Tag Archives: Verrazano Bridge

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.

A Table For Six. No More, No Less. Must Be Six.

7 Jan

January 7, 2014

Saarah and I are running out of diners in Brooklyn. This one has lousy food. That one has lousy service. The other one insists on putting pork ribs in its vegetarian salad. Very frustrating! So last Friday we tried The Bridgeview Diner in Bay Ridge. It has a view of (care to guess?) the Verrazano Bridge. Had it been called the Cesspoolview Diner I never would have gone.

We were there around 9:30 and the place was nearly empty. It is divided into two sections. One, the larger, is the dining room, with tables of all sizes and booths ringing the walls. The other side has the counter and booths, no tables. The booth side was about half full, at best, and the dining room side had three tables pushed together to accommodate a party of 10 and there was also one couple in a booth. It was nearly empty. When you walk into the diner, you are in the reception area, which is in the middle of both halves. We specifically asked for a table. I am not a small man (in the pants! Sorry, sorry, had to write it. ) and sometimes a booth is a little bit of a squeeze. One day they’ll make a comfortable booth for men like me, you’ll see. Or maybe I’ll just lose a few pounds.

fat guy nachos

Anyway, the guy in the suit (Greeter? Maître d? Receptionist? What do you call the guy who seats you in a diner?) led us to a table not two feet away. Literally. Without so much as shuffling his feet he grabbed two menus off the counter and dropped them on a table right against their Christmas tree, smack dab in the middle of the floor, in the direct line of the draft from the front doors, and in the way of anyone and everyone walking in any direction. It was a bad table.

“This is a bad table,” Saarah said. Nothing gets by her.

We asked for another and he led us into the dining room, past four or five empty tables to the back. We assumed he was leading us to the last table, so we sat down. But no! We had to get up. You see, that was a table for six. And in fact, so were all the other tables. (The tables for four or two had been pushed together for the party.) Now as I said, it was nearly empty. If we took a table for six, and a party for six entered, there were five more tables for them. And if a second party of six entered, there were four more tables for them. And if the odds were defied yet again and a mind-blowing third party of six entered, there were still three more tables they could be seated at, and if, in a cosmic coincidence on the level of Godzilla sporting a tiny chapeau leveling Tokyo, a fourth party of six entered there would be yet two tables for them. And if another entered? Still another table. But no. So, with no other tables, I sat in a slightly uncomfortable booth.

We argued a bit but to no avail. The guy in the suit was adamant that those tables had to be ready in case a large party- or this case, six of them- came in.

After we were there about ten minutes, a party of three women came in and wanted a table. The guy would not give them one. One of them, with disgust dripping from her voice, asked him if he really thought a large party would come in at that hour of night and take up all the tables.

“Yes. Yes.”

He led them to a booth on the other side of the diner and that woman had a look on her face that said that she was about to leave but her friends talked her into staying.

By the time Saarah and I left, the large party had also left, the other couple had left, and the dining room was totally empty. If a party for 136 came in by God they were ready.

Saarah and I had already decided that we were never coming back to The Bridgeview Diner. Plus the fact that the French onion soup was really just chicken soup with cheese melted on top, and our waiter was really just a pimply busboy in an ill-fitting jacket who didn’t speak English (asking for cream cheese with my English muffin was a Herculean task) meant that they would not be getting a second chance.

Saarah and The Editor’s and Staff of Mr. Blog’s Tepid Ride give The Bridgeview Diner two thumbs down.

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