September 8, 2004

N.B.: For the last few days, MAK and I have been guest blogging over at Judgment Call, rehashing the brief but tumultuous period a couple years ago during which we somehow managed to date without causing the sun to implode.

I finally found a replacement for the discontinued fabric I couldn’t find for my quilt. I ordered it on Friday, and paid extra for next-day (Saturday) delivery.

Here is the letter I sent to UPS on Saturday evening.

Michael Eskew
Chairman of the Board and CEO, UPS
55 Glenlake Parkway, NE
Atlanta, GA 30328

Dear Mr. Eskew:

I am shocked and dismayed at the treatment I suffered today at the hands of UPS; I’m sure you will be too, once you hear what happened.

Yesterday, I ordered nine yards of fabric from equilter.com for a project with an imminent deadline. I needed to start right away, so I ordered the fabric for Saturday delivery. I stayed home today, awaiting delivery of the package. When morning turned into afternoon, I thought to track the package (tracking number xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx). Lo and behold! the UPS tracking page said the delivery had been rescheduled for Tuesday.

Very concerned, I phoned UPS and asked for an explanation. I was told, “The driver says there’s no such street address as xxx West xxxth Street.”

I was very surprised to hear this news, as I thought I’d been living at that very address for years. The answer was obvious: I was delusional and ought to seek help immediately from a mental health care professional. In fact, I thought as I flipped through the Yellow Pages for a psychiatrist who might take my insurance, I needed to let my roommate know that he was delusional too. And the United States Postal Service, which seemed to have been delivering mail to a non-existent address for years. And AT&T, and Verizon, and Citibank. I was alarmed–this was becoming a crisis of massive proportions. America was filled with lunatics doing business with people at an address that didn’t exist!

But then I realized that I have, in fact, received UPS packages at this address. As the opinion of UPS had been, up until that moment, the benchmark against which I measured my sanity and, indeed, my worth as a human being, I slowed down and tried to piece together what could possibly have happened. I came up with two options: either the address both exists and does not exist simultaneously–an application of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle that strikes disarmingly close to home–or the UPS driver messed up.

Come on, Mr. Eskew: there’s no such street address? I could have bought “nobody was home,” even though I’ve been home all day, or “the driver was abducted by aliens,” or even “the Illuminati stole the package as part of their plot to take over the world,” but this is lame beyond human comprehension. Your company said it would deliver a package to me today, and not only did it not deliver the package, but the people I spoke to when I called said the local center was closed and I couldn’t even go to the inconvenience of picking up the package myself. The earliest I can get the thing is Tuesday, which, I assure you, is far too late for me to be starting this project.

I have used UPS many times in the past, and have generally been a satisfied customer. However, this appalling experience has severely damaged your stock with me. I would like an apology and a credit of $xx towards future UPS shipments, to compensate me for the time and frustration your mistake has cost me.

If, as your web site claims, UPS “has never shied away from reinventing itself,” allow me to suggest that you reinvent yourself as a company that delivers packages it is paid to deliver. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from you within two weeks and to resolving this issue satisfactorily. I certainly hope I won’t have to switch to using another company for my shipping needs (and encourage my friends to do the same), but please believe that I won’t hesitate to do so should it become necessary.

Very truly yours,

Faustus, MD

Cc: John Beystehner
COO
UPS
55 Glenlake Parkway, NE
Atlanta, GA 30328

Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York, Inc.
257 Park Ave. South
New York, NY 10010-7384

Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection
Office of the Attorney General
120 Broadway
New York, NY 10271

New York State Consumer Protection Board
5 Empire State Plaza, Ste. 2101
Albany, NY 12210-2891

New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
42 Broadway
New York, NY 10004

Federal Trade Commission
Bureau of Consumer Protection
CRC-240
600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580

I may not get my credit for $xx, but let me tell you, writing that letter felt good.

And the package did come yesterday.

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19 Responses to N.B.: For the last few

  1. nagelfarb says:

    it’s easy to forget how incredible it is, the fact that we can have material objects delivered to our door from one side of the planet to the other in only a day’s time. UPS and fedex are the closest thing we have to being “beamed up” in star trek. i’m always amazed when packages actually do come….

    Reply
  2. Marc says:

    Few things are as cathartic as writing a truly slicing letter straight to the top. In some cases, you actually get action, which yields even greater satisfaction. This was priceless, especially the cc: list at the end.

    Reply
  3. Eric says:

    Great blog. But as someone who works in customer service for a UPS-sized company, I speak from personal experience when I tell you that you fucked up here. If the corporate policy is to give you your money back in this situation, an objective presentation of the facts and a polite request for restitution will get it for you. If the policy is not to give you your money back, you ain’t gettin’ it. And if there’s any room for discretion, the unwarranted sarcasm, inflated self-importance, and ludicrous saber-rattling you indulged yourself with here is likely to cause the decision-maker to deny it to you just on general principle. And I’m willing to bet the $10.00 an hour employee who processed your letter showed it to some co-workers who enjoyed a snicker over the impotent rage of the latest person to claim that the world revolves around them.

    Reply
  4. DuracellOfFinland says:

    Well, if you don’t get your money back you atleast caused enough laughter in the world of officerats to compensate for your loss.

    Anyway, you rule! …maybe not the universe…but you know what I mean…

    Reply
  5. Nagelfarb: I myself am shocked not so much that packages do come but that the right packages come, more or less, to the right places–that I don’t routinely find myself opening boxes of lutfisk.

    Marc: The only thing problematic about the cc: list is that one has to spend the postage. Or course, in this case, by the time I was finished writing the letter, I didn’t care enough to print out all those letters and send them, except for the one to the COO of the company (in case Mr. Eskew checked).

    Eric: You are very kind to say so. Since, as you can see, I wrote to the CEO of the company (one of the many useful hints I picked up from this woman), one assumes that one of his assistants will be opening it; if that person gets paid $10 an hour, then the least I can give him or her is a laugh at my expense. In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that UPS called me yesterday and told me that, after receiving my impotent letter, they were refunding all my shipping costs and sending me a letter of apology.

    DuracellOfFinland: It is a well-kept secret that I do, in fact, rule the universe.

    Reply
  6. tim says:

    You need a better hobby… or, at least, an additional one. When people start writing long letters of complaint, then they need another hobby.

    Reply
  7. Jay says:

    Hell hath no fury as a queen waiting for his quilting material delayed.

    That you took the time to compose a tirade of such length must have impressed the slackers over in UPS. It’s certainly a lot more interesting and deserving of compensation than a meek “Excuse me, I think you did me wrong on xx Sept 2004”.

    Reply
  8. Chris says:

    I think the letter rocked. As for the remark about Dr. Faustus being “the latest person to claim that the world revolves around them” remark – hello, are you familiar with this thing we call blogging?

    Reply
  9. Marilyn says:

    Hey just wanted to tell you that i enjoy reading your blog very much.. Here’s a big hi from sunny Singapore to you… 🙂

    Reply
  10. PeeWee says:

    UPS (I call them UPS-me-off) did the exact thing to us a month ago. The client waited all day, and called UPS to find out “the address didn’t exist”. Isn’t that why we put a fucking phone number on the airbill? Would it kill them to call and ask directions?
    I don’t think they should give you your money back, I think they should make your quilt!

    Reply
  11. David says:

    What can brown do to you?

    In other news, I ordered some speakers from Apple.com and selected the free five-to-eight-day shipping option.

    The speakers were on my doorstep the next morning, merely eighteen hours after I placed the order.

    Thanks, FedEx. Thanks, Apple. Fuck you, UPS!

    Reply
  12. H's H says:

    There’s excellently good reason why you are required to put your phone number on the airway bill and why they insist on non-delivery to P.O boxes.

    Reply
  13. Patrick says:

    Faustus…you are…the master.

    I bow before you.

    Reply
  14. AC says:

    Two weeks ago I went through something similar with UPS. I actually got the driver on the phone and had him tell me my address doesn’t exist. After much arguing, I convinced him he was on the wrong street, but it was greatly frustrating!

    Reply
  15. Patrick (the other one) says:

    you rock, Faustus

    Reply
  16. Scott says:

    I love it when I see somebody bringing down the man!

    Go, you!

    Reply
  17. Pam says:

    With regards to Eric’s earlier comment : when I worked in customer service, the complaints we got were all the same, I want this blah blah blah you did wrong. I would have given you the credit based on the originality of an intelligent complaint.

    Reply
  18. charles says:

    Faustus, please shepherd a letter-writing campaign to reinstate Adult Underoos.
    My feeble attempt pales in comparison to this blinding example of consumer assiduousness.

    Reply
  19. Androo says:

    AMAZING! Never let me get on your bad side!

    Reply

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