March 10, 2014
The United Parcel Service (UPS) has a brilliant new delivery plan that is guaranteed to save them a fortune. It is ridiculously simple. They take your package and do not deliver it. Genius! They call it Mail Innovations and despite the name, it is not innovative. What other service does that? Why, the United States Post Office, that’s who!
And that’s the problem.
I ordered a book from Barnes and Noble on February 20th. As a member, I get free 1-3 day shipping. Great! So far, so good. This was a Thursday and on Friday the 21st I was informed by email that UPS had picked up my package and the estimated delivery was Monday, February 24th. When it did not arrive on Tuesday I followed the link they sent me and tracked it. Or to be more accurate, I tried to track it. The trail led to a dead end.
On Friday the 21st, the UPS not only picked up but delivered my book… to a US Post Office sorting facility in Staten Island, and not, as you would expect, my home in Brooklyn. It turns out that UPS has a shipping service called Mail Innovations in which they pick up your package, zoom it across country, and deliver it not to you, but to your local post office, and they make the final delivery.
Sound stupid, right? I live in a large apartment building and UPS trucks stop here at a set time every day, sometimes twice a day. We are actually part of the UPS’ regular route.
And also, you may have realized that my local post office is not in Staten Island, another borough on the other side of Gravesend Bay, across the Verrazano Bridge, and most definitely not 8 blocks away.
Mail Innovations is an unholy alliance. UPS has generally been reliable, and the post office has been as dependable as your average election year promise. I always have trouble getting deliveries from them and usually go to the post office to complain. No good can come of Mail Innovations.
So when the book did not arrive on Tuesday I knew I had to go to the post office. I tracked the package on the post office site and they had the package arriving in Staten Island and, for the next three days, nothing. No movement. And on Wednesday, still no movement. This was four days of limbo, and so far I had been waiting five days for my guaranteed 1-3 day shipping. (I did not count Sunday.)
I went to the post office with a printout of the tracking, such as it was, and what did I learn? Nothing. They looked all over the post office and it was not there. They then sent me to the automated machine to track it and it spit out the same information- nothing for three days. This was, I must tell you, the same information they found when they looked it up themselves. They then told me to call an 800 number and I could more information.
No I could not. The 800 number was automated and even less help then the post office tools. I then wrote a complaint on the website, sent an email to my local post office to complain, and lo and behold, the next day all kinds of shipping info became available. None of it good. After it finally left Staten Island, it arrived in Brooklyn, bounced around three different zip codes and two sorting facilities, and twice was in a nearby (but not my zip code) post office before bouncing away to the edges of the borough.
And then, on Saturday, March 1st, over a week after it left UPS and was handed over to the post office, my guaranteed 1-3 day delivery package was delivered to me.
Mail Innovations, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link. And as usual, the US Post Office is the weakest link.
Thanks a lot UPS.