(NaturalNews) [Editor's note: This article is being widely shared across the 'net and has apparently been making the rounds among UPS executives. One day after this was published, we received a call from a high-level UPS executive who apologized profusely for our problems with UPS and assured us the company was committed to solving the serious issues we were experiencing. Sure enough, in less than an hour, we were sent all the tracking number connections we had been asking UPS to give us for nearly a month. How did UPS suddenly get us this tracking data for our customers in about an hour when UPS had failed to get us that same information for a month? According to this UPS manager, somebody in the Texas offices of UPS failed to do their job. We were also told this experience was not shared by other customers across the country. I have know way to verify whether that is the case, but UPS did solve a huge problem for us very quickly once this article went viral. As a side note, I have a friend who works for UPS and he told me the package backlog in Texas had reached 1.8 million packages but that, "all of us at UPS worked hard and long hours trying to keep up."]
Over a week ago, I warned readers of the Natural News email newsletter not to use UPS for shipments this Christmas. That warning turned out to be entirely too optimistic: UPS is now in a crisis situation with countless thousands of packages not delivered on time. The company is playing the public relations spin game to try to assuage shippers and customers, but something is very, very wrong at UPS that you're not being told.
Here at the Natural News store, we ship out thousands of packages every week. Our experience with UPS has been an ongoing nightmare of logistical failures and broken promises. On the receiving side, too, we have had inbound shipments "lost" in the UPS black hole for weeks at a time. For example, one UPS Freight shipment was supposed to arrive at our warehouse on December 12th, but they failed to deliver it for weeks and told me three days ago that they might be able to deliver it today, but only if they could "find our location." Apparently UPS Freight no longer has the ability to understand what street addresses mean.
On the outbound side, UPS has pulled a number of unethical shenanigans on us from day one. For example, they're happy to collect insurance from you on all the packages you send out, but if they damage a package and destroy its contents, they will often turn around and say, "You didn't pack it right" and thereby deny the insurance reimbursement. For the record, we pack everything extremely well, using double-walled corrugated boxes, strong packing tape, etc.
Four weeks ago we rolled out the UPS MI (Mail Innovations) service which promised more affordable international delivery of small packages. This service combines the UPS internal package moving service with the U.S. Postal Service for the final stage of delivery. As a result, there are two different tracking numbers involved in UPS MI deliveries. To this day, UPS has failed to give us any way to link the USPS tracking number with the UPS tracking number so that customers can figure out where their packages are. For nearly four weeks, we've been pushing UPS personnel to resolve this tracking number linking situation, and what we are told is, essentially, that they have no time to solve this problem because all the personnel are too busy sorting boxes. (Huh?)
This is yet more evidence that something is critically wrong with the UPS logistics infrastructure. When customer service people who are supposed to solve data integrity problems say they are tied up sorting boxes that are supposed to be handled by totally different personnel in the hubs, that's a huge red flag that the stuff has hit the fan, so to speak. We have had to suspend the UPS MI delivery option as a result of all this.
"Over capacity" is just the cover story
Personally, I think the "we are over capacity" excuse being circulated by UPS is a cover story. I think the UPS logistics infrastructure is cratering. I've seen tracking logs where packages were sent back and forth between California and Texas multiple times. These are critical routing errors that create the very "over capacity" crisis UPS is talking about because it causes the same packages to be carried two or three times over the same roadway. This is a recipe for logistical disaster.
UPS is quick to blame weather events for its logistics breakdowns, but if you look closely at what's happening, the delays in package delivery far exceed the duration of weather events. A two-day cold weather snap in Texas, for example, should not result in a 7-day delay in packages. The numbers don't add up. Something has gone wrong inside UPS that's far worse than the weather or last-minute online retail purchases for Christmas. From my perspective, UPS seems to be falling apart at the seams.
Why shippers are looking at moving away from UPS
Based on what I'm seeing as both a UPS shipper (sending packages) and a UPS customer (receiving packages), I think the UPS information technology infrastructure is wildly outdated and being held together by duct tape and baling wire. I suspect UPS has neglected the necessary level of investment in the IT infrastructure it needs to stay up and running in an efficient manner. As a shipper, we are of course investigating alternatives to UPS because delivering packages via UPS is now looking riskier than ever.
Naturally, any time UPS drops the ball on deliveries, it creates huge blowback for shippers. Everybody gets screamed at, all the way up the line. Right now, Amazon.com must be fuming angry at UPS for screwing up its Prime shipping promises. No wonder the company is currently investigating drone delivery of packages -- a method of delivery that would completely bypass UPS.
The bottom line? Through its increasingly worse problems with logistics, UPS is rapidly making itself irrelevant. High-volume shippers are not merely looking at moving to competitors like Fedex; they are looking at ways to cut UPS out of the loop entirely.
And I can't blame them. I've never seen UPS so dysfunctional.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.