Most of the time the tracking for Etsy packages that are sent with USPS updates correctly, but sometimes it doesn’t.
This can end up with a tracking status of “acceptance pending” even if the package is moving through the postal system and is on the way as usual.
When a package is scanned in as “received” at the post office, it means that the post office has the package, and it’s started its way through the system. It still needs to be scanned in at the sorting facility to have an “Accepted” status, so the “acceptance pending” status is deceptive. That doesn’t mean that the post office doesn’t have the package, it means that it hasn’t been scanned at the sorting station.
The problems start when a package misses a scan, which is completely normal at certain times of the year when the postal system is busier.
If that happens, and the sorting facility skips scans, the package will still move through the system, but the tracking won’t update. It will still look like the package is sitting there waiting to be accepted, but that’s not true.
Table of Contents
- What’s a USPS sorting facility?
- How long will a package say pending acceptance?
- Can you get the post office to start scanning the package?
- What if this doesn’t help and the package is late?
- How can I be sure the Etsy seller actually mailed the package?
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What’s a USPS sorting facility?
The sorting facility is a hub office that basically collects the mail from the local post office branches, scans them into the system, then sends them out toward its destinations. The sorting facility hubs act as gatekeepers of the packages as far as scanning them into the system officially, then sending them out to their next hub.
The problem comes when a sorting facility skips the acceptance scans in order to save time, or just because something is missed.
This happens a lot more frequently than you would think, but most people who buy things online won’t see this happen most of the time.
However, since Etsy sellers send a lot of packages, we do see it happen more often than our customers do, so we don’t usually panic when we see something weird with the mail tracking updates.
We also know that certain sorting facilities have a reputation for being terrible, so we can probably tell a customer who’s concerned about their package whether they should be concerned about delivery times or not.
Sorting facilities that skip the regular acceptance scans can make it look like your package isn’t moving when it actually is, so there’s usually nothing to worry about.
How long will a package say pending acceptance?
Packages that miss a scan can say that they have an acceptance pending status the entire time that they’re moving toward their destination. It’s not unusual for a package to say “acceptance pending” with the next scan being “delivered.”
If the Etsy shop owner used a scan form when they took packages into the post office, they’re all accepted at once by the clerk scanning in the bar code on the form, and the “acceptance pending” message is more common.
This tracking history shows a package that I took to the post office and gave to them using a scan form the day before Thanksgiving.
My guess is that there were corners cut as far as scanning packages go because of the holiday, so it could have missed the scan at the sorting facility hub.
However, notice that the “Accepted” section says that the package was received. That means that I did drop it off at the post office and they did take it from me and scan it into the system.
6 days after this, I got a message that it had been scanned in at the hub and was now in the right place.
So it hadn’t been moving even though I dropped it off, and the post office hadn’t scanned it. This package was sent priority, but there are no delivery guarantees for priority mail, so there’s nothing you can do when the post office doesn’t move the package.
The only service that’s guaranteed with the USPS is priority express mail, which is, of course, the most expensive.
Can you get the post office to start scanning the package?
There’s no 100% way to make the post office start scanning a package if it missed a scan along the way, but if you sign up for tracking updates that will often make it show up. Go to USPS.com and enter the tracking number, then click on “text and email updates” under the result that comes up. Fill out the information and you’ll start receiving updates each time the package is scanned in along the way.
I don’t know why signing up for updates will get a package to suddenly show up, but it does happen that way a lot of the time. Not all the time, but a lot of it.
It’s worth a try to see if it kicks it into the system. Both the customer and the seller can sign up for updates, too, so you can both keep an eye on it.
What if this doesn’t help and the package is late?
If the package is late for delivery, you need to remember that all post office delivery estimates are just that, estimates. The Etsy seller has absolutely no control over when the post office will deliver something, and the only guaranteed method of delivery via USPS is Priority Express. If you don’t choose that option at checkout, you need to be patient, especially at busy times of the year.
The page to get information about what delivery scans mean is on the USPS website here: Where is my package?
They give you links on that page to sign up for tracking updates, Informed Delivery, and to ask for help from the USPS if you think your package is lost.
How can I be sure the Etsy seller actually mailed the package?
If the tracking says that the package was Accepted, it means that the post office has it. That means that the seller did mail it, but after that, the post office is responsible for the delivery. If the seller didn’t actually mail the package yet it will say “Shipping label created, USPS Awaiting item.”
HOWEVER…In rare situations, I’ve mailed items that didn’t even make it that far into the system, and it said that the post office was “awaiting the item” the entire time it was in transit!
I’ve even had some that were delivered, the customer left a 5-star review, but the tracking still said that I hadn’t even mailed it to begin with!
That usually doesn’t happen, but it can. Scans can be wrong, like these two examples that I found:
Notice that both of these packages were mailed in 2020 during the holiday season?
That year was terrible, the post office was overwhelmed because of the amount of mail they had to process because people weren’t traveling for the holidays, and the entire system was backed up.
They were skipping scans left and right, it was really, really bad.
Just be aware that the postal system isn’t infallible, but if the tracking says that the package was accepted, the seller did mail it.
If you think that a seller is delaying mailing your package you should contact them directly about it. That does happen sometimes, but most sellers mail things fairly soon after buying the shipping labels.
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