Problems at UPS

I continue to have shipments lost - badly lost - recently at UPS.  After 10 years of not a single foul-up, UPS has now lost or mis-routed five important shipments of mine in just 3 months.  In several of these cases, shipments that were supposed to be overnight did not get delivered for 4 or 5 days.  More worrisome, the packages seemed to sit (according to the tracking) in random locations until I called and forced something to happen -- there did not seem to be any sort of automatic intervention to save or reroute them.  In the most disturbing case, a woman in Arizona called our office to tell us that our Florida payroll had just been delivered by UPS to her house.

This is particularly worrisome because most of our shipments are date critical - payroll that has to be somewhere on a particular date or bids that must be delivered by a certain time or be voided.  Recently we have taken to paying extra and shipping everything one day faster than we need to give UPS room to screw up - ie overnight when we actually have two days to the due date.  But even so, UPS has fouled two shipments up so badly they were late even with an extra day to spare.

My statistics memory is rusty, but my guess is that my very few samples of a very large system don't necessarily indicate a process problem to any significance.  Still, we are worried.  The problem is I don't know who to switch to -- we left Fedex when they screwed up two of our first three shipments.


  1. mesaeconoguy:

    Obviously, government-owned bureaucracy is far superior.

    Or maybe UPS needs more unionization and bloated pensions, so they can operate skirting financial oblivion.

    Yes, joking.

  2. Elam Bend:

    Are all the bad shipments emanating from one center? or is this happening from multiple shipping points?

  3. Anonymous:

    I worked in an LL Bean call center this recent Christmas season, and we had chronic problems with a UPS service which delivered packages to the local US post office, and then had the USPS deliver to the house. I can't recall the name, darn it, and can't find it listed on UPS's web site. But what happened with this service where the post office did they last mile, is UPS would sometimes deliver to the wrong post office -- in towns as much as 40 or 50 miles away. I was taking up to maybe a call a day about late packages due to this issue, which made up a large minority of the customer complaints I took. I couldn't give you any numbers at all about what percentage went wrong, but I can tell you that this particular service did account for virtually all of the shipping problems I took calls about. Say 90%, give or take. VIrtually all of Bean's shipping goes via UPS, and the other shipping methods weren't causing problems.

    I hold no brief for the US Post Office, but I don't think they were causing these issues. If UPS can find your house to drive a brown truck to it, you'd think they can figure out what post office serves that zip code too. Although I suppose it's possible they were looking up that information on some USPS source that was wrong.

  4. Rock Smash:

    UPS is union, while FedEx is franchised to avoid unions. So dealing with some of UPS means dealing with all of it. I might think about giving FedEx, particularly a different branch of FedEx than the one that failed you last time, a chance with a very short leash. Each franchise is separate, so you have bargaining power. Just a thought.

  5. LarryGross:

    I use USPS for packages - and have several shipped per month - and they do a pretty good job - as good or better than UPS/FedEx.

  6. Sherman Watkins:

    None of them are perfect. My personal favorite experience with delivering a bid to the USPS in DC for some work they wanted done. No fools we. We sent it using the USPS overnight service they then offered, San Diego to postal headquarters in Washington for less than $11.00. They lost it.

  7. LarryGross:

    EBAY totally relies on USPS.. just about everything you buy on Ebay - comes USPS AND they ship to PO Boxes.. something many online retailers will not do and force buyers to use UPS/Fed Ex - and Fed Ex has a service called SmartPost where they get the package to the locality with their logistics and then they turn it over to the local Post Office - ... so is the USPS subsidizing FedEx or the other way around?

  8. MingoV:

    I've received in the past year numerous UPS shipments in Delaware that were on time or a little early. I suspect the problem is regional.

    Larry Gross is correct that most light packages from eBay sellers go USPS. That is not true for heavy packages where UPS is common.

  9. a_random_guy:

    What I really dislike about *all* of these services: Fedex, DHL, UPS, etc. - is that they refuse to take responsibility for their screwup. We once had a shipment of $2000 of perishable goods. This wound up sitting in a warehouse - in summer - for two weeks before DHL managed to find it again. Needless to say, the shipment was rather ripe, when it arrived. DHL kindly offered to refund the $40 shipping fee as compensation...

  10. ErikTheRed:

    Every delivery service has problems from time to time, but in my experience DHL and UPS are the worst at handling exceptions. DHL is barely relevant anymore, but I have an interesting story about a package that sat in their local distribution hub for over a week "because they didn't have enough trucks" (serious WTF). With UPS it's relatively difficult to get them to start their exception process, and virtually impossible to get an issue resolved on a same-day basis. I've had far fewer issues with FedEx (mileage may vary from area to area, of course, and pun intended), but I've noticed that when there's a problem with FedEx I can usually get the package that day, even if I have to send somebody to their distribution center. That sucks, but if a package is time-critical then it's better than nothing.

  11. LarryGross:

    I stand corrected on the heavy packages. Most of what I order is "light" although I have ordered some heavy items. But also, as a seller.. it's EASY to ship USPS and it did not appear as easy to use UPS. One guy I talked to said that unless you are a commercial outfit with a UPS account - it gets tedious. I HAVE had UPS and FedEX PICK UP at my house ... but they were returns not me shipping.

  12. DHL:

    That is incorrect.

    FedEx Ground drivers are independent contractors. That is the only part of their business that is even close to being a "franchise."

  13. john mcginnis:

    What Erik said. Keep in mind UPS was started and in their minds continues to be a package delivery service where timeliness of 2-3 days late was not an issue. They only entered the overnight arena because of the existence of FedEx. But that is not UPS's expertise either in their personnel or their systems and it shows.

  14. obloodyhell:

    No doubt true, but it's been freaking 30-odd years. Long enough to change the corporate DNA over to a newer batch that has a different outlook, you'd think...

    I've noticed there's a lot of problems in the service industries, of late. A lot more "Eph you!" attitudes in terms of companies where customer service IS the significant part of the business.

    Why this is, in a time when ALL real wealth is deriving from IP and Services is beyond me. It's like whole industries are competing to see how bad they can get their service attitudes, sometimes.

    The cell phone industry appears to be like this, too -- They allow deceptive practices on the part of their "partners" -- e.g., spam that says "Press YES if you don't want to buy this service. Press NO if you do." -- and then you get charged for a fee, never use the "service" at all (in my own experience, the case in question was caught the same day it was applied, even), and yet you have to have the phone company (no, not even AT&T, not Verizon, either) "apply" to the charging company for the refund... the phone company isn't about to just agree that it's in error, take it off, and fight on your behalf AT ALL.

    I just don't grasp how it is that ONE of these companies doesn't kick everyone's ass by taking customer service SERIOUSLY. Because they should. They'd attract MORE customers and lose fewer to people who are pissed off at crappy service and looking to change just because they can, not because the service is going to be any better.

    Are people THAT much sheep these days that all they'll do over bad service is BLEAT?

  15. LarryGross:

    collateral damage = new govt regs...

  16. ddearborn:


    Not even remotely funny. In most parts of the country (Teamsters pensions vary by region) After 30 years a UPS worker will get about 30% of his
    gross pay. After 35 years (less in some regions) you also get medical benefits (but not for your spouse) In 1975 UPS paid its drivers $18 an hour. Today UPS drivers make $30. You are all financial wizards do the math after adjusting for inflation do UPS Drivers make more or less money than 1975? In 1979 part time workers made $12 an hour to start. In 1980 UPS cut that to 9$ an hour. UPS still starts its part timers at $9 an hour. Again I ask you after adjusting for inflation how much less is UPS paying its workers. And it takes 1 year to receive part time benefits and 18 months to get part time family benefits (less coverage than full timers) It takes 3 years for a full time driver to reach full rate.

    The current Teamsters contract with UPS is nearing the end of its 5th and final year. During the last 5 years UPS workers received a 66 cent raise per year split into 2 increases. That people is about 1% per year. Now looking at real (not the phony government rates) inflation this represents yet another massive pay cut for UPS workers.

    Now contrast the above numbers with those of the CEO's of the fortune 1000. Just in terms of % increases in compensation per year.

    Now in defense of UPS as a whole: FEDEX delivers on average about 3.5 Million packages per day. UPS on the other hand delivers over 15 Million packages per day worldwide. There is a reason UPS is number one in it sector. Just looking at the raw numbers, no company in world does a better job delivering packages (not freight) than UPS. At Christmas numbers peak out at around 30 MILLION PER DAY. This represents double the normal volume at a time of the year when weather, traffic and other factors are at their very worst. Most importantly from a customers perspective, UPS gets it done, day in and day out. Our logistical, technical and management skills coupled with an oustanding and dedicated work force makes UPS the best in the business.

    Do we make mistakes? absolutely. Can they always be solved by COB the same day? Often they are. UPS tries to solve every problem the same day. Can we always fix the problem? No of course not. UPS will bend over backwards to ensure delivery to its customers. This means for example that if an air package is found at 9 at night then an air driver is dispatched to deliver it--that night. I also disagree with the characterization that UPS doesn't take responsibility for its mistakes. That is just not true. However you have to take into consideration the sheer number of false and sometimes fraudulent claims made against UPS every day.

    I am a UPS Driver.....and proud to wear brown......And yes I am a Teamster. And I am even prouder to have that card in my pocket.

  17. LarryGross:

    congrats... and to add to the numbers... on Dec 17, 2012 the USPS took in 658 million packages and was delivering 28 million worldwide..

  18. Michael Stack:

    Just this past month my Mom ran into similar problems with UPS. I personally haven't had any issues but it seems hard to believe that something like their reliability level would change so dramatically so quickly.

    When they lost my Mom's package, they told her it was either her fault, or the shipper's. Her missing shipment magically turned up (without explanation) several days later, even though according to UPS it had been delivered days earlier.

  19. mesaeconoguy:

    Wow, impressive lengthy justification of bullshit.

    Your analysis fails on numerous levels, including failing to adjust for nonmonetary compensation, which shows wages have actually risen (health costs have irsen faster, thanks primarily to government interference).

    You & your fellow union criminals have extorted far too much money from the USPS and other public sector enterprises, and are now in process of attempting to strongarm private business (again).

    Too bad the USPS is dead:

    There is a reason why union membership has been decimated over the past 50 years: unions are criminal organizations that steal from their members.

    I don’t give a shit where you work, or how much you make, scumbag – you should make zero for all the financial damage you union criminals have caused.

  20. LarryGross:

    meso my man... quick barking with your butt boy

  21. mesaeconoguy:

    Still haven’t pulled your head out of your ass, eh Larry?

    Shut up Larry

  22. LarryGross:

    meso my man... do you speak?

  23. ddearborn:

    First off while I did not mention it specifically UPS (NOT USPS) COMPENSATION has fallen in real inflation adjusted terms for Union members. The average UPS Driver works and works very hard about 50 hours a week. Some how or another I doubt you have ever worked that much in your life. Unions don't strong arm management anymore than management strong arms labor.
    As for the insinuation that I am a criminal I haven't had so much as a traffic ticket in over 20 years. And I have never been arrested.
    As for the personal commits FUCK YOU ASSHOLE

  24. mesaeconoguy:

    Shut up leftool. Go bend over for your union thug buddy.


  25. LarryGross:

    I see you got Mesabutt properly calibrated. Congrats!

  26. mesaeconoguy:

    Hmmmmm, you seem confused.

    I work harder than you every single day, and I’m supporting your SEIU brothers’ bloated pensions, which are about to end. Get that straight, shitbag.

    You insinuate that wages have somehow stagnated and dropped, which is not the case.

    Then, you take the typical leftist tack that by some arbitrary measure (invented by you) management is stealing your compensation, and depressing wages.

    That’s not how economics works, pissmop. What CEOs make compared to your inherently inferior (and unqualified) ass has virtually nothing to do with what your lazy bulbous ass makes.

    However, by placing asinine restrictions on economic growth, and forcing employers to comply with absurd restrictions (including fatuous union demands), you destroy your own
    wages. Nice job, Sherlock.

    So not only are you an economically ignorant buffoon, you’re a union thug, too.

    Impressive resume, cocksucking freeloader.

    Go fuck yourself, union pig.

  27. ddearborn:

    My humble apologies. My response reflected your belligerent, hostile and threatening if rather pathetic attempt at a rebuttle.
    Initially I had thought that just you had issues with self control and anger management. This was the basis for my second comment. Obviously I grossly underestimated your personal problems. It seems that you have deeply seated unresolved psychological issues. Issues that cannot be solved by venting your anger to strangers on the internet.I am sure your health insurance has ample mental healthcare benefits. Do yourself a favor mesaeconoguy, take the next step, and seek professional psychiatric help. In the long run you will feel much better about yourself. Honestly you will.


  28. mesaeconoguy:

    Thanks, I’ll be sure to take advice from an economically ignorant union thug. LMAO

    [trashcan noise]

    The best part about clowns like you is that you are so fucked right now it’s going to be hilarious if you finally figure it out.

    You probably won’t, however, because you’re an ignorant repulsive jackboot turd-eating leftist thug.

    Have a super day.