UPS ships around 16 million packages a day. And no one is perfect, so at least a couple of those items are bound to fall off the radar for whatever reason. Unfortunately, unless someone at “Brown” notices this error, it’s up to the person or business paying for that shipment to tell UPS about it.
Take for an example the story of Consumerist reader Benjamin, who spent several days in late May wondering why the UPS website kept saying his package was “Out for Delivery” but was not being delivered.
Every day, the site kept updating the expected delivery date from May 22 to May 23, 24.
Trusting, perhaps naively in UPS’ own website to provide him with accurate information. But after a few days of no deliveries, he contacted the shipping company to see what’s going on.
Benjamin’s attempts to get UPS to look into the problem were somewhat fruitless, as — even though he’d paid the retailer a hefty shipping charge — it was the retailer who paid that money on to UPS. Thus, UPS’ contract is with the retailer and not Benjamin.
“It is UPS policy to just pretend like nothing is wrong when it knowingly loses a package and hope the problem goes away unless they get called out on it,” writes Benjamin.
I contacted UPS and got involved in a lengthy discussion with a company rep about what UPS does or does not do in the case of a mixed-up delivery.
The rep says Benjamin’s assertion is incorrect and that UPS does notify the customer (i.e., the party that pays) when it knows of a possible error.
And any of you who’ve received enough UPS shipments has seen that “Exception” status pop up in their tracking information.
But that didn’t happen in Benjamin’s case, as the site continued to say “Out for Delivery” without mention of a problem.
And even when he contacted the company, no apparent action was taken on UPS’ part. It wasn’t until after he contacted the retailer to alert them to the lack of status updates — and after the retailer then contacted UPS — that a tracer was initiated.
The UPS rep said that many of its customers actively monitor their shipments to make sure delivery dates are made and that appropriate refunds are given when those dates aren’t met.
I asked the rep why UPS doesn’t have an internal system that looks for apparent goofs — like when a package’s status hasn’t been updated in several days — to proactively look into the package’s whereabouts.
He responded that this is simply the way that all shipping companies work. I attempted to point out that “everyone else is doing it” is not a very good defense.
After all, if companies that are nowhere near as big — or as experienced in logistics as UPS — can figure out automated ways to track and look for anomalies in their shipments, surely UPS itself can do the same?
In the end, Benjamin’s package was located — according to the UPS website the label had been damaged or gone missing — and ultimately delivered several weeks after the original date.
“I am not at all upset that the package was lost, as I understand that these things happen when you deal with millions of packages,” he tells Consumerist. “What I don’t understand is how [after being told of the missing package] UPS does not do everything in its power to notify the parties involved and rectify the situation as soon as possible.”
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.