EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3128 - August 12, 2013     2 of 4

eBay Aware of Problem with USPS Tracking Numbers

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eBay is aware of a problem impacting tracking numbers on packages sent via USPS that is causing consternation among buyers and sellers. Last week sellers began reporting that the tracking numbers the postal service issued on their shipments were showing delivery dates from last fall, a glitch in which the USPS or their shipping partners appear to be recycling tracking numbers.

"Today I received a tracking number (USPS via Ebay shipping) that shows the item was already delivered to a Kentucky address on Oct 15, 2012. Of course, since I just dropped off the package at the post office today, I find that quite strange," wrote a seller on Friday on the eBay discussion boards. "Is there anything I can do and does that happen often," the seller asked.

An eBay seller named Janice wrote about the problem on the EcommerceBytes LinkedIn Group. She said she noticed a just-shipped packaged showed as delivered - in August of 2012. And sellers discussed the problem on other boards as well.

eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore said on Friday that eBay had recently become aware of the issue and was actively working to implement a product update on its end to address the problem. Asked if eBay would be removing low DSR scores proactively as a result of the bug that was out of the hands of sellers, Moore said, "We encourage sellers to contact our customer service department if they believe they've received low DSRs or feedback due to this specific issue."

The problem of incorrect tracking data, when it occurs, is especially sensitive on eBay, where buyers are often wary of sellers, and where the numbers are required in order to achieve certain top-rated seller status.

On LinkedIn, Janice wrote that a buyer reached out to her, distressed that their package, shipped the day before, showed delivery - to a different address in a different state.

"A call to eBay CS reveals that this is a widely known problem. (Thanks for informing sellers, eBay!)," she wrote. "Apparently, the USPS and Pitney Bowes are recycling tracking numbers. Not from the beginning of time, but from last year. They are supposed to scrub/delete the info on these numbers from the system before reusing, which they obviously did not do."

Janice said she was also starting to see complaints from buyers on Amazon and other sites as well.

The USPS apparently put in a fix on its site by Friday. A seller who started a discussion thread on eBay about the problem on Thursday returned on Friday to say, ""Went back online with the USPS Track and Confirm this morning and they have corrected both numbers showing that they are indeed in transit with delivery for tomorrow. However; eBay is still showing that the items were delivered to me in two different states last year. I will no longer trust eBay for tracking information but will go directly to USPS for the correct information."

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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