USPS – Delivery Confirmation

Verify delivery with Delivery Confirmation. Our low cost Delivery Confirmation service gives you the date, ZIP Code™ and time your article was delivered. If delivery was attempted you will get the date and time of attempted delivery. You can easily access this information with our Track & Confirm tool.

via USPS – Delivery Confirmation.

The term “tracking” should be used for companies like UPS, FedEx, and DHL that actually offer tracking services. USPS offers tracking on Express Mail packages. It is this incorrect intermingling of terminology by USPS counter clerks and now eBay that causes a great deal of customer service issue for merchants. If a customer asks me why their “tracking number” does not work, it is because USPS delivery confirmation is not the same as tracking. ITS NOT TRACKING, DON’T CALL IT THAT!

Delivery confirmation (or confirmation of delivery) is not a type of tracking. If it was, customer service inquiries would be non-existent. My point is that eBay is not acknowledging this on a massive scale just creates more work for sellers. As for Item Not Received (Paypal claim) you can always provide delivery confirmation or tracking if a buyer puts in a Paypal claim. Its not necessary beforehand although it does help speed up the claims process.

Buyer peace of mind goes beyond receiving a notice that a package was shipped. Peace of mind also involves knowing exactly when you will receive the package and where the package currently is. That is what tracking by UPS or FedEx provides. Neither of that is provided by USPS Delivery Confirmation. It is very important to educate buyers and have them understand the service level difference between USPS and non-USPS shipping methods.

No one is saying to stop USPS. USPS provides a good value for standard post, media mail, first class mail, and no surcharge for rural locations. Since eBay is copying Amazon, you might as well copy their boilerplate on delivery times as well. Systemic issues like service level differences between shipping carriers need to be clearly communicated by eBay. Sellers can augment, but since it affects the entire site, its really eBay’s job, not the seller. To say to stop using a specific carrier is not really an option when you have customers with PO Box, APO/FPO, and international customers that want value.

These are examples of how tracking differs from delivery confirmation. Tracking offers an estimate of day-definite delivery and sometimes time if you pay for Overnight or 2nd Day service. For FedEx, one would look under the “Estimated delivery” section for a delivery date. You can see based on a tracking link here:

For UPS see under “Scheduled Delivery Date”. As you can see with the tracking number below, there was the original estimated delivery date and the revised delivery date:

Do buyers care about service level differences?

They do. I get questions all the time about if I pay for XXX shipping method, will I get it by XXX date? The only accurate estimated delivery times you can provide is for UPS and FedEx. USPS is a failure since their minimum and maximum delivery times for packages vary so greatly. There are too many outliers to provide the balance for an accurate estimated delivery time. Be too aggressive and you have angry customers. Be too lax and you lose sales to other sellers. Its a lose-lose to provide estimates on USPS.

If you provide to the buyer the consequences of choosing between USPS and UPS/FedEx, it manages buyer expectation. By lumping delivery confirmation into tracking, you are raising expectations without being able to deliver on that expectation.