Online Shopping? Be Smart, Track Your Shipping Numbers

When you have a lot of packages in the mail, or irons in the fire, track your tracking numbers so you can move swiftly when disaster strikes.

Stever Robbins,
Episode #508
image of pile of packages ordered online

My name is Stever Robbins, and I have a confession: I order stuff online. A lot. A whole whole lot. We used to live in a world of not-so-instant gratification, where if you wanted something, it required walking or driving to the store. Then you had to shop. Then you’d wait in line for the cashier. You and the cashier would exchange pleasantries. You’d pay for your brand new Turnip Twaddler, and proudly head home.

You couldn’t always do this at the drop of a hat, however. It might require planning. Maybe the only store that carries Turnip Twaddlers was one town over, so you would have to wait until the time was right to sneak out for your consumer extravaganza. 

Now you can buy buy buy buy, and your Twaddlers will descend upon you from a veritable army of uniformed delivery services. And best of all, you still get to see your friend the cashier, who has joined the “gig” economy and is now delivering those very same twaddlers by bicycle. If they deliver 300 or more a day, they can even make it into the income bracket where they’re making 1/10th of what they made before. And best of all, they always deliver your packages with a smile. Otherwise, you can give them a 2-star rating and they’ll get fired. So they better deliver service with a smile.

Stuff Gets Lost

Since finding myself desperately in need of a Turnip Twaddler, and a Tomato Musher, and several other household essentials, I’ve been ordering online like crazy. And in an absolute miracle of modern technology, every one of those packages notifies me every time the package moves closer to my outstretched, grasping hands.

You’ve been there too, right? And then...then the chaos hits. You get a text message that says “Package 3493 is en route.” You jump for joy. You celebrate. You...you have no idea what package 3493 actually is. Is it the Turnip Twaddler or the Tomato Musher? Or perhaps the exciting shower curtains you ordered last month that were on backorder? Who can tell?

When you later get a message saying “Package 3493 delivery error,” and the tracking feed goes silent, you have no idea which vendor to call to complain. Or request a refund. Or ask for an investigation.

Track Your Tracking

So you need to know your tracking numbers. But only if you’re prepared. Last week we discussed using your NOTES program to organize all your project-related information. This is another place your NOTES program can save the day. But you have to be prepared. 

Create a note called “Product Tracking.” Every time you’re notified that a product has shipped, when you tell the website to track your purchase, note the tracking number. Copy it into your note, along with a brief description of what the item is. Then when you get your text message, a quick peek into your notes tells you that package 3493 is your Tomato Musher.

Add Links to the Order Page

When the package gets lost, however, you need a way to start finding it again. When you add the tracking number to your notes, also paste in the URL of the order page itself. Then when you need to start an investigation to find your wayward Musher, you’ll have the link ready to go.

One click and you’re at your order page. One click on Track Package and you’re at the status page telling you the package has vanished. From there, it’s just a short click...back to the order page. Yes, that actually happened, just last week when ordering my 200 feet of paracord, mustache clippers, and 30-gallon drum of olive oil. Don’t ask.


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