Jason Kottke was home Saturday at 3:36 pm when UPS claims they attempted to deliver his copy of Harry Potter. No notice was left on Kottke’s door; the neighboring doorman saw no UPS truck; UPS’ own website shows that the package never transitioned from the penultimate status of “In Transit To Final Destination” to “Out For Delivery.” Why would UPS lie about delivering a copy of Harry Potter?
Here’s what I think happened. I think UPS’s network was overwhelmed by Amazon’s Potter-volume in some parts of the country and they had no way to deliver all those packages. (The forums for the book at Amazon and Google Blog Search are full of similar complaints from others…warning, spoilers! UPS even offloaded some of the volume to the USPS for “last-mile” delivery.) So, UPS just marked all of those packages they had no intention of delivering as “oops, we missed you, you must have been out”.
Let’s go back to Amazon’s guarantee, which states that the refund “does not apply if delivery is attempted, but no one is available to accept the package”. Amazon would be pretty angry with UPS if they cost them a bunch of money due to refunds and, more importantly, the loss of a bunch of customer goodwill…maybe Amazon would switch a larger portion of their formidable package output to another carrier, for instance. So UPS intentionally misclassifying those deliveries covers their ass with Amazon and covers Amazon’s ass with regard to the refund.
Kottke bought the book from Barnes & Noble and is asking Amazon for a refund. If his theory is correct, UPS owes Amazon and their customers a huge apology. Of course, UPS drivers also have a tendency to say you weren’t home so they can finish their routes faster. Was your copy of Harry Potter delayed by fiendish ghouls? Tell us in the comments.
Harry Potter and the Phantom Delivery [Kottke.org]
(AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)