Brown Can’t Do Anything For Denver

The snowstorm that slammed the Denver area canceled Christmas for many folks expecting deliveries from UPS, aka Brown Santa.

Don’t try for a refund, though, a notice on the UPS site reads, “The UPS package delivery guarantee does not apply when transportation networks are disrupted. “

That’s of little consolation for Brian, his missing packages, and his conspiracy theory about how UPS is using the storm to cover up for general holiday incompetence.

    My brother sent a package via UPS, it got to about 10 miles from here on the 21st and hasn’t moved since. Today the truck came by and they said they had a package for me in the back but couldn’t get to it. When I got irate they told me to look for myself…

Brian continues:

    “The truck looked like it had been packed floor to ceiling, wall to wall, by my five-year-old son.

    Oh, and despite being so far behind, they still didn’t do any deliveries on Sunday or Christmas. The kicker?: Another storm is supposed to hit tomorrow: 6 inches to 2 feet of snow.

    Yay.

    Frankly, I think this is just an excuse to cover them dropping the ball this holiday.

    The storm knocked out roads for a day. They’re more than four days behind now.”

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. spanky says:

    The storm knocked out the major roads for a day, but lots of the sidestreets are still messed up pretty good. A nearby construction crew brought a front loader along the day after the storm and cleared our street serviceably, but we have not seen a snowplow yet, and I know people streets still aren’t drivable in regular cars.

    We didn’t get USPS mail until yesterday, and the grocery stores are still half empty. My son works at one nearby, and he says only about half of the loads are actually making it there at this point.

    I’m not saying you don’t have a valid gripe, but really, lots of things haven’t gotten back to normal yet.

    (On the other hand, our local dairy doesn’t seem to have been affected at all. The grocery store wasn’t getting milk deliveries, but our milkman managed to get it to our door on schedule. I think he might have a hovercraft or superpowers or something.)

  2. snowferret says:

    Guarentees only good when volume is low and weather is nice eh? Wow thats some guarentee. Sounds like a warenty thats only valid while the product is still working. LAME.

  3. facted says:

    I’m with spanky. If the roads are closed and no one is driving around, what do you want them to do, carry around packages on a sled??? (here comes santa…)

    As for them to tell you they have a package for you but can’t get it out of the truck…that’s just dumb. Why did they even come to your house anyway? Just to taunt you?

  4. Solo says:

    “We guarantee to deliver the package in the time we promise. Unless we don’t and the guarantee does not apply.”

    Also, what is the purpose to stop and talk to the recipient to tell him his package is stuck at the back of the truck, inaccessible.

    “Hey I have a package for you. I stopped at your house, and got out of my truck. I knocked on your door and now we’re talking… By the way, your package is way back and I can’t get to it. Let me give you one of them little paper that say I tried to deliver it and maybe I’ll be back tomorrow, but really I won’t, you’ll have to pick it up at the terminal, an undisclosed location, but it’s at least 20 miles away. Also if it stays there for more than 2 days, we’ll send it back to the sender. I can’t tell you where nor when the package will be at that facility. You’ll have to call for that. However, every time you call the status will be ‘out for delivery’ and the operator will tell you the package is on the truck. Probably too far back to be reached. Have a nice day.”

  5. mahalie says:

    I’d feel better about a late package than a dead UPS driver due to unreasonable conditions. I mean c’mon, don’t you think your Denver relatives can look back and laugh about that year they had Christmas on January 5th because of the whopper of a storm in ’06.

    This post is a waste of time.

  6. bdslack says:

    why dont you get off your ass and pick it up at the station?

  7. zl9600 says:

    I can outdo this one.

    King Soopers/Safeway/City market, the major grocery store chains that serve the front range (Denver and the Mountains), STILL, as of 6pm Wednesday 12/28, are bare to the walls in many areas. Produce, meats are the worst.

    I asked what the deal is (especially since Whole Wallet/Foods on X-mas eve was fully stocked when the above chains had nothing–not even milk).

    The answer, from a King Soopers manager, was this: “When they closed the interstates into Denver, the trucks no longer could get through. However, the drivers, whose shifts were done, left. And when the storm cleared, we had no drivers. So we had to literally FLY them into Denver, because the drivers are unionized and when their shifts are done, they go.”

    Well. I guess if I’m stuck trying to get into/out of Denver at the airport, it’s nice to know that the grocers have to pack the planes full of drivers to take the seats on the plane instead of having the drivers there actually work a few hours longer to deliver groceries.

    So, nearly one week after the storm hit Denver, it’s still a mess.

    I will say, though, that UPS delivered all packages on time to me both in Denver and 90 miles west in Denver. With the exception of the one day everything was closed, it all went fine.

    Wish I could say the same for the Post Office, the airport, the snowplows, the grocery stores (except Whole Foods), and the general mood of Denverites overall!

  8. Ben Popken says:

    Angryscientist writes:

    “Usually I am not interested in commenting, but this one kind of gets me. I worked for UPS for 6 years, 5 of which I spent shoveling cardboard, and the last year driving.

    Contrary to popular belief, your ground packages don’t always move via ground. A lot of those packages end up on planes, and amazingly enough planes don’t fly when airports are snowed in. I am sure most people have the common sense required to understand this.

    I figure I ought to just kick in a little bit of insider info. During Christmas, as one might suspect volume jumps exponentially, and we (brown for life I guess huh? I have not worked there in 3 years) stop guaranteeing packages right around thanksgiving. Theres no mystery here, its pretty plainly stated that we just simply cannot guarantee the package. So if your the jackass the decides to ship something 1da/2da during Christmas well I guess you had it coming.

    To address your readers letter, I am absolutely prepared to call B.S. on the “We have a package but cant find it” and “look for yourself” statements. Packages are loaded by pre-load employee’s and are delivered in a predetermined order. That being said, it is in the realm of possibility that the package couldn’t be found by the driver, but I feel pretty confident the driver would just not deliver it rather than come to someones door and say something like that.

    Generally speaking my experience has been that customers have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, and really one cant expect them to. So let me enlighten them. Your package arrives on a trailer/package car on one end of the building, unloaders unload it onto a belt which feeds into a primary sort aisle. The hub I worked in had one person sorting for roughly 5 or 6 different belts at a rate of almost 1000 packages an hour (keep in mind this is during regular volume, not peak). From there your package travels over endless miles of belt until it arrives at something called a “PD”, to this day I have no idea what PD stands for but basically its where packages are loaded. We had 7 PD’s in my hub, each one of those having between 5-15 trailers. There is another sorter (called a pickoff) who gets the sorted packages from the sort aisle, and again sorts them further by zip codes (most of the time many zipcodes inside of one state), and from there the packages are send down a series of belts and slides where they are finally loaded into the truck. On average during regular season we ran between 30,000-40,000 packages a night (again bear in mind this info is for *one* shift out of many running 24/7, and this is one hub where there is a hub within 3-4 hours of every other hub, the largest being in Louisville, KY). That truck is picked up by a feeder driver who drives the trailer from one hub to another, and that process is repeated until the package finally arrives at your local hub where it is unloaded and re-loaded again onto a package car for delivery. Now, during peak season our hub saw an increase from 30,000-40,000 to 125,000+. On a regular heavy night running 40k packages, the belt system is overloaded and people are moving boxes at a rate of ~1000pp/h on the unload side, and ~400pp/h on the load side. You will work EVERY minute of your shift, there are ALWAYS boxes and they never stop.

    Now at this point im sure you might be saying “well why doesn’t UPS expand their capacity, sounds like their problem” well obviously they are in business to make money so having excess equipment that is only used during a small 3-4 week window throughout the year doesn’t make sense. They do ask people to double shift, they do rent a TON of bulk vans and other equipment to try to move the packages once they leave the hub, but inside the hub itself you cant just add belts.

    Your average UPS employee in the hub moving your cardboard through the system is about 18-20 years old and busts his ass daily. I can guarantee that 90% of the working population of the United States will never experience what a UPS employee in a busy hub experiences in a 5 hr shift. To put that into perspective, during the summer the trailers sit out on the pad for hours before we arrived to unload them, by that time they are roughly 10-20* hotter than the outside air, where I worked that worked out to be about 120*. A regular full sized trailer is roughly 56ft long, 14ft wide, and probably 9ft tall. In that space you should be able to fix about 1200 normal sized packages. Now, as I stated earlier they want you unloading at about 1000pp/h, at that rate I would consume roughly 4-5 50oz jugs of water. Thats 50oz per hour, and I NEVER peed at work. You sweat it all out.

    So theres my long sad story about UPS, maybe it makes a difference maybe it doesn’t. One other thing to bear in mind, the jokers at 1-800-pickups are contracted slobs. They have no idea how anything works and can give you NO important information about ANYTHING. It is absolutely in your best interest to get the phone number to your local dispatch center. UPS knows at ALL times where your package is/was down to the vehicle it was loaded on and who loaded it. The people at the 1800 number do not have access to this information.

    So, next time these guys decide they want to bag on UPS for screwing them out of their packages, well maybe next time they will pay attention to the words “WE DO NOT GUARANTEE YOUR PACKAGE” during these times. To my knowledge neither do any of the other shippers. So suck it up and don’t procrastinate so much next year.

    In closing id like to say, UPS, as miserable as it sounds was the best thing that ever happened to me. They taught me what it meant to work hard, take pride in what you do (even if its as insignificant as shuffling cardboard from point A to B), how to set and reach goals and most of the time treated us pretty well. Today I work as a network engineer, its the easiest job on the face of the planet and most of the time I cant stand it. I cant stand the feeling of not being busy 100% of the time I am at work and I cant stand how pathetic the work ethic is. Every office job I have had subsequent to working at UPS has been a constant reminder of how disgustingly coddled the population here is. There are those out there that know they bust ass for a living, and there are those out there that think they bust ass for a living. To those in the latter group you have no idea how easy you have it, and you have no idea what it means to really put your blood, sweat and tears into a job. Man up, your ergonomic chair and air conditioning are pretty freaking sweet.”

  9. emax4 says:

    The last couple of posts said it best. In defense of the corporation and not the consumer, try working for them and risking your life just to get a present to someone who’s waiting impatiently. Either move to a city with no rain or snow, or just accept the fact that you live in an area known for snowfall and that delays will happen from time to time. Maybe your life depends on getting the package, but that’s no excuse to put someone else’s life in jeopardy too.

  10. LTS! says:

    Now that’s some great information.

    I can’t dispute the “It’s on the truck go find it” comment. It seems highly improbable. The rest of it is pure BS and would be wasted bandwidth if not for the UPS insight in the above comment.

    Expecting businesses to simply disregard not only their employees safety but the safety of those working on the roads because someone needs TMX Elmo is just ignorant.

    As far as the ocmments on union drivers leaving their trucks… aren’t they bonded? I would think that even though they are union they wouldn’t just up and leave.. but hey.. I wouldn’t be surprised.. unions suck like that.

  11. kellkell says:

    Just as a FYI I live outside of Denver and both FedEx and USPS were out delivering on Friday, UPS was not. In fact the first we saw of a UPS truck was on Tuesday and the same goes for DHL. I’d also like to add that USPS was delivering on Sunday and even Christmas day to try to catch up.

    I don’t doubt for a minute that the UPS driver told him to check the truck himself, I was told the same thing a few months ago when I said I thought that I was supposed to get 2 packages and only received one. I saw a driver drop a rather heavy box marked fragile off the back of his truck and then roll it end on end to my door with glass falling out the side. I obviously refused shipment and called the local distribution center to let them know what I saw, and I never saw that driver again (could have been a coincidence). My point here is that while there are great employees at UPS, FedEx and the like, that doesn’t mean they all are and so I have no reason to disbelieve this guy.

    zl9600 – The Highlands Ranch Safeway is completely stocked if you’re in need. Pretty much everything in the Englewood area is back on track with shelves stocked from what I have seen.

    emax4 – Denver isn’t really known for snow, I thought that it was until I moved here, actually it has 100 more sunny days than Florida. The high country gets the snow the metro area really doesn’t, which is why this storm was particularly debilitating.

    Ben Popken – FedEx actually does still guarantee its packages, the times vary and you get an estimate when you print your label on line, but they do still guarantee that date. I received 2 refunds on packages I mailed in early December already, as they missed the date by 1 day. I believe that USPS guarantees only the Express packages but they too will refund you if you file a claim and it was handed to a counter agent.

    I didn’t expect to have USPS show up at 7am on Christmas day, but they did and I found out that the postal workers that were out had volunteered so that people could get their packages on time. I was very impressed and thanked the driver. I understand that this wasn’t the case for the entire Denver Metro area but I know we got packages on the 24th and 25th. Our roads have been clear since Thursday night, I should know I managed to dig out Thursday afternoon and went to get some groceries. I was actually quite shocked to see so many people on the road, the storm didn’t seem to be stopping the people who wanted to try to Christmas Shop. The malls being closed did cramp their style though.

    At any rate I get packages from a variety of carriers and I have mixed reviews with all of them. I have lost packages on FedEx, UPS and USPS and I send packages and have things I’ve sent get damaged on all 3. That said, I do have to say that the UPS NON guarantee stands alone from my experience, I don’t mean in the case of this storm, but rather the entire time from from Thanksgiving to the end of the year. This storm was obviously more than the city could handle and set us all back, in fact we’ve been waiting on trash pick up for 6 days now!

    Anyway if UPS is that backlogged the storm that is supposed to be hitting tomorrow is certainly not going to help.

  12. FLConsumer says:

    Hmm.. would you expect UPS to deliver in the days following a hurricane? Probably not. Same reasons apply here. Colorado just went through some severe weather. Original poster, suck it up and deal with it.

  13. cleigh says:

    ZL9600 said:
    “Well. I guess if I’m stuck trying to get into/out of Denver at the airport, it’s nice to know that the grocers have to pack the planes full of drivers to take the seats on the plane instead of having the drivers there actually work a few hours longer to deliver groceries.”


    That’s a nice thought, but I highly doubt the drivers stopped working only “because their shift was done”. Tractor Trailer drivers are limited by law on how many hours per day/week they can drive, so when their shift is done, they legally HAVE to pull over and stop. Otherwise, DOT will crucify them. When the blizzard set in, they probably used all available resources (ie drivers with available time)….but in a situation like this, you run out. Hence, they fly people in.

    AngryScientist, thank you.

  14. Papercutninja says:

    So whiny Christmas boy is annoyed that his presents didn’t arrive on time? Due to a LEGITIMATE reason? I’d completely understand if this was a sunny spring week in Denver and the UPS driver was just fucking around instead of working, but THERE WAS A BLIZZARD.

  15. etinterrapax says:

    I think the really telling detail is that if UPS made its drivers work in unsafe conditions, we’d be hearing about that on this blog too. The company is taking the condition of human beings more seriously than the arbitrary deadline of Christmas Day. Usually, we like and support that kind of corporate conscience. Let’s not discourage them, or contribute to ridiculous “spoil Christmas” hysteria. It comes without packages, boxes, and bags, yanno?

  16. tspack says:

    I’m having a hard time shedding a tear for Brian. It was a blizzard. Get over it.

  17. Denver rules. We even get the privilege of another blizzard today. Yay.

  18. stavs says:

    If you check the following link it talks about FedEx’s guarantee during the holiday peak season.

    http://fedex.com/us/holiday/shipping/moneyback.html?link=4

    The guarantee pretty much goes out the window for all carriers during peak. Like everyone said-plan ahead and ship earlier.

    Also, just because FedEx & the USPS were out delivering packages, and people were out trying to shop, that doesn’t mean that its 100% safe. UPS has a right to determine when it is appropraite for their employees to go out and drive. They are responsable for the safety of their employees and made decisions not to jeapordize them in any way. Also, UPS drivers are union, so I doubt they would volunteer to work on Christmas, not to mention the amount of overtime/holiday pay it would cost the company. Not really worth it to make sure someone gets a gift, considering that probably 99.9% of the world understands that there was a blizzard and that they should expect their packages to be late.

  19. madderhatter says:

    Man, I’m glad the folks from FedEx, DHL, and USPS aren’t on here whining too. “UPS – it’s not just a job, it’s an adven …” no wait it is just a job. If you don’t like it leave.

  20. DutchFlat says:

    Well, I’ve had issues with UPS in the past. However, this Christmas I have to comment that they really gave me outstanding, special service. I got one of those stickers on my door telling me that I had to sign for a delivery, IN PERSON. That’s not exactly UPS’s fault, but I was pissed. So, I drove out to the UPS complex in West Sacramento, and gave them what for. I really didn’t expect them to do anything, but I thought they should at least feel a bit uncomfortable. Well, the UPS manager said “Well, let’s go find it.” So, off we went into a building about twenty acres in size, FILLED with a million conveyer belts, chutes, and Christmas packages. The guy had six UPS employees looking for my package. They found it in about ten minutes. Pretty good service, I’d say.

  21. Tradion says:

    I’m not sure about him telling you to look for it yourself, but I had worked in the Denver hub about a year ago, and it was hell. The thing is, after you get your union protection, the job is cake. If your supervisor pisses you off, you can sit down in the truck and do nothing without the fear of getting fired. I’m sure during the Christmas season that probably happened quite often, resulting in overflow. Some area’s have in-competant managers who can’t direct their area’s flow resulting in overflow also. One example of this is that the Colorado Springs area was ran by a guy name Crosby, the area ran smoothly. Then another guy named Nick took over the area when Crosby went to the North wall, and Colorado springs was never able to finish their package flow the entire time I worked there. The part about the truck looking like it was packed by a 5 year old kid, Mostly true. Some loaders just get it done and make the visible area’s look good, some actually take the time to make the walls correctly.