Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Or, our Adventures with UPS.

“What can Brown do for you?” - UPS slogan

Well, they can provide you with a few weeks of irritation and nervousness...and at least one post worth of Blog-Fodder. They are, indeed, a Flock of Ass-Hats.

I’ve had my issues with Brown before, mind you.

Back in the late summer of 1997, when Elder Daughter was preparing to begin her University Education, we had planned to ship most of her supplies to Boston via UPS. We lived in Houston at the time, and we had no desire to schlep E.D.’s crap up to school in a U-Haul trailer in what would have been a three-day marathon drive. Of course, that’s when UPS’s employees decided to go on strike, in possibly the most dramatic demonstration of Murphy’s Law since the Challenger disaster.

E.D.’s stuff showed up at school eventually, but it did make for an exciting several weeks.

Fast forward to early February 2008. I’m sending a small but valuable package to Mrs. Eli, a birthday present intended to commemorate a Major Milestone. I go to the local UPS store, log in, print out my shipping label, hand the package over, and pay the tariff.

“You’ll need to put it in a shipping box,” I told the Genius in Brown Shipping Specialist, almost as an afterthought. As I said, it was a small but valuable package.

A few days later, I got a call from Eli and Mrs. Eli. They had, it seems, received a Rather Strange Package: a Fuzzy Helmet with Bison Horns. And I was the shipper, according to the mailing label.

“Now, why would Elisson send you a Fuzzy Helmet with Bison Horns?” Eli had asked Mrs. Eli. A rhetorical question, of course. Clearly, a mistake had been made. Or I had gone stark, raving bazonkers. (Hey, anything is possible.)

UPS contacted them the next day, asking whether they had received a package (yes), and whether it was something they had expected (no). It seems that, sure enough, the Genius in Brown Shipping Specialist had mistakenly switched my shipping label with one that belonged on another package. The Fuzzy Helmet! And, listening to Eli recount the story to me over the phone, I recalled that someone had indeed been shipping a Fuzzy Helmet with Bison Horns at the same time I was shipping my package. It’s not the kind of thing that’s easy to ignore, you see.

OK, well and good. Now, UPS sends someone over to pick up the Fuzzy Helmet with Bison Horns, so that it may be shipped to the correct consignee.

Getting said consignee to send Mrs. Eli’s package to her, however, took a little more work. UPS, having solved half the problem that they themselves created, dropped the ball, forgetting to arrange the solution to Part 2.

It took a few phone calls from Eli to get the ball rolling again. But imagine the frustration of calling UPS on the phone, giving them a tracking number, only to be told that, “Oh, we already delivered that package.” Sure you did, Chumley - to the wrong frickin’ address. Catch 22, make room for Catch Brown.

After sufficient badgering, UPS sent the Erroneous Recipient a prepaid label, and said Recipient shipped Mrs. Eli’s package. It finally arrived today, fifteen days late, unceremoniously dumped on their front steps. I’d have thought they would have wanted a signature, especially since the package was small and valuable.

At least it got there. Finally.

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