You may have heard of FedEx Ground Economy, previously known as FedEx SmartPost. This is a postal service that is shipped by FedEx but gets passed to USPS for delivery, and if you have chosen to use it, you’re probably wondering how the FedEx to USPS tracking system works.
If you’re looking to track a FedEx parcel after it has been transferred into the USPS system, you can still use the tracking number provided by FedEx, but you need to add “92” to the start of the number. This changes it from a 20 digit number to a 22 digit number, making it compatible with the USPS tracking system.
Why Would My FedEx Mail Be Passed To USPS?
Your FedEx mail will only be passed to USPS if you have used a service such as FedEx Ground Economy. This service makes use of USPS’s extensive mail network to offer cheap and reliable postage options to businesses.
The service takes away some of the things that FedEx usually offers, but it’s a very cheap option, and many businesses use it. It’s suitable for inexpensive, high volume sellers that want to distribute a lot of parcels quickly and don’t need insurance on them.
So, how does it work?
If you have chosen FedEx Ground Economy, your mail will be handled by FedEx initially, but it will then be transferred into the USPS system, usually for the “last leg” of its journey.
That might sound worryingly chaotic and unreliable, but the shipping service has a 98% on time delivery rate, so you don’t need to worry too much! FedEx is simply making use of the fact that USPS delivers to every US household almost every day of the week, and tapping into this maximizes the efficiency of their own delivery service.
However, using two mail carriers does have some disadvantages, one being that it is more complicated when it comes to tracking your parcel and seeing how far it has traveled. We’ll cover this next.
How Can I Track Something That Has Been Passed To USPS?
Tracking something that you have mailed with FedEx should be easy enough. FedEx will have given you a tracking number that is 20 digits long, so all you have to do is go to their website and enter it under the tracking tab. That should give you plenty of information about where the parcel is – unless USPS now has it.
If FedEx has passed the parcel on, they will not be able to tell you anything further about where it is or what is happening. Their system is not compatible with USPS’s system, so they can’t just show updated parcel scans on their site. You will probably see something like “delivered to USPS” in the tracking box.
To get further information, you will need to go to the USPS website. However, you only have a 20 digit tracking number that belongs to FedEx, so what do you do with this in order to pull up tracking information?
Enter “92” in the box for the tracking number, and then enter the full tracking number you were given. With the “92,” this should be a 22 digit number.
The USPS website should then display up to date tracking information for that parcel, letting you know what’s going on and where your mail is.
That Isn’t Working – What Should I Do?
If you are having trouble tracking your parcel on the USPS website or it isn’t accepting the tracking number, it’s a good idea to contact FedEx directly. You could try contacting USPS, but if you are having problems with the tracking number, they may not be able to locate the parcel either.
It is better to get in touch with the company who supplied you with the tracking number, as they should at least be able to connect it to a parcel. They may then advise you to call USPS, which is fine provided that they can help.
Often, there seem to be issues with the FedEx tracking number and USPS’s service. This may be the fault of FedEx, or problems with incompatibility between the two systems. Whenever two companies try to marry their different methods, it is common for issues to arise, so don’t panic if you are having trouble locating a parcel.
Sending a parcel via a merged carrier service is probably one of the most complex ways you can mail something, so it is not surprising that the tracking information doesn’t always work or things go wrong.
Why Is It Complicated?
You might be wondering what makes it tricky for the tracking to update properly. After all, it is only a case of the parcel being scanned and associated with a specific ID number, and then the website being updated.
Unfortunately, it is complicated because two companies are attempting to provide a single service. That immediately causes confusion because the companies operate in different ways and have different protocols.
You can see this even in the fact that you have to alter your tracking number once the parcel reaches USPS. The incompatibility between the two sites is evident, because FedEx uses 20 digit tracking numbers and USPS uses 22 digit tracking numbers.
As we have seen, it’s possible to get around this, but anything that requires out of the ordinary behavior and loopholes is bound to run into issues occasionally. As soon as something goes wrong, it will throw the whole system out.
For example, if FedEx forgets to assign the tracking number or something similar, they have no way of correcting this once the parcel is in USPS’s hands. Similarly, they can’t make any other alterations or fixes, so it’s hard to get mistakes corrected.
There is also no clear “responsible” party when things go wrong. FedEx tends to be considered the one at fault, because the customer contracted their services, but if USPS has made a mess of something, it can be challenging to work out who to contact.
All in all, given how complicated the mail carrying business can be, it’s amazing that FedEx and USPS manage to get so many of their items to the right places, because making the two different systems work together is not an easy process!
Who Is Scanning My Mail To Update The Tracking Information?
You might be wondering who is physically scanning your mail whenever the tracking system gets updated. Is it USPS or is it FedEx? Who is behind that job?
It depends where your parcel has got to. Initially, it will be FedEx workers who scan it on each stage of its journey so that they can update the tracking information, but as soon as it gets passed to USPS workers, the job will be passed to them too.
They will have to use their systems and scanners to upload new information about your parcel’s movements, rather than FedEx’s.
How Long Should It Take?
You might be wondering how soon you should be worried about your parcel and how long it ought to take, especially if the tracking information is not working as it should.
Unfortunately, FedEx Ground Economy is not a quick service, because it prioritizes cheapness over speed.
FedEx suggests that it should take between two and seven business days, but often, it will take between five and fourteen business days to get to you, and while that might seem an annoyingly long time, this is necessary for the coordination of the service and the low cost.
Usually, if you see the message that it is at your “local post office,” it will only be another day before it is at your door, unless there is a further delay. However, up until this point, the delivery time can be quite varied and hard to predict, because the parcel might backtrack on its progress to get to a USPS sorting hub before it reaches you.
What Do I Do If My Parcel Seems Lost?
If you can’t get an update via tracking and your parcel is outside this delivery estimate, you might be wondering if it has got lost. This is particularly likely if the tracking never seemed to work once it got to USPS, as it’s probable that something went wrong at this stage, and USPS has no way of locating the parcel now.
If this happens, what should you do? Well, the best step is to get in touch with FedEx, since they are responsible for the parcel and they might be able to help. There is no guarantee, however, especially if it is now in FedEx’s system.
They might tell you to contact USPS, or they may tell you that the parcel should be marked as lost, and you need to get in touch with the sender to organize a refund or replacement.
Fourteen days might seem like a long time to wait (especially with weekends), but that is the standard for this kind of shipping, and nothing will be done before this amount of time has passed.
Why Do People Use FedEx Ground Economy?
You might be wondering what encourages people to use this service if there are potential issues with the tracking, and it is not particularly fast. The real reason is that it is cheap, so for business sellers who have a lot of parcels to ship and want to keep prices low, it is an attractive service.
It is only available to those signed up for the service, so it really is aimed at small businesses and while it may not seem like an ideal option to many others, it is attractive to them because of its low cost.
It also makes returning items very easy for customers, which is another reason that sellers of low cost items tend to prefer it. Customers can simply leave return parcels in their mailboxes for collection by USPS, rather than having to drop them with a courier or wait in for them to be collected.
Customers can also monitor the progress of their return online, which saves the business from needing to monitor a customer service line as regularly as they might otherwise have to do.
My Tracking Shows The Parcel Is Moving Away, Not Getting Closer
This is a potential problem with using tracking for a parcel that has been shipped via FedEx Ground Economy. Because the parcel will change hands and move from FedEx to USPS, it may not always take the most direct route to your home.
There seems to be some debate about whether or not the parcel is delivered to a USPS local post office, or whether it needs to be processed by one of their sorting centers first.
Some people claim that there are only eighteen of these major centers in the whole US, so unless you happen to be near to one, your parcel could move quite some distance away before it is sorted into the right mail stream and on its way back to you.
So, don’t be surprised if your parcel information shifts from a nearby location to one that is further away at first. Although this is very annoying, it is nothing to worry about; it’s just how the system works.
The parcel will then be processed along with USPS’s other packages, and then shipped in your direction again. This can make the tracking information confusing or even misleading, but rest assured that it is not abnormal and doesn’t mean that your parcel is lost.
If you are having problems with tracking information and you find that you are constantly missing attempted parcel deliveries or you need to go out during the estimated delivery slot, you might benefit from a virtual mailbox. These help you to be at home even when you are not at home, allowing parcels to be delivered at any time.
Tracking information has come a long way in helping customers organize their time better and stay at home for deliveries, but it’s still far from perfect. If you are struggling with the FedEx to USPS tracking system and find that it just isn’t working for you, consider getting a virtual mailbox as a good alternative.