The Tyranny of UPS

Over at M & G go For a Walk, Gayle has been ranting about the UPS delivery service. I know how she feels. Not only have I had the same problems but I suspect we share the same UPS delivery depot.

As online selling become increasingly important for those of us who buy specialist equipment so the quality of delivery services s critical. Over the last year I’ve found that more and more of my stuff comes via UPS; they must offer distributors a good deal. The problem is that they don’t offer us a good deal.

My frustrations have been the same as Gayle’s. On the face of it UPS’s deal is not bad. They seek to deliver a package on day one, automatically try the next day and then the next. A ticket through the door tells you that the company will arrange a new delivery date for you if your ring their central number. Simple enough. But it doesn’t work.

For example, before Christmas I had a card pushed through my door saying that they had tried to deliver a package for the second time. There had been no card pushed through the day before to tell me that the first delivery had been attempted. At this point I panicked because after three delivery attempts the goods are not held in the depot (as they are elsewhere), they are sent back to the supplier.

So, on day 3 I made quick arrangements to be at home. I was in all day. No delivery. I range their central call centre and went ballistic. They would — just this once —put the item out again next day. It duly arrived and the driver made some barbed comment about the doorbell not working or me being out.

Over the months I had other occasions when I began to suspect that no attempt had been made to deliver my packages, meaning that I was suddenly up against the three time timescale. Sometimes, as happened with Gayle, you are away from home as well. Your goods are whisked back to the sender before you even know they have arrived.

Earlier this year I found myself having a chat with a delivery man. He was telling me how UPS have changed their driver contracts. I can’t remember how this really works but there is a real problem for them in delivering packages, especially at times of really bad traffic (just before Christmas and so on). I began to realise that sometimes the drivers simply don’t make an attempt to deliver the packages at all but put it down as a ‘not in’ visit. UPS might think they’ve tried to deliver three times but you simply don’t know.

I don’t blame the delivery men. The pressure really is on them to cover vast amounts of territory. They are not allowed to come back with parcels that they have been unable to get through and so this kind of stuff happens.

I wish that I could choose not to have UPS deliver my stuff but more often than not I have no choice. But there is a clear message to companies that sell over the net. Be very careful about your choice of courier as it may effect your orders. There is one sound equipment company that I’ve dealt with for years that I simply won’t buy from now because of the problems I’ve had with UPS.

Earlier this year I talked this through with Bob Cartwright at Bob confirmed the story told to me by the delivery man — he’d had a similar conversation with him. It looks as if this is a classic case of a company treating its staff badly, to make the service look cheaper, and then offering an unsurprisingly poor service. No surprise that don’t use UPS.

Gayle, my sympathy goes with you!


  1. Hi Andy, first off great blog. I work for webtogs, an outdoor clothing website and selecting delivery companies was of critical importance. Getting the right courier company was not something we could get wrong as if they fail to deliver or give a bad service, this then reflects badly on our company. You don’t generally get second chances with customers if you can’t get what they have ordered to them on time. Our rational when choosing was quality over cost and good customer services for when things do go astray. All I can say is do give feedback to the companies you buy from if their couriers aren’t up to scratch – they’ll thank you for it!

  2. Thanks Gareth. I do give feedback. In this instance my sympathies are with the drivers — I think their contracts drive them to cut corners!

  3. Gayle says:

    Allegedly all is well that ends well, and I do now have my parcel. But I’m still disgruntled about the pain (and wasted fuel and phone calls) that it took.

    Given the circumstances on this occasion (a warranty repair), I didn’t have the opportunity to choose a company based on delivery method. When I’m shopping then I will most certainly choose a shop that uses Royal Mail or ParcelFarce [sic] over one which uses a courier (CityLink is up there as one of my most disliked couriers too).

    People may knock Royal Mail, but at least you can collect from a reasonably local location, and (in my case, if not generally) they will try to leave the parcel with a neighbour or on your property for you. (As an added bonus our Postie has been quite obliging in jump starting my car too; I’ve never had a courier turn up at such a convenient moment!)

  4. I’m with you there Gayle. Post Office forever. Even Bob uses them …

    .. and he’s a fussy as hell 🙂

  5. Podcast Bob says:

    Hmmm ;-))

    What we have started to find a useful way to play the system is for customers to find a local PO who will take ‘Poste Restant’ parcels. So the courier deliver there for them to collect later.

    All we need is an address and a PC!

    Solution 🙂

    For even the fussy ones!

  6. Being the owner of an outdoor retail shop, our reputation is often reliant on the goods arriving with our customers as quickly as possible. As indicated by the numerous testimonials about the speed of our service, all I can say is a massive thank you to the Post Office who im humble opinion are superb. We also drive to one of the smaller Post Offices in the area to do our posting rather than the larger one in town, and last year by doing this we were a big reason why this rural post office stayed open. The Post Office has done Likeys proud… :o)

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