UPS SurePost Gets Package To My Door Four Days Late, Smushed

Poor package.

Poor package.

“There’s a reason the USPS is going bankrupt, and it’s because of their shoddy customer service,” read a subject line in our tips mailbox. Jeremy’s package, shipped UPS, got handed off to the U.S. Postal Service, and at some point things went very wrong. UPS SurePost is that company’s answer to FedEx SmartPost: a service that uses the private companies’ systems to get packages from the sender to sort of near their destinations, then depends on the U.S. Postal Service to travel the last leg to your doorstep. In theory, this is an amazing idea: the USPS is stopping by your house six (soon to be five) days a week anyway, so why not throw a few extra packages in there? The problem is that then you have two different sprawling bureaucracies to blame when something goes wrong.

Jeremy wrote to us:

So about a week ago I ordered a package online that got shipped through UPS. Great. When it reached my neck of the woods, it got handed over to the Postal Service for local delivery, something that seems pretty silly to me (aren’t I paying for them to deliver my package, after all?). Still, according to the online tracker, everything seems to be going according to plan. It’s scheduled to be delivered Saturday, and I head off to a doctors appointment that morning. When I get back that afternoon, I log on to check the status. It says it was delivered at 10:30 am. Only, I don’t have a package. I call the USPS to report my missing package and get told that they’ll open an investigation and I can expect a call from them Monday. Sigh. Fine.

Monday is speeding by and I still haven’t heard anything from them, so I give them a call to check in. I get told that the local postal service called and left a message for me. Only I’ve received no calls and have no messages. That’s the first indication that something is really wrong. I complain that I didn’t get any call and they give me the number of the local post office so I can call them back. So I call, and the phone rings…and rings…and rings. And no one ever picks up. It goes on like this every time I call. I even went on Google to double check the number. It’s still business hours at this point, there’s no reason for no one to be picking up.

So now I don’t know if someone’s yanking my chain. I wait until the next lull at work, around 4:30 pm, to call them back. I tell them no one was picking up at the post office. The CSR on the other end of the line says he’s going to check in on it and I’m put on hold. After about 5 minutes, I’m disconnected (or hung up on, who knows). Now, very frustrated, I call back and demand to speak with someone. Eventually another, more helpful CSR gives me the number of their special Customer Support office so I can dial them directly. Finally, I feel like I’m getting someone. Only, she explains, their hours are 8 am to 4 pm, so I’ll have to call them tomorrow. I’m still upset, but at least I know I can talk to someone in charge and get this little package problem sorted out, and maybe they’ll just deliver it to me in a day or so.

If only it were that simple.

When I get home, I am greeted at the door with the sight of my package. Or, the mangled remains of what used to be my package:



No explanation, no apology note, no call, no voicemail. They just dropped this battered thing off days after it was due and hoped I wouldn’t notice. I’m calling them tomorrow to give them a piece of my mind. But I don’t want to just yell, it’s rude and unproductive. What can I say to get to the bottom of this AND make sure the responsible parties are held accountable? Help me, Consumerist!

Well, it’s “tomorrow,” so let’s hope that Jeremy reads Consumerist before tackling his to-do list for the day. One key piece of information that he left out is what the contents of the package were. If the items inside were time-sensitive and/or fragile, then he has a valid case. If what he ordered was a travel pillow for a plane trip he’s not taking until April, then the delay and the squishing caused no damage to his property or inconvenience in his life.

Whether the contents were broken or the delay was inconvenient, the key thing is for Jeremy to have a clear idea of what he wants from one company or the other before placing the call. Does he want a refund, an apology, the replacement cost of the item, a refund of his shipping fees, or something else entirely? Have a starting point and a clear idea of what would make this right.

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