Consulting|Technology|International business

USPS track and confirm – my experience with them

with 13 comments

This post is about the service and tracking information provided by the United States postal service to International locations.

I was expecting a package (a cellphone cover for the Blackberry Bold shipped from Otterbox) from the US that got shipped about 10 days back. They claim their “track and confirm” tracks the shipment but I was not satisfied. FedEx and DHL seem to be leagues ahead of USPS when it comes to delivery tracking. The updated information just stays on the package having left the United States but no information on its arrival at its destination or who we should contact at the destination. As a result of this, I keep pestering my office security daily if the package has arrived! In this 21st century connected by the erstwhile Internet! Ironic! This is quite poor.

I must admit the Indian postal service (GPO or general post office) is probably better than the USPS – I have not tried shipping something from India to US via the GPO but my guess is they would be about the same in terms of tracking. For local delivery information, the GPO has done very well. For their scale and length and breadth of operations, such poor tracking is unacceptable. Even if I call their helpline # at USPS, I receive the same information as I see on their web tracking so what value is the automated phone tracking adding? Zilch!

Quite poor service – must say.

I must add that upon further investigation into this, I realized USPS, India Post etc. are all tied up when it comes to International express delivery and call it by different names in their countries. ex: in USA, it is called, Express Mail International, however in India, it is called EMS or express mail service). Also, no matter who shipped it, these Government agencies that are part of this EMS programme, will use local EMS agents to deliver the mail or package to its final destination in that destination country. ex: India Post will use their service agents to deliver my package to me though it was shipped by USPS.

I tracked the progress and found that my package has FINALLY cleared “customs” – after 10 full business days when what they claim says very clearly 4-6 business days (these 10 days involved 7 business days, I want to call USPS and ask them for refund because they did not stick to their promised delivery date).

I just typed above and then went to the website to find out if I can claim refund for delayed delivery but it says I cannot.

I keep bugging the local GPO postmaster continuously as a result of this to find out if the package has arrived locally at least? He says it has just cleared foreign customs. Well, there is a catch here. The package says it has arrived abroad. Abroad here refers to India. Foreign customs here therefore should logically refer to Indian customs but that is not the case. I believe they have 1 foreign customs at Bombay (Mumbai) and another “Indian” customs at Bangalore GPO where this head postmaster sits! Howzzat?

Did the package come sailing by ship or by air – I do not know.

Question: While I am a student of TDL (trade documentation and logistics) and International logistics from my MIB course 2 years ago, I cannot fathom this kind of a delay. For just $6 more, I could have used priority mail to have DHL or FedEx deliver my package in 3 days straight. I have done it with books before and it works like a charm.

One thing is for sure, the next time I order anything from US or UK, it will not be from their Government postal service – they are all the same.

BTW, India Post has changed it’s logo.

Written by Naveen Athresh

December 25, 2008 at 2:22 pm

13 Responses

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  1. Hi,

    Your info is quite valuable.

    Any idea how is the ‘USPS Priority mail’ service ?


    Tj Ozukum

    February 8, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  2. hi,

    I’m having a similar problem with a package that was shipped out of chicago 3 days back, and the site still says international dispatch. Logically, my package should be in India right now. Any idea what i should do to find out where it is? Should i use the USPS tracking number when asking about my package to indiapost?

    I’d also like to know if it is delivered by regular or speedpost.



    February 28, 2009 at 11:12 am

  3. The style of writing is very familiar . Did you write guest posts for other blogs?

    How to Get Six Pack Fast

    April 15, 2009 at 7:10 pm

  4. i m havin a similar problem, I send my pakage to INDIA, 28 days ago. It has not yet reached… I tracked it. But it says that it is out of customs two weeks ago…


    May 28, 2009 at 9:37 am

  5. USPS Express Mail International

    For those of you who have mailed through USPS Express Mail International and not received the shipment in India within 6 – 10 business (working) days, I would highly recommend that you follow up with your local Speed Post Office.

    Below is my experience and I hope it helps.

    I had mailed some document throughs USPS Express Mail International from USA to INDIA. USPS assured me that the mail will be delivered in India within 6 – 10 business days and also gave me a tracking number. I had shipped on November 27th, 2009 and tracking online through USPS showed that the documents had cleared customs on Dec 3rd, 2009. But, the mail was never delivered. I waited till Dec 10th and then called USPS, who pretty much gave me the same status that was online. After, some discussion and asking for some options, one of the guys was kind enough to tell me that the package had cleard the local city customs. This worried me a little bit because, if the package had cleared the local city customs, why was it not delivered.

    So, I asked my parents to go to GPS Main Office in Chennai and inquire about the package. While doing so, GPS informed my parents that they had the package but wasnt able to deliver it because the address on the form wasnt clear. Plain and Simple, when we fill out the form, there are multiple carbon copies that are created and by the time the package reaches India or any destination for that matter, the destination address is not clear, so the package never makes it to the destination. Also, the interesting part is, GPS had put in a inquiry to USPS and USPS said, go ahead and return it to the US Address because we dont have a copy of the form.

    Finally, GPS asked me send them a Fax along with a requisition letter to release the package and also copy of the USPS Mail Form. By doing so, GPS were able to release the package.

    So, for those of you who have shippped through USPS and havent received the shipment in 6 – 10 business, I would advice that you contact the local offices in India and start tracking them.

    And for its worth, I had opened a case with USPS and was told someone would follow up with me in 3 days and its almost 2 months and no one has contacted me. So, my recommendation is, for time sensitive mails, do not use USPS.


    January 16, 2010 at 11:30 pm

  6. Hey Guys u have no idea how helpful has this been to me! especially AJ. thanx for the info man! i just brought an item on ebay and had been shipped through USPS a week ago! the tracking system gives me the same status. Should i go to GPS in my city? Should i give them my USPS tracking ID??

    Amir Chawarpatil

    February 3, 2010 at 10:13 pm

  7. Ive been researching cell phone tracking and I found this page to be very helpful and informative. This is kind of a complicated topic. Not to mention somewhat of a controversial topic as well. THANKS!!

    GPS Girl

    February 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm

  8. hi

    I sent one package by first class mail via USPS, its been a month, and I have just the customs form no. with me. I had not used the registered or tracking service.

    I was told by customer service that the item has reached India, as it was delivered from here. They don’t know about anything further.

    What should I do, are the customs office and post office connected?


    March 9, 2010 at 11:09 am

    • Hi Amit,

      I am in the same situation as you were. Its been 20 days after sending a first class mail (just documents) to India with the customs number but no tracking service. Can you please let me know what happened to your package finally. Did you receive it, if so how long did it take to reach Indian home address? Any contact number in India postal department.


      August 31, 2010 at 10:36 pm

  9. Hi,
    I just read your blog that you wrote longt ime ago regarding the International delivery in India (Postal services).
    I bought a book from USa nd waiting for it. Its about time i need to start worrying about it.

    But since it is a book, does it go through customs? Aren’t books exempted from duties?


    Joe Antony

    September 2, 2010 at 11:54 am

  10. indiapost has some extra expenses involved too


    September 28, 2010 at 12:16 pm

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