Help, Dell Won't Ask UPS To Trace My Lost Monitor!

UPS’ website promises that they will deliver Corey’s Dell Vizio 37″ LCD monitor tomorrow, which would be exciting, except the website has said the same thing every day for the past two weeks. UPS’ customer service representatives insist that the package is lost and that Dell needs to initiate a trace. Dell would be happy to accommodate—who wouldn’t want to trace a lost package?—but their customer service representative claims that it’s Dell policy not to initiate a trace until 48 hours after the scheduled delivery date, which according to UPS, is tomorrow.

Corey writes:

I am an avid reader of your site, and just wanted to get the word out to your readers that may be having an issue resolving lost UPS orders that were shipped from Dell. Here is how my story goes:

On May 6th (Wed) I ordered a new Vizio 37″ LCD (Model #VO37LF) from Dell Home. 3 to 5 day ground shipping was free and provided by UPS. I live in Philadelphia and had the package shipped to my house. To my surprise however, the order was actually sent to UPS the same day, and as I tracked the package on UPS’s web site it wound up in Philadelphia and “Out For Delivery” on May 8th (Fri). Only 2 business days! I was so excited that I would have time on the weekend to setup and enjoy my new TV. That’s when everything went wrong.

I left work a little earlier so that I would be there to receive and sign for my package, to no avail as it was never delivered. There was no notice that a delivery was attempted, as they usually affix a little sticker on your door with the date and time for a future delivery attempt. Checking UPS’s site the next day, the estimated delivery date was bumped up to that day (Sat). This seemed sort of odd, as I wasn’t sure that UPS made deliveries on Saturdays, and that the shipping specifically stated business days. Continuing to track the package up through the 5 business days, the Rescheduled Delivery Date would subsequently be reassigned to the current day’s date, although the tracking information still read that it was “Out For Delivery” on the 8th.

I knew something was definitely amiss, so yesterday, the 14th I called UPS. The customer service rep was very nice and frank, stating that it looked like this package is lost, and that I need to have Dell contact them to initiate a trace on the package. When I called and told the Dell customer service rep what the UPS rep had said, he said he would be glad to help me with that, initiate the trace, and if I did not receive my package within 48 hours to call them (Dell) back. Today however, when I checked the UPS tracking site for my package, once again the “Rescheduled Delivery Date” had incremented itself to today’s date, and still no TV. Another call was placed to UPS, only to find that the Dell rep never initiated the trace. This is when I went bananas, and so does this story.

Another call to Dell Customer Service sent me to a rep who told me the following. “UPS is showing that the scheduled delivery date is today (thanks I knew that) and that their policy is to not initiate a trace until 48 hours after the scheduled delivery date on UPS’s web site!” It was a this point that I realized that the first Dell rep blatantly lied about initiating the trace, and was just going to have me call back after 48 hours when I didn’t receive my package and initiate the trace then. I sternly tried to explain to the current Dell rep that there will never, ever be a time 48 hours past the rescheduled delivery date, because it increments every day. The poor guy just stated that that is their policy, and that I can track my package with the tracking number he reread to me on UPS’s web site. Dismayed beyond belief that I had just been told that their policy didn’t apply simple logic, and was unaware of how their own shipper’s website operated, I stated that if this was not resolved by Monday, I will be issuing a charge back on my credit card and canceling my order.

Still not happy with this resolution I redialed UPS again. I told the polite rep what was going on and she offered to refer me to someone in the tracing department. I gladly accepted, and that is when I met Roger. I reexplained my situation and Roger went to work, first taking all my Dell order information, and then offering to call Dell Customer Support himself and see if he could get a resolution. He even took my phone # down, so that if we were disconnected while he was on the other line, he could call me back. After a few minutes on hold, he came back to tell me that, sure enough, Dell couldn’t initiate a trace until 48 hours after the rescheduled delivery date. We both shared a chuckle at how boneheaded this policy is, and he stated he was waiting to talk to a supervisor. After a few minutes he came back to tell me that it was taking longer than expected to reach a supervisor, and he would gladly call me back after he had talked to one.

After about 5-10 minutes, my phone rang and Roger stated the following: “I tried to explain to two supervisors how our website operates, and that this trace will never occur under their current policy, but they were really sticking to their guns.” He then told me he was initiating the trace/investigation himself, without the okay from Dell, and gave me his direct extension for any future questions I had regarding the shipment.

Roger, out of 5 calls to customer service to 2 different companies, you were the only one who really did anything meaningful to resolve this issue. You have my name and #, so the next time you are in Philly call me up because the first beer is on me.

Since it seems a little absurd that Dell would have a policy to never, ever ask UPS to trace a lost package, we asked Dell’s Geoff Knox, a Supervisor in Global Operations, to clarify Dell’s actual policy. He replied:

The policy guidelines state that if a package has gone 48 hours past the estimated delivery date the Customer Care rep is to initiate a process to create an exchange order- that is, a replacement order as the original is presumed lost in transit at that point. A trace is done by us after the fact, as the goal is to ensure the customer is taken care of first.

Generally when there is a lost shipment, the estimated delivery date doesn’t change on the carrier side. Since it has done so repeatedly in this case, my guess is that the representative that was contacted failed to see (or possibly failed to act) the previous deliver dates and the changes made by UPS. Without having the case notes in front of me, it’s hard to say for sure what happened. One of the things I’ve already done is make the folks who work on the guidelines aware of this so that they can double check their documents and make sure that there isn’t a gap in the training as described in your first email. I’ve never seen a UPS (or any other carrier) delivery date change like this, but I can believe it is possible. That being the case, it’s possible it may happen again and so I want to be sure that our side is prepared for it if there is a gap in the training.

Which makes much more sense.