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This Is UPS’ Latest Move to Fight Package Thieves

3 minute read

UPS first asked “What can Brown do for you?” in 2002. Fourteen years (and one retired slogan) later, we finally have an answer to what was probably among the most requested features: Tell me where the heck my package is.

On Wednesday the company rolled out its “Follow My Delivery” feature, a tool that lets customers track their bundles in real time on a map. Despite living in an age of Uber, Instacart, and even Domino’s Pizza Tracker, this is the first time a major U.S. package carrier has been able to show customers a package’s location en route. Progress!

Available to customers who sign up for UPS My Choice — a free service that provides package alerts, approximate delivery times, and online package signing — Follow My Delivery works by sending recipients an email the day their shipment is loaded onto a truck. Within that email, there’s a yellow “Follow My Delivery” button that opens a web page featuring a map of your local area.

The map shows both the package’s final destination and its current location. Though you will not see the truck’s exact route, the map does automatically refresh every two to three minutes so you can (hopefully) see your goodies inching closer to your door. Because recipients know exactly when packages are coming, the service could mean items stay on front porches and building hallways for less time, potentially cutting back on thefts.

In my test this morning, the system worked almost flawlessly. In fact, the only problem was that it worked too well. Because I could see the truck arrive at my house on the map, I went out to greet my delivery person at my front walk. But instead of springing out of his truck as usual, he stayed inside organizing packages for a few minutes.

When asked, my UPS delivery man said the new system has already improved his morning, with recipients like me ready to sign for packages with a smile. But I imagine his day was also made better because the system gave me enough advanced warning to put on normal clothes. (In an effort to sign for boxes before he slapped my door with a tag and drove off, I’ve been caught several times in my bathrobe, dripping wet, having sprinted out of the shower at the sound of the doorbell.)

And though there is a UPS app, it doesn’t interface with this new tracking feature, which is browser-based. Neither the app nor UPS My Choice send iOS or Android notifications. Instead, they send delivery alerts via text message like it’s, well, 2002. (Don’t even dream about an Apple Watch app.) So, Brown, now you know what you can do for us next.

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