UPS still sucks at tracking

On April 3, 2010, in Doing It Wrong, by Rob Levandowski

If you’ve read my article “The Art of Turboing,” you know that I’ve had run-ins with UPS before. Years ago, they didn’t offer package tracking for ground shipments.

Although UPS has fixed that, the tracking service they offer… Lies.

It lies often.

What’s the point in having package tracking if it’s so unreliable that you can’t trust it?

I know that Apple requested extra security for the iPad rollout. I can understand not wanting to advertise where a shipping depot might have a large number of prerelease iPads. But surely there was a way to do it that wouldn’t cause anxiety for thousands of expectant customers? This reflected badly not just on UPS, but on Apple as well. It seems odd that Steve Jobs, notorious perfectionist, would accept this kind of inattention to detail from a vendor.

My iPad was shipped from China on the 29th of March. UPS quickly showed it making its way to Alaska, and then to Louisville, Kentucky. It then sat there for days. OK, so far nothing too strange.

Of course, that’s the story now. If you had been watching the package’s progress, you would have seen a number of entries related to clearing Customs. They disappeared from the record a few hours after they appeared.

There was one cryptic entry entitled “UPS Internal Activity” that appeared for a brief while before disappearing. The most interesting part about that entry was that it had a timestamp 10 hours in the future.

At least that entry had a local location stamp. That was the only time that the tracked package appeared to move until it was actually delivered to me. As far as I could see, the package was stuck in Kentucky until being magically teleported into my hands.

At least UPS had two employees watching Twitter to reassure all the confused Apple customers.

FedEx gets this right. I don’t understand what’s so hard for UPS that they can’t master package tracking after all these years.

Certainly, if I have a package to send and I want to be able to track it, I’m not going to choose UPS after this experience!

The iPad did arrive safe and sound, eventually. I used it to compose this post.


5 Responses to UPS still sucks at tracking

  1. paul says:

    The UPS Tracking really sucks. What’s the point or use in tracking if they don’t update the location of the items shipped?
    If those expecting a delivery can just know approximately where the package is they can estimate more closely when to make sure to he there to receive it if possible.
    UPS sucks.

  2. Betty says:

    UPS tracking sux even more than that:
    I had to give them all sorts of information and establish an account just to be able to track my shipment item. Then AFTER ALL of THAT, I STILL am not given tracking information. UPS tracking is actually nonexistant as far as I know.
    I will not leave my stockade fence open for a week in hopes that I receive my shipment, that is entirely too much to ask. In addition, I will no longer do business with the company that insists on shipping via UPS.

    I have never ever had these problems with Fedex, nor even with USPS (ie, snail mail). Also, the last couple of times that I had dealings with UPS (a few years ago) they had the gaul to claim that they could not find my address. What a crock!!

  3. Uncle Duke says:

    I have also experienced the same problems as Betty. I too had to open an account (free), although still didn’t receive any updates. They had the nerve to ask that I pay for an account which didn’t offer me any additional services (their free service provides for text alerts and e-mailed updates. They also asked me to upgrade to a $40 a year account that would allow me to change delivery dates and locations (which is actually free after one attempted delivery). Bullsh-t.

    Like the original poster to this thread, I understand why UPS may not provide tracking information for certain packages (I am a firearms dealer), however, with all the layers of security that they can use, it seems only reasonable that the package recipient should be able to see where the package is and know when to expect receipt.

    By the by, USPS is even worse. I haven’t ever been able to see where the package is or was until it has arrived at the post office location that would be delivering it to me.

    Both services seem to route their packages by way of Robin Hood’s barn. If you follow the route that packages travel, quite often they will go to their destination and then mysteriously return to a prior location, which in turn delays delivery by a day or longer. Very poor business practices for services that are financially struggling and getting beaten by competition in the overnight and expedited package delivery business

  4. evila edwards says:

    So glad it isn’t just me.

    UPS didn’t used to be this way. But, recently all I get is the time the package leaves, one place where it arrives and then leaves. From then on, nothing. Until it is delivered. Big whoop!
    As others have said, “why even track it?” if tracking is non-existent.

  5. I have to say that the tracking has gotten better for me in the past few years… as long as the package is really a UPS package, and not a “UPS SurePost” or “UPS Mail Innovations” package. Those packages get handed off to the USPS for final delivery. Sometimes the USPS gives meaningful updates; sometimes they don’t. The USPS delivery-date estimates are routinely wrong.

    If you sign up for “My UPS”, you can get delivery-time estimates. For me, most times that estimate is “by end of day”, which is all but meaningless. I’m out in the middle of nowhere; I know it’s gonna be late. They could at least be honest and say “sometime between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.”; I’d understand that. We know and like our UPS driver, and his job ain’t easy.

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