Where in the world is my parcel?
November 24, 2008 2:56 AM   Subscribe

What did USPS do with my parcel?

I am waiting for a package to be delivered to me from the US to New Zealand, from an Etsy seller.

The first package never arrived, and when I asked the seller for the track and trace number, she immediately said it must be lost and sent another. Odd, but anyway.

Now I've been waiting 2 weeks, and there's no sign of the 2nd parcel. I finally have a track and confirm number for USPS, but I don't understand their cryptic status:

Status: Electronic Shipping Info Received

The U.S. Postal Service was electronically notified by the shipper on November 12, 2008 to expect your package for mailing. This does not indicate receipt by the USPS or the actual mailing date. Delivery status information will be provided if / when available. Information, if available, is updated every evening. Please check again later.

The seller has excellent feedback, so I'm fairly sure she hasn't scammed me.

Can anyone explain what this USPS status means, and what I should do about it?
posted by girlgeeknz to Shopping (8 answers total)
It means the seller has generated, and presumably printed, a shipping label with a barcode and tracking number, but USPS hasn't physically received the package. When it gets mailed and the barcode is scanned, the page should say "Accepted".
posted by teraflop at 3:13 AM on November 24, 2008

What teraflop says. "Electronic Shipping Info Received" means that it hasn't even been picked up or dropped off by any USPS person yet (nor yet been touched or scanned by anything, so it hasn't even hit anything beyond a mailbox, at maximum.)

I would be a bit scam-cautious here. Some people use that "Electronic Shipping Info Received" as "proof" that they have shipped something. It has a tracking number, after all, so many people see that and assume it's on the way and out of the shipper's hands. Not so.
posted by rokusan at 3:22 AM on November 24, 2008

"Electronic Shipping Info Received" means that it hasn't even been picked up or dropped off by any USPS person yet

Maybe this is supposed to be true, but in my experience it's often not. For whatever reasons, the USPS tracking system is not nearly so functional as those used by FedEx or UPS. I've frequently tried to track packages that I've sent and observed that the USPS website shows only "Electronic Shipping Info Received" long after I've dropped the package off at the post office, and I've received packages for which the official status went directly from "Electronic Shipping Info Received" to "Delivered," without any other status in-between.
posted by jon1270 at 3:50 AM on November 24, 2008

Ditto what jon1270 said. USPS's tracking is little more than a novelty.

If this were UPS, I'd tell you the seller hasn't dropped off the package yet. teraflop would be right.

But this is USPS. So the package could be pretty much anywhere between the seller and New Zealand and it might still say "Electronic Shipping Info Received."

If I had to guess, I'd say either the seller never shipped OR the package is somewhere in whatever customs process is involved going from the US to NZ. I've received packages from overseas (to the US) that took 2-3 weeks so I wouldn't be a bit surprised if yours took another week or two.
posted by mmoncur at 4:49 AM on November 24, 2008

I don't disagree with any of the advice already given, but I've found that simply inquiring at your local post office about a missing parcel can sometimes kick it loose. This has worked on several occasions for people I've shipped to. I get the impression these undelivered parcels are languishing in a dusty corner somewhere, and somebody just needs to be prodded to look there.
posted by adamrice at 7:33 AM on November 24, 2008

Chiming in to agree with the others - I've had several packages go straight from "Shipping Info Received" to "Delivered" - even before I'd gotten them. In this case, customs is probably what's holding things up.
posted by lhall at 1:29 PM on November 24, 2008

My experience with USPS tracking is that the site never shows the parcel as even being in the system until it has been delivered. I don't think that they have anyone working for them who understands how computers work ... :-)
I would concur with adamrice - ask at your local post office to see if they have any information. My last parcel from the UK was stuck in customs for several weeks.
posted by Susurration at 3:45 PM on November 24, 2008

I ship packages by USPS almost every weekday. When I print the label, that information comes up. After I hand the package to the clerk at the Post Office, that information still comes up.

Unless the item was shipped by Express Mail, the information USPS typically provides is not package tracking. It is "Delivery Confirmation" instead. In this case, the information would be updated when the package is actually delivered. I occasionally have packages returned for a bad address. When the Post Office at the delivery destination handles it, typically I see a record of that, too.

I no longer ship outside the US. I recall a few years ago checking on an International package that was delayed and discovering that the USPS system showed when it had passed through the New York facility that transferred it to the global shipping stream. I've also seen packages delayed by non-US customs services, even when they had arrived in the destination country. YMMV.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:34 PM on November 24, 2008

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