Royal Mail Tracked 48 is now a 72 hour service

By Chris Dawson June 14, 2013 - 8:28 am

eBay have reclassified Royal Mail Tracked 48 standard service to an economy service. This is leading to a number of complaints from sellers in the same way that classifying Parcelforce 48 as a 1-2 day standard service is wrong.

It appears that whilst eBay have taken a very generous view that some Parcelforce 48 deliveries might be delivered within 24 hours, they’ve taken a more punitive view that Royal Mail Tracked 48 probably won’t be delivered until the third day after posting.

When eBay unilaterally change postage expectations it doesn’t help sellers and is misleading to buyers. Surely the fact that a service is called a “48 hour” service indicates that that is when it’s due to be delivered?

Express, Standard or Economy should be transit time AND handling time

Personally I think eBay just don’t understand postage and that their entire classification system is misleading. Earlier this year I purchased and £80 item delivered by Special Delivery, but even through the seller had a five day handling time it was still described as an “Express” service option. It’s time eBay started to classify postage as Express, Standard or Economy based on transit time AND service offered.

Give buyers transparent choice

I’m a great believer in giving buyers a choice and many sellers do their best to provide buyers with options. Sellers will attempt to give a priority quick delivery, a standard service and maybe also a money saving slower delivery. However there’s little point sellers doing their best to offer a choice of delivery options if eBay classify expected delivery times incorrectly making premium options look like they’ll be delivered in the same time scale as slower services.


eBay aren’t even being consistent. In one case they take an optimistic view that items will be delivered ahead of schedule and with the other hand they take the most pessimistic view that items will always be delivered late.

Would you like to see all so called “48 hour” delivery services treated as if they’ll be delivered within 48 hours, or are you happy to see eBay treat some as equivalent to 24 hour services and others treated as 72 hour services?

  • Toby
    5 years ago

    We’ve recently taken on a contract with Yodel [due RM’s price increases for Parcels & Lack on insurance/ablitly to claim for lost packets using OBA/PPI] & we’re offering a 48hr Delivery service, which eBay take as Next day delivery.

    No eBay, its 48hr Delivery not 24hr & it makes us look thick when offering a Next Day Express service as a Paid upgrade which will delivered on the same day, according to the estimates.

    The other issue, is that this same coding error is also showing our items available for next day delivery at 10pm, when our cut-off is 1pm & specified so on eBay.

    • Phil
      5 years ago

      Good luck with yodel more of the items you sell won’t arrive as they will go missing cheap is not always the best

    • Darren
      5 years ago

      I’d rather promise a same day delivery to rural Russia than leave my business in the hands of Yodel

  • 5 years ago

    I don’t know why ebay has this obsession with many different services. They should just have 3 options:

    Express: 1 working day
    Standard 1-3 working days
    Economy 1-5 working days

    Surely having carrier and specific service information is irrelevant to the majority?

    • 5 years ago

      I just don’t see how Royal Mail 1st Class can be considered a express service when it’s 1-2 days, whilst Royal Mail Tracked 48 is considered economy when it’s 2-3 days.

      Either eBay should be optimistic about all services or be pessimistic about all services.

      All I ask for is consistency!

      Most 1st class mail is delivered tomorrow.
      Most Parcelforce 48 and other courier 48 hour items are delivered on the second day.
      Most Royal Mail Tracked 48 items are delivered on the second day.
      How hard can it be?

    • 5 years ago

      It’s the “most” bit that bothers me. As for consistency it would be welcomed with open arms as long as the quoted time to the customer is realistic and not built upon the sometimes whimsical figures that Royal Mail produce.

    • Mark
      5 years ago

      The delivery estimates should not be based on when “most” ( >50% ) of the deliveries are made. This could theoretically leave just under half the customers disappointed.

      According to the Royal Mail website 93% of 1st class letters are delivered next working day. Out of 15 items, 1 is statistically likely to be delayed and the customer disappointed.

      The delivery estimates should be set to ensure that the vast majority of customers (98% or 99%) get their items by the delivery deadline.

      Amazon usually overestimate their delivery times, especially for the economy delivery, encouraging customers to use the premium options and resulting in most deliveries happening ahead of time.

    • 5 years ago

      I totally agree it is far too confusing for the customer. With the vast array of couriers out there at the moment the cost differences are minimal depending on your volumes and negotiating skills.

      Option 1 – Next day guaranteed
      Option 2 – Express 1 – 3 day (guaranteed)
      Option 3 – Express 1 – 3 day (not guaranteed)
      Option 4 – Economy (not guaranteed)

      If it is a guaranteed service you offer and the courier fails then a clear compensation schedule is normally detailed.


  • JD
    5 years ago

    All part of eBay’s current obsession with attempting to micro manage sellers.

    And of course some services will benefit eBay/PayPal financially as they get a kick-back when selling them on the site.

    I would think that delivery service providers will eventually be motivated to point out to eBay that the services are being promoted on false premises.

    A simple enquiry to a (insert company name) marketing manager should start the ball rolling.

  • Gary
    5 years ago

    The other issue is that most buyers don’t know what royal mail 24/48 and tracked 24/48 actually mean as these are not available over the post office counter.

    ebay should only offer lists of royal mail branded names that the public are familiar with. Stick with first class, second class and special delivery. That is all that is required.

    ebay are way overcomplicating postal arrangements and choice. Why? It is pointless.

  • Neil
    5 years ago

    The service has always been a 2-3 working day delivery aim. It recently changed its name to Tracked 48 but the delivery aim remains as it always has been, it is not a guaranteed service. So its entirely correct for ebay to view it may not be delivered within the target

    Parcelforce 48 is a GUARANTEED courier service.

    You should check delivery expectations/guarantees with the post/courier supplying the service, not ebay.

  • Stuart
    5 years ago

    There just needs to be two options like Amazon, standard and express, one is 3-5 days and one is 1-2 days, it’s easy there is no over promise to customers as it gives some flexibility it times.

    Ebay just seem to want to be ahead of what actually happens with delivery companies at the moment, most parcels sent 1st class are never delivered next day, letters maybe but not parcels!

  • Gemma
    5 years ago

    I think this is a cynical and strategic move by eBay to manipulate best match and listing visibility. It suggests to me that they are worried that sellers won’t play ball with the new TRS system and are trying to force them into adhering by stealth, forgetting that the cost of the two services varies significantly.

    I believe that under the “standard” label, tracked 48 would qualify for the enhanced “fast and free” visibility which it won’t under “economy”. Anyone wanting to maintain this visibility would have to move to tracked 24, which, provided they had the one day handling time, would automatically qualify for the new TRS status. eBay would then be able to claim that the TRS changes had not adversely affected seller behaviour and that sellers were happy to make the change when effectively they have manipulated a new group of sellers into TRS so that the figures stand up. Maybe I’m a cynic, but that is the only way these changes make sense.

    We use the standard 48 untracked service for the majority of our sales which is also classed as economy, but I now have a load of feedback from buyers saying that their parcel arrived earlier than expected and how impressed they were with the delivery so it’s not all bad 🙂

  • Gerry007
    5 years ago

    The old system was far easier to understand.
    It stated the approx arrival time & Included the sellers handling time.

    EM ‘lost’ several packets in their system the other week & we get blamed for their eventual arrival. LATE of course.

    Packet heaven must be getting full…..

  • John Pemberton
    5 years ago

    Tracked 48 is and always has been a 2-3 day service. Once the items are picked up, they are isolated and sorted/dealt with the following day (unlike Tracked 24 or 1st class mail that is dealt with that evening). On rare occasions that Tracked 24 is completed, they will start on 48 that evening (but its rare).

    Highlands and Islands will always be a 3 days service.

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