Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dude, where's my package?

It was on December 31, 2008 that I decided to take a chance and order something directly from an online retailer based in China. I ordered one thing, chose the free shipping option, and added tracking to my order. So far, I'm still waiting for my package to arrive.

Now, you might be inclined to think that the hold up is actually happening on the Chinese end of things, but you would be wrong. I received constant tracking notification from the Hong Kong Postal service up to the point that it left their country. I got so much details that my spam filter was starting to flag it. Although, I didn't really need to know that each and every minute stop that my package took in China, I did appreciate the very detailed information. My last update from them was on January 8, 2009. They informed that my package had finally left meticulous hands of the Chinese people and was being passed on to the United States Postal Office.

On January 14th, my package was supposedly received and processed by the indomitable United States Postal Office in New York. It was reported on their web site that it was inspected, tagged, and set free into the mail delivery system that same day. That would be the last time I would I would hear anything new from anyone about my package.

Everyday since January 14th, I've been checking on the USPS web site to see if any new status updates had been posted. Each time, I left the site, I surfed away disappointed at the lack of change in status or additional updates.

Today, I finally called the post office and inquired about my package. I dealt with the tedious automated attendant. After being told by a recording that my package is on its way, I manage to contact a live person, who cheerfully read back the information I already had from their web site. Suffering through a little bit of friendly banter, I managed to convince the operator patch me through to the International mail department.

Upon connecting to the International mail department's representative I was asked for my tracking or label number. I complied and I was initially told that my package had not yet arrived into the United States. I quickly retorted that their web site indicated something different and that it had been received and processed here in the US. She then tells me to wait as she changed tracking systems and now confirms that it was in fact in the US.

Sounding somewhat concerned, the representative made a small comment that it was strange that my package was not registered by their system. Although, not having any real proof, she assured me that my package was on its way. She added that because my mail was of the registered variety that she believed that it would most likely take “a while” for it to be delivered. She eventually ended our conversation by telling me to either check with my local post office or just sit and wait for it to arrive.

As it stands, it's been about eight days since my package entered the US in New York and yet for unknown reason it has not yet reached me here in Pensacola, Florida.

All in all, it is now very clear to me, that the concept of "package tracking" is not the same in China and as it is in the United States. Plus, registered mail will take close to an eternity for it to arrive because "it travels under lock and key and is signed off by people at every check point."

So, my cynical mind wants to know why they can “sign for packages at each check point” but yet are unable to pass a barcode scanner over it so that their web site will reflect accurate tracking updates instead of leaving people to think that their mail is lost in some USPS black hole.

Now, I plan to go and talk to my local post office before the day is over and pessimistically expect to be told the same nonsense that I was told over the phone.

Meanwhile, I am still here asking, "Dude, where's my package?" The world may never know.

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