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.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.