Peter Marklund

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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?

4 comment(s)


Anonymous said 2009-05-24 21:47:

UPS just robbed me for 5000 USD as they made the wrong man at the wrong adress sign for my package of computer equipment. do not trust UPS!!!

Bud Kruger- said 2008-08-05 06:32:

Hi Peter: Guess what! I just got nailed by the UPS delivery guarantee. I had a prpcedure scheduled and UPS failed to delivery the package. Not only did they fail to deliver. They failed to notify me the day before the procedure that they were going to fail to deliver. Upon reviewing their guarantee agreement, I found they absolve themselves from any liability or damages and that their guarantee GENEROUSLY limits itself to a return of the shipping cost to the shipper. To make matters worse you have a notification time limit or you don't even get that refund. So here I sit, with a very unhappy patient whose procedure was cancelled, out thousands of dollars , and UPS says I'm sorry- BIG DEAL- There guarantee is meaningless in the face of the devastating consequences their customers are left with. So my freinds- beware- all is not what it seem to be at the big green.

Mike said 2008-05-07 17:20:

I know how you and your girlfriend feel, except from the other side. I am waiting for a package to be delivered by UPS. They found the house alright the first day but there was no one home. The second day they were unable to find the house! Then they didn't try to deliver the package again and now they don't seem to know where it is. Muppets! It seems like their expertise in delivery hasn't gotten any better since your experience.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- said 2007-11-02 22:51:

Peter, I found your site because I am, painfully, trying to teach myself Ruby and Rails. So, thank you for the generous gift of your presentation. I am a freight forwarder (and Ph.D. student - but that is another matter) and I sympathize with your girlfriend's plight, no doubt long since resolved without great harm to her. She has discovered, the hard way, that United Parcel Service is just that, a parcel service, and not what is commonly considered a courier. UPS does offer a courier style service alongside its usual service packages, albeit at a much higher price than similar services from its competitors, but it obtains its market share from aggressive pricing of what is in essence an accelerated postal delivery service for small parcels. For that matter it also offers heavy freight services, again at less than competitive rates, available to those who lack the time, experience or interest to investigate service options throughly but who are familiar with the gold and tan brand of UPS. UPS provides an economical service with a generally acceptable level of service, provided that one does not expect much more than a slight improvement in time over normal postal delivery together with the ability to track ones packages. With critical documents and time sensitive materials where delay can mean irredeemable loss then use of a dedicated document courier is indicated. There are few guarantees in the world of transportation and those that exist are mostly illusionary. Thanks again,