Friday 26 June 2015

Suppliers at risk from their couriers

Our offices are located in a busy part of town which happens to be part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The place is in the bottom of charming countryside river valley with hills either side. There's a mix of businesses and homes surrounding us. It is a very friendly sort of place and people leave their building's back doors unlocked, the front doors are locked to keep the tourists out. As with most businesses we have courier delivery and collection of various packages. If anyone is not at home/office one of the neighbours will always take in a parcel. Pretty much all of the couriers cope with this environment extremely well.

The better couriers will send an SMS text message to accurately predict when when they anticipate delivery. Others will attempt to deliver with no notification. If no one is available to receive the package, the driver will leave a note and either return the package to base or lodge it with a neighbour. In the case of the return to base, they'll attempt redelivery at a later date. This system works.

However our experience with UPS couriers is rather different. They don't advise in advance of a delivery. They make one attempt to deliver a package. If that doesn't work, they don't attempt to leave it with a neighbour nor do they return it to base. No, UPS take it upon themselves to deposit the parcel some hours later at a "nearby" collection point and leave a note through your door to that effect. The onus is then on the addressee to go an collect the parcel. It would be helpful if the delivery attempt note gave an address where you should go collect. In our case it was the name of a newspaper shop we'd never seen before. We had to use Google to track it down. The collection point was over 2.1 Kilometres away up the hillside approximately 200 metres higher. A good job we have a car to travel to it. It is not an easy walk. Disabled, or elderly people might find that a bit inconvenient to reach.

Someone in UPS seems to think they can save money by only attempting just one delivery before forcing the customer to collect from another location. It is a small wonder for us to discover their CEO's annual "compensation" doubled in 2014 to $8.4 Million. Perhaps funded by halving service levels?

The downside for our suppliers is that if they use UPS as a "logistics partner" we regard them as having an unreliable supply chain. Consequently that supplier is then blacklisted as a "only use in last resort." If they re-think their choice of courier then we might continue to do business with them, but meanwhile the business relationship is damaged.

In our case we contacted our supplier (Epson) to see if they could assist. The message was "you are on your own we won't help". Of course any phone calls to request assistance attract a premium rate call charge.

On a lighter vein, this Youtube video made me smile.

Of course it is easy to find other people with bad feelings about UPS. Here's one, but perhaps reading this in the USA and here in the UK I should count myself lucky.

Edit: 30/6/2015 I've just received a call from Estonia (about 2800KM distant).. It was the UPS Customer Services. The gentleman was polite, had good English but he had a noticeable heavy Russian/Eastern European accent. He wanted to discuss what had happened. The direction of the conversation was that the delivery problem was down to the delivery service specified by Epson. Let's just say it set my BS antennae quivering. He could offer no real reason for the unsatisfactory delivery, but said my views would be noted and brought to the attention of management. Having had the responsibility of managing several international help desk teams, I realise it means nothing will happen and the issue will be lost in a pile of statistics. So far as I'm concerned it was no answer to my complaint.

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