What Does the Shipping Status “Miss-Shipped” or “Missent” Mean?

We all make mistakes from time to time. It’s part of being human (just like our disproportionate interest in seeing objects go from one place to another, i.e. “shipping”). And sometimes, those mistakes happen during the shipping process.

Like other terms in this list, there’s some weird overlap between the terms “miss-shipped” and “missent.” This time, though, there are two different definitions in play.

The first meaning is that the package has been sent to the wrong sorting facility, post office, or other intermediary destination. In other words, it took a right turn at Albuquerque instead of a left.

This is a problem because these destinations are staging areas. A “distribution center” is a hub location where items are sorted and routed to more accurate destinations. Typically, a package will pass through two different centers on its journey—one at the beginning, to put it on the appropriate truck for cross-country travel, and one at the end, where it’s routed to the local office.

Local facilities (like post offices), on the other hand, are the customer-facing portion of the operation. They’re where people can go to mail off packages, and it’s where the shipments are loaded into delivery trucks, which then take the items to their final destination.

In other words, if your package winds up at either the wrong distribution center or local office, it’s not making a b-line for your doorstep like it’s supposed to. Sometimes, it will be close (e.g. a post office for a neighboring ZIP code in the same city), but other times it won’t. And it’s hard to delivery your parcel to you in Queens when it’s sitting in a post office in LA.

In this case, the miss-shipped/missent status means “hang on, we gotta put it back on the truck and send it in the other direction.”

The second meaning is kind of the opposite. While the USPS most commonly deals with “sent to the wrong facility” errors, sometimes retailers will deal with a different error: sending the wrong item (albiet usually to the correct address).

Occasionally, when orders are being fulfilled, there are mixups, and customers are sent another customer’s purchase, or in other cases, a similar—but not identical—product to the one they ordered.

In this case, it’s a “hold on, let us swap that out real quick.”

The linguistic difficulty here is that, while we could easily assign one word (say, “missent”) to the meaning of “right product, wrong place,” and the other (“miss-shipped,” for instance) to “right place, wrong product,” nobody in the industry apparently does that.

Which isn’t at all an irritation for those of us in the industry who are word nerds. Nope. Not losing a wink of sleep over it.

(Maybe we can turn it into a hashtag movement. #justiceforbradswife worked, didn’t it?)

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