December 19, 2000
UPS Ground Stole Christmas
by stacy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I exaggerate. My Christmas has not (yet) been stolen, though the ultimate fate of that (in)famous holiday has yet to be determined this year. I don't know if I'll look back on it as being jolly and full of bowls of cherries, as it should be, or whether it will be a matter of lots of coal-filled socks. At any rate, shipping companies don't care how my actual Christmas turns out, as long as they get paid. To that end, they will do what they have to do to get my stuff to me, but I don't have to be happy about it.
I bought some books from Amazon.com about a month ago. A week later, I got an email with a notice that the books had shipped via UPS Ground. Let me go ahead and say that I got free shipping with this particular order because it was between Date A and Date B (in the general Christmas season) and it was more than $100. So in the spirit of the season, Amazon covered the shipping costs for me. How magnanimous of them. Anyway, by last week I thought it was a little strange that I hadn't yet received my package, so I checked the tracking number online and saw something extraordinary.
My package got to Dallas 6 days after it shipped, which is about right. However, 5 days after that, it showed up in Ohio! It would take another 6 days to get back to Dallas. I got the package this morning, and it was a mess. The corners had all been torn, the packing tape was mostly in shreds, and inside, I discovered that the little air pockets that protected the books had all deflated. I'm glad it was just books, and they were all in ok condition.
Now, what really irritates me about all this, is that UPS doesn't really care about residential customers. We don't buy stuff often enough and not in large enough shipments for them to get too upset when our packages are delayed by a week. After all, I can't blame them too much for losing the box, that's only natural and mistakes do happen. But is it asking too much for a refund or some kind of coupon for free UPS Ground shipping the next time I want to buy something online? It's offered to business customers in my exact situation, just not me. It's not even offered to business customers who work out of their home because that's still considered "non-commercial." That shouldn't even be legal!
FedEx is the exact same way. And the US Postal Service is an equal-opportunity refunder, but only if you get one of the guaranteed delivery options, like Priority Mail or Express Mail. And when you buy online, you don't usually get a choice on which carrier will ship your stuff, only which delivery option you want with that carrier. It's a sucky system.
Published: December 19, 2000