The United States Postal Service delivers approximately 143 billion letters, packages, and parcels every year. This is an impressive figure, but with such a high volume, some mail will inevitably slip through the cracks.
When this happens, you may notice things like USPS tracking not updating or USPS stopped tracking. Why exactly does this happen, though — and what can you do about it? More importantly, what if USPS does not update tracking?
Learn more about the many reasons why USPS tracking may fail, how you can identify the cause of the problem, and what you can do to prevent this problem in the future.
What if USPS Does Not Update Tracking?
There are many potential reasons why your USPS package tracking status might not be updating. Understanding these reasons can give you some context, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem at hand — USPS tracking won’t update, and you need to know where your mail is.
If tracking for your item never starts or resumes, consider the following options that can help you find a resolution:
Check With the Sender
Before you assume that all hope is lost, check with the sender to see if they can provide you with any additional information. Remember that sometimes USPS tracking doesn’t update because the item hasn’t been sent yet.
Reach out to the sender to confirm whether or not they’ve handed the item off to the USPS — and if not, politely encourage them to do so promptly. If the sender confirms that they have indeed dispatched the item, you should then check with them to ensure that you have the correct USPS tracking number.
Monitor the Status of the Tracking
Assuming that you’ve confirmed the tracking number and checked that your item has been sent, the next step is to simply sit back and wait. In many cases, tracking will indeed resume and you will receive your mail — just a little later than you initially expected. Keep an eye on the tracking status, and if it does not update for at least five business days, this is the point at which you should consider alternative options.
What if USPS does not update tracking? You may need to contact USPS customer service directly for more assistance in this case.
Reach Out to USPS for Help
If you think it’s time to investigate your stalled tracking further, you can reach out to the USPS for help. There are a few different ways that you can get in contact with a USPS representative, including the following:
- Visit your local post office and ask for assistance.
- Call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).
- Send an email to USPS customer service online.
- Write a letter to the USPS consumer advocate at: USPS Headquarters 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW Washington DC 20260.
Each of these options can connect you with customer support that will help you identify the reason why USPS stopped tracking. They may also be able to offer a refund or compensate you for the value of the item. Be sure to include your tracking number in any communication that you send.
File a Claim for the Package
For most types of mail, the USPS advises that you should file a claim for missing mail no later than 60 days after the mail was originally sent, though different types of mail have different time frames for filing your claim. These time frames are as follows:
- Priority Mail Express®: Between 7 days and 60 days
- Priority Mail Express COD: Between 15 days and 60 days
- Priority Mail®: Between 15 days and 60 days
- Insured Mail: Between 15 days and 60 days
- Registered Mail® & Registered COD Mail: Between 15 days and 60 days
- Collect on Delivery (COD): Between 15 days and 60 days
- APO/FPO Priority Mail Express Military® Service: Between 21 days and 180 days
- APO/FPO/DPO Insured Mail, Registered Mail: Between 45 days and one year
- APO/FPO/DPO Insured Mail (Surface Only): Between 75 days and one year
To get started with your lost mail claim, you can use one of the aforementioned contact methods or log onto USPS.com.
Look for an Alternative
What if USPS does not update tracking and you have trouble getting your money back? This isn’t an ideal situation, but unfortunately, it happens. This might motivate you to look into other mail delivery options the next time you need to send or receive an important piece of mail.
There are many shipping services that offer domestic and international services that are likely more secure than USPS. This option is especially wise for eCommerce retailers who depend on reliable shipping partners to deliver orders and maintain their reputation.
Why Is USPS Tracking Not Updating?
Few experiences are more frustrating than suddenly seeing your USPS tracking stop updating. If you’ve been anxiously awaiting a package or looking for an important letter, this will spur concern.
In order to get to the bottom of the issue, you should consider the following reasons why the tracking may be stalled:
Inclement weather is one of the most common reasons for stalled USPS tracking. This is especially true if the item in question is being shipped via ground delivery across a considerable distance. In this case, the mail will likely have to travel across several states. If there are inclement weather conditions in any of these areas, you could see tracking stop for days or even weeks.
Mail transportation will stall if USPS couriers cannot safely drive in weather conditions. USPS does offer service alerts to inform customers of weather-related delivery delays, but these alerts may not be helpful in instances of stalled tracking.
Tracking information doesn’t offer live updates, so it’s often impossible to know whether your mail is stuck in an area that is affected by a service alert.
USPS System Outage
Sometimes your package’s tracking may stop updating because there is an outage within the USPS system. This can occur when part of the network is down, tracking devices malfunction, or if there is a power outage. In these instances, you may need to wait until the system is back up again to see your tracking start to update. It’s hard to predict how long this may take since the cause of the outage is often unknown.
You can check to see if USPS has issued any service alerts that indicate an outage. If so, there should be an estimated time frame for the resolution of the issue. Check back after this time to see if your tracking has started updating again. If not, the outage may still be ongoing, or there may be another issue to blame for the stall.
It’s not uncommon for packages to get damaged in transit. There are an array of reasons this may happen, including improper handling, poor packaging, and water damage. This will become a major problem if the damage affects the tracking label and renders it unreadable.
In this case, USPS personnel won’t be able to scan the package as it moves through the system, and the tracking will appear delayed on the customer’s end.
Luckily, though, this does not mean that the package is stalled. On the contrary, the package is likely still on its way — though it will probably arrive with damaged packaging, and it’s possible that the contents of the package will be damaged, too. What if USPS does not update tracking? If this happens, you can file a claim with USPS.
Item Is Delayed
Sometimes delayed tracking reflects an actual delay. If your tracking hasn’t updated in a few days, it might be due to an increase in volume — as is common during the holidays — or simply slower processing times due to understaffing.
Both of these issues can cause mail to move through the system slowly, and this can lead to a lag in your mail’s tracking information. Other reasons for a possible delay include:
- Increased traffic or traffic accidents.
- Inclement weather
- Inconsistent carrier routes
- Freight airline grounding
Generally, if there is a delay, your mail should start moving through the system again in a few days. In cases of a severe delay, it may take a few weeks.
Item Is Already Delivered
In a best-case scenario, USPS tracking doesn’t update because the item in question has already been delivered. This can happen if a courier delivers it to the destination but does not scan its tracking label before doing so.
If your anticipated delivery date has come and gone and your tracking is still stalled, check to see if it has indeed been delivered. If you don’t see it at the target destination, check with neighbors to see whether it may have mistakenly been delivered to the wrong address.
Why Is USPS Tracking Not Working?
What if USPS does not update tracking? What if tracking never begins on your mail in the first place? These are essential questions to ask when you’re waiting for an important piece of mail.
In the latter scenario, several potential explanations may account for the lack of tracking:
Item Never Shipped
In some cases, USPS tracking may never start because the mail was never dispatched. If you are waiting for an item that you bought online, for example, a seller may mark the parcel as “shipped” in the online platform yet never actually ship the item.
They may do this to skirt platform penalties, receive payment faster, or defraud buyers. It’s difficult to know for sure whether an item has shipped if you are relying on the seller’s word.
Some signs that your item never shipped include a tracking status that says “Shipping Label Created” yet no further details about the USPS shipping receipt. This typically means that the sender has created a label but the label has not yet been scanned by USPS.
The status may also say “pre-shipment” or “USPS awaiting item,” indicating that the mail has not actually shipped. If USPS stopped tracking beyond this point, it’s likely that the sender never sent the item.
Incorrect Tracking Number
An incorrect tracking number may also be the culprit for inaccurate or absent tracking information. Ensure that you are checking the right number by copying and pasting it from the source or asking the sender for a photo of the tracking label.
What if USPS does not update tracking? If you’ve confirmed that the tracking number is correct, but you still do not see any updates in the USPS tracking system, a different issue is likely to blame.
Failed Courier Transfer
Sometimes USPS tracking doesn’t update consistently when a piece of mail is transferred from another courier. If you notice that USPS tracking stopped when the mail was supposed to be transferred, this is a sign that the transfer might not have been successful.
Courier transfers happen in circumstances such as the following:
- Delivery hand-off from UPS or FedEx.
- Item is processed through customs.
- USPS is the sole service provider in an area.
In these instances, the original courier must give the mail to USPS, at which point USPS should create a tracking number that offers updates. If you see no tracking details from USPS, though, the item might have gotten lost during the transfer, or the tracking label might not be created yet.
Item Is Lost in Transit
Lost mail is certainly a worst-case scenario, but unfortunately, it is sometimes the reason why USPS tracking doesn’t update. If USPS tracking shows no movement, it’s possible that the mail was stolen, lost, or destroyed.
One example of this went viral when a group of thieves in Los Angeles stole millions of dollars of packages from a train. Although most package theft doesn’t take place on this scale, it’s still a common culprit when parcel post tracking is not updating.
What if USPS does not update tracking and your mail contains valuables? You may be able to receive compensation for the value of a lost package if the sender insured the item. USPS offers standard shipping insurance for items up to $5,000 in value. The cost of insurance will depend on the value that the sender declares for the item.
If an item is sent via Priority Mail Express® or Priority Mail®, up to $100 in coverage is included in the postage.
USPS System Error
Sometimes a system error is to blame when USPS stopped tracking. Like any other kind of technology, the USPS system is not immune to failure, and it’s even been the target of cyber attacks in recent years.
Hackers may cause the system to go down, which in turn, means that sometimes USPS tracking doesn’t update. Less nefarious system issues such as server outages may contribute to this issue, too.
What if USPS Does Not Update Tracking & I Need Solutions?
The USPS is one of the best mail systems in the world. Despite its advanced technology and efficiency, though, there are often delays and errors that affect mail tracking. What if USPS does not update tracking and you need to find a fast solution?
Partnering with a more reliable shipping specialist can help you avoid the pain of USPS stopping tracking. FirstMile works with eCommerce retailers and anybody else who needs fast, reliable, and affordable shipping.
Call us at (888) 993-8594 or Contact Us online for more information.