If Freelancers Worked Like This….

What I’m reading: Gilian the Dreamer by Neil Munro
What’s probably on the iPod: Mary’s Boy Child by Harry Bellafonte

By the time you read this, my daughter will be a day-old college graduate. πŸ™‚ I’m driving back home with her today, so I’m not around to comment until possibly tomorrow. I hope you’re enjoying a holiday break, as well. If not, I hope you’re earning oodles of cash.

I mailed out two packages last week. Because the one didn’t have a proper box, I took it to UPS. It had small items in it, so it came in at just under 3 lbs. I asked how much to ship – 15 bucks and change for regular ground or 39 bucks and change for expedited. I said, “Well, as long as it’s there by the holidays, let’s go with the cheaper.”

And here’s where it got interesting. I’m standing in the UPS office on December 15th. The young people behind the counter both said, “Oh, it may not be there by Christmas.”

Of course I asked why. “That’s 10 days from now.”

The littlest chirpee said, “Oh, it’s so busy right now that a lot of the time the guys can’t get all the packages on the trucks. It could be sitting in the back here until after New Year’s!”

They were young and had absolutely no clout (or clue), but I couldn’t resist messing with them. “Then tell me exactly why you’re in the shipping business if, as you say, you can’t guarantee you’ll ship.”

The eager one chimed in. “Oh, but we CAN! It’s just that you have to pay for the guaranteed shipping, that’s all. But with guaranteed it will be there in three or four days.”

“Wait,” I said. “I’m paying more than double for delivery that your company is supposed to be providing anyway? And even then my package won’t arrive for up to four days?”

She smiled. “Yes! It’s really busy right now.”

The next package went out via the post office. It weighed over 15 lbs. I insured it for $300, and asked for priority two-day shipping.

The price: $17.95.

And the letter is going out to UPS next week.

What do you think would happen if we worked that way?

About the author




  • Devon Ellington December 20, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    We'd be out of a job.

    The reason they get away with this crap is that too few people bother to complain, and they just accept it.

    I stopped using UPS when they cost me a freelance job, refusing to deliver an overnight package during the day, because they considered my building a residence, and they "don't deliver to residences until after 6 PM." Didn't matter that I was home. Didn't matter that the address is my business. They decided I wasn't a "real" business and refused to deliver until after 6 PM.

    I lost the job, and do not use them.

    Of course, I wrote a letter of complaint. Never even got the courtesy of a response.

  • Lori December 20, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    My letter is going out next week, Devon. And I think a little more complaining on the Internet couldn't hurt. If they won't hear the complaints individually, perhaps a collective of complaints will make a difference.

    Utterly ridiculous lack of service.

  • Diane December 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I'd never even heard of UPS until last Friday when a Royal Mail employee friend of mine received a card saying they'd tried to deliver but she was out … She'd been there all morning and they hadn't even knocked the door. Just put the card through anyway. Today, Monday, she's still waiting for her UPS delivery. And she's a postie.

  • Wendy December 20, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Congrats to the college grad and to the mom of the college grad. You must be really proud!

    UPS- Nothing good to say about them.

  • Lori December 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Diane, that's just crazy, isn't it? Why are they in business if they are so strict about how they intend to operate?

    Thanks, Wendy. πŸ™‚ I've yet to have a nice thing to say about UPS. My worst experience wasn't this one, but the time I was pulling up to my house as the UPS delivery person was THROWING my package ten feet across the hedges at my front door. And yes, it was fragile. Luckily for him, nothing broke.

  • Ashley December 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Congratulations to your daughter, and to you, proud mama! What an exciting time.

    I've often wondered how other businesses keep their business with such horrid customer service. There are SO many places I do not patronize anymore because I was treated poorly. It's just not worth the frustration to me.

  • Joseph Hayes December 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Lori, I'll type up a response in a little while, but I can't guarantee I can actually click the publish button before Christmas.

  • Lori December 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    LOL! Thanks for the laugh, Joseph. :))

    Ashley, it proves that just a little attention to a customer ca pay off in a big way.

  • Gabriella F. December 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Same sort of problem here, Lori.

    I got reminders two days in a row last week from UPS–and I'm here! Never buzzed, but just put up the notice. Finally got the package the third day.

    Congrats on your daughter's graduation! Glad you got to share it with her, too!

  • Paula December 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I've had decent luck with the UPS delivery folks here, but I don't ship UPS. Sometimes even FedEx is cheaper, and now the USPS offers far cheaper deals (boxes included in the shopping costs, too), so I usually ship with them.

    My gripe this holiday season is Radio Shack. As a Luddite, it's not a store I patronize, but I wanted to get my brother this really cool weather radio – it has great customer feedback and includes a flashlight, cellphone-charger, and a hand crank. Radio Shack's website has it as and in-store only offer for $19.99 while other retailers are selling it for $30+. I typed in my Zip code and one local RS store came up. Um, they don't have it. I called another. They don't have it. But you know what they ALL have? The next model up (model number I want is 300, this is 360), which retails for $50 or another one for $80.

    One store told me I could call 2-3 days ahead and have them order it for me. Not having located it at the store that supposedly had it in-stock, I decided I'd have to do that. So I called again and this person said, "Oh, we can't do that because you need to purchase it before we can order it." I'm thinking two things: 1) Why would I pre-purchase something you can't promise will even arrive in time for Christmas? 2) Even if you could guarantee its arrival by Friday, why can't you just let me purchase it over the phone?

    That guy put me on hold a few minutes, then said the next town over has one, and another store way south of here has one. I called another store (the one the website says has it in stock), and was told they don't have it, but they have the smaller $50 model. She took my info and said she'd see if she can track one down. Fifteen minutes later she called back, saying she was sorry but she couldn't located any of the model I want anywhere in our entire region.

  • Paula December 20, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    RS update: I called the toll-free number listed on the website as "other ways to get it," and was put through the voice mail system twice. (The second time someone asks "How may I direct your call" one is tempted to say, "This time? To someone who isn't working the switchboard.") They couldn't help,but gave me the number for my area's District Manager.

    The woman I spoke with there was actively thinking of ways she can track down the particular item and have it sent to the store of my choice. She's currently seeing if any neighboring districts have it in stock. Fingers crossed. If she can pull this off she's in contention for Santa's Top Elf.

  • Lori December 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Order it on Amazon, Paula. The one I bought my parents arrived in a few days (same model, it sounds like).

  • Lori December 20, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    They do that to me a lot, Gabriella. I get tired of the notices when I'm sitting right here.

  • Cathy December 20, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    UPS-USPS-FedEx-whatever-stop leaving a package on a totally drenched in snow front porch. At least set it inside the screen door.

    Thank you very much. πŸ™‚

  • Paula December 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    The same model at Amazon was a lot more expensive, Lori. The Amazon price was $38.50 – nearly double the Radio Shack price of $19.99. With a $40 price tag, it's not even an option.

  • Lori December 20, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I bet I got mine from Amazon via Radio Shack then, Paula. I remember ordering it there, and I remember it costing $19.99. Hmm.

    I'll pass along the note, Cathy. LOL

  • Anne Wayman December 20, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    sometimes I feel guilty buying from Amazon and not locally… until I try to buy locally.

    hugs and congrats to you and yours, and the best of holidays.

  • Lori December 20, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Likewise, Anne. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. πŸ™‚

  • Paula December 20, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    I bet you got the same one – RS is not one of the sellers carrying that on Amazon now. (The one for $38 had $8 shipping, too!) The RS District Manager called a couple hours ago , she checked everywhere she could and it's sold out. Yet their website still said it was available in-store.

    Either I go cheap and get him the flashlight one, or spend $10 more and get one with a solar charger. It might come down to what the stupid local stores have in stock.

    We could use a weather radio now- it's snowing hard. Gorgeous! And it's warmer out than it's been in weeks.

  • Wendy December 21, 2010 at 2:26 am

    You know, the more I talk to my son about Santa and Christmas, the more I start to realize something. Santa needs to get in the courier biz. I mean, think about it. He delivers overnight, he's quiet when he does it, the packages are always in good shape and the delivery costs are really reasonable. Compare that to UPS. We just need to need to get him to deliver more often, that's all. LOL!

  • Lori December 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    LOL! Wendy, I think you've hit on the perfect delivery service!

    Paula, I hope you find it. What a search for something you think would be readily avaiable!

  • Devon Ellington December 21, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    The local post office just put out an ad promising if you mail today — REGULAR MAIL, they will get it where it's going within the continental 48 by Christmas Eve.

    And UPS just lets the boxes sit until New Year's. So why should we pay them?

    I've used regular mail for everything and I believe it's all arrived (has yours?)

    No muss, no fuss, and they are lovely at our tiny post office.

  • Lori December 21, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    It has arrived, Devon. And I'm dying to open it. πŸ™‚

    Same experience. The post office is much more efficient than UPS. I can't say much about FexEx as my experience with them is limited, but I can say so far, USPS beats them all hands down.

  • becky December 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Am really fortunate that I've trained our UPS & FedEx guys to leave packages at our door. Our local post office leaves much to be desired. My mail (including checks!) has been misdelivered to neighbors multiple times. If I'm lucky, the neighbor will bring the mail directly to me (once someone left our mail downstairs on top of the mailboxes & my paycheck blew into the parking lot & I was just lucky that I went down & saw it). Not a fan of our local office. In fact, I'm STILL waiting on a check that should have arrived at the beginning of the month. Argh. /rant

  • Lori December 22, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Becky, you know you can complain up the food chain. They are required to get it right. I know occasionally mistakes happen, but a consistent problem should be reported. Don't take it, girl!

  • Lori December 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Now if I could just get UPS to stop putting packages right in front of the garage door. They don't even assume anyone is home. Twice I nearly ran over packages backing out. Once, it was my new computer.

  • Amie December 23, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Urgh, don't get me started with UPS…they recently cost me several hundred dollars when one of their carriers tried to cram a package between my storm door and my front door. When I sent the estimate to their claims department for the repairs to the storm door, they agreed to write me a check for half of the estimate "because, it's not like we're replacing a NEW door…" Yeah, but if you guys hadn't damaged it to begin with, my old door would be just fine.

  • Wendy December 23, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I was wrong. They did do one thing right for me. I ordered some new winter boots Mon. night. I was told that it would take 2 days to process the order and then they would ship it out. Tues. night I get an email saying they sent the package, UPS, that day (Tuesday).

    To my surprise, the package came Wed. morning. It wasn't scheduled to arrive until the 28th.

    It came from Ky to MN in one day. Regular ground service at Christmastime, mind you.

    Of course the delivery person just opens the back door (without ever knocking)and throws the package into my laundry room. It wasn't fragile, but still it could've been.

  • becky December 23, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Lori, I did complain about our mail getting sent to neighbors. All they said was that we didn't have a regular postal worker on our route and that they hoped to have one soon. Um… okay? Could you teach them to read and count, then, since they're putting the mail in the wrong boxes? (My mail was definitely not missing any delivery info.)

    I'm feeling ranty about the post office right now. A check I should have received at the beginning of the month has still not arrived (and it's not my client's fault that it's not here) and probably won't. Not sure if it got lost of if someone opened it & stole the gift card, discarding the rest. (So I'm not even sure who to direct my ire at!)