How to Fail at Customer Service: UPS Edition

I’ve been waiting on a delivery of books for about a week now. When I got my first notice from UPS about a failed delivery (they needed a signature), I deliberately worked from home the next day so I could sign for the package.

Imagine my surprise when I went out to get the mail that afternoon and found another “failed delivery” notice on my door! I checked the UPS tracking site, and sure enough, it said the driver had “tried to deliver” the package 15 minutes earlier.

Here begins a bizarre experience in customer service.

I used UPS live chat to contact their customer service department, asking if they could have the driver swing back by, since I was home and he obviously didn’t try to deliver the package. They said they couldn’t do that, but they’d report my problem to the local branch, who would contact me by the end of the day.

So, first questions: UPS can’t contact their drivers while they’re out? And the central office can’t handle customer complaints?

The local branch called - at 7:30 at night, well after close of business. They left a rambling voicemail that insisted the driver had tried to get a signature, but would try to re-deliver the next day. Alternatively, I could have them hold it, and pick it up between 8:00-8:30 am. They repeatedly mentioned I should call “the 800 number” to tell them what I wanted, but failed to tell me what the actual 800 number was.

So, second question: if complaints are handled locally, why was the local branch redirecting me to (I assume) the national office’s number?

The next day, I tweeted about my bad experience, and got a reply from the UPS twitter bot asking for more info. I emailed them my tracking number, hoping for some actual customer service. Boy, was I wrong. They sent back the same “complaints are handled locally,” response, even saying “I see the local office has contacted you already,” as if the fact that they left a voicemail made everything better.

Again, why the hell would the national office bother to find out more, if there’s nothing they can do?

So, instead of getting my package delivered - the service I paid for - I’m heading out to the UPS package center in the morning to pick up my books.

Let’s review all the mistakes here:

1) When confronted with a customer that didn't get the service they paid for, UPS never admitted wrongdoing.

This is an amateur customer service mistake.

2) Rather than try to compensate the customer for the mistake, UPS bounced the customer between different departments.

This is like watching the federal and state governments argue over who’s responsible for bad schools - they’re both involved, so why don’t they work together to fix it instead of passing blame?

3) UPS is requiring the customer to complete the service on their own.

This is like a waiter telling you to go fetch your re-fired steak from the kitchen yourself. You’d never go back to that restaurant.

I’m amazed a company like UPS could fall on its face over something as simple as delivering a package to a house with a person inside. You’d think they’d treat their core mission a little more seriously.

Instead, they’ve convinced this guy to ask for FedEx next time.

Ron Toland @mindbat