It's every Part Time Pickers worst nightmare... you picked a great deal on some item, the bidding frenzy netted you hundreds of dollars, you ship the item promptly, but somewhere between here and there the item disappears. The buyer claims to never have gotten it. Potentially, you might have to give a refund and be out the cost of the item, the cost of shipping, the item itself, and you get some negative feedback for all your trouble. If only you had gotten tracking on you package, none of this would have happened.
Well, maybe, and maybe not.
Certainly, without tracking you are vulnerable to scams from a fraudulent buyer and confusion from the package carrier. With no record of where the package is during shipment, the buyer has no proof that you even sent the item in the first place. If a claim is filed against you as a seller and you have no tracking info, you will be forced to refund the buyer, and you should. This is true with eBay, Paypal, and Amazon.
But having the tracking doesn't necessarily mean you'll win the argument if a buyer claims their package never arrived. eBay's website claims: "Tracking information and Delivery Confirmation also protects you in the event of an eBay dispute and is one of the qualifications for getting an automatic 5-star rating for ship time.", but eBay is known for lousy customer service to both buyers and sellers, with many disputes resulting in automatic full refunds. You can scare yourself more by reading about one such occurance in this article about a 'buyer from hell' and the online auction service that was no help whatsoever.
And I can personally attest that Amazon will grant a full refund to any buyer who claims a package was not delivered, even if you have a tracking number that says it was. Apparently you need to get signature confirmation to even defend yourself to Amazon.
Once again, these policies are hard to locate on Amazon's website; but Basically, in regards to Amazon, the buyer is always right. This is great when you purchase items through Amazon, but can be a bit frightening when your are selling.
I usually ship most of my items through the USPS, so Delivery Confirmation (the cheapest form of tracking) will cost about 80¢ per item. Now, if this tracking doesn't actually protect me from claims that items weren't delivered, is it just a waste of money?
The answer is "probably". But, you know what, most of the time I get the Delivery Confirmation anyways. I want to give great customer service, and providing a tracking number is a big part of that. I have found that customers are much more patient when waiting for a shipping problem to resolve if they at least know the package was sent in the first place. There have been several times where I was very glad to be able to provide a tracking number to an impatient buyer.
When I'm buying and item on eBay or Amazon, I sure want tracking.
And if you purchase your shipping online, the cost of Delivery Confirmation is greatly reduced. With stamps.com, tracking is free with Priority Mail and First Class shipment, and just 19¢ for Media Mail and Parcel Post (not to mention the sanity saved from not having to wait in line at the post office).
So, while it may not fully protect you, I say go ahead and get the tracking.