The saga of three lost UPS packages and the power of the Web

On April 24th, my colleague sent three bannerstands and a large flat screen monitor from Edmonton to Ottawa to arrive on April 27th - two days before our company was appearing at a trade show. When the UPS driver showed up on the 27th with only the monitor, I waited a few hours and then called the main UPS line to find out what was going on. UPS’ package tracker doesn’t show you the progress of packages, so it’s impossible to know from their Web site where anything is and it simply showed that they would be delivered on time (HA!).

I spoke with a CSR who told me that he would arrange for me to pick the packages up the next day at the main Ottawa centre as they‘d never made it onto a truck for delivery. Later, someone called and said I couldn’t do this until there had been at least one attempt at delivery. I was away from my desk when that call came in, so I called the main UPS line again and spoke to a 3rd CSR who told me that the packages weren’t at the main Ottawa centre or on any trucks. At that point, I asked to speak with a supervisor and explained the situation again. The supervisor said he would confirm the whereabouts of the packages and get back to me. I also got his contact information so I could follow-up.

By the 28th, it was official that our packages were lost. The supervisor called on the 27th and again on the 28th to the Ottawa centre and was notified that the packages were neither on any trucks or at the centre. So much for using those banners at the tradeshow!

I tweeted a couple of complaints about the situation on the night of the 28th and got a reply from someone in Montreal who promised he could produce and ship banners to me in one day. If it had been earlier, maybe we’d have thought about it, but it was pretty cool to have the possibility of a need being met so quickly and readily through a couple of comments on Twitter.

A week later, still no banners and I heard from a rep from the group who ran a trace on the packages who was rather rude to me (and my colleague who sent the packages) and repeatedly blamed us for the packages being lost - they were improperly packaged, they shouldn‘t have been sent in the manner they were sent, etc., etc.

I once again sent out a couple of tweets regarding crappy UPS service, but it was during the business day this time and I heard from someone responsible for trolling Twitter looking for UPS comments! They wanted to know how they could help me. I sent my tracking numbers and contact information and he suggested that I send an email to UPS, giving me the address to direct it to. I sent my email mid-afternoon on May 7th and had an email and voicemail by 5pm the same day from two different departments - both of which were in the US, so they had to forward the information to the Canadian management team.

Wednesday, May 13th, a UPS driver walked through the door of our offices with the three banners. When I told him I’d been waiting for them for nearly three weeks, his jaw dropped to the floor. Later that day, I also finally got a call from the boss of the woman who’d been rude to myself and my colleague. She didn’t even know that the packages had been delivered yet and they still didn’t know what had caused the extreme delay.

I won’t get to find out how this story ends since I got laid off on the 12th of May, but the moral of the story to me is that companies screw up all the time - whether customers stay loyal to them when screw-ups happen depends on their response to the mistakes that are made. In this situation, UPS’ tracking system was unreliable, their shipping software is (and has always been) practically unusable, their trace department rep blamed me for the loss of the package (without proof) and it wasn’t until I started “shouting” my feelings about UPS on the Web for thousands to see that I got an apology.

Of course, I recommended that my former employer cease using UPS for future shipments, and I hope UPS doesn’t have the audacity to send a bill for this disastrous shipment. When companies make mistakes, an apology and the promise that they will do whatever is necessary to help rectify the situation is appropriate. Placing blame (even if speculating on what happened) on the customer is a sure way to lose their business.

The other thing I learned is that maybe, just maybe, I’ll see what social media jobs are available out there. That would be a pretty cool gig!