Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Yesterday, as I was reading Natasha's post about mail, I remembered some of the more bizarre mail situations I have encountered. I wrote some of them on her blog, but as she suggested, I believe today I will write them here. This post is not intended to be negative, but simply written for the comedic value. I really am over it. Really.

UPS: I call them Oops because they seem to screw up more than any of the rest. My first experience with their ineptitude came when I had ordered an item for one of my collections off eBay. I waited at home for it to come, and when I never heard or saw the UPS truck, I finally called to track it. They said "it has been delivered." so I asked where it was. They said "The note says 'outside garage'" so I looked. Outside garage meant "unceremoniously thrown in bush". The second time I was receiving something important from Oops at home, I put a note on the aisw door to the garage telling them to leave the package just inside that door. I thought "this way, they won't throw my new camera in a bush." Well, they didn't throw it in a bush. Instead they left it on the back porch right under the rain gutter with a note taped to the window overlooking it. Problem was, the shutters were mostly turned and the note wasn't obvious. I noticed it as I was sitting down to breakfast the next day, somewhat perturbed my camera never came, and I probably looked like a dog watching TV as I tried to figure it out with my wakening brain. I decided right then I would never actively choose to use Oops. Then the third error really sealed the deal. I ordered a desk from Office Depot, who uses Oops to make many of their deliveries. An office desk, not a single ream of paper, not a box of envelopes. Yet somehow they managed to lose the desk. Like I said, an office desk - not a small item. Office Depot finally had to bring me a desk on their own truck because Oops never found it... or never admitted to finding it. For all I know, someone in the back of a UPS facility (or maybe at home) has a really nice desk.

Airborne Express: Before they were purchased by DHL, Airborne already had plenty of problems. In our apartment in Idaho, they never could seem to figure out that the basement apartment was not on top of the house, so our neighbors got a lot of packages for us. I'm still not sure we ever got all those packages, either, because these were the sort of neighbors who intentionally blocked a parking space out by parking two cards about five feet apart. Then we moved here, and I got an Airborne package containing my repaired laptop. The package had clearly been sitting in a puddle or at least some water because the entire bottom was soaking wet. Fortunately the computer worked, but I never used Airborne again.

DHL: Now that Airborne has been bought by the German DHL, they have these nice new yellow vans, more available packaging facilities, and less competent delivery people. One day at my office, one of my employees received a package and just automatically opened it. He was never been on reading labels first, considering it safe to assume the packages were for our office - crazy idea, I realize. Well, he called me over to his desk and said, "you need to come check this out." I came in to see two envelopes with stacks of bills sticking out. I took the cash and counted it (not thinking until later I was putting my fingerprints on every bill). Each envelope contained exactly $500, so we had $1,000 in cash we knew nothing about. He looked at the envelope and the address was for something in a trailer park east of town. Nothing on it matched our company in any way. So I called DHL to tell them of their mistake. They would not send the driver back (she only goes through town once a day, apparently), so I told them they probably better reconsider. "Someone is probably expecting this package." When I explained the contents the woman informed me "Oh, we'll have to send that back. We don't ship cash." I said, "Well, you only know it's cash because I told you, so you probably better drop it off." By then I had considered the possibility the money was drug-related, and I did not want a dealer to come packing heat to my door looking for his money. That time, DHL kindly obliged and sent the driver back. The second time they failed to deliver the package to the right address - this time the correct recipients were customers of ours south of town, but still there were no markings suggesting the package should come to our address - DHL would not send the driver back. She only came by two days later to bother to pick it up and redeliver. I decided I would not entrust DHL with anything at that point.

United States Postal Service: the post office regularly refuses to deliver priority or express packages to our address simply because we have a post office box, even though that is against their own stated policies. The worst, though, was when I sent a package to South Jordan (in Utah) and discovered it took a detour through Amman, Jordan. The postal service worker explained that they used five numbers for postal codes, too. I asked if anyone bothered to notice the address referred to a golf course (I won't say the exactly item because it would be rather easy to find the street if I gave a normal person that information). Apparently they did not, but it eventually arrived in Utah. I decided I would still use the post office, but I would make sure anything important was trackable (which that one was, fortunately).

The only service I have never had a major problem with is FedEx. Both the regular FedEx carriers here in town known me by name, and even know me well enough to know if they're at my office and have a package for my house, they can just drop both off at the office. We even call one of them Mr. FedEx because he is so friendly, so responsive, and so good at his job. We even wrote a letter of commendation to his superior to let them know how much of an asset he is to their company.

And no, this was not written as a FedEx commercial.

-- Robert


Suki said...

I think you should have called the post "UUPS, I did it again!"

This is why I am wary of having stuff shipped to me from abroad. I wait patiently till someone comes to India and brings it by hand. The domestic courier services here are quite good - the only mishap we had was when the carrier got scared away by the stray dog in the driveway!

Robert said...

I'm sure I've had other experiences beyond these - like the man at the post office who is a complete jerk to everyone when he "helps" with their mail needs - but these are the funniest.

Melissa said...

Like JORDAN Jordan? As in the Middle East? THAT is priceless!

Robert said...

Yes, as in Jordan in the middle east... which is like the story about the Atlanta Olympics when a man called to ask how he could get tickets. They said "Where are you calling from?" He said. The man said he was from New Mexico, so he then heard "Oh, then you'll need to call your embassy." The man, baffled, said, "No, not Mexico, NEW MEXICO!" to which they said, "New Mexico, Old Mexico, it doesn't matter, sir. You still need to call your embassy." and was hung up on.

Amber said...

does tommy still work at the post office?

i miss his smile.

Crisanja said...

I've had similar experiences and have heard of friends with similar experiences. We constantly had packages delivered to neighbors, lost in transit or damaged.

The one that takes the cake though was something that happened to a friend of mine, I believe it was FedEx. She had ordered something and was tracking it, the day it was expected to be delivered, she got online to see if it had been dropped off, it said parcel delivered. She looked all over the house, outside and inside, asked her neighbors, was going crazy trying to find it. So she called the delivery company and asked where the driver may have put it, they pulled up the information and it said "package left in garbage can"....

Robert said...

Amber: yes, Tommy still works there (and is the one to whom I was referring in my previous comment).

Crissy: that is priceless. I have never had such an experience (at least not one that stands out) with FedEx.

I remembered another experience, though - in graduate school when UPS left a note on my apartment door that I was supposed to sign to signify I lived there and what to do with my package. I signed it and told them to leave it with the office of my apartment complex. Their way of interpreting that response? They told the sender that I did not live there and were about to SEND IT BACK when I managed to call them. The sad irony was the place sending it was right there in town and I would've just picked it up there if it was available on their shelves at the time I had ordered it.