June 25th, 2010

A Short Story: UPS Blues

UPS Truck


"Ha! Suckers!" I thought, ambling into work at 9:30, pleased at being almost on time for work for once. I'd queued up at silly-o'clock once before, for the launch of the iPhone 3G two years ago. It hadn't gone well — my store ran out of iPhones before I got to the front of the queue and I wasn't that far back at all.

For the iPhone 4, I pre-ordered for delivery instead. I sat at work smugly tweeting about not having to queue. You can set your watch by the UPS van here — if your watch is only accurate to 15-minutes, at least — so I was confident I'd have my iPhone by 4pm.

Refresh refresh refresh. Online tracking assured me my parcel was out for delivery. Refresh. Out for delivery.


No UPS truck. I phoned UPS.

"The iPhone rollout is causing delays today," the friendly lady offered. "Your van is probably just running late — they'll be running until 7pm."

Time passed. I called again a few times. Each time, same answer.

My repeated attempts at getting answers had got the UPS call centre to put an "urgent resolution request" or some such to my local depot. They'd call me back!

Refresh. Out for delivery.


They didn't call me back. I phoned the call centre again — as soon as the computer answers, star-zero-zero to get to a human. "Your request is due to be resolved by 8pm." Annoyed, I decided to go home.

Refresh. Out for delivery.


The phone rang between the office door and the car. "Hi, this is someone from the Luton UPS depot" said someone who probably actually had a name. "I've been looking for your parcel, and it's actually here at the depot."


"It's been here all day, actually." I heard her brace for a barrage of abuse.

Stay calm. Calm calm calm.

"Can I come and collect it now? Normally UPS won't let me collect unless you've tried to deliver at least once."

"That is normally the case, but since this is our fault I can make an exception."

Damn right you'll make an exception, I thought but didn't say since it probably wasn't her fault. Determined to not waste half of another day, I set off for Luton.


"If you could just write your address here, I'll go and find your parcel."


"Daniel, right? I think I spoke to you on the phone earlier. I know exactly where your parcel is — I'll be back in a minute.


"Sign here, please."


She hands over the parcel. Triumph!

"So, what happened? How can a package be scanned in as on the truck, but not actually be on the truck?"

"I'm not sure — I think the driver for your area was off today."

"Oh, so there's a big pile of stuff for my route back there?"

"No, only one or two things actually."

I saw the panic spread across her face as her web of lies started to untangle.

"I'll be sure to pass this on to our supervisor to be properly investigated. The exit is just over there — press the white button to open the door."


Mmmmm, Pizza Hut. What wasted day? Hmmm, I wonder....

Refresh. Poor Android phone, so diligently tracking its replacement. "19:01: The package was missed at the UPS facility. UPS will deliver on the next business day."



The lines marking where I'm supposed to cut my SIM down into a microSIM go through some of the metal contacts on the chip. That's fine, right?


"Your iPhone is now unlocked."