We are all set to go on a family vacation in Thailand. My son leaves his passport at college. A friend of his offers to drop it off here on her way home, but once on the way, decides that she is too tired and that she will just send it overnight delivery the next day.
On Monday, she goes to a UPS store and has the passport sent to us overnight air. Next day delivery. Guaranteed. So begins a UPS nightmare.
It was sent on Monday. We leave the following Monday. On Wednesday, the UPS tracking number shows nothing and the customer service people at UPS say that they do not provide information to anyone who uses a UPS store to ship, they will give information directly to the store, but to no one else. That is an interesting piece of information, isn’t it? If you use a UPS store, you forfeit your ability to get information on a package shipped via UPS. And, in case you were thinking that is just one person, during our three days of “customer service,” there were four UPS customer service reps and/or supervisors who told us the same thing. But, there were another 17 UPS people who made no mention of that policy as they talked to us about the package.
On Thursday, the UPS website shows that UPS mis-scanned the package, and it is being re-routed. When we call, we are told that it will be delivered sometime on Monday. So, question 2, if an item is shipped overnight air, and it is discovered that UPS misrouted it, why does it take an additional four days to reroute it? It’s already in the system, it is marked as next day delivery, why not just deliver it the next day?
Needless to say, if we need to be at the airport at 9:30 in the morning, it does us no good at all for the passport to be delivered to our house sometime on Monday.
So we call, and we are told that it will be delivered on Friday, not Monday.
Starting on Friday morning, we start calling. On the first series of conversations (2 people) we are told that someone will call us back in an hour. No one called.
On the second series of conversations (2 people again) we are told that the package is in NYC, and that if we call NY, we can pick it up. They admit that this is a UPS problem, “sometimes packages just get scanned wrong.”
We call the number in NY and get “Wilma” on the phone. She tells us that UPS customer service people are always telling people that they can pick up their packages in NY, but that she can see that the package is not, if fact, in NY, and that it is scheduled for Monday delivery. It is “in transit” which means that it is on some truck, but no one knows what truck or where the truck is going.
Next call, we talk to a service rep, then a supervisor, who both tell us that the UPS policy is that they do not help people who ship through UPS stores, and they will only deal with the store. But, we talk to the manager, who says that he has traced the package and it is now in NYC, scheduled for a Monday delivery. He used to work in the NY office, knows the people and he will find out how we can pick it up and will call us back in an hour. He even gave us his direct number. Two hours later, no call, no manager. There is a voice mail box with his name, and there are instructions at the mailbox to reach someone else, but that number just results in a general voice mailbox. Left a message in each mailbox, but no callbacks. Is there really a David Alverado, or is it just a phantom voice mail?
Another call, and we ask to speak to a manager. While on hold, we go back online to check the status, and notice that the delivery date was just changed from Friday delivery to Monday delivery. The person reports back that the package has been re-marked. Because there are so many late deliveries for our area, they have all been pushed up, and it, along with all the other packages, will be delivered on Saturday. But we tell her we just looked online and that in the last hour it has been marked for Monday delivery. We get put on hold again.
She returns to the line and says she has talked to people in the Bronx and in NYC. The package is in the Bronx. She has had it marked, and we can get to the UPS building at 9 in the morning and it will be waiting for us.
First thing in the morning, I check online. The package was scanned in at the NYC office at 5:23 in the morning and was put “in transit” for Monday delivery. Oh, I guess Wilma, Jeanette and Lynn were all wrong. It had been in NY. But not anymore.
Hoping, against hope. We get to UPS at 8:30. It’s open. There are two people ahead of us. Both were told to pick up their packages at this facility. Neither leave with their packages. Our person tells us that the package is either in a truck, in a trailer, in the NY office, in that office, or in the other Bronx office. But that they have no way of finding out, and it is scheduled for a Monday delivery, but no specific time.
While we are waiting for the manager, we are talking with two of the UPS employees. We ask them what they do when they ship. They shrug and say that they use Fed Ex or DHL. Interesting.
We talk with the manager. About 45 minutes later he comes back. It was placed on a truck in NYC at 5:23 in the morning bound for this facility. There was only one truck that came from NY, and it is in the yard. They do not unpack trucks on Saturdays. He does not have the key. The only person with a key went out to lunch. Do we want to wait? Yes.
So, here is the next question, actually two. The rep from the previous night told us that all shipments in our area were going to be delivered on Saturday. This is the warehouse that all shipments come from. The warehouse is closed except for a few people trying to find packages for customers. Where did she get the information that all shipments were going to be delivered on Saturday? And, if it was the heaviest time for deliveries, and so many packages were late, why wasn’t the warehouse open and trucks being loaded up for Saturday deliveries?
An hour later the manager comes back. They are “pretty sure” that the package is in a specific trailer. The trailer is over 70 feet long, 12 feet wide, and about 12 feet high. It is completely packed with packages. He has opened the trailer, crawled in as far as he could, but there is no way they can unload it. He has talked with the facility manager, who is home. If we can come to the facility at 4:00 Monday morning, we can be there while they unpack the trailer. If it is on the trailer and they spot it before it goes on the conveyer system, we can have it. If not, there is nothing more they can do. And we have no backup plan for my son going with us to Thailand.
Oh, and they advised that we should file a claim so we are not billed for delivery. That’s their recompense for spending 4 hours on the phone, 3 hours at their facility, not getting the delivery in any reasonable amount of time, taking an extra trip to the Bronx at 4:00 in the morning, and having our family vacation disrupted: here’s $18.00, Merry Christmas.
On the way out, one of the UPS people we’d talked to waves us over. “Do you want to know why the managers are here today?” he asks. “It turns out that a truck from NY was supposed to go to Philadelphia. It was filled with next day air packages. The driver came here and left the trailer of packages here in the Bronx. They don’t know what to do. Christmas is Tuesday. There is no truck, no truck driver, just the trailer. None of those packages are going to be delivered until Wednesday at the earliest.” Maybe that is why he uses Fed Ex or DHL.
You should visit a UPS facility and see how disorganized they are; how many times they have to tell customers they do not know when a package will be delivered, or even where it is. You should hear the people at the UPS offices talk about how their customer service people give mis-information to customers on the phone.
We have talked to 21 different people at UPS to try to find the package. None of them could figure out where our package was. Once something goes wrong with a shipment, UPS does not have the systems to find out where a package is or to reroute it. Fed Ex does.
I know that most shipments get through on time. I know that UPS is usually less expensive than Fed Ex.
But now, every time I hear the tagline, “What can brown do for you?” I really hear “What can brown screw up for you.” Every time I see the initials UPS, I think, “Pronounce that Oops.”
Well, hopefully, this time someone did guess correctly where the package was, and we get the passport, and we all get to go to Thailand.