UPS Fails At Not Only Delivering Package On Time, But Also At Reading Comprehension

We’ve got to hand it to Nichole — when faced with a frustrating issue and three chat conversations with UPS customer service reps who don’t seem to understand the simplest of sentences, she remained cool as a cucumber. She says she attempted to resolve a situation wherein UPS failed to deliver an important package, but no one seemed to get what she was saying loud and clear.

She writes in to explain, and attached a lengthy chat transcript that spans three discussions with customer service reps, all who let her know that the person she’s being transferred to will be able to read what has already been discussed so she won’t have to repeat herself. Of course, she ends up repeating herself over and over.

As a payroll company, we rely on our shipping provider to help us get paychecks to our clients on time. We chose UPS because they told us they could guarantee that a delivery will occur by the date listed. The package, sent via 2-day ground, was mis-directed to an entirely different state. Once discovered, UPS re-sent the package via 2 day ground. Because the client (and their employees) cannot receive their paychecks late, the only way to resolve this on our end was to re-create the company’s paychecks and send them via overnight priority.

During her conversations, she tells each agent that since they have to resend the package, the company wants overnight priority shipping free of charge, and will likely be making a claim regarding the expense of having to redo the checks.

By the end of the frustrating exchange, in which Nichole patiently explains what her needs are, and reps ask about things entirely unrelated to what she is requesting, she asks, “Why should we continue to use UPS?” to which the rep replies, “The choice of your carrier is at your own discretion. Have a nice day,” and promptly disconnects.

A chat supervisor finally called NIchole back but, she writes, to heap insult on injury, she said “that the only thing she could do is refund the $7 ground shipping cost minus fuel. Wow. Thanks, UPS.”

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’m not siding with UPs in any form, but I’m curious in what situation can employees not receive their paychecks late? I work in payroll, and as far as I know the attempt to deliver paychecks is consider the legal “delivery” of paychecks. The company is not liable for circumstances outside their control, and thus should not be able to be sued for being late on paycheck delivery.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      I’m not sure, but I remember a relative of mine having direct deposit issues when she worked for a bank. It was some kind of huge issue that she hadn’t been paid on time because of some federal banking regulation. Maybe having to do with being a regulated financial institution? Not sure, but I think there might be regulated industries where it’s very important for that stuff to be correct.

    • bluline says:

      Tell that to the employees who aren’t getting paid. They don’t care what the reason is for the delay, they just want their checks, especially if their financial circumstances have them living from paycheck to paycheck.

    • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

      Someone living paycheck to paycheck? Not saying it’s the ultimate situation but stuff happens.

    • clippy2.0 says:

      I think some companies might be different, but I’ve signed employee agreements at all my places of work so far, which specifically when pay checks will be delivered; I would assume fairly to comply would be breach of contract

    • hanoverfiste says:

      I believe it has to do with state labor laws. There is a regular time when a person is supposed to receive their pay and they are supposed to get them on that day and within time. 15+ years ago I worked at a factory and the employees would go to the Texas Work Force Commission on anything. One employee lost their check and they cut him a new one. Then he found the lost check and tried to cash it, but a stop pay had already been put on it. TWC got onto the company even though they had provided a replacement check.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        This is what I was referring to, but every state I work with says that as soon as you send the check you’ve done your legal obligation, regardless how long it takes to get to the employee.

        And that’s my point. If the company sent it, they’ve met their legal obligation and are not liable for late checks. If anyone is, UPS is.

        • kobresia says:

          I think the issue is that there seems to be a couple layers here– the “customer company” and the “payroll company”. The payroll company *has* to get the checks to the customer company it’s managing payroll for, otherwise the customer is in danger of violating the law since they’re the ones distributing the checks.

          This might explain why some payroll companies like ADP send the checks directly to their customers’ employees.

        • damageddude says:

          And I’m sure their client will be thrilled to hear the legal requirements for attempting delivery were met. Payroll companies that can’t complete their obligations to their clients in a timely matter may soon themselves out of the market no matter who is fault.

          /yay for direct deposit

    • sponica says:

      I know that at my old employer when there was an issue with the direct deposit, we all had the option of getting paper checks cut as long as we notified HR by 10 AM on pay day

      i think state law requires that payment be received in x days after the payroll period ends, which is why my old employer used to have pay day be before the legal deadline, in the event something did happen

    • lagotech says:

      Some Union contracts stipulate that paychecks are to be handed to the employee no later then a certain day and time each week, if they were not, then the employees were not required to work until the checks arrived, and were paid overtime for every hour 24 hours a day every day until the checks were available to them. Anyone who has worked in construction will understand why this rule is necessary.

    • backinpgh says:

      Well is their client going to give a flying rat’s arse if UPS was at fault? Nope. The payroll company’s reputation is at stake here. The company might just end up switching to another payroll provider if paychecks arrive late.

    • Ivory Bill says:

      There are certain industries — contract drilling among them — where it has been repeatedly documented that employees will walk off the job if their pay is late. But mostly it is really poor form to pay someone who has worked for an entire pay period late. Violates one tenet of the implicit contract between employer and employee.

      I worked at a firm many years ago where the manager would not show up on payday if the money to pay employees was not available. Too many late fees on my rent check finally caused me to find new employment.

    • who? says:

      I know that the one time my check got screwed up and the company had to hand cut a paycheck for me, the company had it overnighted to my house, because they’d be in violation of some law if it wasn’t delivered by 5 pm on payday. It may just be a California thing, but it’s not something the company would do if they weren’t required to, and it wasn’t something I was asking for (Monday delivery would have been just fine to me).

    • shufflemoomin says:

      “but I’m curious in what situation can employees not receive their paychecks late” People who have a load of bills automatically set to pay on the 1st of the Month and wouldn’t have enough to cover it otherwise? There’s one for starters.

    • RAREBREED says:

      CA Labor Law mandates that paychecks must be made available for pick up on the scheduled pay date. There’s more to it, but that’s the basis. If the payroll company does not deliver, the company should cut manual checks for each employee, causing a HUGE tax nightmare.

    • RAREBREED says:

      CA Labor Law mandates that paychecks must be made available for pick up on the scheduled pay date. There’s more to it, but that’s the basis. If the payroll company does not deliver, the company should cut manual checks for each employee, causing a HUGE tax nightmare.

  2. Rexy on a rampage says:

    Drop UPS then. Does it suck? Yes. Is UPS going to do something? Not likely.

    Also, how in the hell are you supposed to pronounce “Nichole?”

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      Nick – Hole

    • Scooter McGee says:

      Pretty sure it’s pronounced just like “Nicole.”

    • history_theatrestudent says:

      Part of the issue then might need to be sharing the liability. Don’t clearly mark the package of a financial nature, but something with in say the barcode that a select few within the system and government would know its relative contents and that there are consequences to be paid for failed timely delivery.

    • Misha says:

      Do you have trouble knowing what to do with the “ch” in Nicholas?

      No? Then great! You’re on the right track already.

    • Gertie says:

      Do you know how to pronounce Nicholas? I bet you know how to pronounce Nichole.

  3. HSVhockey says:

    I really wish there was a carrier that cared about the job it was doing, the pressure it puts it employees under, and the way it handles problems. Sadly take your money elsewhere isn’t really an option because they are all incompetent, they all force their employees to meet ridiculous schedules, and they all could care less because they know that they will get your business right back when option B screws up and you are at the time angrier at option B, option A won’t seem as bad.

    Sometimes, I really think unrestricted capitalism shouldn’t apply to companies that are in communications/mail or necessary utilities. No public trading, any money that doesn’t go into salaries or operating costs must be reinvested in internal infrastructure or donated to charities. And the high level executives can’t make more than say 500x what the lowest level employee makes, counting bonuses.

    • Darury says:

      UPS is far from “unrestricted capitalism”. Well, come to think of it, pretty much any company in the U.S. is pretty far from “unrestricted capitalism” given all the various regulations they have to abide by. I’m not suggesting a free-for-all, but many of these regulations are designed specifically by the big companies to keep competitors from starting up. I’d guess 50-80% of the regulations on the books are nearly impossible to meet by small companies starting out, but are easier for the larger ones simply due to factors of scale.

  4. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Direct deposit would solve this problem.

    • humphrmi says:

      How?

    • humphrmi says:

      Actually, to be clear, how will direct deposit help a company who receives money to provide printed checks to other companies to distribute to their employees who have not selected direct deposit?

      • Lucky225 says:

        Not only that, the check printing company is in business for the exact reason that NOT EVERY EMPLOYEE HAS DIRECT DEPOSIT and payroll issued cards incur fees which unfairly subject the unbanked to get less net income.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Payroll cards only incur fees if the employee does not distribute the money all at once, like into another bank account, or simply withdrawn it at once.

          I’ve yet to see a state with payroll cards that do not grant the employee at least one withdran free of charge. Many do 1 free per month, per pay period, per deposit, and sometimes several for free. It’s to prevent employees from having to pay to access their money, and it seems to work just fine.

    • kokathy says:

      How, sometimes new employees start at a time where there direct deposit may not be established until a couple pay cycles.

      • Kaleey says:

        And I don’t know about you, but I get a paper paystub indicating how much went into my checking account.

        Not to mention, not every single person in the country has a checking account.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      OK, here’s what I tried to say, and very badly at that: if the people being paid had access to and chose direct deposit, they wouldn’t have to rely on receiving a paper check via 2nd day delivery from any service, let alone UPS. “Direct deposit would fix this” is my abbreviated PA Dutch way of saying they wouldn’t have to deal with paper checks.

  5. HSVhockey says:

    I don’t think people are understanding. This is a payroll company sending probably hundreds of paychecks to small businesses because it handles the check printing for many small businesses. These checks are not being sent by UPS to the worker, so there is no delivery attempt and direct deposit would only fix the problem for any employees that have it (and in some cases the payroll company will still send out a paper pay stub in lieu of a cash-able check.)

  6. Lucky225 says:

    So because they screwed up and used THEIR fuel to send your package to a place you didn’t want it sent, you get to pay for the fuel used to send the package to the wrong place? Seems legit.

  7. somedaysomehow says:

    I assumed we’d be able to see the chat transcripts.. guess now.

  8. Hi_Hello says:

    resolution? can she take them to small claim court?

  9. eddison72 says:

    First, there is no such service as “2 day Ground”. Second, I need to know who made the mistake. Did UPS mis-sort the package to another state, or was the package mislabeled by the shipper? If the shipper keyed the address wrong, then UPS is not at fault and has no obligation to refund anything or overnight you your package. Also, the “lengthy chat transcript” is really just hearsay, isn’t it?

    More information is needed in order to determine fault.

    • who? says:

      Way to not get the point…

      • eddison72 says:

        Oh I’m sorry. Next time I post I’ll make sure to just bash the big scary corporation for being – you know – a big scary corporation. I sincerely apologize for pointing out that a “chat transcript” is technically NOT a transcript. Oh and my bad for pointing out that the author does not indicate the source of the shipping error – a misprinted label by the shipper, or a routing error by UPS. So sorry – totally get the point now. DARN YOU UPS! YOU EVIL COMPANY OF HEARTLESS PEOPLE OUT TO SCREW THE LITTLE GUY!!! HOW YOU ARE CLEARLY GUILTY!!! … RACISTS!

      • winnabago says:

        There is no 2 day ground, only 2 day air service. Ground rates at both UPS and Fedex don’t come with any kind of delivery date guarantee. The OP may have simply mis-typed it here (three times), but it is also possible she doesn’t understand what UPS guaranteed. Ground service=no guarantee with any US carrier.

  10. Sarek says:

    Back in the 1980s, my mother’s monthly pension from the state was “direct deposit.” However, their definition of “direct deposit” in those only mildly electronic days was to bulk mail the pension checks to each bank selected by the pensioner. It was then each bank’s problem to manually deposit each check to the proper account on time. Hard to believe there was only 1 time where there was a problem. You guessed it, one day USPS lost the checks for a few days, though they eventually showed up. Too bad for those who really needed the money on the 1st.

  11. dolemite says:

    UPS blows. I do not use them, ever. Worst delivery times, highest prices and many problems. I prefer USPS or FedEx.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Me either. I kicked and screamed when my former company wanted me to switch from FedEx. I knew it would screw us and told my manager if they made me use UPS I would quit. That was when I had a cool manager; I couldn’t have done that with my last one.

  12. NeverLetMeDown says:

    There was no way in hell that UPS was ever going to cover the “expense of having to redo the checks.” No carrier in their right mind would, or does, ever take on that kind of liability for “damages caused because the package didn’t arrive.” The liability exposure would be massive (“our bid package didn’t arrive on time, and we would have won the contract if it had, and that would have been a $50 million contract, so you owe us $50 million”).

  13. jnolan says:

    UPS has gone to $hit and their customer service conversations might as well be summed up as:

    1) please let me finish… “why don’t you shut up so I can talk”
    2) I can’t do that… “I really don’t care what you want”
    3) Is there anything else I can do for you… “go away”

  14. Cacao says:

    At least with chat, you don’t have to repeat yourself. You can copy & paste what you wrote previously.

  15. kobresia says:

    So let me get this straight: The OP is mad because she was rebuffed on her demands for an upgrade to a premium delivery service that usually costs around 5-10x more, when the cheapest service offered failed to perform to reasonable expectations. Seriously?

    I’m pretty sure the Delivery Guarantee spells-out that UPS will refund the shipping fee if they’re late, that’s it, and that’s reasonable. I really doubt they accept liability for the hassle or expense related to re-shipping an item that is time-sensitive, even if it happens to be perishable.

    The OP wouldn’t have been out of line to demand free Priority Overnight if she had paid for Priority Overnight in the first place, and really, it would’ve been about the same price as the refund so it wouldn’t have been a big deal, only a little disappointment and annoyance.

    It would’ve been utterly outstanding had UPS solved the problem by correcting their mistake with free overnight service for the original parcel, but that shouldn’t be expected.

    Making demands and saying things like, “Why should we continue to use UPS?” isn’t really something that’s going to endear her to the customer service people and cause them to want to go above and beyond. Nor is threatening filing a lawsuit, if that’s what “making a claim regarding the expense of having to redo the checks” is about. If she’s talking insurance claim, she probably doesn’t understand how shipping insurance works and will probably wind-up throwing a tantrum when that gets rebuffed as well.

    Anyway. Yeah, UPS screwed-up. Still, the OP needs to read-up on how the guarantee works and how shipping insurance works, and select a level of service accordingly. That goes a long way towards setting reasonable expectations, which leads to far less disappointment.

  16. Lady Caca says:

    This is only 1/2 UPS’ fault. Ground service is not guaranteed like 3 Day Select or the Air services. http://www.ups.com/content/us/en/shipping/time/service/index.html

    Nichole shouldn’t be so cheap if she needs something there at a specific time…

  17. Ducatisti says:

    “. The package, sent via 2-day ground, “

    There is NO SUCH THING as 2-day Ground. There is 2-day air. Ground is in no way guarnateed.

    Her company is trying to cheap out by not using a guaranteed shipping service for their checks (like MOST payroll companies do). Of course UPS isn’t going to pay for the service they should have chosen in the first place. They didn’t even need to refund her for the ground shipping costs, as the checks probably did arrive, just later than expected.

    I will agree though, regular UPS customer service is awful. Fortunately, larger companies who ship daily have a dedicated Customer Service Representative that will take care of issues for you. I can’t believe that Nicole’s company doesn’t ship enough to have a dedicated CSR?

    • Kaleey says:

      No, Nichole’s company does not have a CSR. The PAYROLL company probably does, but that person is not interested in talking to Nichole.

    • dobgold says:

      If you would click on the link given by the poster directly above you and then clcik on Ground Service, you will see that Ground Service is guaranteed. I have collected from UPS many times because they were late.

      http://www.ups.com/content/us/en/shipping/time/service/ground.html

      UPS Ground

      Get guaranteed, date-scheduled, cost-effective delivery for commercial and residential shipments
      Delivery Commitment Day-definite delivery typically in one to five days
      Service Area Destinations and Origins:
      All 50 states and Puerto Rico
      Benefits

      * Prompt, dependable, cost-effective shipping
      * With guaranteed delivery, know in advance when your shipment will arrive
      * An economical choice for all of your routine shipments

  18. Carlos Spicy Weiner says:

    I have used UPS for 35 years or more. They have only lost one package. However, the process for getting my insurance claim resolved was, uh, interesting…

    I made a custom belt buckle with two overlayed initials for my best customer. It was a Christmas order, and left myself a decent amount of time to fill the order. When I shipped it from San Francisco to Salinas (a one day Ground trip), it disappeared. Being a Christmas order, I immediately called UPS and was told I’d have to wait 7 business days (if I remember right) while they “traced” it, before UPS would declare it officially lost, and allow me to file the insurance claim. After the 7 days were up, they agreed it WAS lost, and would get the claim started to pay my insured value.

    I couldn’t start working on a replacement till I knew for sure it was lost since I didn’t want to get stuck with an extra buckle with the initials DA on it. Now the clock was ticking. Christmas was in a week and a half and I had to replace the custom, hand-made buckle, so I got right on it. Well, the day it was done, guess who called?? UPS. They found the original package. I told them they had already given me official notice they would pay the insurance claim, and I had already replaced the buckle. Too bad, so sad – they said I was SOL on the claim, since they DID find it.

    This kind of bullshit doesn’t happen often with them, but it’s one of the reasons almost every one of my customers uses FedEX. I still use UPS because they are a little cheaper and nothing as egregious has happened since that incident, which was 15 years ago. On the plus side, my driver is a 20 year veteran with them, and knows his shit…good guy and excellent driver. The Center, which is the distribution hub for my area, also has great crew. The 800 number and most of the upper managers are dumbasses.

  19. Robert Nagel says:

    What the OP is trying to collect on is the “consequential damages” of the package being mis-directed. UPS, as well as virtually every other company in the world, disclaims any damages due to consequential damages. When you use their system you accept the restrictions of the transaction. If UPS were to accept consequential damages they would open themselves to unlimited damages for understandable and inevitable errors. For instance, you send $2.00 and a list of lottery numbers to your brother, the package is lost and the numbers win. Should UPS be required to pay you the $30,000,000 for the ticket? Using 2 day UPS indicates a low priority and acceptance of the risk of the package going astray. If you need a guarantee the best you can do is play the odds and get the highest quality delivery possible. Over a very short period of time the extra expense of a new paycheck run will be shown to be the lesser of two expenses.

  20. who? says:

    Does UPS ever get a delivery right anymore? My partner ordered shoes from Zappos. She remembers the truck driving by at about the time the shoes were supposedly delivered on Monday, but no shoes. After spending my Christmas break redelivering misdelivered packages, I even checked all of the neighbors’ porches. Still no shoes. Zappos was very kind, and overnighted a second pair of shoes, this time with signature required. My partner came home from work today, and found the new shoes, the ones that required the signature, sitting on the porch. When she looked up the UPS tracking, she found that she’d signed for them herself. That was very nice of her to sign, considering that she wasn’t at home at the time, and the first pair of shoes were either not delivered or stolen from the porch.

    The shoes are lovely, and kudos to Zappos for the great service. But I’m sure consumerist commenters will tell me that the UPS problems somehow were my partner’s fault.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I hope you and the myriad other customers who encounter this will tell Zappos and maybe it will inspire them to change to a different service. I can dream, can’t I?

      I haven’t had the luxury of ordering from them yet. They are too expensive for me.

  21. newfenoix says:

    I will not go into the specifics of what did or did not happen in this situation but I will say that the last public sector company that I worked for (I’m in law enforcement now) stopped using UPS because of their bad service. This is a company with over 300 locations in several states. The final straw was when the paychecks for my location in Arlington, TX were sent to the location in Kilgore, TX, over 100 miles away. We used printed shipping labels with the store’s complete address and store number. I stopped using them personally several years ago when a CSR argued with me that AR was the postal abbreviation for Arizona, not Arkansas. Did she not know how to use a computer?

  22. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    Can I start by saying that there is no service called “2 Day Ground” and that there is no guarantee for ground packages? Or did someone say that already?….

  23. Jedana says:

    I’ve been ordering a bit off Amazon the last month, and they keep shipping via UPS.

    UPS (bless their hearts) will either:
    a. drop the package at the front door and leave–no knock or doorbell
    b. drop the package at the front door and ring the doorbell constantly for a minute,then leave as I’m opening the door. (I was…busy in the little girls room, and couldn’t get right to the door)
    c. leave the package in front of my garage (if it’s open) on the driveway–no knock or doorbell or even approaching the darn door
    d on misc. spots in the garage(if it’s open)–on top of boxes, in front of the old fridge, and my personal favorite from yesterday-inside the blue recycling bin.

    Yeah, if I hadn’t heard them driving away, I might never have thought to check inside the garage. I went to pull the other two bins up from the street (recycling day) and put them next to the empty one–and found the packages.

    I wish Amazon wouldn’t ship via UPS.

    • Kaleey says:

      Sign up for a po box at your local post office.
      Change your shipping address on Amazon to the PO Box.

      UPS will not deliver to PO boxes, so they ahve to ship it USPS.

    • skapig says:

      This is a complaint specific to the driver making your UPS deliveries. FedEx or USPS drivers could behave the same way. It’s the luck of the draw.

  24. shufflemoomin says:

    Wait, people still get actual, physical paychecks in the US? What year is this?

  25. emrichar says:

    And the point everyone else is making back to you is that, regardless of what the law states, the attitude of “I sent the checks, not my fault they didn’t get them” is exactly why so many people are dissatisfied with their employers and with Corporate America in general.

    I applaud the efforts of the OP to ensure that the employees of her company received their checks on time. It’s nice to see that there are some companies that value their employees and are willing to go beyond what may be legally required to ensure that they’re taken care of. That’s the kind of treatment that fosters loyalty from employees.

    This isn’t a question of following the law, it’s a question of doing what’s right. I’m glad I don’t work somewhere where the folks in payroll have your attitude.

  26. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Should have sent them next day if they were that important.

  27. pulsar0510 says:

    Wonder how concerned you would be with what constitutes “delivery” if it were your paycheck?

  28. swehrung says:

    The real question – why was this HR person wasting company money by sending paychecks via UPS? I once worked for a company who did this and couldn’t understand why my employers paid almost $10 per envelope to send a check via UPS when Priority Mail would be much cheaper. In fact, I didn’t even need expedited delivery – first class mail would have worked just fine. To make matters worse, UPS managed to lose one of my checks for over two weeks. When I called to investigate, UPS wouldn’t let me open a complaint ticket because I was not the sender. Instead, I had to bother the employer about this. A week later, UPS found the check envelope stuck in one of their processing machines. Nice work, UPS.

  29. maxamus2 says:

    So there was a one time shipping problem? Feh.

  30. BBBB says:

    “We chose UPS because they told us they could guarantee that a delivery
    will occur by the date listed.”
    and
    “the only thing she could do is refund the $7 ground shipping cost minus fuel.”

    Yep – that honors the guarantee – gave a refund.

    Now – who at UPS was the OP talking to for – “We chose UPS because they told us they could guarantee that a delivery will occur by the date listed.”
    Many of the consumerist readers have learned the hard way that with any “guarantee” one has to find out what the recourse is. Almost all guarantees limit liability to the price paid for the item/service minus shipping or fees. Many high volume customers can get direct contacts higher up in the company that take care of big clients.

    If that was just a sales droid on the phone, forget it. If that was a real salesperson that courts high volume customers, then go back to them and tell them that you are switching, why, and that a complaint stating that they misrepresented the service to you will be sent. There is a SLIGHT CHANCE that a bigger credit or something might happen. When talking other shippers about switching, try to get a guarantee that there will be a high up account manager to deal with – if the account is big enough, it will happen.