Day: December 30, 2008

Seattle UPS finished sucking (for me, at least)

The last of my packages from Christmas were finally delivered today as well as a few more that I didn’t have tracking numbers for that were also delayed for a long time. After “I posted about my problems”:, several people posted their similar stories. “The Kitsap Sun”:, a tiny newspaper (way) outside of Seattle, is the only place I’ve seen this story covered in the local media.

What is amazing to me about UPS is how poorly they handled this. Lots of packages for Christmas is not new to UPS and neither is weather. As bad as the weather was in Seattle, it wasn’t _that_ bad and certainly minor compared to the weather they get in other parts of the country. They obviously don’t have a system in place to handle a case like this.

Severe weather can be understood and customers are generally forgiving of unusual circumstances, but only if the company can communicate effectively. UPS can’t. Their customer service, in my experience, was dismissive of the problem and was not interested in finding a solution for me and expressed absolutely no interest in improving the company for such situations in the future. As another sign of a company with problems, UPS in California “had to apologize for labeling a customer a terrorist”: because he wore a turban. These problems are caused by poor management — employees are powerless and uninformed, suggestions for improving the company are clearly not welcome and their is little evidence of pride in being a UPS employee. UPS is unlikely to ever be a great company.

Here’s my updated list of deliveries, clearly 2nd Day Air got short shrift:

|_. Tracking # |_. Service |_. Shipped |_. In Seattle |_. Delivery Date |_. Idle |
| “1Z1823390262844260”: | 2nd Day Air | Dec 15 | Dec 18 | Dec 22 | 4 days |
|{background:#eee}. “1Z1823390264597202”: |{background:#eee}. 2nd Day Air |{background:#eee}. Dec 15 |{background:#eee}. Dec 18 |{background:#eee}. Dec 31 |{background:#eee}. 13 days |
| “1Z1823390264210655”: | 2nd Day Air | Dec 15 | Dec 24 | Dec 31 | 7 days |
|{background:#eee}. “1Z1823390264673263 “: |{background:#eee}. 2nd Day Air |{background:#eee}. Dec 15 |{background:#eee}. Dec 24 |{background:#eee}. Dec 31 |{background:#eee}. 7 days |
| “1Z1823390264961657”: | 2nd Day Air | Dec 15 | Dec 19 | Dec 31 | 12 days |
|{background:#eee}. “1Z23EW070331035404”: |{background:#eee}. Ground |{background:#eee}. Dec 17 |{background:#eee}. Dec 22 |{background:#eee}. Dec 31 |{background:#eee}. 9 days |
| “1Z8E26Y00357236396”: | Ground | Dec 18 | Dec 20 | Dec 29 | 9 days |
|{background:#eee}. “1Z226A5R0209946300”: |{background:#eee}. 2nd Day Air |{background:#eee}. Dec 19 |{background:#eee}. Dec 22 |{background:#eee}. Dec 31 |{background:#eee}. 9 days |
| “1ZA7815W0349141254”: | Ground | Dec 19 | Dec 22 | Dec 24 | 2 days |

Ground packages were idle in Seattle for an average of 6.67 days, 2nd Day Air packages were idle for 8.67 days, or 30% longer even though it cost twice as much to send them 2nd Day Air. If/when I ever ship anything UPS, I’ll never choose anything but UPS Ground — it’s cheaper and higher-priority.

Daniel Gilbert on Happiness

Humans are lousy at making correct rational decisions in life. The brain is easily tricked by things that only matter to the irrational part of the brain. For example, people prefer to get $50 now rather than $60 one month later because being patient is rational. When told an item is now on sale, people think they’re getting a good deal even though they wouldn’t have paid the sale price before finding out about the sale. People fear terrorism but not swimming pools even though you are many many more times likely to die in a swimming pool than in a terrorist attack (this is also why terrorism is so powerful a tool).

The author of the great book, Stumbling on Happiness, gave a talk at TED that talks about these things:

One of the points he makes is about comparison-shopping. This is something I learned years ago. Just in the last year, I’ve had several conversations about people who are thinking about buying a new TV. When I tell them that I just go to, sort by best-selling, read the reviews of several items and buy one, they think that’s dumb. They believe going to the store to compare TVs side-by-side is the smart way to select a TV. I always say “But when you’re at home watching it, you never remember that other TV in the store”. I think I save a lot of money (and time!) this way and Daniel Gilbert explains why.