It’s Like UPS Sent Me A Bill From 1953

Rick should not have needed to speak to six separate customer service representatives at UPS in order to pay his bill for an international package. He received a bill with no indication that they accept credit cards: only a stub to return with his check or money order. He doesn’t use checks and found this all very mysterious and old-fashioned. Instead of buying a money order, he called UPS to see why their international billing department couldn’t join the current decade. That’s when he became a strange sort of hot potato, passed around UPS as if his request were completely unheard of.

He wrote to UPS:

I have a UPS account.

I hadn’t used it in a number of years and recently had it re-activated to receive/pay for a package to be sent to me from China.

I receive my bill. The bill has no modern day information on it toward payment. Only the amount, some UPS phone numbers, and notation to tear it off and mail it in to the address provided.

Since I don’t use the antiquated process of checks (to tear it off and mail it in), I try calling the phone numbers to pay with my credit card.

The automated UPS prompts never include anything along the lines of “billing”, “payment” or “pay a bill”.

* I reach my first customer service rep. I say I’d like to pay my bill. They say I need to be transferred to billing.

* I reach my second customer service rep. I say I’m trying to pay my bill. They say I need to be transferred to accounts receivable.

* I reach my third customer service rep. I say I’m trying to pay my bill. They try looking up my UPS account number and tell me I’m not owing anything. I say that can’t be, I’m holding a UPS bill for $103.00 that is due by 10/29.
She puts me on hold, and finally comes back and says “Wait, does it say “International Services Invoice” (or something close to this). I say yes. “Oh, that’s not us, it’s a different dept. We’ll have to transfer you”.

* I reach my fourth customer service rep. I say I’d like to pay my bill. They say I need to be transferred to billing, we are just for tracking.

* I reach my fifth customer service rep. I say I’m trying to pay my bill.
Let’s look up your invoice number. Ok, It’s _________________.
Alright, I show it here in the amount of $103. Ok, I’m going to have to transfer you to someone who can take your credit card payment.


* I reach my sixth customer service rep who, finally, takes my credit card payment. Can I have a confirmation number? “No. Your receipt will be emailed to you.”
But there’s no confirmation number?
“No, here’s my name and employee number though. The payments get processed at 1:30 and you’ll get a receipt then.”

In all, this process just feels completely antiquidated and wholly inefficient. I understand about different departments or even divisions but isn’t UPS one company? I have one UPS account number – not one for international and one for domestic. You would think that, in this day and age, I could be able to pay any balance on that UPS account without the customer having to specify, differentiate, or be transferred all across the entire spectrum of UPS divisions?

Further, even in the payment process – no where on the bill does it have information to allow credit card info, or how to pay by phone. When you do reach someone to pay by phone, they can’t give you an instant confirmation number?

As a consumer, I find this navigation process both ridiculous and unnecessary, and while I can’t specifically recall, it may of been this type of frustration that allowed me to let my UPS account become inactive in the first place.

Well, evidently not. International billing isn’t designed to be consumer-facing, it’s designed for companies’ accounts payable departments to deal with. It’s just charming to think of a midcentury oasis, before credit cards, in the middle of a global shipping company that can’t deal with other forms of payment. Unless you call them and are very, very patient.

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