Why does the United States Postal Service package tracking suck?


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+warwagon

The postal service is complaining that they are going broke and that we should send more packages through them. Yet their tracking system is fracking TERRIBLE! What I don't understand is how hard it could it could be to get it right. When I ship via UPS or Fedex it tells me every step the package takes as it gets closer to me.

In the case of the postal service I might see tracking info updated on the 6th of December but NO OTHER INFORMATION for the next 3 days! Seriously how hard can it be? When a package arrives, scan it, and have the computer automatically update the tracking information, how hard could it be to screw up?

Has anyone else noticed how bad the tracking is with the postal service?

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+Gary7

The entire Postal Service sucks. They are closing sorting locations and now a letter will take 3 days to get to it's destination.

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Charisma

^I have indeed noticed. Could it be costs? Is it significantly cheaper to use the USPS? I haven't shipped something in so long that wasn't through my company's FedEx account that I actually can't remember.

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Roger H.

It's bad yes but it all depends on where the package is being shipped from. The same applies to UPS - if you are in NY and shipped something ground from CA it will show as left and then nothing till it reaches Chicago which usually takes 3 days as well. The container is scanned at every sorting hub even if the container is not opened. The trailer's number is linked to each package and therefore whenever it's entered, all packages inside get updated with tracking info.

USPS also uses DHL for some of their shipping needs. Getting the EGG saver deal from Newegg starts off with DHL then USPS makes the last leg delivery. UPS and FedEx does the same too depending. USPS now sends their overseas packages via FedEx shipments now so lots of it is kinda out of their control.

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BoyBoppins

Its not package tracking, its delivery confirmation. Works well for that.

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metal_dragen

Regardless of who is actually moving the physical package, I've often had stuff shipped via USPS and received the package before any tracking information is available via the web site (beyond that the tracking number exists and is associated with a shipment to my address).

Heck, even UPS and FedEx lag on occasion. When I ordered the parts for my new PC over the Black Friday weekend, they were shipped UPS. Generally I can track it and there will be an update when it is on the truck (out for delivery). On this occasion, I had 3 boxes, and only 1 of them indicated it was out for delivery before I received it.

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bryonhowley

When I had my water cooling kit sent FedEx the tracker showed it was still in SYRACUSE, NY until they showed up at my door!

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Astra.Xtreme

Yeah USPS usually only tracks when it leaves the distributor and then when it gets to your local postal deliverer. Nothing in between.

If you want something shipped quickly, you definitely don't want to use USPS. FedEx has always been my fav.

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Southern Patriot

Its not package tracking, its delivery confirmation. Works well for that.

Exactly. And it seems (for me at least) to work best on packages coming from the East towards me. Those seem to get updated at nearly every stop. Stuff coming from out West almost never shows up in the system until it reaches the main Post Office in Jackson (the day it is delivered to me).

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neufuse

When I had my water cooling kit sent FedEx the tracker showed it was still in SYRACUSE, NY until they showed up at my door!

That just happened to me the other day with my new graphics card, said it left New Jersy 2 days prior and was to be delivered that day, didn't make any sense.. it never went to "out for delivery" like it usually did, and didnt show it show up at our local distribution center either... but when it was delivered by fedex all the sudden all the tracking info showed up, never saw that happen before that

Yeah USPS usually only tracks when it leaves the distributor and then when it gets to your local postal deliverer. Nothing in between.

If you want something shipped quickly, you definitely don't want to use USPS. FedEx has always been my fav.

because if you saw all the places it went inbetween you'd see how inefficient the post system is... a USPS package from pittsburgh, pa to philadelphia, pa (same state) can end up in kentucky before it gets to philly because of where the sorting centers and transit routes are

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M_Lyons10

USPS has been seriously mismanaged (And continues to be)... They need someone to go in there with a hatchet and streamline things.

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DPyro

I just ordered something off ebay, shipped from the US to Canada and it only took 6 business days.

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+LogicalApex

Having worked for both UPS and the USPS on the low end level (unloading mail/package trucks) I understand why the systems work the way they do.

A major problem for the US Postal Service is that consumers just have such a negative opinion of them that they get written off before they even get their foot in the door. If you had a chance to see the USPS back-end operations you would respect them a lot more. If you also paid attention to their service quality (I mean in terms of actual delivery, not in the window dressings such as tracking) you would also respect them a lot more. For instance, the USPS will get me a First Class shipment from Monoprice (California) to me in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) in three days whereas UPS will take 5-6 days (and their tracking will be dead for the majority of it too).

On the backend the USPS tracking system "sucks" because their priority isn't in tracking your piece of mail, but in actually delivering it! When I unloaded a mail truck at the regional sorting facility for South Eastern PA we pulled off huge mail carts (packages were in Bulk Mail Carts referred to as BMCs). Each cart carried a ton of mail or a ton of packages and was pulled off the truck and immediately routed to processing center in the building or reloaded on a truck so it could make delivery the next morning. This allows the USPS to deliver something like 10x the volume of UPS in half the time...

UPS is a lot different. Every package is stacked inside trucks to form "package walls". As such, unloading a UPS truck is done one package at a time, literally. They require the "unloader" to ensure the tracking label is facing up so it can be scanned as it is pulled out of the truck on a conveyor belt with a scanning computer at the end. This gives them super high package tracking activity, but their ability to handle volume is a lot lower. UPS also sorts their packages via human eyes compared to automated computer sorting implemented at the USPS.

The difference is striking and I think it is a real shame for the USPS that today's consumers value tracking web pages more than they value actual delivery time.

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+warwagon

On the backend the USPS tracking system "sucks" because their priority isn't in tracking your piece of mail, but in actually delivering it!

Then why does it seem the USPS takes forever compared to UPS?

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+LogicalApex

Then why does it seem the USPS takes forever compared to UPS?

In what regard? UPS is only faster for express shipments. Ground delivery, which is the bulk of the way online orders are shipped, isn't faster.

Although not by much since the UPS Express stuff is just rebranded FedEx.

Check UPS Ground Transit Map directly and compare it to the USPS for First Class Mail.

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+warwagon

In regards to say buying something off Amazon. A few days ago I bought something off Amazon and it's being shipped via USPS

A )I have no idea when it will arrive as the tracking and estimated delivery is non existence where as if UPS says X day, they usually hit it.

B) USPS always seem to take a few days longer to get anything. I have had some fast deliveries with USPS but they are few and far between.

C) It's to the point where if i see something shipped via USPS I shutter.

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Seizure1990

So what I'm gathering here is that all the shipping companies in the US are part of one big incestuous orgy. Why don't they all just merge already? :p

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DirtyLarry

Then why does it seem the USPS takes forever compared to UPS?

Maybe because you live in Iowa?

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neufuse

UPS also sorts their packages via human eyes compared to automated computer sorting implemented at the USPS.

that is completely wrong, you obviously never saw a UPS sorting facility, it is COMPLETELY computerized a human only touches a package to place it on the truck, unload a truck or read a label the computer couldn't figure out

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+warwagon

Maybe because you live in Iowa?

Could be!

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+LogicalApex

that is completely wrong, you obviously never saw a UPS sorting facility, it is COMPLETELY computerized a human only touches a package to place it on the truck, unload a truck or read a label the computer couldn't figure out

No, it is not. I worked at the UPS Sort Facility in Horsham, PA and I have friends who worked in its sibling in Philadelphia, PA both the Air Hub and the Ground Sort in South Philadelphia.

I no longer work there, but when I did (in 2007) the only major computerized sort was the main UPS hub in Kentucky.

But since you claim I'm wrong, which UPS Sort are you referring to?

I won't go digging up sources all day long, as it is pointless, but here is a picture of workers unloading a UPS truck. You'll notice the packages all being stacked into walls just like I said... I worked those trucks in 100+ degree weather so I know what I'm talking about...

UPS+Bustles+During+Busiest+Package+Delivery+rVf5NUB1SDEl.jpg

Source: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/G-zxDMerSJn/UPS+Bustles+During+Busiest+Package+Delivery/rVf5NUB1SDE

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+Gary7

We have a UPS sorting center in Youngstown and it is closing in March ,2012. All of our mail will then be sorted in Cleveland. So if I want to send my neighbor say a card, it will have to be sent from Youngstown to Cleveland and sorted and then sent back to Youngstown.

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neufuse

No, it is not. I worked at the UPS Sort Facility in Horsham, PA and I have friends who worked in its sibling in Philadelphia, PA both the Air Hub and the Ground Sort in South Philadelphia.

I no longer work there, but when I did (in 2007) the only major computerized sort was the main UPS hub in Kentucky.

But since you claim I'm wrong, which UPS Sort are you referring to?

WASPA, NEWPA, ERIPA are all computerized, World hub is of course the major computerized one, but the ones around here all have computer sorting

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Seizure1990

Maybe because you live in Iowa?

I laughed.

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+LogicalApex

WASPA, NEWPA, ERIPA are all computerized, World hub is of course the major computerized one, but the ones around here all have computer sorting

Good that some more are getting computerized sorting. It wasn't in Horsham when I worked there nor in Philadelphia when my friends worked there. But that doesn't solve the major source of inefficiency IMHO. Which is how the packages are loaded onto and unloaded from trucks. With two guys we were able to unload USPS 50' trailers in under 2 minutes, but UPS trucks took a LONG time in comparison.

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