I don't like feeling helpless.

And I don’t like UPS.

If you send me a package via UPS, here is what will happen: I won’t be here, because I don’t stay in my house all day. They’ll leave a door tag with a checkmark in box B, “The sender required a signature at the time of delivery.”

(I’m not sure why it’s always box B. I can’t imagine all senders always pay for signature delivery. If they could have checked box A, “Your written authorization is required to leave package(s)”, that would be fine; I’d sign the tag and they could leave it tomorrow. It might always be B because I’m in an urban area and we’re all thieves here.)

I have a few options, most of which are not really options:
1. Stay home all day tomorrow. I’ve tried this before, and it results in me feeling like a prisoner in my house. It’s terrible. Once I ducked out for literally an hour, right around the corner, for a cup of coffee, and put a note on the door asking UPS politely to leave the package or call me. I came back to find “Can’t leave package. No phone.” scrawled on the note.
2. Ask a neighbor to stay home. I don’t know my neighbors beyond their names and saying hi; I’m not going to ask THEM to be prisoners in THEIR houses.
3. Ship it to my office. I don’t have an office.
4. Ask them to hold it at the UPS main dropoff location, pick it up on my bike. This is about 5 miles south of downtown; at least a half hour bike ride in the opposite direction of everywhere else I ever go, through industrial wasteland, and that’s if it’s a small enough package that I can take it on my bike. Net cost: 1 hour.
5. Ask them to hold it at the main dropoff location, take a bus. Net cost: 2 hours and $4.50.
6. Just let it get returned to sender, ask them to resend it via USPS. I’ve tried this twice; once the company put up a big fuss and eventually agreed (but I discovered option 7 first so didn’t end up following through), and once the company re-sent it two months later, again via UPS. Also, this is dumb. Also, it’s not handled by websites or phone tree forms, so I have to talk to a human, so net cost: about 15 aggravating minutes, and my package gets delivered two months late.
7. Ask them to deliver it to the local UPS store. This is the same in their eyes as if I had asked them to deliver it to another arbitrary location; it’s as if UPS and The UPS Store were separate companies. UPS charges me $4 for an address change, and The UPS Store charges me $5. Net cost: $9.

Nowadays I just do #7, paying $9 extra in shipping on stuff costing as little as $50. It’s bad. But it’s not the end of the world, though, which is why I’m intrigued by how angry this whole thing makes me feel. It’s like yell-curses-around-my-(empty-)house angry, which is pretty much worse than anything else. Is it just that I really have no other stressors in my life of Riley? (could be.) Or is it that powerlessness angers me much more than most other stressors, and UPS is almost the only place I feel powerless?

Finally, is there a solution to this? I try to calm down and think rationally, but all I can think of is $9 (or worse: an hour of my life) going away for a totally avoidable reason.


Pete -

I’m wearing the same shirt. Just the other day I got put through the mill by UPS, whose driver delivered the package, but not to me but my neighbor next door (whom I had never spoken to). He left a note on my door that had a cryptic ‘#3’ scrawled on it, which I wasn’t smart enough to figure out meant he had delivered it to our neighbors. Instead I tried calling UPS (useless) and ended up driving to their transfer station well out of town, only to discover they had decided it was a good idea to give my package to complete strangers.

The week before I had just signed a FedEx label and got an email from their system minutes after it had been dropped off so I could scoot home and put the package inside. FedEx »> UPS.

Dan -

Yeah, I like Fedex too! Or I can just redirect it to the local Fedex store, which is also right in my neighborhood, for free.

The even more frustrating part about all of this is that UPS will probably never know we are all ranting about them.

Maybe if I tweet at them? People do that a lot these days.

Dan -

Other comments from Google Buzz, in case someone from UPS reads this:

Catie - Man, this was a super annoying thing while living in Seattle. (My place in Boston has a somewhat secluded porch, so packages left on the front porch aren’t like “HEY STEAL ME!” Also, who steals random packages? That just seems weird… and a federal offense. Long enough parenthetical.) That whole “you could always pick it up at our facility that’s not anywhere convenient” is so lame. What kind of customer service is that? In sum, I empathize with your frustration.6/15

Me - Thanks! True: who steals random packages, especially from behind a building? (my door is on the back of the building.)

Also, I’ll take the 1% risk that someone will steal my jacket, leaving me out $50, instead of a 100% chance that I have to pay $9. Maybe if I were ordering a $900 thing I’d change my mind.

Dan - Super obnoxious… that said I’ve never seen anyone get so mad about this :P You know typically UPS/USPS only do this if the seller requires delivery confirmation. Sometimes (ie ebay) you can tell them not to ship w/ delivery confirmation… probably would save you some trouble.
Also, not that you can do anything about it, but it’s a lot easier when you live in a city where it makes sense to have a car… then a 10-20 min drive is a lot less of a big deal.6/15

Shane - I’ve been told that the whole “signature in person” is a defacto requirement if your house isn’t free standing. (i.e. your neighbor can easily steal your box)6/15

Me - Yeah, and I’ve had family send stuff to me and when I asked why they selected signature confirmation, they said they didn’t. Sarcastic thanks, UPS!

Dan -

Here’s the email exchange I had with a UPS rep. Hey, at least they’re listening. Making shot-in-the-dark feedbacks like this (maybe it’ll get to the right people, maybe it’ll influence their decision?) feels a little hopeless, but less hopeless than doing nothing. And at least Twitter/email lets me have this exchange w/o waiting on the phone forever. So, non-sarcastic thanks, UPS!

From: Dan Tasse
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 10:48 AM
To: Customer Service Twitter (GKN4VWB)
Subject: Tweet about UPS

I recently tweeted this:
@UPS Hello! We feel helpless when we get things UPS’ed to us. We’d like to choose how to get our packages. Thanks! http://sedatesnail.blogspot.com/2011/06/i-dont-like-feeling-helpless.html

And received this response:
@UPSHelp: @sedatesnail We would love to help with options! Send us an email with your contact info to twitter@ups.com. ^KW cc: @UPS

So hello, here’s my email address. I guess to distill what my friends and I are saying: if I’m getting a package shipped to me, I’d like more control about how I receive it. Specifically:
- allow me to choose to leave my package at the door, even if I live in an apartment building
- allow me to redirect it to a local UPS store free of charge
- please give your drivers cell phones (or allow them to use their own); it could help in unusual situations.

Thanks for listening!

On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 12:18 PM, wrote:
Dear Dan,

Thanks for reaching out to us for assistance. I can understand that our delivery arrangements are not always convenient for everyone. The UPS Store has mailbox services that might be a good alternative for delivery. I have included a link so that you can check out their mailbox options:


I was unable to view the cost of rental, but would be happy to provide you with the telephone number for the store location conveniently located to you. They might even allow you to send packages directly to their store (with prior arrangement, and a possible additional fee), rather than having the package shipped and then redirected. Just an option you may want to pursue. Let me know if you have an additional questions.

Thanks again for allowing us to respond. Best regards,
Katrina (redacted)
UPS Customer Relations

From: Dan Tasse
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 2:06 PM

To: Customer Service Twitter (GKN4VWB)
Subject: Re: Tweet about UPS

Hi Katrina,
Thanks for the info. As I’ve mentioned, I asked them about getting packages shipped there, and they let me do that (with a $5 fee). I don’t get packages often enough to justify renting a mailbox.

I guess I was looking more to provide feedback that you could relay to the higher-ups so they could use it in future decisions about UPS. From your response, I’m hearing that UPS won’t consider any of my three requests. Would you please pass this feedback on (perhaps in aggregate) to someone with the authority to make decisions about this sort of thing?


On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 2:01 PM, wrote:
Hi Dan,

I will make sure that your comments are documented, and forwarded to the appropriate department. Thanks again for taking the time to let us know.
Katrina (redacted)
UPS Customer Relations

Anonymous -

You’ve never had to live on food stamps in your life before, have you?

Dan -

Hello snarky anonymous! No, I haven’t. Sincere question: what is it like? Is there some dumb part of the process that makes the food stamp user feel helpless?

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