Continuously opining, intermittently publishing.

Continuously Updating Anticipated Package Delivery Times

Posted by oshane | Leave a comment at the end of this post.

In general, receiving packages from the large private common carriers (FedEx, UPS, etc.) is easy and straightforward. They have the incentive as for-profit enterprises to be as customer-focused and efficient as possible.

One thing that slows the process down somewhat is the requirement of a signature for delivery. Of course, common carriers have learned that not all packages need to be signed for. Senders and recipients are often happy taking the minimal risk that loss may occur on the doorstep despite good faith by the common carrier in transport and delivery, because the irritation of hassle, particularly in having to be at home to receive personal packages, is greater than the risk of loss of value.

Naturally, the requirement of a signature for delivery of some packages is an important commercial and legal tool, because it provides for certification of delivery by the customer (or customer’s agent). If the customer signs for the package, he knows it has been delivered–to him personally. The common carrier knows it has been placed in the hands of the customer or the agent, versus assuming it will be picked up properly by the customer on his doorstep when he gets home, thereby decreasing the chances of theft, damage by weather or other mishaps. And finally, the sender can rest assured the package was delivered to someone who was willing to sign for its receipt. While if the customer himself does not sign for the package yet his agent or someone else does, there is a minimal chance of misplacement, but if the circumstances surrounding delivery are reasonable and in good faith by the common carrier, the law will not disturb the presumption of proper delivery. And practically speaking, loss does not occur terribly often in such situations.

Common carriers have made the process a bit more efficient for senders and recipients, because online tracking allows us to find out where packages are in the transport process. So, recipients receiving personal packages at home can gauge the day when the package is likely to be delivered. Some residents are fortunate to know the time the common carrier’s driver generally will appear and can make sure to be at home around that time. Unfortunately, however, tracking updates only provide limited information, viz., the day of delivery. Anticipated delivery times are rarely, if ever, designated by the common carriers.

But if they could or would designate anticipated times of delivery, the recipient could more efficiently plan for being at home for delivery. Certainly, if the driver has fewer packages on a given day, it is in the carrier’s interest to be able to deliver earlier than normal. And if there are a great number of packages on a route on a given day, it would be advantageous for the driver to be able to deliver as close to the day’s deadline as possible. Thus, it is understandable that a common carrier would not want to promise delivery or legally obligate itself to do so between a certain time band (absent a profit opportunity that would give it incentive).

Still, in the interest of providing constituents (senders and recipients) information with which they can better plan their days, I suggest common carriers should implement GPS-based technology to inform the constituents of likely delivery times. Of course, for security and proprietary reasons, a common carrier may not want to display to the world the exact location of its trucks at any one time. The technology could, however, combine the known delivery routes a carrier’s trucks with their location. Based on continuous GPS updates of the trucks’ locations, which common carriers most certainly employ today for internal monitoring purposes, the carriers could reliably extrapolate delivery times based on continuous updates to the zeroth-order truck locations, first-order truck velocities and even second-order truck accelerations on their delivery route contours. Such extrapolated times could be updated to the tracking numbers so that recipients, especially, can plan better when to be home to receive signature-required packages.

3 Responses to “Continuously Updating Anticipated Package Delivery Times”

  1. ark says:

    someone missed their iPhone4 being delivered!?

    • oshane says:

      Close! My MacBook Pro was replaced due to continued bootdisk failure, and I had to run home to wait for FedEx. It’s here, and I didn’t miss it. As an aside: Apple did an amazing customer service job resolving my problem.

  2. Chevas says:

    Of course it was the anticipation of an Apple product that prompted this.

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