USPS Tracking Issues

We use USPS Tracking on every package and find it very helpful. It doesn’t guarantee delivery, of course, but generally lets you know what is happening with a package. One recent order for a town in Florida went from us (Indianapolis) to Cincinnati (the usual sorting station) to Gainesville; something went wrong and turned the package north to Ohio again, then Warrentown PA where it sat for ten days through a snowstorm and subsequent clean-up delays. Eventually it was liberated, returned south, and found its destination.

Our customer was very eager to receive the three volume set of The Game of Thrones and would have been very upset with us if not able to see the path of her books. We kept in touch with regular email updates and reassurances that we were watching it. The upshot was that, rather than being angry about a long wait for delivery, the customer was really happy and impressed with our good service.

It’s a good system but human error isn’t eliminated. Not all packages are properly scanned, creating gaps in the record. Here is a link to a USPS response to a shipper’s complaints and problems with the system: “USPS Sets Records Straight…”.

Another issue entirely is what to do when a customer claims the package wasn’t delivered despite the tracking record that it was. I always start by copying the information from the USPS tracking page into an email to the customer. I ask, tactfully I hope, if someone else might have taken delivery and mislaid it. Sometimes the mail carrier miscodes the scan, I think, and marks it delivered when it’s really waiting at the local substation to be picked up. If the package has been left at the wrong address, there’s not much to be done except hope the neighbor doesn’t wait too long to correct it. One of the comments in the linked article suggested another idea that I think I will try with the next hostile customer.

“The first thing I do when a customer says they haven’t received an item that shows delivered is to input the tracking number at On the results page you can request that a complete history be sent to multiple emails. I send one to them and one to me. I then message them saying, to the effect, ”The package must have been stolen. Should I start a post office investigation? They will give you forms to fill out or send the carrier to interview you for details.” Invariably, the lost package magically appears.”

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