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UPS is Reusing Tracking Numbers
My package was Delivered 9 month ago?

 2:01 am on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Ordered a shredder yesterday, same state, from Staples.

In the morning, checked the status = Shipped!

4:30 pm, checked the status, Delivered!

Package was never sighed for. UPS Phone Confirmation says it was delivered on May 3rd of 2007 to Brooklyn, NY.

A farther investigation and a "hard talk" with UPS staff suggests that the tracking Number was reused! Got a confirmation from 2 UPS Reps on that note. The Answer to the confusing "Delivered Status" and the date of delivery was that "We REUSE tracking numbers". Holly X!@####$%".

Now, Just imagine the agony that your customers have to go thru, + your time on the phone, + UPS Reps Time on the phone.

It's 9:54 EST, The package was never delivered, Is this a UPS glitch?.. or they run out of numbers?

We have a custom built API to UPS System where we check for Status from XML returned. Is anybody in the same boat?




 3:07 am on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

It gets worse than that. I made a "once in a lifetime" buy on eBay once. Lady was in Texas, me in Oregon. This was the time of the huge fire in Utah/Colorado, started by the scorned girlfriend, many of you will remember it.

The package, and many others, was "lost in the fire." Following the UPS tracking, the tracking showed it not only made it through Colorado, it showed a scan in Portland, OR.

Now how could that be, if it burned up in Colorado?

A call to UPS revealed: "That was not a physical scan, that was a logical scan."


Turns out the UPS tracking system, in spite of the drivers you see physically scanning packages, has little basis in reality. Sticky for details, I still have the tracking results page saved somewhere.


 4:58 am on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is this a UPS glitch?.. or they run out of numbers?

I used to work at a major shipping company and they almost did run out of available bill of lading numbers. The field size was set too small originally to handle the company's growth in business. It was a huge project to implement because the number was used in thousands of programs located many different countries.

Until the project was finished we did have to resort to reusing recently assigned numbers rather quickly.

[edited by: Jane_Doe at 5:02 am (utc) on April 23, 2008]


 9:50 am on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Same thing eventually happened at my last company with just about every ID in the system. We had strict referential integrity rules that ensured that IDs had been fully archived before they could be reused.


 4:15 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Tracking # is 18 digits. But only the last 8 are actually the package serial number. First are the 1Z and shipper id and method of shipping. Unless the shipper is gigantic, I can't see why numbers would be reused a year apart.


 4:25 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

A portion of the UPS tracking number is the sender's UPS account number.
So it would seem, this would only be an issue for mainly larger volume shippers. I'd suspect Staples would probably be in that category.

I can only wish we run out of numbers...


 4:34 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

has this package actually been shipped or were you just sent this as the tracking number because until the new package is scanned you can get this but after it is scanned by a pickup it will show the new.

happens to us all the time due to the limited numbes


 4:43 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

A portion of the UPS tracking number is the sender's UPS account number.

Wouldn't the shipper have a different account number for each of its warehouses? Or change account numbers every year if dupes caused problems.


 4:56 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

You'd think they would figure something out...

[edited by: T_Miller at 4:57 pm (utc) on April 23, 2008]


 8:28 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

UPS re-uses. I worked there loading trailers through college.

Sometimes I think that If I see one more 1Z I'm going to snap.


 8:50 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, the Package was actualy sent, I had to get in touch with the support, for them to contact me too. When Support contacted me Rep explained the actual shipper(Staples) is reusing the tracking numbers. She also said that the status being set to OUT FOR DELIVERY was set wron and actualy should of been Arrived at Local Base(or so)

OOOOO I made a big complain to them today.

Anyway, it made the landing at our location, haven't seen it yet but I hope in one piece.

Now all I need to do is change the code in my custom UPS API to sort the xml by DATE and then by the status.

On the other note; what is wrong with 2Z or anything higher than 1Z reserved for other planets.., :)


 9:08 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Staples is reusing the tracking numbers. Ok I must have missed somehing here as I was under the assumption FedEx or UPS issued the numbers in a random basis not the shipper assigning the numbers to the packages.

I guess the bigger you are the more ya can get away with.

I to would have made me one big complaint as well.


 1:00 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

You would have thunk that a couple or three of the digits would indicate the year, meaning the numbers could be unique for a century or a millennium.


 1:18 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Has anyone sat down and figured out the number of packages that UPS must ship before a number is re-used (theoretically) ?

Such a person would receive a golf clap and a beer from yours truly.


 1:35 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Seems like UPS should have started with 1A rather than 1Z, or perhaps they did 100 years ago :)

What the heck does the 1Z mean anyway?


 4:44 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

You'd think they would figure something out...

The problem at the place I worked was that the project would take many person-years to complete, but no one noticed the problem until they actually had to start reusing numbers, so there was only a year or so of lead time before the situation would become desperate. Then they put a couple of layers of clueless management over the project initially, which wasted many more months where no actual work got done, even though there was a full time manager on the project with a staff of five programmers in the U.S. alone. Then someone finally figured out that months had passed and the project had gone literally nowhere and that the company might not be able to accept any new shipments soon.

So then the initial manager left to "seek other opportunities" and they dumped the project on a very bitter, overworked and stressed out senior manager who was now responsible for installing a huge, international project with government and customer interfaces and a seven figure budget in a matter of months.

But the good news is I got it done in time. ;)

[edited by: Jane_Doe at 4:45 am (utc) on April 24, 2008]


 4:50 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Jane_Doe, technically if you have a 10 digit number, part of which is the sender's account number, and you start running out of the the available numbers, how would you solve it? You probably need to 'zoom out' a little and see a different solution, but what are the solutions you came up with if you don't mind sharing?

What are the preventive measures one can take, to ensure that you have a uniform but flexible numbering system?

...and congrats in having it done :)

[edited by: Habtom at 4:52 am (utc) on April 24, 2008]


 8:53 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Letting end users allocate IDs is always a danger. I have too many horror stories from my days as a DBA.

Only UPS can put their own house in order but as a general rule if your user wants to manually assign an ID you always put a system generated one behind it as well.


 3:40 pm on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Jane_Doe, technically if you have a 10 digit number, part of which is the sender's account number, and you start running out of the the available numbers, how would you solve it? Y

I haven't been a programmer for a long time, so I think any solutions I would have come across would be as obsolete these days as my vinyl record collection.

One thing we used to do when numbers outgrew their field sizes as a short term fix was to store them in a format that took up less space, like binary format, though I have no idea if that is something that you can easily do in more modern programming languages.

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