If you bought something online and you promptly received your tracking number (HOORAY!) but days or weeks have passed and it still isn’t updating (BOO!) you are likely beginning to wonder “What on earth is going on here?”, so let me tell you how to get to the bottom of it.
If you read my blog post from last year called WTF eBay?! Letting Scammers Take Over Your Site you have already heard my rant about my son getting utterly scammed out of his allowance THREE TIMES in a row when simply trying to buy a “Collectors Transformer” toy off eBay, which created a giant source of frustration for him and a lot of lost time and energy on my end. This specific situation involved diabolical eBay sellers creating accounts intentionally to scam buyers. The way this scam works is by providing a tracking number quickly… but after weeks of waiting the item never arrives. The seller, who is still actively selling at that time, claims the parcel “must have been lost in transit” and also states that they are “shipping another one out right now. Here’s your new tracking number”... once again, days and weeks pass and the item never comes. When you log back in to again contact the seller you discover their account has plummeted to almost 100% negative reviews that complain of your identical issue (click PLAY on my video below):
You then open your PayPal dispute, wait weeks to get your money back and order another similar item…. Which ends up with you again filing a PayPal dispute 30+ days later. End result: Total waste of life due to scammers.
But, sometimes shipping really DOES take a long time and the seller is truly a good seller. Unfortunately sellers cannot control what a carrier does with the parcel after they give it to them, so the honest seller and buyer are both at the carriers mercy.
Without further ado, here’s how to tell if the item REALLY, REALLY SHIPPED or if the seller is running you around.
When a seller prints postage you are instantly emailed a tracking number. Obviously an item isn’t in transit the second the postage is printing because that is literally impossible. Usually a GOOD seller prints postage within 24 hours of giving the parcel to the carrier. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, for example, Memorial Day is on a Monday but our wholesale company is so busy during this weekend that our staff is forced to “ship” orders Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, even though the post office closes on Friday at 4:30pm and won’t reopen until Tuesday morning. This means if we print postage for an order on Saturday, it will have to sit until Tuesday because there is absolutely no way we can get it to the post office until then because our USPS is completely closed. But let’s say you receive your tracking number on Tuesday and the following Tuesday comes and you still don’t have your order. Here’s what to do.
Look up the tracking number. If your tracking number says “Label Created”, it means the parcel has never been scanned in by the carrier:
However, if the tracking number does show information, but it hasn’t updated in a couple days, this is the fault of the mail carrier:
As you will notice from the screenshot above, this parcel was actually shipped on May 18th. It went from Romulus, Michigan to Detroit Michigan on the same day. Somehow it became stuck in transit on May 23rd and was not located by USPS until June 1st. Always keep in mind that when you view a USPS tracking number, the scans are in REVERSE order. So if you want to view the full transit you need to scroll down to the section called TRACKING HISTORY:
Then you want to scroll to the BOTTOM of this section to see the very first scan:
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