If Your UPS Package Falls Through The Cracks, It’s Up To You To Notice

UPS ships around 16 million packages a day. And no one is perfect, so at least a couple of those items are bound to fall off the radar for whatever reason. Unfortunately, unless someone at “Brown” notices this error, it’s up to the person or business paying for that shipment to tell UPS about it.

Take for an example the story of Consumerist reader Benjamin, who spent several days in late May wondering why the UPS website kept saying his package was “Out for Delivery” but was not being delivered.

Every day, the site kept updating the expected delivery date from May 22 to May 23, 24.

Trusting, perhaps naively in UPS’ own website to provide him with accurate information. But after a few days of no deliveries, he contacted the shipping company to see what’s going on.

Benjamin’s attempts to get UPS to look into the problem were somewhat fruitless, as — even though he’d paid the retailer a hefty shipping charge — it was the retailer who paid that money on to UPS. Thus, UPS’ contract is with the retailer and not Benjamin.

“It is UPS policy to just pretend like nothing is wrong when it knowingly loses a package and hope the problem goes away unless they get called out on it,” writes Benjamin.

I contacted UPS and got involved in a lengthy discussion with a company rep about what UPS does or does not do in the case of a mixed-up delivery.

The rep says Benjamin’s assertion is incorrect and that UPS does notify the customer (i.e., the party that pays) when it knows of a possible error.

And any of you who’ve received enough UPS shipments has seen that “Exception” status pop up in their tracking information.

But that didn’t happen in Benjamin’s case, as the site continued to say “Out for Delivery” without mention of a problem.

And even when he contacted the company, no apparent action was taken on UPS’ part. It wasn’t until after he contacted the retailer to alert them to the lack of status updates — and after the retailer then contacted UPS — that a tracer was initiated.

The UPS rep said that many of its customers actively monitor their shipments to make sure delivery dates are made and that appropriate refunds are given when those dates aren’t met.

I asked the rep why UPS doesn’t have an internal system that looks for apparent goofs — like when a package’s status hasn’t been updated in several days — to proactively look into the package’s whereabouts.

He responded that this is simply the way that all shipping companies work. I attempted to point out that “everyone else is doing it” is not a very good defense.

After all, if companies that are nowhere near as big — or as experienced in logistics as UPS — can figure out automated ways to track and look for anomalies in their shipments, surely UPS itself can do the same?

Guess not.

In the end, Benjamin’s package was located — according to the UPS website the label had been damaged or gone missing — and ultimately delivered several weeks after the original date.

“I am not at all upset that the package was lost, as I understand that these things happen when you deal with millions of packages,” he tells Consumerist. “What I don’t understand is how [after being told of the missing package] UPS does not do everything in its power to notify the parties involved and rectify the situation as soon as possible.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    In before someone blames the OP (you know it’s going to happen).

  2. Schildkrote says:

    “Trusting, perhaps naively in UPS’ own website to provide him with accurate information. But after a few days of no deliveries, he contacted the shipping company to see what’s going on.”

    Please proofread your posts.

  3. Kaleey says:

    I expect that UPS is generally never involved at all, until the company that shipped the item makes a claim. When a package I am looking for gets lost (it did once), I’ll bother with UPS ONLY if they say it was delivered. And then I’ll deal with them 2 times, max. After that, I go back to the shipper.

    You don’t apy UPS, the shipper does. Therefore, they do not care about you.

  4. gman863 says:

    If UPS and other delivery companies cared, they would start analyzing the number of botched deliveries by driver and route.

    (# of “Out For Delivery” issues) + (shipper and recipient complaints) + (“lost” packages) = Driver Performance Score.

    Whether I have a UPS package shipped to my house or my business is like night and day.

    At home, I’ll be lucky if the driver even leaves an attempted delivery notice or leaves the package on the front porch. In contrast, the UPS driver at my office is very professional. In the event I’m out, he leaves the package with the tenant next door and places a delivery notice on my door clearly indicating this.

    The exact opposite is true for USPS. The mailman at my house is OCD about being sure packages are delivered properly and placed out of the rain on the front porch if needed. At my store, he’ll drop packages with nearby tentants in the strip mall; I have to go search for them.

  5. tasselhoff76 says:

    My experiences with UPS when something goes wrong have been awful in recent years. FedEx has been better and DHL has been worse. A mass-email to the senior folks at UPS helped a lot. Suddenly, they actually seemed to care and wanted to fix the problem. Up until I sent that email, they didn’t seem to care in the least.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      UPS once damaged a UPS (a box with a power plug, battery, and a few outlets) that I bought online. This big hulking machine was crunched in by about 3 inches. It had to have been run over by some big vehicle. The package itself was mashed into it, too. Very obvious externally.

      The retailer issue THREE “go pick it up for return” orders to UPS and UPS never showed to pick it up or even look at the damage. The retailer eventually did a pick up through Fedex. The Fedex driver came the next day and had a good laugh when I told her it was sent through “that other carrier” and look what they did. BTW, the retailer (CostCentral.com) actually had sent me a replacement even before they engaged Fedex.

  6. Lyn Torden says:

    It would be relatively (compared to the system as a whole) trivial to add the capability of detecting anomalies in the delivery process. For example on a station to station truck, if the package is not scanned as received there within a certain time (30 minutes after the last scan from that truck), it should generate a tracer at that station (didn’t get pulled from the truck) and at the previous station (didn’t physically get on the truck).

  7. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    I have never had significant issues with UPS or USPS. FedEx to me I cannot comprehend, and for DHL, the only two times I got packages from them both were in a sorry state.

  8. GMFish says:

    A more accurate headline:

    “If Your UPS Package Falls Through The Cracks, It’s Up To You To Notice. But Won’t Do Anything About It If You Do.”

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

    In UPS’s defense, they DO notify the shipper if something like this happens. Or at least in my experience at my company they do.

    Also, it is their policy to deal with the shipper who pays them in the case of a lost package. I actually agree that it makes sense to handle tracers this way. One customer got through the cracks of filing a claim with UPS and it only made the process more difficult. They were mad when UPS sent the check to us and not them, too. To my knowledge, the UPS representative who let them file the claim was terminated.

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

    Well, at least now I know why the box that arrived this afternoon with my soapmaking stuff, marked Fragile and This Side Up, is partially crushed and battered. Obviously, it fell through the cracks somewhere along the line. **sighs**

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

      Oh, and here is the sad update: later Friday evening I grabbed some scissors to open the box, and noticed that the paper tape that had originally sealed it had been cut, and the UPS label itself was cut through the middle. It’s been resealed with clear packing tape, and rather badly at that.

      This is my first order from this company, so the box sits, unopened on my computer desk. I sent an email to the company asking if they want pictures first.

  11. TasteyCat says:

    I’ve had this happen before, though I find UPS to be reliable 99.9% of the time. Every day for two weeks, someone would ask me why we hadn’t received a package yet. I told her it was “on the vehicle for delivery today”. Eventually, she caught on. UPS said that their system automatically updates itself, and it was likely that nobody would notice on their end that anything was wrong, probably because the system makes it look as if they’re on time. A claim was filed, but we just gave up on ever seeing the package. A few months later, it mysteriously showed up.

    When I send packages by UPS, I ask for shipment, delivery, and exception e-mails, which is free and just a couple mouse clicks (I also ask for them to be sent to the receiver if it is important). That way I know when something arrives and if something has gone wrong.

  12. arshessnei says:

    UPS unloaders are trained to grab the top boxes on wall inside truck and pull the whole wall down. Regardless of fragile labels and heavier boxes slamming it light ones. The whole unload progress is geared toward breaking your stuff. It’s all about speed they could care less about you getting your shipment. I have seen boxes break open and the stuff randomly put back in the nearest box then all taped up and sent down the line.

    Former UPS Unloader