Pbur's Adventures

The life and times of Patrick Burleson

What Brown Can’t Do For You

Posted on by Patrick

TL;DR:

Shipping something via a UPS Store location means only that location can call UPS about any issues with your shipment. You’re stuck talking through a middleman. Nowhere in their store or on their receipts do they mention this. From now on, I’m shipping only via USPS or FedEx.

The sordid tale:

A few weeks ago I shipped a package using UPS via “The UPS Store”. I’ve used this location several times for shipping, notary services, and US Mail drop off. The clerk, who later turned out to be the manager, let me know that Ground shipping would get my package to its destination overnight. I was pretty happy with that. I notified the recipient and sent them the tracking number.

I entered the tracking number into Delivery Status (a great app for your iOS device for tracking packages) so I could watch the shipment’s progress. As expected, it was “Out for delivery” the next morning. It was “Out for delivery” at 10 PM when the recipient contacted me to make sure they had the right tracking number as they didn’t have the package yet. That night, Deliver Status updated the status for the tracking number with “Out for delivery” again. When the package hadn’t arrived by 10 PM the second day, I called UPS.

After a brief wait on hold, I got a nice lady on the phone who was ready to help me. I gave her the tracking number and then she asked if I was with The UPS Store. I told her that I was not, but that I was the person who shipped the package at The UPS Store. At this point, the helpfulness stops. I’m told that The UPS Store became the shipper of record as they were the last ones to touch the package and it was shipped under their UPS account. I clarify a couple of times that despite the fact I paid for the shipping and it was my package, I was powerless to initiate anything to find the package and that only The UPS Store I used could do so. Of course, being so late at night, I’d have to wait until the next morning to go to the UPS Store to get things sorted out.

I was very upset.

After those tweets, the UPS help twitter account replied with essentially the same information I’d been given over the phone. It really bugged me that this wasn’t explained anywhere in the store or on the receipt you get when you ship there.

First thing the next morning, I went to the store and the same clerk was on duty. I told her that I had problem with a package I had shipped and gave her the tracking number. She looked it up in the computer and came to the same conclusion that I did: “Something’s not right”. She then calls UPS in front of me and gives them the tracking number and says she’s the manager of the UPS Store that shipped the package. They then start asking her questions about the package. She has to relay those questions to me because, being the shipper, I actually know the answers UPS needs to know. After about 5 minutes of this back and forth, UPS initiates a trace on the package. I’m told it will take 5-7 business days to complete the trace.

Needless to say, after having to use a intermediary to conduct the phone call I tried to do the night before, I was fuming. Trying to remain calm, I ask the manager what’s the deal with why I have to have her make that call for me. And she replies with “that’s just the way it’s setup. It’s stupid”. To which I responded that yes, it is stupid and it’d just cost her and UPS a customer. I asked where in the store or on any receipt I was given that it was stated that I’d no longer be the responsible party for the package. She said there wasn’t anywhere that was posted. I then informed here that it should be in huge red letters on a banner behind the counter. Or at the very least on the huge receipt they print out. I haven’t returned to the store since`.

My biggest frustration here is that I entered a place with the UPS logo on it and shipped a package via UPS under the impression that UPS would be the one helping me. It turns out, each UPS Store location is an independent franchisee. The problem seems to stem from the fact that UPS bought Mailboxes, Etc and turned them into The UPS Store without changing their previous relationship. I’m willing to bet that any normal person would assume that shipping a package at The UPS Store would be just like dropping it off at a UPS warehouse for shipping. Incidentally, shipping at a UPS warehouse is the only place where you remain the shipper of record and can initiate package traces.

This UPS policy also applies when you drop your package off for shipping at a Staples that’s an authorized UPS shipping center. I was told this on the phone with UPS and verified it at my local Staples. So beware there as well.

To check and see if this was FedEx’s policy, I went to my local FedEx Office and asked them if I shipped something through them via FedEx if I’d be able to deal with FedEx directly or have to come to them in the store. To my relief, I was informed that I would be able to handle any shipping issues directly with FedEx. From now on, I’m only shipping with FedEx and the US Postal Service. I suggest you do the same.

And for those wondering, after a few days, the package finally arrive to where I shipped it, so there’s at least that one bright spot.

One Response to What Brown Can’t Do For You

Marika said on 3/29/2012 at 6:15 pm

If I must ship with UPS, I always go to UPS Customer Center, but they are not everywhere.

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