Return to sender: What happens when a parcel has an incomplete address?

Pricewatch: In the case of our reader, it wasn’t just one truncated label but two

Last week we highlighted the plight of a reader called Marcus who had a parcel delivered from the US to Dublin 8 to within one kilometre of his home before being returned to sender because the address was apparently complete. He was less than pleased as the Eircode which could have identified his house was visible even if his full address was not.

In response to his tale of woe An Post said that “it all comes down to the need for a full, correct postal address. This is always required by the delivery postperson to deliver the item. We handle hundreds of thousands of parcels every week, so looking up Eircodes to plan and make deliveries is simply not feasible.”

Well we have something that might amount to a plot twist. It comes from a reader called Eddy.

“We had a very similar experience with an order from Mountain Warehouse in the UK, also in August,” he says. The delivery address was to my wife’s office to ensure someone was available to accept the delivery. From the An Post tracking history you can see that it tried to deliver the parcel on August 14th but failed because ‘the address was incomplete’.”


Eddy says that “by the time we started wondering where our package was and looked up the tracking, it had already been sent back to the UK. We contacted Mountain Warehouse support and in fairness, they were very good. They said they would immediately send out a replacement order without waiting for the returned item to be received and processed.”

But things did not go as smoothly as our correspondent might have hoped.

“We got the tracking number for the second shipment and exactly the same thing happened! The only difference is that this time we could see the delivery history almost in real time as we were watching out for it. The parcel ended up back at the Ravensdale sorting office in Dublin 1 and as soon as I saw it arriving back there I drove down in person to see if they could retrieve it,” he writes.

“Armed with the tracking code the helpful person at the An Post desk went out the back for a couple of minutes and found the package. When she read the address she immediately recognised the business name as it was on her own delivery route but she hadn’t been doing deliveries that day. So, satisfactory ending, albeit with a lot of unnecessary running around.”

Eddy then noticed that the package had two shipping labels attached – the original label from Mountain Warehouse, which was almost completely covered by an An Post label. The original label was truncated, and the An Post label was truncated even further.

The original delivery address provided by Mountain Warehouse was (and we have changed the details here for obvious reasons)

Eddy Murphy

Pricewatch Limited

24-28 Tara St

Dublin 2


Mountain Warehouse’s fulfilment process combined the second and third lines on the delivery label, and truncated them to read:

Eddy Murphy

Pricewatch Limited 24-24 Tara

Dublin 2


The An Post label truncated this further:

Mary Murphy

Pricewatch Limited 24-28 T


“So it’s understandable that the address was considered not deliverable – except both labels had the Eircode clearly visible, as you can see in the attachments,” Eddy says.

“Clearly there are shortcomings on several fronts here. (We were in touch with Mountain Warehouse separately to explain how their own label misprocessing was a factor in the original package being returned, and it said they would be following it up with its own warehouse to review how its labels are generated.) When I read your article I wondered if Marcus’s address had perhaps been truncated in a similar way, with the customs notification being sent to the address originally supplied by his sender. Once he had paid the customs this may have triggered the generation of an An Post label which truncated his address and produced something unrecognisable.

“While An Post famously boast that they don’t use Eircodes, as their systems are not set up for it surely it’s less work for a local postman to just check the Eircode on his phone for the occasional delivery with an address issue rather than deal with all the hassle of returning it to the sender?”

Eddy notes that the An Post statement said it can’t be looking up hundreds of thousands of Eircodes every week. “However, if you’re only looking up Eircodes associated with undelivered parcels, rather than for every delivery, this has to be far less work for all concerned!”

He’s not wrong.