UPS shipping fail – updated (see end of post)

I shipped two boxes of books to Phoenix on Wednesday, to arrive here by 1030 this morning. I paid extra for this, like you do. As 11am rolled around and my books still weren't here, I got a little nervous, so I checked online to see where my packages were. It turns out UPS fucked up and "incorrectly routed" them, so they won't be delivered until Tuesday afternoon.

I'm sure the more astute observers among us have realized why this is a problem.

I called UPS, talked to everyone I could, explained over and over again that I need these packages today, that people are counting on me having them today, and I got the same answer from them all: there's nothing we can do, and we're very sorry.

Yes, I'm sure UPS is very sorry. What I want to know is how a business that does one fucking thing only manages to fuck that one thing up, and has no backup plan to ensure that they correct their mistake at their earliest opportunity, instead of four fucking days later.

There's a small chance that my packages will successfully complete the treacherous 2 hour journey from California and arrive today, so I can get them tomorrow. Unfortunately, UPS doesn't have the ability to flag a shipment, so that when it's scanned in upon arrival here in Phoenix, the facility can find out that this is an extremely important shipment that needs to get to its destination right fucking now because we fucked up guys. I have to keep checking with UPS, and just hoping and wishing and clapping for Tinkerbell so my packages arrive today, and UPS does the fucking thing I paid them to do and delivers them by tomorrow.

I haven't felt this angry and helpless since I got felt up by the TSA at LAX.

If you're coming to the Phoenix Comicon and hoped to leave with one of my books, I want you to know how sorry I am. I have 20 Complete Works DVDs, some Guild Season 4 DVDs, and a bunch of pictures, but no actual books. If this changes, I'll update this post, as well as Twitter.

UPDATED 5.29: A friend of mine knows someone at UPS Corporate, and offered to make a call on my behalf. It's a long story, worthy of its own post when I'm not so exhausted from a weekend at a con, but the short version is that several people went to the shipping center in Phoenix, went way above and beyond what I ever expected, and worked like hell to find my packages. Late Saturday night, they were delivered, and I was able to get a fair amount of books into customers' hands today.

I haven't been able to read all these comments (I was at a con) but I understand that a lot of people reached out to UPS on my behalf, including my friend. Thank you for helping me get a huge corporation's attention, and thank you to all the UPS employees who worked so hard to correct this mistake.

More later in the week, when I have some time (I'm doing an audiobook Monday to Friday, so it may be a few days.)

85 thoughts on “UPS shipping fail – updated (see end of post)”

  1. Dude, sux0rz. You have my understanding, hopefully they credit you back the money you spent to get it there *now*… since it isn’t.
    But if it’s out of your control, may as well enjoy the con! =D

  2. That really blows, I’m sorry Wil. Is there any chance they can at least refund you whatever you paid for their expedited service, or give you some kind of credit for something? Have you tried calling their corporate offices as well as the branch/location you shipped them through?

  3. Boo UPS! Boooooo. That sucks considering all the stress and hard work you went through on Wednesday to be ready for today. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it works out for you.
    Looking forward to Storytime tonight! :)

  4. Unless they are 20 years behind every other carrier, UPS does have the ability to flag a shipment as ‘mega-urgent-get-it-there-NOW’, but it would cost them money to do that… Could Anne not overnight more copies to you? I used to find it was quicker to send new shipments (where possible) and have the originals returned rather than redirected. Hope you still manage to have a good Con despite the fuck-up.

  5. Hey Wil, I’m driving from San Diego to Pheonix today, can I drive up to LA and pick up a box or two for you and bring them to the con? Just looking to see if I can help?

  6. Tell them you will be requesting free shipping of all books to the people who were going to purchase them at ComiCon. They probs don’t care, but it may get you bumped up to someone higher up. You can vent to them. (They still won’t do anything since they are UPS, after all, but it may help you, mentally)

  7. You have a right to be disappointed and angry, but you know what? Anybody that matters is going to TOTALLY understand and yes, of course it matters, because you worked to hard to get this done… but really, it’s OK, totally OK with everybody that cares about you.

  8. not sure if your checking your twitter stream – DM me… I might be able to try something (at this point can’t be worse than what your stuck with)…

  9. To make it up to you and your fans (hint customer service) UPS to is going to give you enough credits so you can ship everyone who wanted one!

  10. Looks like everyone had the same idea as me. I’m a permanent fixture here in Phoenix so next Phoenix Con if you wanted to ship something like two weeks in advance, I’d happily hold it for you.

  11. I work in customer service for a supply company. Deal with a lot of shipping problems in my day. A customer once told me “You hear what they are going to call UPS and FedEx when they merge someday? Fed UP.”

  12. Sux big time. Happened to me last year trying to ship product to Balitimore Comic Con. The flooding in the midwest put a grinding halt on all west-to-east UPS 3-day shipments (we sent the boxes over a week early to save money). All UPS could tell us is that they “were on a train somewhere outside of Chicago” and there was no way to find out exactly where. And, because it was because of severe weather, no refund. We finally got our stuff sent back to us about 3 weeks later… I really hope UPS doesn’t cornhole you as bad as they did us.

  13. Hey Wil, if you have extras here in L.A. I can run ‘em over to Phoenix and drop ‘em off as I am heading that way in a couple of hours. Let me know, give me a call at 310-406-5835. I’m serious if you need ‘em man, and I AM heading that way anyway…let me know. It’s 12 Noon here in L.A, I’ll leave at about 3pm (Earlier If I have to meet someone to pick up your material…-Ethan Tudor W.
    BTW: Had Actor Bill Mumy on the talk show today…what a nice guy..GREAT music too off his new CD!
    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ethantudorw

  14. Wil,
    I know this may not help you (seeing as you needed the shipment by today), but you can use http://www.usetrackthis.com to get automatic updates when your package is scanned. I ship all the time and it helps me out greatly. It can SMS, email or even direct message you on Twitter to let you know when your shipment is scanned.
    Pretty handy.

  15. I just got off the phone with UPS! They lost my package in their own pick-up center and now it’s tagged as “return to sender.”

  16. UPS has done that to me a few times. They misrouted our first LCD TV, offered no apologies, and in fact, routed it to a place just north of me. So instead of just shipping it here, they drove it back to the main hub, meaning they passed RIGHT BY MY HOUSE. It then took another four days to reach me again.
    Of course, it was the middle of winter, and instead of knocking on the door and letting me know it arrived, they dropped the package in the snowbank next to our unused back driveway. I only found it an hour later after checking the shipping status.
    If I have a choice, I don’t use them – but unfortunately, many online stores won’t let me choose anyone else.

  17. In our times ,almost everyone has an email address. I would go over everyone head and write an email to the president of customer service. Things seem to happen when you write to people at the top.

  18. Dude,
    I had the same thing happen to me I was appearing at the Pacific Science Center for Grossology Week, years ago. I always pack a min. amount with my luggage that I hand carry, or ship a week to 2 weeks early to a secure person I know.
    You need to consider using this method, so sorry you got caught but in real life its only a matter of time until the UPS fails you, it’s a fact of life.
    doctorslime

  19. I feel you, I’ve had my share of disappointments. Rating shipping carriers in order of preference.
    1. FedEx–I’ve had the fewest screwups with them, but they happen.
    2. UPS–They mess up more often, but better than…
    3. USPS–Surprisingly, they will get your package there, but hardly on time. However, the worst is
    4. DHL–I hate to write this because a friend’s wife works there, but they have literally lost and never found my packages, and I have never had one show up on time. DHL = Dipshits Having Lunch…except for my friend’s wife.

  20. Hope it all works out! Diana is/was hoping to buy a book from you this weekend.
    *shakes fist at UPS* I’d be just as furious as you if I was counting on a service that I paid for.

  21. I love your books. They are refreshingly honest.
    That said, for shipping between Arizona and California, I use Norco Overnite. No one has really heard of them, but they have great service.

  22. Logistics my ass. I live in Buffalo, NY. Half the time I get something via UPS (and I’m not exaggerating, it happens half the time), it gets to the Buffalo sort facility on a truck that is not unpacked (I’m assuming that’s what happens), and the whole truck gets scanned in, then proceeds to Syracuse, NY. There, the truck is unpacked, sorted, and stuff destined for Buffalo gets on a truck and heads BACK to Buffalo. If Logistics were so important to them, they would pack the stuff in such a way as to be able to unload it as they move through major cities. Scan the truck in Buffalo. The system pops up and says “PACKAGES FOR YOUR LOCATION IN TRUCK.” You open the truck, and the packages closet to you are for your location. Unpack them, secure the remaining packages, and send them on their way. THAT is logistics!

  23. To add to the litany of shipping screwup commiseration stories: My wife works for a law firm. They use a company whose initials are “FedEx” to send settlement checks to clients (no I don’t know why they don’t use a courier). A client got a “sorry we missed you” note on his door one Friday instead of his $36K check. He called the number for re-delivery, and was told the check had been delivered. “Why the note, then?” “We dunno, but the log says the check was delivered.” Client calls my wife. She goes through several levels of customer “service” and gets the same run-around. “Who signed for the delivery?” “Nobody. It wasn’t requested.” “The hell it wasn’t – the “no signature required box” was NOT checked.” “Oh, we changed our forms. Now you have to fill in another section to require a signature.” “Are you SURE it was delivered?” “Oh yes! The log says it was.” “No chance of a mistake?” “No. It was delivered. Period.” Law firm stops payment on check and issues another one, to be hand delivered Monday. Client calls on Monday morning: “I got the check.” “We haven’t sent it out yet.” “FedEx just brought it.” Law firm calls bank, un-stops payment, tears up duplicate check, and everybody is happy. Yeah. [headdesk]

  24. I had this happen to me a couple of weeks ago. UPS “accidentally” re-routed a package that I had sent to my parents in AZ. It arrived 2 days late because they had sent it to WA by mistake (really? the package originally was sent from OH). Perhaps it’s a bug in their system that has to do with AZ?
    As for the person who said DHL is out to lunch, I have to agree. They once delivered my laptop to the wrong house on a Friday (even though our house was clearly marked with letters both on the mailbox AND on the actual house) – I spent the next two hours on the phone with “management” (hesitate to call them that) explaining that I had sensitive client information on the laptop (password protected, but still) and that it was NOT acceptable to leave the laptop at someone else’s house all weekend. Needless to say, I got my laptop on Monday anyways. Will never ship through them again if I have a choice. (Though in Canada where I now live, I’ve never had a problem with them when I’ve been forced to use them).
    So sorry this happened to you Wil. Hopefully UPS realizes their mistake and rectifies it properly (though it sounds like they aren’t).

  25. Wil, I know this is off topic, but did you do a quick cameo in the Leonard Nimoy verson of Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song? At 1:29 there is a blurred customer checking out and leaving that resembles you.
    Joe

  26. Sorry, but sometimes there’s little control when someone else messes up. You can try switching carriers but FedEx and all the other mess up sometimes too. They promise to do thing correctly at the last minute and even well ahead of time but can’t pull it off.
    The nasty thing is someone usually can’t even pick this stuff up for you as they usually require correct identification from the person or group receiving it.
    Take it from me, find a way to have a guinness and chill or laugh it off. That’s hard when it represents lost sales, disappointed fans and, of course, loss of revenue. You might have some recourse there if they didn’t have something nasty in the fine print – loss of revenue because of their mistake. But that type of thing may not be worth pursuing either. It has a small chance of bring you some settlement but can make you angrier, and could do something to your rep even if unfair.

  27. Yeah, because of UPS’s “competence,” my house is now flagged as “do not even dare think of leaving a package here without getting a signature.” But that comes after 6 months of fighting and losing my TV that I sent in for repair.

  28. sucks! i work for a company that does contract work for UPS. we receive about 15,000 shipping labels a day. our job is to fix all the errors on those labels (shipping information, account #s, zip codes etc etc) most of the info is keyed in guatemala…the rest is processed here in the united states. im paid piece rate (i get paid according to how many documents i process) and dont really make much money overall. majority of the people they hire dont have a degree and are in desperate need of a job. i am in no way sticking up for UPS…but unfortunately they care more about quantity than quality. UPS fines us $10,000 for every deadline we miss. you should do the same!

  29. I’d ask your dear friends at UPS to provide you with as many pre-paid shipping tags (or whatever would go into the package to ship a book) as there are books in the boxes.
    Then, folks who would have obtained them there, can fill out the UPS shipping tag for delivery, and you can drop the whole lot at the UPS store, with the boxes, and let them ship the books to the new owners at their cost.
    That should be expensive enough for them to sit up at take notice.

  30. Yep, I’ve always called them “oops” for that very reason. They seem to fuck up so much, it’s inexplicable why they are still in business.
    Does remind me of a time when I was flying to Connecticut from Pittsburgh, and when looking for my bags at the other end, the airline told me that the baggage handlers “forgot” to put several bags on the plane. Like you asked above, I actually said to them “Isn’t that someone’s ENTIRE JOB?” How do you ‘forget’ to do your entire job?!
    Good luck with the books, Wil. :-/

  31. We ran into just about exactly that same issue with convention teeshirts this winter. Nothing’s quite as maddening as trusting your goods to a company that stops caring at 5 pm on Friday, screws it up and refuses to fix it, because “the system isn’t built to flag boxes.”
    I’m so sorry.

  32. UPS and FedEx are both terrible. They know how to make themselves very convenient for businesses to deal with. If you’re an average person and they’ve messed something of yours up, you are just SOL. They do not care and they won’t even try to make it better. They are infinitely worse than the postal service in my opinion.
    In my apartment complex (a solidly middle class kind of place) they just don’t deliver to apartments. Their drivers both lie and say they attempted a delivery and then they deliver to the rental office. I work from a home office. I’ve taken to having important packages labeled as “perishable” and having the shipper ask that it be delivered to my apartment for signature. Anything less than both of those steps and I’ll never see it and never even know they’ve delivered to the office.

  33. While UPS is not great – and I think that since they failed delivery when they said they would and you’d paid for extra-fast delivery, you’ll get at least a refund on that – though it’s not that big of a help.
    USPS is worse, much worse, in general.
    Part of the problem, though, lies in the Just-In-Time society we’ve come to live in. I understand that companies can’t keep *all* of the inventory on hand that they’d like, but unfortunately, they’ve gotten to holding *no* reserves, which leaves them critically vulnerable to shipping disruptions such as you’ve had.

  34. Hey Wil,
    1) I pretty much always use FED EX for shipping although I receive plenty of packages from UPS
    2) I try to always use FED EX 3 day because its cheaper (Fed Ex and UPS both don’t count Saturdays)
    3) If INGRAM carries any of your books we could always ship them for you (I think we sent a book that you gave away in 2007 or something… LOL)
    One final note if its not overnight FED EX lets you ship between 5 and 8PM which is kind of nice.

  35. I have no patience for UPS. It’s gotten to the point where, if a company uses them for shipping I won’t order from them. I’ll actually call a company if their website doesn’t say what carrier does the shipping and ask, and if it’s UPS I won’t place my order. I have never had a good experience with them. Fedex and regular mail have both always been fine for me. UPS, nothing but screw-ups.

  36. I feel your pain. Thrice I’ve been burned by UPS (pronounced “Oops!”). One time, a signature required package was left on the front porch. Online, it claimed Mr. or Ms. Front Door signed for it. The other two times were Christmas gifts mailed home after visiting family. One box was totally squashed (who knew UPS employs an elephant). Another box must have been sent back in time or to the Renaissance fair only to be jousted. That’s the only explanation I can think of why a hole a little over an inch in diameter was punched through two cardboard boxes, packing styrofoam, and dented my daughter’s new CD player to the point where the lid no longer closed. Again, these boxes were dumped on the porch without signature. Not that there’s time to sign for anything. The moment they dump your box on the porch and knock and/or ring the bell, by the time you think “There’s someone at the door,” they are in their truck, peeling out. So, yes, I feel your pain. I suggest you make UPS pay to ship anyone who shows up at the con and requests one of your signed autographed books… Then again, it might be a box of signed confetti when it shows up.

  37. Wil,
    Keep tweeting about their screwup using the hashtag #UPS. They have people watching Twitter for this stuff, and eventually somebody will notice and do something, if for nothing else than to get you to stop illustrating how lousy their service is. I’ve done this with a couple of companies and it’s amazing how quickly they expedite service when their name keeps getting tweeted with a “bad service” message.
    That being said, I try to avoid UPS like the plague. They once claimed they delivered a package to a relative who lived on a military base; what they really did was leave it on the sidewalk of a busy intersection, and thieves made off with it in no time. Then, when UPS tried to claim they never said they delivered it, we had the name of the person who told us, and a fax copy of the “signature”. The delivery guy had forged it. We eventually got the base commander involved, but of course, by then, the holiday gifts were long gone to people who had no sense of ethics.
    anyway, keep tweetin’ about their lousy service. And, I hope they come through for you. Four days to get a package less than 600 miles is pretty vile and useless.
    CC Petersen, aka Spacewriter

  38. Damn, Here I was bitching about UPS today! Recieved my 24″ Samsung monitor back from warranty repair. Three days from very Northern NJ to very Northern NY. Sat just at a their facility just North of Albany for a day. Which is odd. I order stuff from Newegg that gets shipped out of Edison,NJ and it is here two.
    Anyway, waited all day. The one moment I step out they show up. Thankfully someone else was home as it was pour cats dogs out. Last time I got a package via UPS in weather like this they didn’t even knock. Found soaked package a few hours later. The monitor was shipping in its original box. Which not looks like it was kicked here. Has a hole large enought to put my fist though. The original formed foam packing is all cracked or broken in places. Must have arrive at the service center abit worse for wear too. As a rip in the side of the box is taped as well at the foam packing in a couple of places.
    Thankfully, the monitor is unharmed and works.
    I’ve been having better luck with FedEx. They actually pull in my drive way, knock a few times and wait for answer.

  39. Dude, I feel ya. I’m a big fan and I can see where you’re coming from but….
    …shit happens. People make mistakes. Businesses make mistakes. Maybe you shouldn’t have waited until two days before the books needed to be somewhere before shipping them.
    It’s kind of shitty to hang your dirty laundry on your blog too (a blog that I totally love to read, btw).
    Just my two cents. :)

  40. Back in 2005 we ordered a laptop and printer from Dell. They used UPS for delivery. Both packages were sent at the same time. The printer arrived a week later but the laptop never arrived. Dell was good enough to send us a second new laptop for free, this time they used Fed-Ex and we got the laptop in two days. I’ve always wondered what happened to that first laptop.

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