The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a fantastic reputation for accurate, fast, and consistent tracking updates.
This wasn’t always the case, though.
20 years ago or so, getting reliable tracking information – or any real tracking information whatsoever, for that matter – from the USPS was next to impossible.
Major improvements to the infrastructure, backend processes, and overall tracking platform have helped to make the USPS system one of the best in the mailing business today, though.
Even still, sometimes USPS tracking won’t update for one reason or another (more on that in just a moment), causing all kinds of frustration for customers that just want to know where their mail or packages are at that particular point in time.
Thankfully though, navigating this situation is relatively simple and straightforward.
Below we run through a couple of the reasons you might be dealing with USPS tracking not updating as well as what you can do to remedy the situation on your side of things, too.
Let’s dig right in!
USPS Tracking Not Updating – What Went Wrong?
As we highlighted just a moment ago, the USPS has one of the top rated tracking systems in the entire mail and shipping industry.
Year after year, USPS earns a number of awards and citations for being one of the most well-organized high-volume shipping and mail platforms on the planet.
A big part of all of these accolades are how well they handle tracking from start to finish, and how (almost) everything that they move through their infrastructure – hundreds of millions of pieces every week – gets tracked from start to finish.
Like anything else run by human beings, though, the potential for something to “pop up” somewhere along the line that throws a curveball into the mix definitely exists here.
There are all kinds of unforeseen situations that really can’t be avoided because of the way that the USPS is set up that may delay or hinder your tracking information from getting updated as quickly as you hoped it might.
Let’s run through some of those reasons right now!
Inclement Weather Issues
One of the most common reasons USPS tracking information hasn’t updated is because the harsh weather conditions have slowed down the delivery process, blocking your mail or package from moving farther along the infrastructure until it gets to its ultimate destination.
This happens a whole lot more frequently than most people realize!
It’s important to remember that if you are sending a piece of mail across the country it’s going to have multiple stops along the way in multiple different locales, and all of those areas are going to be dealing with different weather situations and circumstances than you are at home.
It isn’t at all uncommon for a piece of mail to leave Portsmouth, New Hampshire on its way to San Diego, California to go through the full gamut of whether systems – sunny days and clear skies, nothing but rain and wind, and maybe even a bit of snow or boiling hot temperatures.
Any inclement weather (including surprise storms like tornadoes and hurricanes, flash floods, earthquakes, etc.) can throw a monkey wrench into the process and really slow down your USPS mail and packages from moving forward.
In those situations the odds are very good that you’re going to be looking at a delay and that your USPS package or envelope isn’t going to have updated tracking as promptly as you had hoped it would.
Add into the mix the fact that barcodes can become damaged by these inclement weather situations, hindering the package from being updated the way it would have otherwise been, and there’s a lot that can go sideways when Mother Nature influences the USPS processes.
Package Not Scanned or Updated
Of course, sometimes a piece of mail or a package being handled by USPS just doesn’t get scanned or updated along every single stop on its journey.
This happens a lot less frequently today than it used to in the past – but it still happens!
You have to remember that the USPS is handling (literally) hundreds and hundreds of millions of pieces of mail every single day of the year, and the mail they are handling is only increasing – not decreasing.
That’s a lot of packages, parcels, and envelopes to get scanned individually!
Most of the time, the USPS does an amazing job about “batch scanning” different pallets or different groups of packages, parcels, and envelopes to make sure that everything does in fact get updated.
Sometimes, though, they miss something, they assume that a package has been scanned when it hasn’t, or they just don’t notice that there’s an envelope that still needs to be processed.
Luckily, there’s an opportunity for packages to get scanned after they arrive as well as before they depart to go on their next leg of the journey. This means you might not get a USPS update straightaway, but you might get one when your package heads out of that facility – getting your tracking back on track!
Package Not Moving (Yet)
On top of the reasons mentioned above, you might simply be dealing with a USPS facility (usually a processing facility) really at max capacity and struggling to keep up with a huge influx of mail they weren’t expecting.
This usually happens in the lead up to the holiday season, during the holiday season, or sporadically throughout the year for one reason or another.
Any logjam in the system is going to slow things down, though, and it may not even be your package or your envelope that is causing the delay in the first place!
There might be a piece of mail “upstream” that is blocking your mail from being updated, from getting scanned, and from you getting a little more information about its location and its status.
Just remember that if your package isn’t moving (yet) the odds are pretty good it’s going to start moving again in a moment and you’ll be good to go again!
Package Lost Somewhere in Transit
Sadly, not every single package, parcel, or piece of mail handled by the USPS is going to make it to its ultimate destination.
Sure, the USPS has a very well-deserved reputation for getting the great overwhelming majority of mail to its intended recipient with very little headache and very little hassle whatsoever – but as hard as they try to shoot for 100% delivery rates they aren’t always able to meet those lofty expectations.
Sometimes things just go sideways, envelopes and packages fall off of conveyor belts, get lost in transit, or are accidentally destroyed beyond all recognition. All of these situations results in your tracking information ceasing to update entirely, simply because there’s nothing left to track in the first place!
These are some of the most difficult situations to deal with when you are expecting a piece of mail or a package, and they (unfortunately) are completely unpredictable.
Thankfully though, the USPS is always doing things to make sure that these kinds of situations happen with a lot less frequency than they ever used to in the past.
Package Has Been Delivered without a Delivery Update
Lastly, it may be that your package or your envelope has already been delivered to your address (or your intended recipient) and it’s simply hasn’t been scanned as delivered with that specific update.
This again happens with a very low level of frequency, but it does happen.
Mail carriers may get distracted, might have assumed they already scanned a piece of mail as delivered when they haven’t touched it yet, or just may not be able to scan your item because of damage to the barcode (or other reasons altogether).
If your package last had a “Out for Delivery” update and it hasn’t changed in a couple of hours – or a couple of days – it’s not a bad idea to have a look around your home to see if it’s already arrived and just wasn’t updated as delivered yet.
What Can I Do If USPS Tracking Isn’t Updating?
If you are currently dealing with a USPS tracking not updating situation you’re going to want to reach out to customer support just as soon as possible to get assistance.
Here are a couple of approaches you’ll want to consider!
Contact USPS Customer Service
The easiest way for USPS customers to get assistance when they are dealing with a USPS tracking update issue is to pick up the phone and give the USPS a call directly.
This number – 1-800-275-8777 – will get you with the USPS customer service support hotline on the phone, giving you a chance to explain your situation, provide your tracking information, and see if the USPS can find your package (and give you an update) using their backend tools.
You might also want to call technical support at 1-800-344-7779 or the delivery tracking number at 1-800-222-1811.
Any of these numbers will get you in touch with someone that can provide you with the answers and information you are looking for.
Pop Down to the Post Office
Of course, it may be advantageous for you to simply pop down to your local post office directly and see if someone there is able to give you the kind of help you need to figure out what’s going on with your mail or your package.
Not everybody wants to pop down to their local post office (or has the time to do so during normal business hours), but this is very often the best way to get answers – simply because you have someone from your community right in front of you that can help you better understand the situation.
A quick phone call to your local post office might be a good idea and a bit of a happy medium if you don’t want to visit in person. Your local post office number can be found with a quick Google search. Just make sure that you are actually calling the local number and not calling the USPS Customer Service hotline that we highlighted a moment ago.
Wait a Couple of Days for Movement
If tracking info hasn’t updated in the last few days, but you still aren’t necessarily dealing with an overdue delivery situation, it might be a good idea to just wait a couple of days and see if your package shows up all on its own – or (at the very least) starts updating tracking information again.
Not everybody has this kind of patience, though – and if you are waiting for something particularly important (or sent something that was time sensitive) – this isn’t going to make the most sense.
Still, sometimes the best way to deal with these situations is to kick back, relax, and continue checking tracking information (twice a day or so, once in the morning and once in the evening) to see if there’s been any movement.
If you’re not getting any action or updates whatsoever after a day or two, though, it might not be a bad idea to reach out to USPS customer service or visit your local post office for more answers.
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For more information about this service as well as details regarding how to sign up, visit the US Global Mail website today!