Wednesday, June 23, 2010

UPS: Customer service brown-out?

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.


denise lee yohn said...

ups's response is unbelievable -- in addition to the message being confusing and passing the buck, as you point out, it also seems like it was cut and pasted from a standard corporate communications script -- i would think a company with the brand platform summed by the ad line "what can brown do for you?" would do more for your friend bob than give the pathetic response he got -- whatever!

Anonymous said...

UPS Stores will never allow shipping on a third party account. It steals our business.

Anonymous said...

UPS is terrible. worst ever. Never in time, always with some stupid excuses. I really heartily hate it

Outsource Call Center said...

In my opinion, Good customer service is necessary. I believe that treating the customer so politely makes them so comfortable and satisfied with your services.


Anonymous said...

In response to this concern, the reason you are not allowed to bill a different account # than your own at a UPS store is because the store cannot confirm the other account # is willing to accept the charges. This is to protect against fradulent charges, which are a MUCH bigger concern (at least to most people I would assume) than not being able to bill someone else. If a dishonest person stumbled upon a company's account #, what is to say they wouldn't take all of their packages to the UPS Store and bill them all to that company? I would assume companies would rather have the extra precaution to avoid wrong charges? There are security measures in place (thankfully), but you are able to bill another account # through very easily. This way you can create the label at home using your inkjet printer and simply drop the packages off at the UPS Store, thus avoiding waiting in line as well. What Brown Can Do For You is protect your companies funds.

Anonymous said...

No matter what, we should face the fact that having a good customer service is a must in any business industry. Just like what Macy's motto is all about, "Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish the customer." Because without our valued customers, any business will surely face a downward trend.


Order taking service

Anonymous said...

The ONLY reason UPS does not take house accounts at there "Branded" stores, is MONEY, GREED. they could change this, they choose not to.

Anonymous said...

What you guys don't realize is that if a UPS Store accepts a package with a bad account number on it, they get charged for the amount that was supposed to go to the account. It is not all greed and it's not to be difficult. It's about not losing money. Most people get the point when you explain it to them, but some just think that everyone is trying to screw them and can't look at it from another's point of view.

Anonymous said...

Just had this same thing happen to me. I have someone sending me some packages from another state and they were not allowed to use my UPS number. I'm sorry but this is ridiculous. It's now going to cost me at least double to ship the packages to me because they wouldn't take my account number. I now have to pay published rates instead of my discounted rate. This policy is all about money!

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just generate your OWN label and email it to the shipper?
It's not ridiculous if you don't take time to learn and understand what's going on within the industry.
It's really easy for the writer of this blog to point out the flaws within the system without actually being PART of the system. Why not change stances and point the finger at FedEx? They won't allow UPS Store's to ship "FedEx" because of the UPS shield on the outside, even though the stores are all independantly owned and operated and fully capable of shipping FedEx. Instead they inconvience their customers and force them to drive 10-15 miles out of the way becasue they lack the retail presence that UPS has.
Also, those wonderful little '3rd party' mailing houses are a dying breed. We've had two in our community fold within the last year and the only thing that's left is a UPS Store.
Try to understand from the small business owner perspective that everything costs money, and the blog IS right to a small degree, they are in a pissing contest with their franchisee's which has caused a trickle down effect to the consumer. Suck it up for once and pay the published rate, support the local stores until they find a fix for this issue, if they ever will. Or learn how to utilize your own UPS account number better where you don't have to rely on using 3rd party billing.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous - May 4, 2011 2:31 PM

"Why don't you just generate your OWN label and email it to the shipper?"

Because that apparently is not a direct option offered when generating a label and, hard as it may be to believe, not everyone has immediate access to a scanner or email on site. My local UPS Store will not allow use of another's acct#, however, I can take the package(s) to the nearest hub or staffed Customer Center who will. Look up the location of your nearest hub at

Anonymous said...

If it's not a direct option, then complain to UPS to upgrade to allow for this. It's as easy to put an option in there that could say 'Email this label' just like it already says 'Print'

And yes everyone DOES have immediate access to a scanner if you're already giong to a UPS Store. I don't know of a UPS Store that does not have scanning capabilities.

It's this easy: Go into a UPS Store, pull up your account, generate a label, print it, scan it, email it, done.

We're here to help, not hurt our customers or UPS's customers. Trust this, when over 4,000+ stores Nation Wide don't accept account numbers, there's a VERY good reason for it.

Anonymous said...

So Fedex can figure out how to do this at Kinkos and UPS can't? And it's not just other peoples account numbers - you can not use YOUR OWN account number either. Again - FedEx can figure this out, but UPS can not for some reason...

Anonymous said...

Fed Ex Kinkos are corporate owned, whereas UPS Stores are locally owned. Fed Ex does not have to share the shipping revenue with anyone. Yes UPS could do this, but how could they provide two parties incentives and still remain profitable. Totally their problem, not the franchisees.

Chicago said...

The ups store won't even let me ship using my own account. They had me pay for the franchisees are a bunch of assholes.

Chicago said...

The ups store won't even let me ship using my own account. They had me pay for the franchisees are a bunch of assholes.

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