Not really a failing of the email format, but of its contents. Last weekend I ordered a new iPhone for my dad. It was supposed to arrive today. Yesterday, Apple sends me an email that it’s going to ship soon and will arrive next week. That’s no good. I call Apple and talk to a real person on the phone, who confirms the phone is in Apple’s warehouse, they’re going to ship it real soon now, and I should expect it next week. That’s too late, so I cancel the order, but it’s too late for that too, so instead it’s converted to a return request. Today the phone arrived after all. What a waste of time and frustration.
I looked up the tracking number after it arrived. It was shipped UPS ground from a nearby warehouse last night. It’s close by (and presorted, etc.), so even ground shipments arrive in one day. Apparently Apple’s actual shipping logistics program knows this, which is why I was originally promised a delivery date of today. (Or conversely, it explains why the software knew it could meet the promised deadline even with a last minute ground shipment.) But Apple’s email the customer software doesn’t know this.
Instead, I imagine the notifier was triggered when my phone was being taken off the shelf and prepared for shipment. It then looks up my order in the database, sees ground shipping, and then just slaps the usual 3-5 day bracket around the delivery estimate. The problem is the 3-5 day window from the front page of ups.com doesn’t apply to this route. (ups.com even has a shipping calculator which will tell you that this ground shipment only takes one day. I don’t know where Apple’s email notifier gets its misinformation.)
Root cause analysis: don’t use two databases when only one has the correct information.