Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What Can Brown Do To You?

I fired UPS today. I get a lot of packages each week, often daily, with probably two-thirds of them from my main distributor via UPS. Another 20% are delivered by FedEx, and those are rarely a problem. The issue with UPS is they just don't care anymore. They're unionized and they'll go only so far in their customer service efforts, and then they stop, even when they're contractually obligated to keep going. For example, several times they've misplaced packages, only to find them at my local UPS hub, ten minutes away. Someone from the hub will call to tell me to come pick up the package, as if it's beyond their ability to jump in their car and bring me a box. It's supposed to be simple: You get paid to deliver packages; I receive them. Your personal problems in doing your job are not my concern and it's unlikely I can call you to come over and take a turn at my job when I don't feel like performing.

The drivers are often great, but there are bad ones too. With union benefits, it means my main driver can be gone for months for various reasons leaving me with a series of bonehead fill-in drivers. They're also finding their benefits cut as UPS attempts to absorb fuel costs by reducing overhead. It sucks when you're the overhead at a corporation, something I can tell you about from my IT days. Morale is not great at UPS. But you know what? Suck it up.

The current bonehead driver has been trying my patience. Not only does he deliver irregularly, but he has a habit of coming early and dropping off those little sticky notices, letting me know he'll be delivering my order the next day, or perhaps the day after, depending on his mood I guess. UPS is not supposed to do this with businesses with posted hours, but they do it anyway. You can call and yell at them, but the odds are fifty fifty that he'll just deliver that package the next day, or the day after.

Today this same bonehead driver refused to pick up an outgoing package because I didn't schedule it with UPS. In four years, it has been common practice for drivers to pick up packages during a drop off, but this guy decided he would stick to the letter of the law, the official policy. After spending $5 online scheduling the delivery, this bonehead returned an hour later to pick up the box. After some heated words, I expressed to him that if it's not the policy, then it must be a courtesy. He agreed, and I told him that explained an awful lot. From now on, hundreds of thousands of dollars of goods that they used to deliver will go to this little company that works harder and isn't unionized called Fedex.


  1. angry Gary
    boardgame night calls
    release tension
    enjoy games
    good friends
    relaxing atmosphere

  2. When I was working at my temporary job, I was in charge of shipping and receiving, with all that entails. We had a system where we could print our own UPS labels and slap them on the outgoing packages. I suppose that program (Worldship IIRC) is only for certain business. Anyway, the drivers were always very efficient, they came twice a day; once to drop off stuff, and then pick up stuff. The Fedex ones seemed to have an uncomfortable grasp of english and in order to ship things you had to arrange a pickup through an automated system and hand write a label. All in all, much more work. Your mileage may vary, I guess.


  3. Overall, I've had pretty good experiences with UPS, but I'm hearing of more and more problems. In talking with one of my neighbors here I've found that it's not at all uncommon for them to deliver packages to the wrong side of town.

    Just the other day he came looking for a package valued at a couple of hundred dollars that through a combination of errors by both the shipper and UPS had been missing for over a week (my neighbor had only just discovered it was missing due to the shipper's error in failing to let him know that it had been shipped).

    So far I haven't had any trouble with UPS here, but the USPS has managed to deliver stuff to the wrong house twice, as well as bending envelopes clearly marked "do not bend" (and yes, there was plenty of room to put them in the mailbox without bending them, they were obviously bent as part of the delivery person's sorting process). I wish I could fire them.

  4. Every business makes mistakes. Some make LOTS of mistakes. You can accurately judge a business by what they do when they make a mistake. Most good businesses will attempt to rectify the situation. A great business will leave you better off than if they hadn't made a mistake. The two companies that I've worked with that just don't give a damn about their mistakes include UPS and Diamond.

    With UPS, it also doesn't help that I'm usually not their customer. As the recipient of packages, I have no rights and they haven't entered into any agreements with me. However, it doesn't mean I can't get the shipper, their true customer, to yell at them, make demands, or like today, stop using them completely.

    I estimate this accounts for about $6,000-$7,500/year in shipping from this one distributor.

  5. Let's see...
    GW - Fedex
    ACD - UPS
    Alliance - UPS?
    Ding & Dent - UPS
    When the new location opened - UPS (Melissa & Doug, etc)
    WOTC - Fedex (spastic delivery at the old store)
    Battlefront - UPS
    All the weird stuff - UPS
    I think out of 2 years of working, I've met 1 driver I really enjoyed. No problems or ANYTHING.

  6. That's because problems are my department.

  7. "With UPS, it also doesn't help that I'm usually not their customer."

    The few times that I've been really annoyed with UPS it was because of this attitude on their part. The thing is that it's a fallacy. Just because I'm the one receiving the package doesn't mean I'm not their customer. I'm usually the one paying the shipping, not the sender, the money just happens to go through the middleman of the sender.

    I realize that it greatly simplifies things on their end to only deal with the sender when there's a problem, but it's a bad move from a customer service perspective. Especially when the receiver can choose to have the sender use other delivery services in the future.