers, poor reviews, or complaints.

Whether it's a time-sensitive business document, a gift, or essential merchandise, untimely deliveries can be (understandably) frustrating. Especially in an era when consumers have become accustomed to the 24-hour rapid shipping cycle, even the suggestion that a delay might occur can cause unease.  

In our hyper-connected social media world, a single dissatisfied customer can now air their grievances to a massive audience, potentially tarnishing the brand’s reputation and, by extension, its bottom line. 

Financial Implications of Shipment Exceptions

Aside from customer dissatisfaction, FedEx shipment exceptions can also result in financial losses that manifest as: 

  • Lost sales
  • Shipping costs for expedited deliveries
  • Compensation for late deliveries
  • Returns 

Furthermore, repeat exceptions can trigger the need to seek alternative delivery partners, which can inflate your operational costs.

Reputation Management and Dealing with Negative Feedback

Reputation is an invaluable intangible asset in today's digital business landscape.

Fedex Shipment exceptions - status updates
If a business gains a reputation for unreliable shipping, it can be an uphill task to change public perceptions. The risk here is that other customers may also begin to perceive the brand as unreliable, with every negative review further echoing and amplifying this damaging narrative.

To combat this issue, companies must invest heavily in reputation management and customer service. This approach involves proactively managing each shipment exception scenario, ideally utilizing it as an opportunity to further strengthen bonds with the customer in spite of the less-than-ideal circumstances. 

Yet, this damage control can be an unanticipated, secondary cost. 

Managing and Preventing FedEx Shipment Exceptions

The best way to avoid the pitfalls of FedEx shipment exceptions is by taking proactive steps to prevent them. Here are a few strategies that you can adopt to minimize the chances of encountering these hiccups in your shipping process:

  • Address accuracy and verification – If you want to ensure that a package gets from A to B, the address information for that final destination must be clear and accurate. Although that may seem obvious, customers still frequently make mistakes when filling out this portion. Knowing that, taking the necessary steps to verify that the address is complete and accurate can eliminate a considerable portion of avoidable delivery exceptions. Some companies will rely on address verification software that cross-references the U.S. Postal Address Database to double-check a provided address. 
  • Proper packaging – Shipping labels must be legible. Improper or insufficient packaging can often lead to shipment damages or losses, which in turn result in shipment exceptions. To mitigate this risk, FedEx advises its customers to adhere to these general packaging guidelines and best practices.  
  • Consider holidays – Naturally, the holidays are peak shipping seasons. From Black Friday to Christmas alone, FedEx will handle hundreds of millions of packages. With higher volumes of packages circulating in their network during these periods, the potential for exceptions and delays increases. Being cognizant of these busy seasons and planning shipments accordingly can help mitigate the risk of exceptions, ensuring that your packages arrive promptly despite the holiday rush.
  • Communicate proactively – To properly manage FedEx shipment exceptions, clear, proactive communication is essential. By providing regular updates about package status, potential delays, and resolution steps, you can properly set customer expectations and prevent dissatisfaction. This transparency not only maintains customer trust but can also turn potential negatives into positive demonstrations of your commitment to stellar customer service.

How Lojistic Can Help Navigate FedEx Shipment Exceptions

Shipment exceptions might seem trivial when taken in isolation. However, when they accumulate across multiple customer shipments, they pose significant operational and financial challenges for businesses. 

Often, businesses realize that it’s too great a task to handle internally, so they turn to specialists to help manage shipments and shipment exceptions, streamline your existing FedEx contract, and reduce shipping costs. And that’s where Lojistic can make a tangible difference in your shipping operations, reputation, and bottom line. 

Here are some of the ways Lojistic can help you:

  1. Shipping Procurement – Analyze and procure parcel rates, ensuring that your business gets the best possible cheap shipping rates through a detailed shipping cost comparison.
  2. Shipping Optimization – By applying data-driven insights, we can help your business reduce shipping costs and improve efficiency.
  3. Shipping Analytics – Use the power of data to monitor and analyze your shipping practices, pinpointing areas of inefficiency and implementing solutions.
  4. Shipping Reporting – Our shipping reporting tools offer a comprehensive view of your shipping data, making it easier to monitor performance and make informed decisions.
  5. FedEx Shipping Contract – Lojistic can help optimize your FedEx shipping contract and ensure that you’re getting the best rates possible.
  6. Parcel Audit – Regularly auditing your shipping activities is essential to ensuring that you’re paying the right amount and not getting overcharged.

From helping you optimize your FedEx contract to offering parcel audit and refund recovery services, Lojistic's services can help you send costs packing. Our team of experts and advanced shipping analytic tools can simplify the complex world of shipping, ensuring that you're well-prepared for any unforeseen shipment exceptions that may arise.

Lojistic's cost savings automation and analytics platform can be a crucial part of your shipping strategy, whether you're a large corporation or a small business. Take control of your shipping needs with the power of Lojistic.

Is Lojistic right for you? Try our demo to see how you could control and reduce shipping costs. 


Statista. FedEx Ground Average Daily Package Volume.

FedEx. What Does Delivery Exception Mean?

FedEx. General Packaging Guidelines.


Bryan Van Suchtelen

Bryan Van Suchtelen

Corporate Director of Parcel Rate Services

With more than 34 years of parcel experience, Bryan Van Suchtelen is the Corporate Director of Parcel Rate Services at Lojistic, one of the nation’s top logistics and transportation cost management companies.

Prior to joining Lojistic in 2015, Bryan enjoyed a 26-year career with UPS where his roles included Pricing, Field Sales and Director-level Sales Management of some of UPS’s largest customers.

At Lojistic, Bryan leverages his wealth of experience/expertise to identify and execute supply chain cost management solutions for parcel shippers of all sizes. Bryan has helped his customers reduce their shipping spend by tens of millions of dollars.
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