Sunday, November 23, 2008

UPS: Utterly Pathetic Service

If you had to send something overnight, how would you send it? FedEx? UPS? DHL? I chose UPS because I thought they would provide reliable service. Little did I know, nothing could've been farther from the truth.

This clip concisely summarizes my experience and overall feelings about said company:

(Sorry that the audio is way off - our desktop computer isn't working, and this was the best I could do from the free DVD ripping software)

The average person doesn't send an overnight package that often. But sometimes, it's necessary - for example, if one forgets his/her green card when he/she leaves the country. My forgetfulness aside, I had a need for an urgent, overnight shipment from West Jordan, Utah, USA to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Having no (previous) preference of courier, I decided to go with UPS, who guaranteed the document to be delivered by the end of the next day.

Though the UPS Store told me that it would be delivered by 11:30pm on Wednesday, I started to get worried by 8:00pm. I mean, have you ever seen any courier on their routes past 7:00pm? Still optimistic, I called the UPS 1-800 to see what the status of the package was. To my utter dismay, they told me that it wasn't going to be delivered until the following day. "What?" I exclaimed. What happened to this trusted UPS guarantee of delivery? I was told that, because of weather delays in Omaha (the package had gone on a plane from Salt Lake, Kentucky, and Omaha before going to Winnipeg), the shipment didn't arrive in Winnipeg until 8:25am and didn't clear customs until 9:00am or 11:23am (the tracking history is a little unclear). But since the trucks left at around 7:00am, I would have to wait until the next day to get my shipment. How absurd is that? Are there no backup trucks that would make urgent deliveries from a shipment that was delayed? They knew before the trucks left the warehouse that the plane was going to be delayed - why was there no accommodation for important packages? Where is their sense of urgency for shipments that the customers pay a premium for to be delivered in a quick & timely manner? To what lengths do they even try to live up to their guarantee? Weather and customs delays, they explained, are out of their control and their guarantee doesn't account for them. I can understand that, but what I can't understand is why the envelope sat in the warehouse for 6 hours gathering dust while I depended on it to be delivered to me that same day. At the very least, I would have expected a phone call, notifying me of the delay and giving me the option to pick it up myself from the warehouse. I mean, I could have easily picked it up myself, because it was, as it turns out, an urgent matter.

Look! Even the envelope itself mentions how urgent it is. Extremely.

Did I mention that it was urgent? And that's why I paid a premium to get it sent overnight? By the time I called that night, the warehouse was closed and I couldn't go pick it up. There was nothing I could do but wait until it went out on the truck the next day for delivery. The problem was that I had a flight the next morning at 6:20am to return to Utah. So I had to call Northwest Airlines and pay the $50 fee to change my flight and call my boss to tell him I wasn't going to be in the next day. I was going to just change the flight to the next day (Friday), but my father suggested changing to Saturday, just in case. It turned out to be good advice, because I didn't receive my envelope the next day either.

What happened that second day still isn't clear. I was supposed to receive a phone call from the local facility in Winnipeg, but never got one. When I called around 1:00pm to see where it was, I was told that it was on a truck for delivery. A sigh of relief. But when it still hadn't arrived at 7:00pm, I called again. This time, the rep told me that it never was on a truck, but that it had been missorted and went to the wrong center. By that time, I was fuming. I told her to have them leave the document in the warehouse so I could pick it up because I couldn't rely on them anymore. I had one more day to receive that document and couldn't just sit around all day to have them not deliver it once again. Some guarantee they have. I now wonder if they could have gotten it to me without losing it completely.

But having them leave it in the warehouse wasn't as easy as one might think. You see, I was speaking to a representative at the call center in Nova Scotia, and she claims that the only contact they have with the hub in Winnipeg is a messaging service. I would then be relying that some hobo in the warehouse checked the messages and actually did what they said. Turns out that my doubts were completely accurate. I called once again the next morning, and I'm told that it is on a truck for delivery. Yes, that is what I'm told - but nothing on the tracking history showed that it was "out for delivery." I trusted them the day before that it was on a truck and wasn't to be misguided again. I asked for the phone number of the local hub, but they said that they didn't even have one. After some persuasion, the rep said that she could call them herself while I was on hold. The people at the Winnipeg hub confirmed that it was on a truck, and paged all of the drivers to see where it was because they didn't know which truck it was on. (does anything surprise me anymore?) Finally, I received a phone call directly from the local facility who told me that he had spoken to the driver of the truck that had my envelope and that it would be delivered by 2:30pm.

To my complete relief, it was delivered at 2:08pm by a hasty young man who had no sense of responsibility to represent his company in any circumstance. I was able to return home the following day.

Let me give a real-world, completely relevant contrast to FedEx's service. My cousin was in a similar situation, as she needed an important travel document to be able to return to the US. It was not able to be sent until two days after mine (Thurs), but she had it sent FedEx. It arrived at 11:30am on Friday, more than 2.5 hours earlier than mine.
I simply can't believe in how many ways UPS lost my trust:
  • They did nothing to ensure that my shipment arrived by the "end of the next day" as their guarantee stated. What they could have done: a) sent a backup truck to deliver after the shipment from Omaha was delayed; b) notified me to tell me that it was delayed and that it could be picked up from the warehouse.
  • They missorted the document but told me that it was on a truck for delivery.
  • They ignored my repeated requests to have them leave the document in the warehouse for me to pick up.
  • They refused to let me contact the local hub in Winnipeg and failed to call me from the local hub to give any status whatsoever.
Since this incident, everyone I've talked to has told me that they always use FedEx for overnight deliveries, including one of my friends who works for UPS. This friend also told me that envelopes often get lost or otherwise mishandled, so the service is not reliable. If that doesn't persuade me, I don't know what will.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Important New Word

I know a word, a glorious word,
Sweeter than any other.
Listen I'll whisper this word to you.
It is the word of "Mah--Meee"

Which doesn't rhyme as well as the original lyrics, but that's the one Alena said for the very first time yesterday, and twice more today. After learning good girl, down, help in ASL, and big brother in Cantonese she finally pulled out the big guns. The ones that make you all melty inside. She has a name for me! Yipee!

P.S. She is also exceptionally good at folding her arms when we say prayer. I mean the word prayer. She can't usually last through the whole thing. :)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wait just a minute...

Before you decide you're not happy with our president elect and you're moving to Canada, read this. (Fair warning: if you're like me you might wish you were listening to fingernails on a chalk board rather than reading it.) I know it's close to home and you won't have to learn another language, but you might not find what you're looking for. (That is if you're looking for someone more conservative than Obama, Biden, Pelosi, and Reid.) Is there a place where capitalism is alive and well? A place where people don't hate the rich purely because they have more money than you have? A place where hard work is rewarded and we don't despise those who have achieved the American dream and tax them until they lose it?

Although Courtlin thinks I'm crazy far right, I want you to know:

I'm not joining any anti-Obama facebook groups. I think that's in poor taste, not to mention completely useless.

I'm still hopeful. The constitution is inspired by God. He said so. And in it are measures to make sure that the president you disagree with can't go too terribly far.

These election results have kicked me in the behind to get my food storage. I fully expect a massive decline in the GDP and a massive increase in inflation due to the bailout + the unwise Obama tax policy. Anything that inspires you to do good, right?

I also remain an optomist and feel that some good will come of this. I have a whole post planned about that, but I don't think I'll write it today.

And, I voted for 2 democrats. I'm not one of those silly people who think that a little 'R' (or a little 'D' for that matter) means someone must agree with me.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

A first time for everything

Four posts in a row, I'm on a roll...

There's a little known fact about me - I'm a football player. Okay, not an actual football player, but one who plays flag football. That way I don't have to worry too much about getting hurt. Or so I thought...

Yesterday, at our 9th game of the season, I was playing my usual position of rushing the quarterback. I typically go at full speed, and as I was reaching for his flag to sack him, he threw the ball - and his elbow struck my forehead. I fell down pretty hard, hand on my forehead. I thought it would've been just a bad bump, but when I removed my hand, it was covered in blood. People came rushing over and one of my teammates, who had ripped the bottom part of his shirt earlier in the game, gave me the torn piece to apply pressure with. The first aid guy was called over, and after looking at the gash, said that I'd need 35 stitches. Maybe we heard him wrong, but I didn't need nearly that many...

I was advised to go to the emergency room, but one of my teammates/co-workers, who was nice enough to take care of Alena while we were gone, told me about the urgent care place that would only charge us the $20 co-pay (instead of the $50 at the emergency room). We're glad we went there, because when we got there, it was empty. I was told that it was a pretty deep gash - it had gone to the membrane that's around the skull (the galea aponeurotica) but didn't rupture it. I had some arterial bleeding, so it didn't stop for a while.

Anyway, 7 stitches later, and I had a good story to tell. Plus a cool-looking gash. See for yourself:

The good news is that I didn't pass out or have a concussion. And we won our game, 33-18. Hooray! Two wins in the season! Oh, also, I can play next Saturday after I get my stitches out.

3.75 months

Those who have seen me within the last month probably have thought (or demanded) when I was going to get a haircut. After all, it had been since July 8 (same as my brother, Darren) that I last cut my hair. Why wait so long, you ask? I don't know. Maybe I was just lazy, or wanted to outlast Darren. Alas, I folded first. See below for some timeless pictures. I guess I didn't take any pictures of the end result. Oh well, it's the same haircut I've had for years.

For all you Justin Wheelers out there, this is the best mullet I could do...