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Does UPS Have Deep Systematic Problems?

(Updated… a lot)
Recently I’ve seen signs that may suggest the occasional UPS glitches are not-so-occasional, and there may be deeper systematic problems with our favorite delivery service.   The brown truck driver is as friendly as he ever was – it’s the systems that appear to s***w customers left and right.

First there was the unreasonable delay within California, then the case of the “lost” packages, a systems failure compounded by rude customer service:

  • Four out of five packages I dropped off at the same UPS store disappeared – i.e. they were never entered in UPS’s tracking system.
  • Since the system is always right, customer service accused me of never having shipped them in the first place, then of not applying the labels properly.
  • When the recipient, Shoebuy.com, a major UPS customer initiated a trace, the previously non-existent packages miraculously all showed up at the destination UPS center, without any indication how they got there.

The above example may not be rare, as demonstrated by this commenter:

Texas-to-Texas package disappeared (was never scanned in) and 30 hours later showed up in Alabama.  UPS has no clue how it got there.

Finally, my third shipping experience within a month:  I’m expecting a Sony Reader sent from NY to CA.  It was originally due to arrive on 7/28 but now I see it’d rescheduled for 7/29.  A one-day delay is not the end of the world, until you look at the details:

-The package arrived at Vernon, CA Thursday, 7/24.

-Next arrival scan is in Los Angeles, Friday 7/25 evening. (Great progress!)

Now, I don’t know why it sat a full day virtually in the same place, but even with this delay, if it’s in Los Angeles on Friday, why on Earth can I not receive it on Monday in the San Francisco Bay Area?   Why the Tuesday delivery?  That’s 5 days within California!

Admittedly my statistical sample is rather small, but 3 failures out of 3 deliveries within a months suggests these may not have been accidents, UPS may just have more serious logistic / system problems than they care to admit.

Update: Rob’s story below is so shocking, anything I’ve experienced pails in comparison.  You just HAVE to read it in full.

Update #2: On second thought, it’s a story worth bringing it up to here in full:

I’ve got one for you….

My sister-in-law has MS and receives very expensive injections delivered once a month, packed in dry ice because it has to stay refrigerated.

My sister-in-law lives with her mother. Well, her mother had decided to cancel her Dish Network subscription. Dish told her to put all of the hardware in a box and they would pay to ship it back to them via UPS. Only problem was, there was no hardware to return since she had already done that through the retail store. Dish claims that they notified UPS to cancel the pick-up…given the rest of this debacle, I’m inclined to agree with them.

Meanwhile, my sister-in-law gets her medication delivered via FedEx (because there’s no way UPS could get it there in time before the ice pack failed). FedEx leaves the package containing the medication on the front porch.

Now, UPS shows up a little bit later and TAKES THE WRONG PACKAGE. Apparently, the instruction to cancel the pickup never made it to the driver. The package they took was clearly in a FedEx box, with FedEx shipping labels, etc. There were no UPS shipping labels anywhere. UPS essentially stole her medications right off of their porch.

You would think, given their commercials about “delivery intercept”…you know, “there’s a problem with the gizmos” that it would be a simple matter to stop the package and turn it around….NOPE. Their advice was to call FedEx (what the *&!@^ does FedEx have to do with it and to call the pharmacy to get a replacement). They said that it was en route to Dish Network and they couldn’t stop it, but that Dish could send it back (which Dish would have to pay for…how is it Dish’s problem?). The problem, which was explained to them, is that by the time all that happens, the medications will have reached ambient temperatures and will be useless and that my sister’s insurance wont pay for the $1500 meds twice in one month.

They eventually rectified the situation by reimbursing my sister the money, but only after she paid out of pocket to get the replacements and after spending countless hours on the phone with UPS customer service.

What can Brown do for you? I don’t know, but I know what I’d like to do to brown….

Update (7/29): Today is the rescheduled delivery date.  The latest scan info shows yesterday my package was in Sacramento, 90 miles NE of me (remember, it was coming from LA, South!).  I smell another re-schedule :-(

Update (7/29 evening): UPS just confirmed they really have no clue where the package is and recommended I contact the sender, as only they can initiate a trace.  Deja vu :-(

Update (7/30): The sender initiated a trace and the expected delivery date field completely disappeared.  A few hours later new scan information showed up:  Out for delivery.   This means I should get it today. Hooray!  Except… the package is in Vancouver, WA, and I am in California.   If UPS keeps on randomly driving around the West Coast, they might just accidentally find me one day :-(

Update (7/30):  I called UPS with my concern that it cannot possibly be “out for delivery” from Vancouver, WA.  They confirmed I should ignore the status, the package indeed will find my way to CA today.  Yeah, right.   A few hours later someone woke up.  Now delivery is rescheduled for the third time, adding two more days, with this status message:

VANCOUVER,
WA,  US
07/30/2008 10:43 A.M. INCORRECT ROUTING AT UPS FACILITY / THE PACKAGE WAS MISSORTED AT THE HUB. IT HAS BEEN REROUTED TO THE CORRECT DESTINATION SITE
07/30/2008 7:25 A.M. OUT FOR DELIVERY

This is beyond pathetic…

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Comments

  1. I’ve got one for you….

    My sister-in-law has MS and receives very expensive injections delivered once a month, packed in dry ice because it has to stay refrigerated.

    My sister-in-law lives with her mother. Well, her mother had decided to cancel her Dish Network subscription. Dish told her to put all of the hardware in a box and they would pay to ship it back to them via UPS. Only problem was, there was no hardware to return since she had already done that through the retail store. Dish claims that they notified UPS to cancel the pick-up…given the rest of this debacle, I’m inclined to agree with them.

    Meanwhile, my sister-in-law gets her medication delivered via FedEx (because there’s no way UPS could get it there in time before the ice pack failed). FedEx leaves the package containing the medication on the front porch.

    Now, UPS shows up a little bit later and TAKES THE WRONG PACKAGE. Apparently, the instruction to cancel the pickup never made it to the driver. The package they took was clearly in a FedEx box, with FedEx shipping labels, etc. There were no UPS shipping labels anywhere. UPS essentially stole her medications right off of their porch.

    You would think, given their commercials about “delivery intercept”…you know, “there’s a problem with the gizmos” that it would be a simple matter to stop the package and turn it around….NOPE. Their advice was to call FedEx (what the *&!@^ does FedEx have to do with it and to call the pharmacy to get a replacement). They said that it was en route to Dish Network and they couldn’t stop it, but that Dish could send it back (which Dish would have to pay for…how is it Dish’s problem?). The problem, which was explained to them, is that by the time all that happens, the medications will have reached ambient temperatures and will be useless and that my sister’s insurance wont pay for the $1500 meds twice in one month.

    They eventually rectified the situation by reimbursing my sister the money, but only after she paid out of pocket to get the replacements and after spending countless hours on the phone with UPS customer service.

    What can Brown do for you? I don’t know, but I know what I’d like to do to brown….

  2. That’s shocking… I’ve linked to it from the post.

  3. Zoli,

    I also had a horrible experience recently with UPS.

    For 4 consecutive days UPS said that they will deliver the package today, but somehow it never could get scanned and get onto the truck. Customer service folks ,though courteous, were not helpful. Finally I dug my heels in and kept escalating, finally I talked to the right people. And it finally got delivered.

    Not using UPS again. Till get the delivery system back on track.

    -Vic Podcaster

  4. Vic,

    You have a choice as a sender, but as an online customer, you typically don’t: most vendors just use UPS :-(

  5. Henry Cassell says:

    I found UPS to have no concern dfor the customer. If you have a bad franchise owner neither UPS, or UPS store will listen to the customer. I don’t see how a business who disregards its customer the way they do can stay in business.

  6. It’s been a while since I stopped using UPS in favor of a local delivery service but it amazes me to hear of such rumblings. Prior to making the switch I never encountered any problems with any of the stuff I shipped through them but its disheartening to see such things happen. I’m wondering if some of the more recently adopted technology is causing glitches or has some bugs that have yet to be worked out.

  7. Great feedback. Just thought I would add my UPS experience. My husband is a package car driver for UPS so I get the daily update. In fact, it is important to mention that he delivers such medications at least weekly and customer service reaches out to him to meet the owners in parking lots, restaurants, etc. if he misses them at home. I recognize that all people at times have problems with shipping, but it has been his experience that all customers (especially businesses) that switch to DHL or FedEx due to pricing or poor service are right back to UPS within a year, two tops. Think of the old saying that democracy is the worst form of government, except for the rest. UPS is the worst shipping company in the world, until you evaluate your other choices…Fedex, DHL, US Postal Service, etc.

    • FEDEX IS GREAT (OVER 6 YEARS

      EXPERIENCE WITH THEM AND UPS

      PREVIOUSLY) … UPS IS HORRIBLE IN

      CUSTOMER SERVICE. PERIOD.

    • Joe Walker says:

      Thats wonderful, and I am sure your husband is one of the very few good ones, but I am sitting here today after taking 2 hours off work to wait for a package delivery as i missed the 1st one and it needs a signature. I am not more that 13 steps from my front door. I check the door every 20 to 30 minutes. In between one of the checks another missed notice is left on my door. the driver never knocked or rang the bell. If I had known the company was shipping via ups I would have ordered my product from another store!

  8. Seems like UPS has problems delivering large packages, or at least updating the status. my status hasn’t been updated in 5 days, where it was last seen in IL — today is the scheduled delivery date, but it doesn’t even show as being scanned at Vernon [which, I surmise as the main hub here in SoCal, since it arrives there then gets routed to another distribution center for delivery].

    We’ll see if it actually arrives. the last 3 packages i’ve gotten from them have arrived on time, but their status was updated frequently, also….but they were also very small packages. this new package is a big box of car parts, which I doubt will arrive on time..because, well, it’s UPS. they probably couldn’t be bothered loading and unloading such a large package to be delivered on time.

  9. Yes UPS Still sucks. I had a package overnighted several days ago. In fact yesterday it was just two hours from my home. But it is just sitting in some container and has been shipped even further from my home where it has continued to sit for over 12hrs now. This package contained cultures that cost $500 and can only exist outside the fridge for 24-48 hrs. Letting customer service know this for the last two days and they just tell me there is no more info on their computer screen and to get lost. Well I hope UPS collapses and no one ever uses this company again. If you have something to ship that needs to get their overnight good luck, the rep eventually told me one in ten packages don’t make it on time. If I had realized how much I was gambling by using UPS I would have given it a second thought.

  10. UPS – Utterly Pathetic Service. I could write an essay of the problems I have had with this company. 4 out of the last 5 shipments have been service failures, 1 they didn’t even pick up, 1 they couldn’t find for 3 days, 1 they sent ground when it was a 2 day service and 1 they still can’t explain why it took 6 days to get to the customer. I refuse to use them and only if it is a customer request. The CSR’s are completely useless and will absolutely not investigate any trouble with your shipments until you ask for a supervisor, then all of a sudden they have more information for you.
    Nicole you stand by your hubby honey but UPS would have to be the last man standing (which it cannot possibly be the way it is run) before I voluntarily use them for my customers.

  11. we have stopped using UPS , not because they are poor at delivering packages but because of their chronic infrastructure , and also how many different phone options do you have to go through to speak to a human being , their online tracking system is ok and they never lost a parcel for us.

    One of the worst things about them is their paperwork system its a nightmare , invoices give no information , you cant speak to anyone to query what the invoice is for , nightmare.

  12. I bought a cellphone from Amazon, the shipper was UPS. I came home yesterday, no delivery at my front door so I checked the amazon page, this said it was delivered at 3:01p.m.
    Looked at UPS page with my tracking info and it stated the same, I did not receive my package…..and I am wondering what is to be done. I am on vacation here and leaving Saturday night for home..minus a cellphone / $180

  13. I’ve ordered a package Dec. 26th and UPS said it was going to be here Jan. 8th which is pretty pathetic already. It’s now Jan. 12th and it has been rescheduled twice because the UPS guy was at the top of my driveway but there was a half inch of snow on the ground, they have it at the nearest warehouse but they won’t deliver it and want me to come pick it up at a place 30 minutes away.

  14. I will NOT use UPS ever again. They have messed up every package I have tried to deliver and most packages I was waiting for delivery on. I shipped a box to Barcelona for a large trade show they GUARANTEED it to be delivered on Friday, on Friday they sent me some non-sense in Spanish which I finally got translated by the end of the day but it made no sense. I finally found out they wanted a tax id number, which I sent them via email because the woman on the phone said she couldn't take it over the phone due to legal reasons but she would have someone else CALL me to get it from me. And the difference is…..?????? They called and said no they needed a copy of my bosses passport and a form filled out. Why do you need a copy of his passport, because we do. At this point they will deliver the package on Monday. Come Monday no package deliver instead I get another email saying they needed the tax id number. I sent them a message back saying I already gave it to you. The next deliver will be on Tuesday. Now they say they can't deliver it because nobody is there to pay for it. I said I gave you the credit card to charge it to. Oh no that won't cover it all. Do you want it to cover it all??? UM YEA!! OK we'll change it. Now the package won't be delivered until Wednesday. Now I have to contact them and say never mind send it back because the trade show is OVER. OK we'll let them know. OF course UPS not only wants us to pay for the outbound package but as well as the return. BUT WAIT!! On Thursday or Friday they finally deliver the package. NOW I have NO idea if it is at the hotel or where it is. I wonder how long it will take to get them to fix this??? Probably never!!! I swore I would never use them again and I should have stuck with that because I am really swearing now.

  15. Unhappy says:

    9 out of 10 UPS delieveries are late by days. I have been having a huge problem with UPS and deliveries to my home. Just like above the status never changes. This past week I was expecting several deliveries on 2-24 but due to a threat of a snow all trucks went in including the one with my packages. On 2-25 it snowed however USPS and Fedxe made delivers to my house and my packages went into Exception status and stayed there and is still there now 2-2-2010 7 days past the actual scheduled deliever???two of the packages I paid extra for overnight air?? it seems they will just deliver packages when they feel like it? I am planing on sending the packages back and requiring a full refund with shipping. I have begun to require all of my vendor to include shipping in there product cost so I do not have to pay UPS and if Have to have something shipped and pay I use Fedxe or USPS or I dont buy the product. I think we all need to start using USPS cheaper and they deliever every day.

  16. Waiting4package says:

    UPS stinks, plain and simple. I've never had a problem (yet) with overnight, but 2nd day usually means between 4 and 7 days. That is not an exaggeration. It's amazing to me how screwy their delivery schedules are. I've used Fed-Ex many more times than UPS, and never one delay or problem, NEVER. If Fed-Ex can perform at such an excellent level, then why can't UPS? I would guess that the USPS is even better than these clowns. I'm not surprised to see the number of complaints described here. The last time I had a package mis-routed and apparently lost, I tried to get a hold of customer service. Not exactly the easiest task. They purposely bury the option of speaking directly with a human being, and as far as email, forget it, that was no help at all.
    If you have an option between Fed-Ex and UPS, it's no comparison you go with Fed-Ex.

  17. YES,…UPS IS NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE. TRY TO TRACK A PACKAGE AND IF YOU CAN YOU ARE LUCKY. IT IS TO THE POINT THAT THE ONLY TIME I CAN TRACK IT IS WHEN IT HAS BEEN DELIVERED. SO WHAT USE IS IT??????? THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME MORE THAN ONCE AND UPS DID NOT SEEM TO BE CARING WHEN I CALLED THEM FOR HELP. MAYBE THEY NEED SOME OF THE MONEY THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN WASTING SO THEY WILL HIRE SOME GOOD HELP????

  18. UPS Customer service refused to pickup a mis-delivered package because I didn't have the tracking number. I left the package outside for the delivery guy to pick up. Second package delivered to my address instead of a neighbor a few blocks away. I hand delivered the first wrong package but figured with the second one, the driver needed to be informed of his error. Customer service REFUSED to send someone out to pick up the package without BILLING ME.

    I think I will stick with FedEx

  19. I'm a little tired of reading how people are finding that many are finding the customer service to be pleasant, yet it's the system that UPS has in place that is likely to blame… Let me put it simply, people were delivering mail well an long before computer systems came into play. However, in todays modern era of computer tracking and electronic ordering, it's more that too easy for those to blame to place blame on the systems THEY ARE IN CHARGE OF… Just because a person speaks in a tone that is reminiscent of kindness, DO NOT BE FOOLED into believing THAT IT IS GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE.

    My example is this… 3 notices of attempted delivery… The problem we have is that the UPS driver(s) in our area have a tendency to not pay attention. Why do I say this? We've had drivers knock, not bother to wait to see if anyone answers the door (and then watch out the window as their truck drives away), We've had packages delivered that to our knowledge required a signature that did not receive a signature from us. And currently are dealing with the fact that the driver IGNORED A SIGNED SLIP (from a previous delivery attempt) INDICATING TO LEAVE THE PACKAGE AT OUR DOOR… This was driver error, human error, not electronic systems error… Humans installed the system so they are ultimately the ones responsible for the issues UPS is having.

  20. still havent figured this one out.Waited for 3 weeks for a UPS delivery.When i finally called,was told i had called and told them i would pick the package up,and since i hadnt,they sent it back to the sender.I never made that call,and UPS never attempted delivery to my address.I'm not making this S%#t up.its the twilight zone of delivery companies

  21. I am having similar issues with UPS as everyone else. I have a package that was last scanned in Vernon, CA, and has apparently dissapeared. It should have been delivered about 9 days ago. I read on another site that UPS employees are stealing packages in Vernon. Nice. :o/

    I will never send anything UPS, and will ask merchants to please use another means to ship if possible.

  22. PeterLester says:

    A $50 USD item from USA will cost Canadian buyers as much as $100 or more due to UPS policy of a flate rate brokerage fee of $45 or higher……If USA manufacturers and sellers want to fast track their business economic recovery with neighbouring countries, they must allow for other shipping methods.

  23. I had bought an iPod touch with bestbuy for Christmas and I guess the ups driver didn’t count the list from bestbuy instead of it being 30 I touches it was actually 29 and mines had to be the one gone missing so finally three months after Christmas Bestbuy finally shipped another one out !
    Careless drivers!

Trackbacks

  1. […] other week I wrote a tale about DHLs almost comic ineptitude. The other day Zoli declares UPS to be pretty poor. A couple of days back I give a (sort of) muted thumbs up for FedEx. What I should’ve said is […]

  2. […] Does UPS Have Deep Systematic Problems? […]

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