UPS Fails To Use The Buddy System When One Of My Packages Wanders Off

Always stay with your buddy!

Always stay with your buddy!

When two items go out together as part of the same shipment, should they necessarily stay together? Nowal’s parents got her twins a table and chairs for their birthday, which shipped out in two packages. The toddlers celebrating their birthdays might understand the buddy system, but UPS doesn’t: even though the two packages shipped as a two-package shipment, one box arrived on time while the other disappeared into the bowels of the UPS system because of a damaged label.

My triplets turned two years old today (Friday, March 15). Tomorrow (Saturday) is their birthday party. My parents offered to buy them a wooden table and chairs, similar to the ones at their day care. To help keep their cost down, I comparison shopped for the best deal on the table, which turned out to be [an eBay vendor]. Since the order is somewhat complicated — you have to select the colors of the table top, banding, and legs, as well as leg style — my mother asked me to log into her eBay account and place the order for her, which I did on the evening of March 5 (eBay listing #[redacted]). The item was shipped on the 7th, tracking number [redacted], and was supposed to arrive at my parents’ house in a suburb of New Orleans the following Wednesday. We were excited that the table would arrive in time for my husband to assemble it, so we could let the kids enjoy their birthday cake at their new table.

This table was actually shipped in two boxes, which were entered in the UPS system as a two-package shipment. On Wednesday, as scheduled, the smaller of the two boxes (containing hardware, I assume — we have not yet opened it) arrived, but the larger box, weighing 66 lb., did not. We assumed it might have been put on a different truck due to its weight. The next day, I tracked the package again, and saw that although the package had arrived in the city the previous morning, UPS was now returning it to the sender because “the address label is missing or illegible.”

Now, I do not understand how it is that UPS would feel the need to return a 66-pound package across the country back to the sender just because the address label was messed up. First off, it was part of a two-package shipment, so it would stand to figure that it should be delivered to the same destination as its companion. Second, since the tracking label obviously still works (or else they wouldn’t be able to update the status), why couldn’t someone just pull up the address information associated with the tracking number and just print out a replacement shipping label?

Knowing that requests to change delivery have to be made by the sender, I called [the eBay seller]. She confirmed that the tracking information seemed to indicate that the package was being returned to them, and advised me that all she could do was put a trace on the package. I requested that she do the trace, while I would speak with UPS to see if there was anything that could be done at my end.

On Thursday afternoon at 2:18 PM local time, I called UPS and spoke with a representative about the package. He informed me that it was still in New Orleans and he put in a request for delivery, so the package would be delivered either that same day or, at the latest, the following day (today). He also said someone from the local UPS center would call me shortly (I gave him my phone number as a follow-up contact) to confirm delivery.

After a few hours of no contact, with no package, I called UPS again. This time, the representative informed me that the package was in a department/area called “Overgoods,” where items are repackaged. Repackaged??? She explained that when a shipping label is missing, UPS employees open the package, try to get the address from the packing slip, and then repackage the item. Again, I don’t understand why this has to be done, because the pertinent origin and destination information is transmitted electronically and associated with the tracking number, so it should be very easy to pull up the information and print out a new label without touching the package’s contents. Nevertheless, she assured me, the table was safe and sound, still in New Orleans at Overgoods being repackaged for delivery the next day. She said it was not delivered the same day because the drivers had already left for their routes.

So, here we are today, still without a table. My mother texted me this evening that the table still had not arrived. She said that she was contacted by someone from Unbeatable Sale to follow up on the matter and find out whether or not we received the table. Kudos to this merchant for staying on top of the situation and contacting us rather than just waiting for us to contact them. As my mother said, “it’s obviously a good company that cares about customer service.”

I tracked the package again, and the info showed a departure scan at 12:58 PM. Now I was livid. After assuring me that the package was still in town and would be delivered right away, they still returned it to the sender. The representative then told me that her tracking information showed that UPS had made multiple calls to both contact numbers listed (my mother’s and mine) before sending it back out to the shipper. This is clearly a lie, because neither my mother nor I have any record of receiving calls from UPS. All day, I received only two phone calls, neither of which had anything remotely to do with UPS or shipping. So, the rep said she would send an “urgent” message to the local UPS center, and that the center would call me before 10:00 AM Monday to respond to this “urgent” matter. Of course, because UPS ceases to operate on Saturdays, there is zero hope of my kids receiving their table in time to use it on the birthday for which it was supposed to be a gift.

I am astounded at the sheer number of mistakes UPS made in this case, on so many levels. Between the idiocy and inefficiency of those who allowed a 66-lb package to be needlessly sent across the country instead of using their brains, and the egregious lies of those who claimed they attempted to contact the recipient(s), this situation is a travesty on multiple levels. UPS should be ashamed of itself.

We haven’t heard back from Nowal, but the UPS tracking history shows that the table finally showed up yesterday morning. Only a few days after the it was supposed to arrive!