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Brett Nordquist (Customer Experience Engineer)

Voting with My Wallet

Written on January 4, 2018 by Brett Nordquist

What are you willing to trade for cheap? 

I had two boxes to send across the country. A US Post Office and a UPS Store are equidistant from my home, but I decided to take the cheap route and head to the USPS. 

The look on the woman's face behind the counter let me know she wasn't happy I showed up 20 minutes before close. 

"Do you take credit cards?" 

The last time I visited, they only took cash or a check. She didn't look up as she sorted items around the register but finally told me they now take Visa and Mastercard. "But only if you spend five dollars", she says which is odd since she can see I've placed two decent sized boxes on the counter. 

"I'd like to send these", I say as I try to make any connection with this person. She shakes her head, and I'm not sure if I should come back or what. 

Maybe she's having a bad day. But I've done a lot of business at this location over the past five years. The older man who used to work here treated me well. My spouse had a similar bad experience the week before, but I still wanted to believe things had changed. 

She weighs each box but doesn't ask if I'd like to send them parcel post, Priority or Express Mail. She decided for me and gave me the total: Just over $26 which allows me to use my Mastercard! 

I walked out upset at myself. I voted with my wallet. 

I voted for cheap. 

I voted for poor service. 

I could have paid a little more and taken the boxes to the UPS Store. Sometimes they are busy, but they always have two or three people working the front counter. 

The UPS Store has helped me look up zip codes. They added a little more tape to a box that was falling apart. They greet me when I walk in the door. 

Next time I won't trade cheap for a poor shipping experience. 

Tags: Value, Cheap, USPS, UPS, FedEx, Shipping, Service
Niko PetrHead

And then, there are multiple sides to these kinds of services... Here in France, UPS barely ever rings at my apartment, they just let the little flyer in my mailbox and I can happily drive through the traffic jams to their depot, whereas LaPoste (who dispatches USPS parcels this side of the pond) always shows up, and let the parcels by the neighbours if I'm not home.
UPS might be friendlier server-side, but client-side, they're definitely not, at least here!

Posted on 2018-01-05 14:04:36

Niko, I agree with you. I've had mixed service on the client-side of things as well with all the major carriers here in the US. I have a large hedge in front of my porch and I've caught a few drivers tossing packages over it onto my porch.

Posted on 2018-01-05 19:39:19

It seems - from my experience - like quality of service from all carriers (UPS, FedEx, and USPS) varies based on the individual driver / delivery person more than anything else. Some are great, some are okay, some are jerks / lazy. I've been blessed to have pretty good delivery folks in my current location, for the most part. I'm sorry to hear the UPS guy (or girl) who serves your apartment doesn't do a good job :(

Posted on 2018-01-05 19:52:34
John Motzi

I take a pragmatic approach and I am mostly (but not always) satisfied. I have a free account with FedEx, UPS & USPS. This gives me automatic tracking whenever anyone sends me something using one of those services and gives me the ability to control what happens if I am not available to receive valuable packages. I like FedEx the best for receiving valuables since you can ship to the nearest FedEx location and pickup there. I find that UPS up and down the east coast is speedy and no need to buy expedited services when buying items online. On the other hand, UPS from the west coast to the east coast is quite slow (generally 1 week) and the item spends most of that time (several days) sitting in a UPS facility on the west coast. When I purchase an items from a west coast (or west of the Mississippi) vendor then I specify USPS Priority mail which is cheap and fast.

When I want to send something, I do the packing and generate the label at home. For some vendors (especially UPS) this can be cheaper than what they charge on site. It also allows me to shop around and makes the drop off more speedy since everything is already paid and ready. More often than not I end up sending with USPS Priority Mail which usually is cheaper and no slower than USP & FedEx. USPS also has a nice program for international shipping which is much cheaper than UPS or FedEx. Transit times to Europe or Japan are typically one week to 10 days. It's intesrting - with my local post office I always make sure I drop off at the desk and get a scan receipt rather than put it in the bin - I found I can lose an entire day or sometimes two days waiting for it to be retrieved from the bin and scanned.

The only exception to the above is the end of year holiday period when all of the vendors are much slower.

Posted on 2018-01-06 14:18:54

I need to do what you do and generate a label on my own from home. If you do that, can you hand your package to a UPS delivery driver or must you take it to a drop off location?

Posted on 2018-01-06 21:08:10
John Motzi

Yes, USPS drivers have scanners and will accept prepaid packages; UPS too although you will need to schedule the UPS pickup online.

Posted on 2018-01-08 10:14:57