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  • Writer's pictureShelly Albaum

UPS Lies About Delivery Exceptions (Again)

Updated: Jun 25, 2020


The following day UPS once again declared that two packages were out for delivery, when in fact they had not been loaded to the truck. An irate phone call go the local distribution center resulted in a confession that there had been no fire emergency the previous day -- instead, all failed deliveries in the region were automatically "blanket" assigned an emergency code. The local distribution center also confirmed that it was human error that caused the scanned item to not get loaded, and human error that failed to update the record to show it was not in fact out for delivery after all.

Perceiving a genuine risk of an imminent civil action for conversion of property, UPS resolved the matter by delivering the package.

However, it should not have had to come to that. As I told UPS, because I enjoy wasting my breath, if you know on Sunday that the package can't arrive until Friday, I can plan for that -- just say so. What I can't plan for is daily false statements that the package is on the truck and out for delivery when in fact it is not.

Moral of the story: UPS does not run a tight ship, and once again they have gotten away with lies and incompetence with no consequences other than this public dressing down that no one will ever read -- not even you.

According to USA Today, United Parcel Service (UPS) paid $25M in 2015 to settle a lawsuit for lying about their deliveries -- for example falsifying delivery times, and using inapplicable delivery exceptions to justify service failure:

But UPS learned nothing from the experience, except that crime pays, and they are back to their old tricks. I learned this today from personal experience.

First, not all delivery days are created equal. Some days it is inconvenient to get a package, some days I am out of town, some days I need the package for a particularly urgent purpose, and ALL days if I am keeping the dogs indoors to facilitate a delivery that never comes, they can start to get impatient and chew things after a few days.

Second, time is money, as UPS well knows. And every day I don't have the package it is worth less to me. Legally, UPS has wrongfully retained my property, and should be liable for damages. Even if one day's delay isn't worth much by itself, it adds up if UPS makes such wrongful behavior an ongoing business practice. Also, doing it is one wrong, lying about it is a separate wrong.

The fact that they do not have a legal right to simply hold onto my property as long as it suits them, is why they lie about it and say that their truck broke down when it didn't, or that there was some emergency, when there wasn't.

I believe that common REAL reasons why UPS misses a delivery is because the driver forgot the stop, or because there was a scheduling mix-up, or because the driver just wanted to get home.

But those reasons look BAD in writing -- as if UPS did NOT run the tightest ship in the shipping business -- and worse, the regional manager's numbers look bad. So there is a lot of institutional incentive for UPS to lie, and not much chance that some customer is going to write about it on their blog, and not much change that anyone would care if a customer DID write in their blog. So UPS lies.

Like they did today.

I was told that THIS time my package did not come because of wildfires in the area.

There are indeed wildfires in the area -- the Nuns Fire is about 15 miles east of here, although it is 80% contained.

However, there is no fire on my street, nor was there any fire at UPS's Petaluma distribution facility when the package was marked as "out-for-delivery" this morning at 8:42 am this morning. Nor was there any fire in between my house and Petaluma, or even within 10 miles of the route.

There was no fire visible when the UPS truck drove in front of my house without stopping at about 1pm, nor when the UPS truck drove past again a few minutes later. (I live in a rural kind of area, so we don't expect multiple trucks on the route -- but if there WERE to have been multiple trucks, obviously neither one would have been at any risk of fire.)

There was no fire at 4:16 pm when UPS alerted me to a delivery exception: "An emergency situation or severe weather condition has delayed delivery."

At 4:17pm I was on the phone with UPS customer service, asking one simple question: WHAT was the "emergency situation," WHEN did it occur, and WHERE did it occur?

"Fires in the area," I was told. An hour later, after several requests to escalate, after several reminders that UPS had NO trouble getting to my street today (I SAW the truck in front of my house), after a specific request that a complaint/investigation be opened (which request was refused -- the customer service rep said that he would be disciplined for opening a case when an "emergency situation" code had been assigned) the customer service representative eventually hung up on me.

Before he hung up on me, I asked him how I could verify that an emergency situation had in fact occurred, rather than that UPS was simply retaining my package unlawfully? Could we call the driver? Could we call the distribution center? Would he have someone call me back with the information? I just want to know what was the emergency, where did it occur, and when did it happen. I was informed that there was no way for me to receive this information. I would just have to trust UPS that they were in the right.

I don't know why UPS wants to falsify their records. They probably have service-level guaranties with some of their bigger customers that they need to protect. Maybe the hapless shipper who counted on UPS to get me the package was the beneficiary of such an agreement. Maybe UPS promised some government agency, or some court, or their shareholders, that they would maintain minimum service levels. For all I know, their CEO brags to shareholders about how effectively UPS is able to overwork and underpay its drivers while maintaining (fictionally) high service levels.

I don't know why they do it.

But they did it before, and they do it now, and they lie to cover it up, and they refuse to provide the transparency that would prove otherwise.

Now would be a great time for a class action.


It is perhaps worth noting that although UPS customer service assures me that the fires caused the problem, UPS's website disagrees. Their inability to get their story straight is another sign of lies, guilt, and incompetence.

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