This year I finished all my (online) Christmas shopping early, or so I thought. UPS deliveries would be reasonably on-time, “much better than FedEx”:http://troyandgay.com/blog/2003/10/31/fedex-still-sucks/, or so I thought. Of the 5 packages I ordered for Gay, only 2 arrived on schedule. One arrived today and the other 2 still have not been delivered as of today. Three other packages that were sent to us have still not arrived as well. UPS blames it on the snow we had in Seattle, but that excuse is a lie.

How do I know? We received deliveries from UPS on Monday and Wednesday before Christmas, which is after Sunday, the last day it snowed in Seattle. So clearly UPS could get to our house to make deliveries. The Seattle UPS hub is where the problem was.

Here’s the UPS packages that I’m talking about:

table(datatable). |. Tracking # |. Service |. Shipped |. In Seattle |_. Delivery Date | | “1Z1823390262844260”:http://wwwapps.ups.com/WebTracking/processInputRequest?sort_by=status&tracknums_displayed=1&TypeOfInquiryNumber=T&loc=en_US&track.x=0&track.y=0&InquiryNumber1=1Z1823390262844260 | 2nd Day Air | Dec 15 | Dec 18 | Dec 22 | |{background:#eee}. “1Z1823390264597202”:http://wwwapps.ups.com/WebTracking/processInputRequest?sort_by=status&tracknums_displayed=1&TypeOfInquiryNumber=T&loc=en_US&track.x=0&track.y=0&InquiryNumber1=1Z1823390264597202 |{background:#eee}. 2nd Day Air |{background:#eee}. Dec 15 |{background:#eee}. Dec 18 |{background:#eee}. Not yet delivered | | “1Z1823390264961657”:http://wwwapps.ups.com/WebTracking/processInputRequest?sort_by=status&tracknums_displayed=1&TypeOfInquiryNumber=T&loc=en_US&track.x=0&track.y=0&InquiryNumber1=1Z1823390264961657 | 2nd Day Air | Dec 15 | Dec 19 | Not yet delivered | |{background:#eee}. “1Z8E26Y00357236396”:http://wwwapps.ups.com/WebTracking/processInputRequest?sort_by=status&tracknums_displayed=1&TypeOfInquiryNumber=T&loc=en_US&track.x=0&track.y=0&InquiryNumber1=1Z8E26Y00357236396 |{background:#eee}. Ground |{background:#eee}. Dec 18 |{background:#eee}. Dec 20 |{background:#eee}. Dec 29 | | “1ZA7815W0349141254”:http://wwwapps.ups.com/WebTracking/processInputRequest?sort_by=status&tracknums_displayed=1&TypeOfInquiryNumber=T&loc=en_US&track.x=0&track.y=0&InquiryNumber1=1ZA7815W0349141254 | Ground | Dec 19 | Dec 22 | Dec 24 | |{background:#eee}. “1Z226A5R0209946300”:http://wwwapps.ups.com/WebTracking/processInputRequest?sort_by=status&tracknums_displayed=1&TypeOfInquiryNumber=T&loc=en_US&track.x=0&track.y=0&InquiryNumber1=1Z226A5R0209946300 |{background:#eee}. 2nd Day Air |{background:#eee}. Dec 19 |{background:#eee}. Dec 22 |{background:#eee}. Not yet delivered |

Update: fortunately, all my packages made it to me today, Dec 31. To all those who commented, I hope yours get t you today too.

Understanding the snow delay, I called UPS to see if I could pick the packages up myself in Seattle before Christmas. I talked to the UPS call center and requested to have someone from the Seattle hub call me. I’ve never had to do this with UPS but I have done it with FedEx twice and received calls from the local facility in 2-3 hours. I was assured that someone would call me. After 5 hours, I hadn’t heard from UPS so I called back and requested it again. By 4pm I still hadn’t heard from them so I called UPS a third time to request a call.

I explained to the UPS customer service rep that I’d like to get the package before Christmas and wanted to talk to someone to know if it was possible for me to pick it up myself. They explained that “a lot of people” are calling for the same reason and was told that they are under “strict orders” to not contact Seattle and the Seattle employees are “prohibited” from calling any customer. Customers who wanted to alleviate UPS’ backlog and get their packages in time for Christmas were to be ignored. In other words, the UPS official company policy is to provide service that is unconcerned about their customers, even at the most time-critical time of the year.

If you look at the table above, you’ll notice that Ground deliveries generally came before 2nd Day Air deliveries even when shipped later. UPS was able to deliver to our house on December 22 and 24. Had the packages been on the trucks that delivered those packages I would have received them before Christmas. But they weren’t. I asked the UPS customer service about that and was told that “when packages are sorted at the facilities, 2nd Day Air packages are no different than Ground packages”. What?! 2nd Day Air deliveries, which cost considerably more, are not prioritized before Ground packages? So I imagine if you go to the UPS facility in Seattle there’s a pile of packages that have been sitting there for two weeks now that are being ignored and even if they are sorted, they are unlikely to be delivered anytime soon.

In comparison, I also shipped three packages via FedEx, two to myself (Tracking “9612019593532680281592”:http://www.fedex.com/Tracking?action=track&tracknumbers=9612019593532680281592 and “9612019593532680287709”:http://www.fedex.com/Tracking?action=track&tracknumbers=9612019593532680287709) and one to Spokane, WA (Tracking “9612019860492980278878”:http://www.fedex.com/Tracking?action=track&tracknumbers=9612019860492980278878). Those were all delayed by the snow (Spokane had more than twice as much snow as Seattle) but FedEx delivered them on Saturday and Sunday. This was unusual because FedEx (and UPS) do not deliver to my house on weekends normally and FedEx doesn’t deliver at all on Sundays anywhere. FedEx seemed to be making an effort to make up for the delay. UPS seems to have taken the weekend off in spite of their backlog of packages to be delivered. FedEx seems to be more concerned with their customers than UPS is.

UPS has some serious management problems, especially in the Seattle facility.