UPS: Pay Up And We Might Not Make The Same Delivery Error Twice In A Row

Keith’s brother gave him an old desktop computer as a Christmas gift, but this gift came with a catch. He had to ship it to himself, a few thousand miles away. Since packages can’t be delivered to his door at his apartment building, he sent the package to a nearby UPS store, flagged as “hold for pickup.” Naturally the UPS store refused the package and sent it back. Now UPS wants Keith to pay the shipping fee again. For that, they might actually deliver it to his house this time. Or they might send it back. Isn’t the suspense exciting?

When I was home for Christmas, my brother gave me his desktop computer as a present. I went online and got rate quotes from both FedEx and UPS, and decided to go with UPS.

I live in a small apartment building in an urban area 3000 miles from where my parents and brother live. My apartment building does not have an intercom system nor a place for packages to be dropped off, so packages cannot be delivered to the door. Knowing this, I contacted UPS by the phone number on their website and was advised that I should send the package to the nearest UPS location to my apartment building, and to request that the package be held for pickup.

I did so, and shipped the computer from a UPS store the next day. Two days before the package was estimated to arrive, and safely back at my apartment after a seven hour plane flight, I decided to log on to track my package. Imagine my surprise when I found that not only had my package arrived, but it was listed as “rejected by receiver” and was being shipped by back to Utah as a “return to sender.”

I first contacted UPS by their phone number, and was informed that they could not tell me what had happened, other than that the receiving UPS store had rejected my package. I then contact the sending UPS store I had sent the package from, which informed me that in order to get my computer back, I would need to pick it up in person unless I paid them a full second shipping fee to resend my computer. Furious that I was being told that I would need to pay them again to provide the service I had already paid them to provide, because of some error in their internal system (or because of bad direction given by one of their sales people, as I later came to suspect) over which I had no control, I logged into their online chat to explore the possibility of paying a fee to have the package rerouted to a friend’s address rather than returned to sender. This is when things got truly weird.

Over the course of the conversation I was informed that I would need to pay full price to have the package resent. I was also informed that sending the package with “hold for pickup” as an option did not, in fact, guarantee that the package would be held for pickup. Rather, I had to sign up for their online service, register my shipment, and then search to see if there was a hold for pickup option available. In order to register my shipment, I would need to resend the package first. And guess what? If there was no pickup option available, the package would be returned to sender!

I flat out asked “So there is no way for me to know if the exact same thing won’t happen again, unless I pay UPS a second time [to ship the package they already failed to deliver]” and was told “That is correct.” To translate: “We have you goods, and we won’t return them to you, unless you pay us again to do what you paid us to do the first time, without any ability to know beforehand if the end result will be different.”

I can reach only one conclusion: UPS is holding my computer hostage, and if I ever want to see it alive again, I must keep paying them to ship it without any guarantee that they will actually deliver it.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Overheal says:

    That’s Logistics?!

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

    Send it to the UPS store with the return address of the UPS store. It’s like dividing by zero.

    • DarthCoven says:

      …and that, kids, is how the first iteration of the Universe ripped a hole in itself and was blown into absolute nothingness.

    • VicMatson says:

      Not going to work! UPS stores are privately owned and will only accept packages for customers via bow fee. FedEx will do it though, it has to be attempted once before you must call them and have it held.

    • Geotis says:

      in a time loop. I divided by zero once, now I’m trapped

  3. thomwithanh says:

    UPS wouldn’t deliver to my apartment building back in the day, they would record the package as missed delivery before the truck even arrived, already had the infonotice made out, slapped it on the door and left without ever knocking or using the door bell. Same thing in Ithaca, if I wasn’t sitting out on the front stoop, the driver wouldn’t even knock.

    Never had a problem with FedEx though.

  4. Coffee says:

    Schrodinger’s delivery – until you pay, the package is both deliverable and undeliverable and will exist in both states until payment is rendered. Do you really expect the CSR to try to explain quantum mechanics to you? I blame the OP.

  5. NotATool says:

    How about communicating with the receiving UPS store to ask them if they would accept your package? From what I see above, the OP talked with every one except for the recipient.

    Another possibility – the “nearest UPS location” might not mean a UPS Store. Perhaps that means a local UPS distribution facility, which would hold the package in lieu of delivery.

    • Almighty Peanut says:

      agreed. UPS stores are all independently owned. they’re not accepting packages for anyone unless they have a PMB with them.

      • Thespian says:

        Yep. I’d bet money that is what’s really going on here. “Hold for pickup” means hold at an official UPS processing center, not a franchised retail storefront. Not surprising that the clerk at the originating UPS store didn’t realize that. UPS customer service could have handled it better, though.

    • baquwards says:

      That’s exactly what I thought when I read this. A UPS store is not a UPS facility, it is an independently owned packing store and the owners probably don’t want to become a storage facility.

  6. Scuba Steve says:

    This screams EECB.

  7. KyBash says:

    Sorry, but I blame the OP.

    Who in their right mind expects UPS to get anything right?

    • RvLeshrac says:

      I agree. I’ve had minor issues with FedEx, but the only company to reliably screw up *everything,* *all the time* is UPS.

  8. theblackdog says:

    If you can’t get packages at your apartment, why not just rent a box at the UPS store? Then you can get UPS, Fedex, and USPS package deliveries!

    I’ve had a UPS Store box for 6 years now because my first apartment was in a location where someone would have walked off with my packages before I got home. I may be in a better apartment now, but it’s still easier for me to get packages sent to the UPS store.

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      I think that’s what’s going on here. I’ve done “Will Call” before, but they never direct me for pickup at a UPS store and it’s always at a UPS depot.

      The trick is to put “signature required” for the package when you ship, and ship to your real address. They will do an attempt (that you can see with the tracking number) and when that happens, call them up and ask them to hold it and they’ll give you where to pick it up.

      Putting the delivery address to a UPS store without purchasing their mailbox services? Of course it would be refused, why would they do for free something for which they charge as a premium service?

    • minjche says:

      I had a package shipped to my apartment and found out someone had torn it open. Lucky for me it was full of boring textbooks on fluid mechanics, so the would-be theif just left the contents in the box and tossed the box under a nearby staircase.

      Moral of the story: order boring textbooks and your packages won’t be stolen!

  9. Kaleey says:

    Find a friend at work, or home, or somewhere where the shipment can be delivered, then ship it to them.

    If you work, ship it to your work (letting someone know ahead of time that you’re doing this because you have to).

    What would happen if they tried to deliver to the apartment? Would it go back to a central facility nearby where you can pick it up (think door tag – hold for pickup).

    Sounds like time for an EECB for this. Or do a chargeback (if paid with a credit card).

  10. starcaro says:

    UPS Stores are franchises that are individually owned, so although they pay royalties and have to follow some UPS regulations, they are not run by UPS directly. The best option is that Keith contact the local UPS Store where it was delivered to see what their options regarding package acceptance is. As one commenter noted, it might require opening a UPS mail box which would allow delivery from all mail/logistics carriers or sometimes they allow single time package acceptance for a fee, but you would have to ensure that they agree to it before hand. If that UPS branch doesn’t allow any package acceptance, then try other UPS Stores in the area.

  11. sunnypies says:

    Wow! I use fedex hold at location (you can ship it to any fedex office) with no problems and there is no online service you have to sign up to be elgible. Anyone can use it and the best part is it’s free and they don’t reject your packages. WOW ups.

    • smbizowner says:

      same here, we just use the hub address as our delivery address and collect them ourselves. The ladies at the desk know us by name and often even have our packages ready to go before we even hit the desk. Bonus, we can get them on our way to the office so we are ready for the day without waiting for a truck.


    • tsukiotoshi says:

      I needed Fedex to hold a package for me once but alas that was not an option in my city, apparently. I did finally find someone friendly on the phone to agree not to deliver it for two more days, though, so that was helpful.

    • elangomatt says:

      For me this only works if the package is FedEx Express. There is a FedEx office on the other side of town that holds things nicely, but only express packages. If I can’t be around for a fedex Ground package though, the nearest place that they’ll hold the package is over 60 miles away. I understand that Express and Ground are two different parts of their business, but I still don’t see why ground packages can’t be held at the local express office.

  12. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Mmmm-mm! Smells like Extortion!. :D

  13. scoutermac says:

    I used to have problems with Fedex.. and not UPS. My more recent experience has been the opposite. For now I will use Fedex.

  14. tinyninja says:

    UPS Store employee here. The first UPS Store is at fault for not doing some groundwork for you, and should resend on their dime.

    All UPS Stores are independently owned franchises. Not all stores accept hold for p/u packages, generally for space and liability reasons. (Some stores have very little space in back, and unclaimed packages must be held for a year. We have 5-10 unclaimed at any given time.) There is always a p/u fee–ours is $2.00 but I’ve seen up to $20.00, plus daily storage fees.

    It was very rude of the sending store to just willy nilly send this package to another store without picking up the phone and determining whether or not the recieving store (a) is willing to recieve it in the first place, (b) what the fees are, and (c) if there were any additional instructions, like to include a working phone number.

    My store has been around since 1996 (started as Mailboxes Etc), but some of the newer franchisees don’t know what they are doing. In this case they did you wrong. The cut to the franchisee is 30% on ground–you shouldn’t settle for anything less than a 30% discount. We do that as a matter of course on resends, even if we didn’t do anything wrong.

    As far as UPS holding your package hostage? No, UPS corporate has nothing to do with it. You could go pick up your package for free from the sending store right now if you wanted. You shouldn’t have to pay for it.

    BTW, the online service they are talking about is a newly implemented system called “My Choice” where you pay a fee to have your package routed to the nearest UPS Store–they store it for you and get a small cut. Some of the owners are understandably furious, as this is cutting into a profit center.

    • scoutermac says:

      Is it normal for UPS to charge $1 to tape shut a box? When I had to send a laptop back to Chicago for work one time they charged me $1 to tape the box closed. The FedEX Kinkos near me does not charge for the use of tape and they charge less for shipping.

      • kobresia says:

        From personal experience, if you go to a real UPS location (the sort of customer counters that are in the places where they actually load the delivery trucks), tape is free, just like any of their other shipping supplies.

        If you’re taking it to a UPS Store, tape is money. I don’t believe they make any commission on packages that are just dropped-off for the daily UPS courier pickup, so it’s completely understandable that they wouldn’t tape packages or provide any other supplies, other than what UPS gives them for free. Package taping just another of the packing services they provide, and $1 for a couple yards of tape isn’t too bad if you don’t want to purchase a whole roll of tape and a dispenser yourself.

      • tinyninja says:

        We don’t charge for taping at our store, but we understand why other stores do it. We go through at least a roll of tape a day just taping up boxes that, really, should already be taped, drop offs included, which we only get about 75 cents for from corporate.

        We also have people come in, grab a tape gun without asking, and practically laminate their box. I even had a woman come in with a huge bike box, use up half the roll of tape and then waltz right out. She wasn’t shipping, so as far as I’m concerned, she shoplifted.

    • BrandonO says:

      tinyninja, my name is Brandon and I represent The UPS Store corporate office. While we appreciate your desire to help, please allow the corporate office to handle this situation as it does not relate to your particular The UPS Store location. I would like to discuss this matter with you further. Please email me at Thanks.

      • Geotis says:

        Dear BrandonO,

        My name is Geotis and I represent an average every-day consumer. Tinyninja offered his opinion and backed up his legitimacy by revealing his employer. In my opinion, UPS is a royal screw up and The Consumerist is gracious enough to allow an open forum to express our feelings. Your attempt at projecting authority and chastising tinyninja not only reflects poorly on UPS, it also reflects poorly on UPS corporate office.

        So, in short, it is my opinion that you (UPS Corporate Office) should fuck off. If you have any further questions, please see the previous sentence. Thanks.

  15. Cat says:

    Even if he DOES get his package, he’s going to get a box of computer parts.

  16. tinyninja says:

    Not true–my store does it all the time. It’s totally at the owner’s discretion though. We are in a well off Seattle suburb, but I can well imagine that stores in seedier areas wouldn’t want just anybody sending boxes there.

  17. Aking0667 says:

    Small claims for the extra fee? Seems about right as they failed their end of the bargain the first time.

  18. zandar says:

    Gee whiz! How quickly can we privatize ALL mailing activities in the US? This sounds like fun!

  19. ninjustin says:

    As tinyninja said UPS stores are operated independently from UPS. For that reason if I am ever going to use a store I usually go with FedEx because the own all their stores and work better together. I’ve had bad experiences with the UPS stores because they don’t want to take the blame for things they have blatantly messed up.

  20. dush says:

    They just Browned on you.

  21. kobresia says:

    Okay, I’ve NOT encountered this sort of thing before, because I had the foresight to call UPS and ask them where was the closest location to my zip where I could hold an incoming parcel for pickup.

    Care to know what they said? They said that no, unless you have a box in the UPS Store, or the people working at the store know you as a regular customer & would do you a favor like that, if you have a package marked to be held there, they will turn it away. The package has to be held at a “Staffed Location”.

    UPS Store is a franchise shipping outlet (just Mail Boxes, Etc., I’ve seen a couple around here that still have their MBE-logo clock on the wall), so you can’t have a hold-for-pickup go there. They don’t know who you are, they’re not authorized to do much of anything besides just take packages & sell packaging services that any other “UPS shipping outlet” such as Office Max could.

    Even looking at the UPS Locator results, there are UPS Stores, Drop Boxes, and “UPS Staffed Locations”. These are all clearly differentiated and all it takes is asking to know what services are available. Just assuming that “because UPS is in the name of the store, it’s just like any other UPS customer service location” (despite the different uniforms and the fact that they are a retail shipping & mailbox location) is what leads to tears and frustration.

  22. Carlos Spicy Weiner says:

    As a business shipper for the last 40 years, for the most part, I’ve had good luck with UPS. Having a good driver (and the phone number for the local center) makes a difference ;-). However, my brother has not. He has a sleeping bag/comforter factory and is a BIG shipper. He was with UPS for many years, but within the last few, they started jerking him around so much, he’s switched to FedEx (as almost all of my customers have).

  23. Lyn Torden says:

    Makes me want to throw a UPS driver over a fence.

  24. Gregory says:

    When UPs can’t deliver a package to my residence for some reason, it goes back to the distribution center and is held for pickup for a few days.

    Perhaps the solution is to have UPS attempt to deliver it, and when they can’t they will hold it at the local distribution center. I think the mistake here was sending it to one of the retail locations.

  25. BrandonO says:

    Keith, my name is Brandon and I represent The UPS Store corporate office. I’m so sorry to hear about this unfortunate situation. I’d like to help resolve this matter. Please contact me at so I can reach out to you and provide our assistance.

  26. Ablinkin says:

    Hmmmm…UPS is union labor and FEDEX isn’t. That might be trying to say something.

  27. baquwards says:

    A UPS store is not a UPS facility, it is an independently owned packing store and the owners probably don’t want to become a storage facility.

  28. badaboomxx says:

    this remind me one time my sister (who lives in Minnesota) send a package to Mexico. When the package arrived the UPS guy told us that “You need to pay the fee to get your package”. I just told him that “I didn’t know you guys send package without paying a dime” so he just told me that UPS in USA is a different UPS in Mexico, that was actually BS and I demanded to speak to a supervisor but that didn’t happened. After that they only started to speak to my mom (but I can assure you it was worth it) but in the end my mother (double) pay the fees.

  29. DENelson83 says:

    The result: Consistent revenue stream from customer to corporation!

    Sounds like a subscription to me.

    Or plain old theft.

  30. mrearly2 says:

    I wonder if the OP had considered packaging the ‘puter well, and flying home with it.