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to whomever services the united states postal service (usps) tracking applications, please remove them.  they serve no purpose.  or at least please rename them.

i ranted about how much usps tracking sucks a while back but felt like ranting again.  i bought something on ebay last week and the ebayer shipped it usps priority mail/trackable the next day (12/21).  here is the “tracking status” as of today:

“The U.S. Postal Service was electronically notified by the shipper or shipping partner on December 21, 2005 to expect your package for mailing.  Information, if available, is updated every evening.  Please check again later.”

okay, a few things here:

1) “information, if available, is updated every evening” — if available?  isn’t that the point of tracking codes?  if you don’t have the information available, then what exactly are you tracking?

2) “information, if available, is updated every evening” — every evening?  so much for realtime tracking.  kinda defeats the purpose if a) i have to wait every night to find out where my package went that day and b) what time exactly is “evening” again?  what’s even funnier about this is if you view more information on the usps web site, you will see this:

“..provides [information] stating the current delivery status information”

interesting, i guess “every evening” = “current delivery status”

3) priority/express mail – from the usps web site you’ll see that usps priority mail is 2–3 business days.  12/21 was a wednesday.  i don’t have my package yet.  for those keeping score at home 4 days > 2–3 days.  when you ask usps? “we don’t guarantee the timeframe” — sweet, but you’ll charge me the premium with going to sleep at night no problem.  “especially around the holidays” — okay, understandable, but again, don’t inform customers that it is typical priority mail…call it semi-priority mail — or discontinue the service during the holiday months…fact being: if it isn’t a priority piece of mail even over the standard holiday 1st class mail pieces, then don’t charge for it — either treat it as such, or stop the service.

usps tracking sucks.  i said it again.  it isn’t tracking, it isn’t real-time, there isn’t any mechanism for usps to even help you…it just isn’t a value-add to the consumer.  they need to drop the tracking portion and just call it the delivery confirmation…that’s really what it is.  they can tell you (hopefully) *when* it got delivered, but not anything up until that point.

usps, wake up.  you aren’t ups, fedex, dhl, or airborne.  those companies know how to do these things.  stick to mail and your offerings, but make sure you stick to what you are selling.  if you aren’t equipped for tracking and priority services, then don’t do them.  usps is going by the wayside anyway.  stamp prices keep going up.  the last time i used a stamp was this week — to send xmas cards — and that’s only because i don’t have emails for all my extended holiday card list o’ people.  email is the typical communication channel for standard “mail” these days.  i’ve only used priority mail for things that i really don’t need to get there tomorrow, but faster than normal (i’ll give usps credit for being a low priced leader for their semi-priority mail service), but for everything else, i know i can cound on brown or the other guys for sure.

UPDATE: as i post this now, usps just came to my door to deliver my package — maybe i should email them and let them know the status so i can retrieve it from the tracking site.  it will be interesting to see how long the status takes to update…i signed up for the email tracking “for all future activity” — now that it is delivered, we’ll see what that means.


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