Karma Zain (karmazain) wrote,
Karma Zain

on post office "tracking" which is not really tracking

This illustrates what I keep telling people and they keep not believing, that the USPS "track and confirm" service is NOT really tracking, that it is ONLY delivery confirmation and that you cannot expect a package's whereabouts to be shown real-time, nor expect a package to be scanned more than once.  The only thing they owe you and me, unless you select expensive options like signature confirmation and the like, is a non-real-time note showing the package's delivery.  (The delivery scan is also not real time, and the system often updates only AFTER a package has been delivered.  They do NOT owe an initial/acceptance scan that is real-time either, and they do not owe a play-by-play of its journey along the way. Their website states that they do not RECORD all available scans of non-Express mail during transit.  So they may OR MAY NOT show when your package was accepted at various centers and hubs.  When they pick up packages from me, for instance, it's often not until after 5 pm.  If I paid for and printed a label on Sunday for a Wednesday ship date, and they don't get to me on their route until darkness has fallen on Wed, then the web site may not show acceptance until Thurs or Friday or maybe even later than that, depending on a number of variables).  The only way to have a package actually tracked is to pay a lot extra for Express mail. From the USPS FAQ page:

In order to track a mailpiece, USPS® recommends using Express Mail®. This mail class provides delivery status information from acceptance into the mail stream through delivery and points in between. Express Mail is the only mail class that comes with automatic tracking information and can be tracked online via Track and Confirm on usps.

And again:

Express Mail is the only mail class that provides automatic tracking information with the purchase of the service. For other mail classes (e.g. Priority Mail), the Postal Service offers several options to obtain information about when your item was delivered. While these options do not provide tracking information when the item is in transit, they do provide the ability to find out when the item arrived at its destination.

So for everybody that has gotten mad at your ebay seller because your package did not arrive according to the estimated delivery date (which is not our choice, that number or date timeframe - that is a span of time that ebay arrives at based on US Post Office average delivery times), and for everybody who has gotten mad at your ebay seller because s/he sent a form letter, please enjoy this response to me from the USPS, which I got four business days after I requested any available additional info about a package destined for France that the so-called "track and confirm" system says has been in Atlanta since December.  I did not ask them to track it, because i know better, but I did ask if they had any additional offline info so I could figure out who to call next (ie, I wanted to know if it had left the US or not):


Dear Postal Customer,

I understand that you are wondering about the delivery of an item you sent to France, in December of 2011, which has not shown 'delivered' in our Track and Confirm online program.

I am sorry for the confusion in the type of label number you provided, and the kinds of scans you can expect. I am happy to explain.

First, please keep in mind that Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Flat Rate Boxes offer an affordable mailing option, based on negotiated terms with over 190 countries.

The negotiated terms do not require that First Class Mail International as well as Priority Mail International Flat Rate envelopes and Small Flat rate boxes be trackable.

For the convenience of our customer, the US will show 'Acceptance' of an item, but we do not capture all scans for an item in US locations. However, the problem arises as other countries are not required to track them and most have chosen not to scan them. This makes it exceptionally difficult to find them when they do not get delivered on time.

For this reason, these items do not provide tracing or inquiries as part of the service. Your best option may be to have the recipient contact their country's customs office to inquire if the package has entered their country.

Your best option may be to have the recipient contact their delivery service in the foreign country, or their country's customs office to inquire if more information can be obtained, that is, if you know they have not received it.

For future reference, if you absolutely need to track your International Mail please consider using our Global Express Guaranteed or Express Mail International services. Delivery information is also available to most countries for C-series custom label numbers, which come with Priority Mail International services.

It has been my pleasure to assist you.

If you need to contact us again, please use the following link to do so:


If we can be of assistance to you in the future, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for choosing the United States Postal Service.



**Should you have any additional concerns, please use the link provided above to send them to the appropriate office. Please do not reply to this message.**


Now how unreasonable am I, o disgruntled buyers?  And how hard is my prose to understand?  At least I don't send you form letters with sentences like this in them: "The negotiated terms do not require that First Class Mail International as well as Priority Mail International Flat Rate envelopes and Small Flat rate boxes be trackable."  Jeesh, talk about needing an English 101 class.

But this buyer wrote me because 30 business days had passed and her international package had not arrived.  I happily pursued the issue for her.  So those of you who get pissy because I do not call the post office when your package is two days later than you expected it to be should be taking note: 1. I am HAPPY to tangle with the post office if the outlined time has passed and your package is not there, 2. there is NO POINT in my tangling with them before that point has passed, as they will just send me a form letter explaining that the times are only estimates, so when I send you a form letter saying the same thing, I really am telling you all there is to tell, 3. I will tangle with them anyway, just in case, for buyers who are reasonable, because that is what I outlined as my responsibility in the payment acknowledgment email.  This buyer was reasonable, and she is getting replacement items out of my pocket, and getting a replacement international shipment, again out of my pocket (not cheap).  If your US package is not there the day you expect it to be, you need to understand that we sellers deal with the USPS every day and we know how it works. And we know how it does NOT work.  So cut us some slack, for God's sake - we do this professionally and we are not just making shit up to mess with you. 

And if you are going to be upset because a seller will not reimburse you or replace your order out of pocket just based on your word, then you need to shop with amazon.com and large factories instead of with tiny sellers who only make small batches of things and don't have a big profit margin on anything.  I just blocked a bidder yesterday for getting pissed because I wouldn't take her word for it that an item was broken - like I can really afford to reimburse every single complaint without proof?  I'm sure she was being honest, but I don't know her, and there are a lot of dishonest buyers out there and I have no way to protect myself from them except asking for proof. I have to file a claim with the post office to get reimbursed for stuff they messed up, and I cannot just take somebody's word for it because the post office won't take my word for it.  So THINK before you whine :-)

Tags: customer info, faq, shipping, shipping info

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