United Parcel Service: Going Halfway Is OK By Us

10 Mar

March 10, 2014

mail innovations logo

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.)

Average US Post Office facility.

Average US Post Office facility.

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 get 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.


6 Responses to “United Parcel Service: Going Halfway Is OK By Us”

  1. Mac of BIOnighT March 10, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    I know this will be of small comfort to you, but my Star Trek – the animated series box I bought years ago from a guy way down south, after a lot of bouncing around Italy was finally delivered to a post office somewhere in center Italy (I live up north) and stayed firmly there, in spite of all my efforts to have it delivered to my home.
    Such high-quality service has a price, of course. In fact some months ago I decided to try and sell prints of my photos, and I did sell the first one. I was quite happy, had it printed, prepared the package and figured I would make about 4 euros from the sale – not much, but I was happy to have sold my first photo. I went to the post office, mailing it to the US cost me 7.50 euros (10.41 dollars), 7.50 euros to mail a freakin’ photo. My profit? I lost 50 cents. Thank you very much, Italian mail service.


    • bmj2k March 10, 2014 at 12:21 am #

      Wow, that’s bad, but I have a few stories just like that from over here too.


      • Mac of BIOnighT March 10, 2014 at 12:36 am #

        You would think that with the internet as a rival, they would try and do what they do to the best of their ability, but they actually seem to do things worse than ever…


        • bmj2k March 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

          My local post office is a nightmare. Sure, the internet has taken a huge chunk out of their business, but that is no excuse for simple ineptitude.


  2. Josh April 3, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    I’m sorry to hear about your troubles with receiving your package. I wanted to throw a little light on UPS and UPS Mail Innovations and services. Everyone is familiar with the UPS guy who drives the brown truck and delivers you packages to your door. The UPS guy is part of a premium service that business and the general public can use to have their packages delivered. As a premium service you can expect to pay approx $5-$20 per package depending on weight, distance and delivery speed. UPS handles the package the entire journey until delivery. Not many are familiar with UPS Mail Innovations service which is a USPS mail expeditor and is an economy service. UPS MI deals mostly with mail under 1lb although they do handle up to 70 lbs. With the MI service it’s actually USPS Mail except MI does all the regional and national sorting plus the transportation across regions. In general the Mail will be entered into the USPS network at the Sectional Center Facility or SCF. This is not your local post office but rather the parent USPS facility that feeds mail to all the local post offices in the area. Local post offices or DDUs are grouped together and serviced by a larger regional facility (SCF) and those are grouped together into very large national facilities (NDC). It would be way too expensive for UPS MI to take mail to all the local post offices, instead they deliver to the parent post office and let USPS handle it from there.
    So how come the UPS just doesn’t deliver the MI mail? Well that is because the UPS guy delivers packages as part of the premium serve. You pay a pretty penny for that service and MI is the economy service. On top of that MI handles millions of pieces of mail every day and the UPS guy would have to drive a semi truck in order to accommodate all the mail delivered in your neighborhood. The USPS postman is going to your house everyday anyway and remember that UPS MI is USPS mail after all.
    So why doesn’t Barnes and Nobel just use the USPS instead of UPS MI? The reason is price. If you as an individual take a 10oz large envelope to USPS, you will pay about $3.36 in postage. Since USP MI is doing the sorting and transportation for the USPS they are going get a discount. Maybe they pay $2.00 in postage (guessing) by pre-sorting and entering in the mail close to the delivery point. Then they will charge B&N $3.00 In postage which leaves them with $1.00 to cover costs and profit. B&N saves $0.36 per piece and USP MI makes a profit and ultimately those savings get passed to B&N customers. In addition, UPS MI is faster than UPS in sorting and transport so the mail is delivered 1 or 2 days faster on average. This is in contrast with the premium UPS service that would cost $7.76 for the slowest service.
    Anyway all of this info doesn’t make up for your package bouncing around all over the place and not getting it when you expected. I just hope it clears up a few of your frustrations.



  1. Another Post Office Rant (2015) | Mr. Blog's Tepid Ride - August 22, 2015

    […] sent it via FedEx (good) but FedEx only delivered it to my local post office, not to me (bad.) UPS has the same stupid service and I complained about it before. WHY would you hire an outside company to do ¾ of a job? Would a baker measure and mix all the […]


Have something to say? Let's hear it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: