Having operated a franchised chain in the past, I am fully aware of how difficult it is to control franchisees.
But a recent experience with The UPS Store would indicate that the retail shipping specialist has more than its share of franchise issues.
My friend Bob made a trip yesterday to his local (Baton Rouge, La.) UPS Store to ship a business package. He had pre-arranged to bill the shipping to the recipient using that recipient’s UPS account number.
The only problem was that the local UPS Store didn’t allow for billing the recipient. The only option was for Bob to pay the freight and expense it to his receiving business associate -- or go elsewhere.
Bob went elsewhere.
He drove to a third-party mailing house, which boxed and shipped items using all the major carriers including UPS and Federal Express, and shipped his package exactly as he originally intended -- via UPS, and billing the recipient.
He walked out, mission accomplished, but scratching his head. “UPS’s own store couldn’t do what another, third-party retailer could?” he asked. “That makes no sense.”
He decided to ask UPS to explain. He emailed the corporate office, explaining that he had tried to ship a package using the recipient’s UPS account number, but was denied. “I’m confused,” he wrote. “Why even bother having a store if I can't ship a package using a UPS account from a UPS store? This makes no sense.”
What makes less sense is UPS’s response. “Dear Bob,” the headquarters customer service representative wrote via email, “The UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc. locations are independently owned and operated. Both The UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc. are franchises of Mail Boxes Etc., a subsidiary of UPS. The UPS Store offers convenient shipping locations, certified packaging experts, and published UPS shipping rates. Published UPS rates are offered for transportation charges and most miscellaneous charges, except for declared value. You can obtain a rate quote for transportation charges at The UPS Store by using the UPS Calculate Time and Cost feature at the following link. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to bring your concerns to the attention of your local store management personnel.”
So, in other words, UPS is saying that “I am not only going to pass the buck and blame it on the franchisee, while accepting no corporate accountability, but I’m going to confuse you with a bunch of transportation gibberish to boot.”
Sounds to me like some of the customer-service experts out there should ship one of their how-to manuals to UPS. But don’t try to bill the recipient.