I’m gonna rant for a while here, too. Many of you have already had to read through my tweets this past week, so sorry if you don’t find any value in this post.

I’ve ordered many, many t-shirts from United Pixelworkers (RIP) and Cotton Bureau in the past two years. So many, in fact, I have to wash them separately from all my other clothes. And, until this February, everything was absolutely smooth. The packages arrived on time and nothing was ever lost. Please note: Cotton Bureau is not to blame here. Their products and customer service are the best in the industry.

Okay, so: the average tee I order costs around $28 these days. I pay around $14 for shipping. Yes, half of the price of the shirt. This is too much already, and when things don’t work as expected, I have a right to get mad at someone. The shipping comes with international tracking as a standard. And it works… if the package goes to the right place.

My last order was shipped on Feb 3rd from the US. (It features a beautiful design called Bucket Of Bolts.) Two weeks later (Feb 17th), I had received nothing. Tracking had the movement of the package in the US, but after shipping out of the States… nothing. My local postal service did not have anything else on record, either. So I kind of panicked. I wrote to the kind folks at Cotton Bureau to see if maybe the package was sent back to them or if they have some extra info. They didn’t have the shirt nor did USPS tell them that something was wrong.

The next morning, I woke up earlier than usual. I was feeling kind of down because my shirt was missing, so I grabbed my phone and started googling to find out what I should do. Somebody definitely had to have had dealt with this kind of a problem before.

Before I knew it, I had started entering my tracking code to random national postal services’ websites. First were the neighbours: Russia, Finland, Sweden, Latvia. Nothing. Then, for some reason, I chose Australia. Aaaaand… I got a hit. Turns out that my package had been in Tallinn on 6th Feb, but neither Omniva or USPS had that scan on record. I guess at that point I was very much like “What the fuck is going on?”, so I continued my investigation.

I contacted Australian Post on Twitter to see what they thought of it. (They were still awake at that point). They confirmed that the package with that tracking number had arrived in Australia on Feb 16th. Oh well. Maybe they can confirm or deny if that is actually my package, and, if it is, send it back to me. But no! Their customer service told me that they don’t have any info on the sender or on the recipient.

This makes no sense at all to me.

So I called my local postal service again, and this time I got on the line with someone who actually wanted to help me. I explained my case carefully, gave her the tracking code, and she went to consult with somebody in charge of international packages. They called me back in 10 minutes and told me that in the international database Australia was marked as the recipient country, while the package was supposed to be shipped through Estonia. And, since Estonia was not the recipient country, they had no access to the sender/recipient info. (Logical conclusion – if Australia was the recipient country, Austalian Post should have this info. They told me they don’t.)

This info actually helped: it means that the error was made beforehand, probably somewhere in USPS. Nobody in my country was trying to steal stuff from me, and it relaxed me a bit.

I’m still a bit amazed about this whole story. And I’m lucky to have totally randomly found that extra info about Australia.

So there seems to be an international database for those tracking codes, but the postal services are not allowed to give the customer the full info (I was told this.). Why? Well, that is the question. If my package is tracked, I want to know absolutely everthing that happens to it. Every. Little. Thing.

If somebody who reads this wants to disrupt the international postal system with some amazing start-up, let me know. I’d be happy to help.

PS. I hope I will get my tee at some point.