11/01/2018 at 10:53 pm #51104
Here you go, a chance to learn from my mistake:
On October 10 I sold a small sculpture for $87, which is a pretty good sale for me. Buyer takes until October 15 to pay, and has it sent to one of those L.A.-area middleman shippers that Asian customers often use. OK, fine.
I’m very pleased when I find a perfectly sized box. It’s one I scavenged from my day job. I happen to notice that it was originally for something my co-worker ordered from a company in Elk Grove Village, IL.
Do I remove or cross out the old label? No, I do not. I print my Priority Mail label as usual and paste it right over the old label. Just like I do all the time! The new label completely covers the old label. There are no other old labels or stickers on the box.
I ship it out October 16th.
The following weekend, I check the tracking. I sometimes do this if I’m nervous about a fragile, higher-value item. I’m on the west coast, so it should be in LA by now.
And…It was just processed through CHICAGO.
I consider contacting my buyer, but I don’t actually have any information for him, other than “Your sculpture went 2,000 miles in the wrong direction, and I don’t know why.” I decide to wait another day to see what happens next. In the meantime I start thinking to myself, “You know what town is near Chicago? Elk Grove Village.”
The next day, the package goes to Elk Grove Village. You know, where my co-worker ordered her stuff from. Later in the day, it’s actually marked as out for delivery in Elk Grove Village.
At this point, I assume my label somehow fell off, or was torn off, and that’s it. This thing is getting “returned” to some warehouse in Elk Grove Village, and then I’ll refund my buyer and lose a really nice mid-century sculpture.
Then? The next time I check the tracking? To see if it actually got delivered somewhere in Elk Grove Village? It’s going to Los Angeles.
It finally gets delivered to the right place 9 days after I mailed it.
My best guess is that somehow, a barcode or QR code from the old label got scanned all the way through my new label, and that data routed the box all the way to Elk Grove Village, where a human looked at it and thought, “Uh, this says Gardena, CA.”
I’m still worried about whether the item made it OK. I figure every day a fragile item is in transit increases the likelihood it will get broken. I also don’t know if those shippers actually check the items they’re handling, or if they just throw the box onto a pallet or something. Whatever happens, all those old labels are getting Sharpie’d out 100% of the time now.
11/01/2018 at 11:41 pm #51105soniaParticipant
- Location: Northeast US
HistoryNerd, you have a way with words. Your story made me laugh out loud! Of course I am only telling you this because it seems like your package is back on track, which I am very glad to hear. I do not envy you your WTF moment. Thanks for sharing so we all can learn from your experience.
My recent, not as serious, WTF tracking moment happened when a buyer messaged me about not having received her package yet, saying that she “didn’t understand the tracking.” I was like – uh, how can anyone possibly NOT understand tracking info? Well, it turned out that the package travelled in a loop (yup, it came back to a distribution center it had visited several days before), taking a long rest before and afterwards. Luckily it got back on track eventually.
11/02/2018 at 8:23 am #51108SharynParticipant
- Location: Central NJ
I had a sort of similar situation, but I was on the other side.
I used to have UPS as an option, but only a few buyers selected it. I now only offer USPS and FedEx. I did have to sign up for an account with UPS.
About a month ago, I was charged for a package that went from one town in CA to another, while I live on the opposite coast in NJ. I had to call UPS and get the charge removed. The customer rep said that an old label was scanned.
I always remove the old label; not necessarily for an accidental scan, but for privacy reasons. Especially if I grabbed the box from someone else. Any other UPC symbols I cover up with fragile, USPS Priority, or eBay stickers.
11/02/2018 at 8:56 am #51109bcfol440Participant
Interesting.. I had a package go from Missouri to Puerto Rico to Arizona this week. The buyer was tracking it online and said “uh is this normal?” um NO! He got it right on time, but it was so strange.
What further made me stress was I had a package that same day going to Puerto Rico so I had convinced myself I swapped the labels.
Good tip on barcodes. I usually sharpie them and put label over, but not always!
11/02/2018 at 9:39 am #51113
This week’s tracking anomaly is a package I shipped on Monday, which still hasn’t been scanned at all. I know this happens, and I assume it will turn up eventually, but it’s super annoying to get dinged for late shipment when I hustle to do everything on time. I probably need to just stop looking at my tracking. Just makes me worried and annoyed about things I don’t control.
11/02/2018 at 9:46 am #51114RyanneKeymaster
- Location: Virginia
i have been diligent about covering barcodes lately. right when i put a used box or bubble mailer in my shipping area, i just put a blank label over them. then i when i print my shipping label, it goes over that. hoping that’s opaque enough that the old codes don’t get scanned. i have seen other ebay sellers barely sharpie a label (one line through it).
11/02/2018 at 9:49 am #51115InglewoodParticipant
My post office won’t accept any packages with other barcodes, weights, dangerous goods, or alcohol markings on them. I’ve had shipments in the past (several years ago) sent back if it has another barcode that interferes with automated scanning. I’ve also been dinged for the weight on the label not matching the box weight (of course they don’t bother weighing the box, they just compare the label to what is printed on the box…ugh…). Alcohol boxes I guess cause issues in customs if you ship internationally.
Learned my lessons the hard way – now I either use plain boxes, or cover up all the visible information with labels or wrap the entire box in brown kraft paper. Not worth any hassle that any other printing may cause – the only visible information on my boxes/envelopes is the shipping label.
11/02/2018 at 10:31 am #51116
What I learned this time is that just covering the old labels with a new label is not enough. My label completely covered the old label, and the old data still got picked up somehow.
11/02/2018 at 10:52 am #51117AmatinoParticipant
- Location: Texas
I remove the old labels AND turn the box inside out. Yup. It’s actually a lot easier than you’d think. You find the join, slip a nail into one edge, and ease it apart. Quick and easy and it gives me a box that looks new! I usually “paint” over any box printed information with a sharpie as well, but turning the box inside out is pretty much a perfect solution for me.
11/02/2018 at 12:11 pm #51122Julie BParticipant
- Location: Georgia
I cover misc barcodes with free Priority Stickers from the Post Office (if I’m sending the item priority) or I use those round Ebay Stickers.
11/02/2018 at 12:52 pm #51123BigSallyParticipant
- Location: Washington State
HistoryNerd- thanks for the reminder, I just walked over to the outgoing and shaprpie’d 😉
11/02/2018 at 12:57 pm #51124TemudginParticipant
- Location: Jacksonville FL
The boxes I get at the grocery store often have all kinds of stuff printed all over. If I don’t turn them inside out, I use wide blue painters tape on all markings.
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