Big Brown to Roll Out Signature Confirmation Test

United Parcel Service said yesterday that it will roll out its UPS Signature Tracking Service to 120,000 preferred customers in the United States in September.

UPS Signature Tracking Service is a free, secure electronic signature verification service. It allows catalogers and other shippers to log on to, enter a personal identification number and access electronic images of signatures of customers who signed for UPS packages on a driver's hand-held computer. The service also allows customers to view online the proof of delivery, full delivery name and address, and the c.o.d. amount collected.

Although most standard ground delivery packages to residences do not require signatures, all commercial delivery packages, premium air deliveries and COD packages do.

The service will allow catalogers to determine whether the proper person received the right product and will give them the ability to fax electronic images of delivery confirmation signatures to recipients if there is a question of whether a delivery was made.

“It helps make the cataloger absolutely sure that the product was received by a particular recipient,” said Steve Torbett, e-commerce marketing director at UPS, Atlanta. “Oftentimes, issues arise where a recipient claims they didn’t receive a package, but in reality it was received at their location. It might have been received at a central receiving dock or in the mailroom at a customer’s business location, but then something happens to the package between there and getting to the end recipient.”

While these mix-ups might seem minor, “when they come up, they can become a very significant customer service problem,” Torbett said.

The real-time nature of the service also saves catalogers time. They can respond quicker to customer service inquires. One major retailer was able to cut the amount of time spent tracking proof of delivery for 100 shipments from eight hours to 45 minutes, Torbett said.

Catalogers that have to return merchandise to a manufacturer or supplier will also benefit because they will have a signature of the customer who returned the item in real time, allowing them to fax that information to the supplier and “get credit for their returned merchandise quicker,” said Marty Richter, a UPS spokesman. “Normally, these kinds of arrangements require a paper transaction that ultimately takes days and days to get their money back.”

UPS tested the service with 1,000 large customers nationwide in May and June. The test generated positive feedback, according to UPS. The service will launch in Canada and Europe later this year.

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