UPS, Fedex or DHL: Will your neighbor get your package?

This post was written by eli on August 1, 2018
Posted Under: offtopic

Is that for me?

I had some $1,200 worth package sent to me from an electronics vendor (Mouser) with UPS. Free shipping. Got an SMS saying when the courier was expected to arrive. Took a nap and didn’t hear the phone ringing nor the doorbell. Woke up to an SMS saying “thank you for choosing UPS” and a note on the door saying the package was delivered to me neighbor.

Needless to say, I didn’t give my consent to this. Actually, I didn’t know this option existed with large couriers. Don’t get me wrong: My neighbor is great. I just think it’s completely wrong that he should be bothered with my stuff.

This isn’t a rant post. It’s a note to future self, so I can make an informed choice of courier and shipping conditions. Like many other posts on this blog, I’m writing it for myself, but let others see and share their insights (in the comments).

Needless to say, all companies deliver the package to you if you’re at home. The question is what they do if you’re not. Will they get rid of the package as quickly as possible, or will they go on trying (which makes the delivery more expensive to them).

Written in August 2018.


Yes, the delivery to neighbor was legit, according to UPS’ own website: “Shipments that do not require a signature can be left in a safe place, out of sight and out of weather, at the driver’s discretion. This could include the front porch, side door, back porch, garage area, or with a neighbor or leasing office (which would be noted in a yellow UPS InfoNotice® left by the driver).”

From “UPS’ Tariffs / Terms and Conditions”, “Delivery”: “UPS does not limit Delivery of a Shipment to the person specified as the Receiver in the UPS Shipping System. Unless the Shipper uses Delivery Confirmation service requiring a signature, UPS reserves the right, in its sole and unlimited discretion, to make a Delivery without obtaining a signature.”

The “Signature Required” option adds $4.75 to the tariff, according to their pricing page. Mouser obviously opted this out. So much for “free shipping”.


From Fedex’ Service Guide 2018, “FedEx Express Terms and Conditions”, in “Delivery Signature Options”, it says “someone at the delivery address” with respect to who is allowed to acknowledge the delivery. If the sender has chosen “Indirect Signature Required”, a neighbor is perfectly eligible to sign for the parcel. Actually, it gets better: “Shipments to residential addresses may be released without obtaining a signature. If you require a signature for a residential shipment, select one of the Delivery Signature Options.” Let’s hope that the sender does require a signature.

So it seems Fedex is flexible on this issue, requiring the sender to pick the option, possibly at a cost: For example, “Direct Signature Required” costs $4.75 extra if the package’s worth is under $500, according to Fedex’ Fees information leaflet. The Service Guide 2018 confirms this: “Direct Signature Required fees will apply only to those packages within the shipment with a declared value of less than $500″. In other words, they don’t give the shipper the option to be irresponsible.

Conclusion: No package above $500 will reach the neighbor. Or if that extra tariff has been paid.


DHL’s “Terms and Conditions” (which is remarkably short and concise) says under “Deliveries and Undeliverables”: “Shipments cannot be delivered to PO boxes or postal codes. Shipments are delivered to the Receiver’s address given by Shipper but not necessarily to the named Receiver personally. Shipments to addresses with a central receiving area will be delivered to that area. DHL may notify Receiver of an upcoming delivery or a missed delivery. Receiver may be offered alternative delivery options such as delivery on another day, no signature required, redirection or collection at a DHL Service Point. Shipper may exclude some delivery options on request”.

No neighbors mentioned, no alternative destinations. It’s either the destination address or nothing.

Their German site allows choosing a preferred neighbor or a preferred outdoors location for placing the parcel. This is an active choice made by the recipient, not an ad-hoc improvisation by the courier.


Opted out, after I recently had to make several phone calls in order to get the invoice for the customs clearance tariffs. At least in Israel, they’re not up to it.

Bottom line

Judging by the official docs, DHL most careful about where the package ends, but Fedex isn’t so bad either (in particular when the declared worth is above $500, or if those extra $4.75 has been paid).

UPS, well, it seems like they offer good deals to the shippers.

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