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Sat September 22, 2007

The UPS Illusion of Guaranteed Delivery

My girlfriend was in a hurry to send 6 copies of her thesis (a 1 kg package) from Stockholm to Copenhagen. She sent it on wednesday and it said on the UPS website that the package would be delivered "no later than" end of office hours on thursday, i.e. the next day. My girlfriend chose UPS because she wanted to be sure the package would be delivered on time. Her examination is next friday and the printed thesis needs to reach the university well in time before that. For the delivery my girlfriend paid about three times as much as she would have paid the postal service. This means she paid about 600 SEK over the 200 SEK that the postal service would have charged.

Well, it's now Saturday and the UPS can't really tell us why the package has not been delivered yet. According to the UPS tracking service, the package has been sitting in the destination city for two days without any delivery attempts having been made. UPS cannot explain why. It's like the package is lost in limbo. When my girlfriend calls to explain the problematic situation she is in and asks for help she is not met by service mindedness or understanding. She is met by accusations and unfriendliness. They say she should have known to choose an even more expensive form of delivery for about 1000 SEK to be guaranteed the delivery date. They also say she misinterpreted the conditions. Apparently, when the UPS say "latest delivery" on a certain date, that means something else to them than it means to most people. The latest delivery date isn't really a part of the contract. There is no money back and there is no excuse when delivery is made at some arbitrarily later date.

Everybody knows the Postal service doesn't make guarantees about the delivery date. There is mutual understanding about the contract. A lot of us probably live under the illusion though that UPS makes guarantees like that. Well, it's time to wake up and smell the coffee because they don't. This naturally leaves the question open as to what it is that motivates the steep UPS prize premium?


Fri September 21, 2007

RailsConf Europe 2007

I sometimes tell people how the best decision I made in life was to get into salsa dancing. It was how I met my girlfriend Janne and it has simply been countless hours of fun and magic. It has also made my confidence and social skills grow which has helped me in other areas of life as well. Visiting RailsConf Europe 2007 has to rank right up there with one of those great decisions and it feels like a milestone. It gave me inspiration on many levels and I enjoyed it more than I've enjoyed any previous conference. What made all the difference for me was the networking. Meeting so many friends and colleagues from the past and having the opportunity of talking to thought leaders in the Rails ecosystem is just amazing. Now that three intense days of excitement is over I miss it already.

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Tue August 28, 2007

When the Swedish Post is Vastly Superior to UPS/TNT/DHL et al

It's a curious thing. When it comes to politics I'm traditionally a quite liberal and market oriented person. I usually get annoyed when I find areas of society were competition and free trade are restricted and I'm not a great fan of state monopolies. However, when it comes to delivering packages the swedish state owned postal service are offering me a service that is vastly superior to that of TNT/UPS/DHL.

Why is that? Well essentially it's because the postal service uses the approach of delivering to a pick-up place in my area, usually a kiosk or store of some kind, usually with generous opening hours. This has worked like a charm for me so far. Private delivery firms (UPS et al) try to deliver to me in person. Delivering a package directly into a persons hand sounds like a great service, but it's a bit harder than it sounds. I'm not saying delivering to someone in person cannot be made to work reliably, however, the way it's currently implemented there are some serious issues. For a personal delivery to be a success, it requires that the delivery person and the recipient be in the the exact same place at the same point in time, so that the package can be handed over and signed. Now in this day and age with GPS systems and mobile phones and the internet and all that, the problem sounds solvable. In a lot of cases, at least for me, delivery is failing though. For a taste of other peoples experiences, see Lars Pind wishing for a doorman or this swedish discussion saying postal service seems like a luxury. Some reasons personal delivery is failing might be:

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Mon November 27, 2006

Third Place in Salsa Competition

There is a quote by Woody Allen that rings more and more true to me:

Eighty percent of success is showing up

Last friday me and my girlfriend Janne were able to win third price at a Salsa competition at La Isla here in Stockholm. Thanks to the encouragement of Pilar and Ociel at Stockholm Salsa dance we decided to give the competition a try and it was great fun! My friends Håkan and Mimmis won the silver, and a very professional and choreographed couple from Uppsala took home the gold. We were very pleased to walk home with the trophies and 1000 SEK though...

There is a huge difference between social dancing and show dancing, and as my friend Håkan said, if you want to be a successful show dancer you need to learn to dance outwards (with the audience) rather than inwards (with yourself and your partner and the music).


Tue July 04, 2006

The Weepies Make me Weep with Joy

I just came home from a concert with The Weepies (a folk/pop duo from the US) at Debaser here in an exceptionally warm and sunny Stockholm.

The Weepies made me all misty eyed, showering beautiful harmonies of vocals and guitars over a small audience in an intimate concert setting. I loved the fact that about half of the songs were new to me since they were drawn from the solo CDs of Deb Talan and Steve Tannen that preceeded The Weepies. They also played a new song about an "Old Coyote" to be released soon on Itunes...

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Tue July 06, 2004

Sliding Around in the Mud...

was what I did at this years Roskilde Music Festival. I've been wanting to go for several years and this year I finally made it. The ticket is about 1100 danish kronor for thursday to sunday - four days packed with concerts with bands and artists of all kinds, most of which I have never heard of before.

I saw a concert with Joss Stone, an oustanding concert with Tim Christensen, and good concerts with Michael Franti (reggae/rock/hip hop) and Santana. Overall I had some great musical experiences and I got take in a bit of the Roskilde atmosphere although I neither got drunk with the teenagers nor stayed in a tent in the mud fields. I think for next time though, to get the most of the festival I need to camp there. Also, and not least important, the weather needs to be better :-) Practically every day for the last couple of weeks there has been a weird mix of heavy rain and intermittent sunshine - I can't remember having seen weather like this before...

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