PhotoIf you’re reading this in the continental United States, there’s a very good chance your local road conditions are currently awful, what with the gigantic winter storm that made its way over most of the continent these past few days. So if you’re expecting a UPS package that’s arrived late, you could maybe blame the weather—except that when we checked our consumer-review archives, we found plenty of recent complaints pre-dating even the first hint of inclement weather.

One problem with the potential to plague UPS customers is that many UPS stores are actually independent franchisees, so complaints to national headquarters will often be referred back to the independent franchise-holders.

Daisy of Lake Oswego, Oregon, complained about this to us on Nov. 27: “I was anticipated to receive a package for today. I waited all day to get it. Then when I refreshed the page, it says it was delivered? To who? I never heard the doorbell ring or heard a knock. Says delivered at 10:04 am. When I called customer service, she said she couldn't do a thing about it?!! She advised me to contact my local UPS store, ... they referred me to call customer service.”

Waiting at home for packages that don’t arrive is a common theme among the complaints. Here’s what Philip of Flushing, NY, said on Dec. 4: “UPS emailed me that a package would be delivered the next day. At 9 A.M. the next day their web site said that the package was out for delivery and would be delivered by the end of the day. I stayed home to wait for the package. At 1:30 P.M. I checked the status again and found that it was changed to read that the package was scheduled for delivery the next day. When I called UPS customer service for an explanation, they said that the original info was put up based on the expectation that the package would arrive on time and be sorted to the correct route on time. However the package was delayed and the delivery had to be changed.

“Since someone has to be home to accept a package, it is important that UPS be accurate in stated delivery time. They should not post 'Out for Delivery' until the package is actually on the truck. I lost a day waiting for this package. UPS will not reimburse me for lost time and wages.”

Wasted time

United Parcel Service (ups) Dec. 9, 2013, 7:47 p.m.
Consumers rate United Parcel Service (ups)

Like its competitors FedEx and the US Postal Service, UPS makes most of its deliveries during normal business hours – which, incidentally, are the hours when most Americans with jobs are not home to receive packages. Michael in Honolulu told us, “I've wasted about 3 hours of my weekend trying to get an option other than leaving it at my doorstep all day while nobody is home.”

“Y” in San Francisco complained that UPS left his package on his doorstep “at night in a lighted doorway,” and although the UPS website confirmed delivery of the package, it wasn’t there when Y got home.

In fairness to UPS, such complaints are hardly unique to them; other package-delivery services ranging from FedEx to the official United States Postal Service generate the same types of complaints at roughly the same frequency.

In any instance, whether you enjoy good service or bad has less to do with which company you patronize, and more to do with whether you’re assigned a good or bad delivery person. As Y from San Francisco noted, “our usual UPS guy is excellent, but as the support guys told me [when I called to complain], they're using holiday staff …. avoid UPS like the plague over the holidays, and if you do risk using them, make sure you insist upon delivery signatures and all of that stuff.”

It also needs to be said that where you live can make a difference. Many neighborhoods are plagued by theft. If your package is left at your door and stolen before you can retrieve it, that's not really the delivery service's fault.

A solution, although an expensive one, is to contract with a UPS or FedEx store to receive and hold your packages. You can then pick them up at your convenience. Many smaller companies, like Postal Annex, also offer this kind of service. 

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