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There's not that much to say about order tracking except this: it's great! And also this: the Internet has made it even better. :^)
Every time you ship something using UPS, Federal Express or one of the other popular delivery services, a tracking number is assigned to the package. You can then use that number to track the location of the package as it travels on its way to you. Traditionally this was done by calling the company up, providing them with the tracking number, and letting them tell you where the package was. Today it is even easier to do online: go to the delivery company's site, enter the tracking number, and you'll see the delivery status of the package. (Some better vendor sites even offer order tracking built into their web site; you look up your order, press a button, and you know where the package for that order is. Neat.)
Order tracking is sufficiently important that I insist upon it, particularly for larger shipments or more expensive items. Tracking doesn't just let you know where the item is and when it's likely to arrive, it also proves that the company has in fact made the shipment. If you place an order for something that is supposed to be in stock, it should be shipped promptly, and you should get a tracking number for the shipment promptly as well.
It's important to remember that the company gets a tracking number for the box the moment it is shipped, because the delivery company won't touch a package without a tracking number. In fact, in many cases the vendor's warehouse gets the number even before the package is picked up, because it is assigned as soon as the shipment paperwork is filled out. This means that in theory, you should be able get a tracking number within an hour of when the shipment goes out the back door. Now, some larger companies are inefficient and may take many hours before the tracking number is sent to you or made available online. But anything beyond 24 hours and you should follow up with the company. If they then seem uncooperative, you should suspect that maybe the reason there is no tracking number, is that there is no shipment. See this section for more.
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