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Wed Apr 2 2014 12:33:42

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinformation'

By: Reader

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Dear Ina,
This is in response to the March 26 letter, "eBay Seller: USPS Tracking Leaves Much to Be Desired."

We regret the inconvenience the customer experienced with USPS Tracking(TM) when attempting to track items recently mailed at an unspecified location within the Postal Service.

If the customer was provided inaccurate or incomplete information by a postal official, we apologize and encourage the customer to contact us so we can ensure that our employees have the correct information.

Unfortunately, there were numerous errors in the customer's letter. To set the record straight, the Postal Service is not charging for items scanned at local Post Offices. If a postal employee is telling the customer something different, we would like to know more information about this discussion so we can take corrective action to avoid miscommunications going forward.

Here is how the process is designed to work.

USPS Tracking is built into the price of the following classes of parcels shipped using online eBay labels: Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, Standard Post (formerly Parcel Post) and First-Class Package Services.

There is no charge merely to scan parcels at the retail counter at a local Post Office, for prepaid eBay packages.

Every item accepted at the retail counter at a local Post Office that has a USPS Tracking number must be scanned, whether the customer requests it or not. By the time the items reach the first processing facility, they will have had two scan events.

The customer wrote that "a supervisor told me that there is not tracking on delivery confirmation or signature confirmation until it reaches its destination." Again, this is incorrect information and we would like to correct it.

The Postal Service replaced "Delivery Confirmation" in 2013 with USPS Tracking(TM) as it better reflects our end-to-end tracking, from the acceptance of a package to final destination, including confirmation of delivery.

By the time a package leaves our processing site, it will have had at least two scans. It will receive four more scan events by the time of delivery.

Contrary to what was stated in the letter, Postal Service carriers are required to perform an acceptance scan on all prepaid, barcoded parcels that they pick up from customers.

The letter states that scanning at a mail processing center may not be done if the barcode on the package is not visible. Not true. In some instances, if the barcode is not visible, the package will be re-oriented by hand. However, the majority of package mail volume is processed by mail processing equipment that scans 360 degrees and validates the barcode at the same time.

We recently changed the description for missent events to simply show that packages were processed through or at the location where the event occurred. The events still display on our USPS Tracking external website. "Missent" is no longer used because it was shown to unnecessarily alarm customers who thought their packages were lost and would not be delivered.

The Postal Service is making tremendous progress through its investment in technology innovations to achieve 100 percent visibility in mail and package delivery. Our national performance is averaging higher than 95 percent in scanning all mail and packages we are processing and delivering.

We regret the March 26 letter was posted with so much misinformation and believe this response will help to clarify and educate eCommerceByte viewers and customers of the Postal Service about our scanning practices.
Roy Betts
U.S. Postal Service
Corporate Communications




Comments (44) | Permalink

Readers Comments

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Apr 2 12:56:19 2014

This is probably a good letter to copy and have in hand if you are having problems with your local USPS.


I'm fortunate that mine seems overall to be doing a good job. I have moved enough to know that USPS employees can have different interpretations of shipping policy for online sellers. It is good to try to get them all on the same page.  

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: Maureen This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 2 13:12:53 2014

Unfortunately, I didn't read the letter from March 26th but know that the USPS system is not fully running the way that it is suppose to. Or as the eBay Sellers have been educated. Clerks at the desk have a tendency to by-pass the scanning process and place the boxes directly in the bin for the next processing facility hub pick up. Most times in reviewing my drop offs at the PO on the next day,it shows the USPS large processing facility as received at 12 AM. Home Delivery is subject to scans when placed in the truck at the local PO instead of at your door. CSR desk clerks are uneducated and stating to customers that there is no insurance on Priority packages - even though the sign behind then indicates differently. My guess is that the author of the letter knows what they speak. Human error or ignorance is part of the postal process. USPS may have started to come out of the old way of doing mail but sorry to say it isn't perfect.  

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Apr 2 15:19:26 2014

I was thinking the same thing Basset. I wonder if there's a chapter-and-verse in the current USPS DMM (Domestic Mail Manual) than can be printed and shown whenever needed.

The USPS-DMM should also be available in PDF form so that one can show it (if needed) on their mobile device or tablet.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: arrjay This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 2 17:07:09 2014

My local branch is the best. They make sure everything is scanned while I'm at the counter.
Sounds like the original poster should try another branch.
I think the USPS does a bang-up job. I've had maybe two lost packages in 10 years or so.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: nyy9 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 2 17:30:10 2014

He did not address the other problem. If a package with tracking# is dropped in a collection box, a good chance it won't get scanned until it arrives at the destination point. So if a seller as 1 day shipping, it will show as a failure in ebay. Carriers were told at my PO if you have a collection box on your route and you pull the box with mail, go ahead and scan a package if it's on top but don't go digging down looking for others, too much time involved. Excuse me, the customer is paying for a service. Do your job and scan it! The bottom line is, the clerk will scan it at the counter but if you drop off in a collection box or bin, GOOD LUCK!

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 2 17:47:39 2014

Ive been told by at least 2 supervisors at the 11230 post office that they do NOT scan each and every package - they dont have the time or the manpower to do so.

Futhermore the ability to not folow the above mentioned procedure came from DC itself.

I have NO idea "who'se lying" - I'd guess the lazy people here at the 11230 post office are the ones taking the easy way out.

Id surmise this to be the case, as I saeee many letter carriers sitting in thier cars sleeping/eating/reading in the late afternoons with their carts sitting on the side walk 1/2 full.

I asked about what I saw and I was told that they dont want to go back to the station or they will be forced to work sorting. Their union told them not to come back until after 5pm when the shift is over.

That letter may be right - the issue is - that not everyones PO is the same and eBay doesnt take anything into account except what THEY believe is whats going on.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Wed Apr 2 17:58:57 2014

Nice to see the Post Office stepping up to explain things!

EcommerceBytes is once again, more helpful than eBay.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Apr 2 18:43:12 2014


Postal customers should not have to walk up to service counters and hand employees instructions on how to do their job.

I am thinking that Mr Betts needs to see to it that the information he has provided is brought to the attention of every counter clerk in every Post Office in the country to assure consistent performance.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: brokentoys19 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 2 19:33:52 2014

What's the USPS response on having to butter up the postal employees with donuts, as recently advised by the Official ebay Seller's Advocate and author of the ebay Bible?

and... does that work with insurance claims too, or just scanning?

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Wed Apr 2 23:06:16 2014

Thanks to Roy Betts for sharing this info and setting the record straight. Anyone who has a problem with the Post Office should report it as I had mentioned in my response to the original letter. That is the only way you can get things done the way it is supposed to be and the USPS is serious about this.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Wed Apr 2 23:09:25 2014

I really appreciate Ina's help and also the USPS response. The USPS should create strong partnerships with the small seller which is a force growing by the thousands.

With that being said, I would like to know if they can also tell us about the other 2 very big issues:

1. Flat Rate Packages being returned for not being Flat enough.

2. A shipper is told that is a federal crime to ship a package with a label that was printed a day or two before ( e.g. weekend or USPS holidays ).

I also would like to know why so many USPS workers are telling shippers that the first class does not have to be tracked, and showing delivery only is ok. And the worst, that it is normal to send a first class package via ground shipping.

Also, based on our experience, the 4 biggest USPS issues are in Miami, NJ, Elk Groove, Ill and Flushing, NY. 99% of the time a package will get stuck there for more than 5 days.

I will be so amazing to get a reply from the USPS as the one in this post. I respect the USPS but few places are giving them a very bad name. Thank you Ina!




USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Apr 2 23:14:14 2014

I too feel very fortunate to have a good PO that does what it is supposed to!

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: pebbles This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 2 23:14:56 2014

75% of my packages are not scanned until they are 1/2 way across the state 2 days later. All of my mail goes from Wyoming to Denver and the tracking usually only shows 2 scans total. Many packages do not show as delivered in eBay until several days after the USPS website shows delivered.
Both sides are flawed. eBay needs to account for human error and these "miscommunications" that are out of the sellers control. Not to negate seller responsibility... but when so many sellers only have 1 real shipping option, as we are expected to offer free shipping, there must be some leway for sellers with excellent track records.
I have issued 6 refunds in 2 months due to slow tracking updates in eBay. Even after attaching a link proving delivery through USPS. Those buyers go their items for free!
And yet somehow I am still to blame...

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: tb This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 3 00:07:50 2014

All I have to say is we ship tens of thousands of packages a year through the USPS, and while scanning is still not perfect yet, it is definitely getting better.

But I think they do a fantastic job and for what we ship, we would have to pay 3-4 times more if we used UPS or FedEx, and it would take 2 days longer. You can't beat that.

I VERY MUCH appreciate hearing from Mr. Betts!

BTW, I would NEVER wait on line to get packages scanned. That's absurd. If they're not doing it automatically, either find another branch, or contact USPS and let them know! Keep telling them until they do it.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: reader This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 3 05:13:02 2014

Unfortunately it has been my experience to the contrary. I moved in Oct 2013 and submitted an address change online which I paid for to the US post office online. I received a package to my old address which was NEVER forwarded. I also did not receive any mail that went to my old address. Again in February 2014 I found out that some very important mail was accidentally sent to my old address from overseas. I immediately sent through another change of address form online long before the package would arrive and paid for it again. Again I never received this very important mail. How many more times do I have to put through an address change and pay for it before the post office decides to forward my mail.  

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: cosqueen This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 3 06:29:22 2014

Thank you for reaching out, Ina, to Mr. Betts for answers.  Thehost makes an excellent point.  It is my understanding "if it fits, it ships."  Flat rate means "flat rate" meaning one rate and should have nothing to do with a bulging envelope.  I do believe speaking out helps as I have spent the past 4 months doing just that I am delighted to see some positive results.  If it is not brought to their attention, they cannot fix it.  I wrote a letter to the US postmaster in Washington, DC to let them know the horrific delays at the Forest Park, IL facility and have seen progress in the past 2-3 weeks.  I have found the Ebay SCAN form to be of help, when it is printed that is.  Often it does not print, which is frustrating.  Amazon Marketplace does not offer a SCAN form but I have also written them to ask for one.  If anything, it puts the customer's mind at ease knowing the order was dropped off when the seller states.  Thank you for the info -- would like to see more answers here!

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Apr 3 06:32:52 2014

Basset nailed it--"This is probably a good letter to copy and have in hand if you are having problems with your local USPS."

Mr. Betts, while well intended, obviously does not realize what is going on in local post offices. We have had several counter workers refuse to scan our pre-printed labels.

I have to question the training of many of these counter workers.  I've had to correct more than one postal worker when he/she tells me that I am using the wrong customs form when I clearly wasn't.  

Ask three different postal counter workers questions and you'll likely get three different answers.

Those of you who have a great post office with knowledgeable workers are very lucky.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: redheadedlady This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 3 07:05:09 2014

On Oct. 21, 2013, I shipped out a priority envelope with approx. $78.00 worth of merchandise in it to Australia.  It made it to Chicago and was scanned on Oct. 26th.  Where it went from there is anybody's guess.  The lady in Australia never received it.  She was very understanding and knew that I had mailed it. But, my question is, where did my package go?  And, I have no recourse on insurance because it went overseas.  I am out $78 and so is the lady in Australia.  I checked with the postmaster in my area and she said that Australia did not scan it so it never made it there.
Also, my post office will not come out and pick up packages. I was told to put them by my mailbox which is 120 ft. from my house at 8:00 a.m.  When the mail carrier comes around 3:00 he will pick them up. That means if someone wants to pick up the box and take my stuff it is setting out for them to help themselves and if a passing shower comes along, all my items will be rained on and the labels will smear. Another not so good practice.  So, husband goes to the post office 3 or 4 times a day to take everything down and has to go in and stand in line because if we put it in the drop box they don' have enough help to scan the items.  Consequently we are at the mercy of the post office.  I have lots of packages that never get scanned from start to finish.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 3 07:44:08 2014

I totally disagree with this and I have proof that the USPS does not scan my packages that are dropped off at the Greenville, Ohio post office the same day I drop them before the cutoff date. They have not done this numerous times.

USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma   USPS Sets Records Straight on Scanning 'Misinforma

by: Dwan50 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 3 08:01:55 2014

@pebbles The first thing I do when a customer says they haven't received an item that shows delivered is to input the tracking number at USPS.com. On the results page you can request that a complete history be sent to multiple emails.  I send one to them and one to me.  I then message them saying, to the effect, ''The package must have been stolen.  Should I start a post office investigation? They will give you forms to fill out or send the carrier to interview you for details.''  Invariably, the lost package magically appears.
Detailed tracking works by showing the customer where an item is when it is delayed and taking the onus off the seller.  As a matter of course I use it when shipping a high cost item.

@redheadedlady Are you going to the USPS website and requesting package pickup? When you do, they ask you where the packages will be to pick up.  The postal worker is supposed to pick up those instructions before leaving on their route. If you do this, you have a paper trail proving your case and can take it directly to the postmaster.

My sis and I live within blocks of each other but have different mail carriers.  I have an angel and she has a malcontent. She has spent the last month regularly talking to the postmaster and is beginning to see changes. She has started doing pickup slips so he has to come to the porch.

@thehosst Just a thought for now, but you may/could try flat rate bubble envelopes.  At least then the postal worker would be hard put to claim it must be flat. ;)  The regulations do state that the envelopes and boxes should be able to close and seal without additional tape, which is a judgement call as I usually tape over them.

One of the issues not addressed by Mr. Betts is the old scanning tools still in use.  I've watched my carrier struggle to get it to scan, and one of the subs didn't have access to a scanner in his truck. The USPS is breaking out new scanners, but  75,000 new scanners is a drop in the bucket.

YMMV, but I am convinced the methods above have helped me keep my 100% rating over 17 years.

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