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Dear UPS, your service is terrible.

Note to blog readers: I will be mailing this letter out to UPS senior management later this weekend. Until then, here is a full (and at points, I admit, quite angry/emotional) response to the experience I’ve had getting two shipments from them this week. Caveat emptor, my friends. Caveat emptor.

TL;DR: Don’t use UPS unless you have multiple days when you can be available at home, a car, and the time to spend a total of 10+ hours on the phone trying to get the shipments you paid for. Oh, and unless you mind being lied to and misled at every turn by a company where no one is accountable for anything.

Enjoy the read. This is the worst customer experience I’ve had since Dorothy Perkins screwed me over a few years ago.


Dear UPS Senior Management:

Recently I had two shipments that were to come from UPS.

With the first shipment, a tag was left with the date but no indication of when another delivery would be attempted. The next day, I went into the hospital for surgery and apparently a second delivery was attempted. On day three, I arrived home and checked my tracking number, and was pleased to see that my item was “out for delivery” as of about 3:30pm. Some time around six, I started to get concerned because the bell hadn’t been rung – and when I went online the tracking system had changed to say that the delivery attempt had failed at 5:09pm. While I was in my house. And the doorbell never rang.

And the record online now showed “final delivery attempt”.

I immediately called UPS’ help line and asked what was going on. Lane (Lain?) responded. I asked why it said the final delivery attempt had been made while I was in my apartment and the bell had not rung. Over the course of several phone calls, including with supervisors who contacted your East New York UPS office at 10401 Foster Ave in Brooklyn, I was told that a delivery had been attempted, and the delivery man said he had rung the bell, and since he was a “good driver,” that the supervisor believed him. I was furious and asked what UPS planned to do to make this right, since the driver had taken the package to East New York – over an hour round trip from my house by car – and longer than that by public transit. I was stunned as well because in the past UPS drivers have left delivery items at a nearby pickup location. The person on the phone at your customer service center said I would receive a call before 10am the following day to give me an idea of when my package might be delivered, and that whether or not to drop the item off at a UPS location near my home was a decision that was entirely up to the driver.

Frustrated, I took to Twitter, and was pleasantly surprised when I was almost immediately asked to DM your help account…unfortunately, that soon soured as I realized that the reps (several of them) were a) not terribly responsive in terms of feedback time, b) simply reiterating information I had already been given, or c) claiming that I had already been given information that contradicted information I had been given over the phone line (specifically the hours of the pickup center; I had been told it closed at 7, then 9:30.). Upset, I finally DM’d Nordstrom Rack to let them know that UPS was not faithfully delivering their shipments and was not willing to accommodate the problem. Nordstrom Rack’s (very capable, friendly, and responsive) twitter team communicated with UPS and was able to get the depot to agree to send the shipment out again two days later.

The next day, a second shipment (two boxes this time) were sent out for delivery.

I started waiting at 7:30am, repeatedly checking both out my apartment window and regularly refreshing the screen. I never got the phone call I’d been promised the day before.

Again, I was shocked when I refreshed the screen only to see that the package was showing up as not having a deliverable address. When I called to ask what had happened,  I was told the shipper had not included my apartment number, but the driver would come back and re-deliver the packages.

This is where things got fun.

Over the course of the next four hours, I spoke to at least eight different members of your staff. I spent over two hours on hold (cumulatively). I was hung up on. I was transferred. I was told I would absolutely get my packages that evening. I was told that the depot would call me inside of an hour to arrange re-delivery.

An hour passed. Nobody called. I called back and asked what was up. I was told by “Chris” that it was still “three minutes” before the hour was up. I’m sure you can understand how gobsmacked I was by that response. I escalated (again) to a supervisor. Her name was Deb, and she said:

  • She understood why I was upset
  • She had personally spoken to the manager at the East New York depot, who had personally communicated with the driver that he needed to come back and deliver my items
  • That the driver had now been given both my apartment and phone numbers
  • That the driver was “working his way” back to me.
  • That she agreed it was important that I get my shipment
  • That I was lucky she had noticed the shipment was two boxes, so they would both get delivered.
  • That (and she volunteered this) it was very expensive and so of course I should be able to get it
  • That the driver would return within 30-40 minutes with my shipments
  • That the manager of the depot, Renee, would call me shortly, and that they had been speaking on another line over the course of my call.

I felt a bit better about this and waited for Renee to call me. Shortly afterwards, she did phone. But she had a very different message from Deb. She said that:

  • The packages would not be delivered this evening
  • That she could not guarantee if or when another delivery attempt would be made
  • That UPS was not going to take on the cost of returning a shipment, and instead my only option was to come to the depot to pick it up, or wait two days (It was sent two day air!) for it to have a turnaround in depot.

I tried to explain to Renee that Deb had given me specific information that contradicted what she was saying; Renee was not interested in upholding a promise made by your company representative and ensuring my packages arrived on time. In fact, she seemed to be blaming me for the fact that the package had been mis-addressed, even though I had immediately phoned upon finding out about the issue.

Now off the phone with Renee, I phoned your main customer service (hah!) line back and spoke with Susie, and asked if she could please re-connect me with Deb so I could figure out what the issue was. I told her that I had been told different things by every person I spoke to and felt that no one was accountable for what they were telling me. She said it would be “impossible” to reconnect me with Deb, put me on hold for another 5-10 minutes, then came back and said she was going to put me through to another supervisor, “Randall.”

Then Susie hung up on me.

I phoned back AGAIN, and this time waited about fifteen minutes to be connected with “Hansel,” who said he would make some calls back to the depot. I told him this was pointless as the depot had made their position known. He put me through to “Thomas,” who he said was from the local center, anyways.

Thomas repeated that they would not attempt to re-deliver the package that evening and he had no interest in explaining why I had been told different things by different UPS representatives. Finally, because of the urgent need for the packages, I had to make arrangements to borrow a car and will be making an hour-long round trip to collect the packages in the morning. (See “update” section below to see how that went. Sneak preview: badly.)

I am disgusted by what passes for “service” in your company. I was told lie after lie after lie by customer service representatives who are either maliciously misleading your customers, who are so incompetent when it comes to your company policies that they shouldn’t be let near a phone much less an actual human being.

I have informed Nordstrom Rack that while I love their products, I will no longer order from them unless they can send shipments via a different carrier. I am also going to be letting the person responsible for the air shipment know that UPS was utterly unconcerned with righting a shipping error and then gave misleading information (many different pieces thereof) to a customer who was incredibly concerned .

I have worked in retail and customer service for many, many years and I have never seen such a shambolic, clearly systemic mess – your company has utterly failed to deliver on its brand promise. Your representatives are poorly trained, your supervisors are confrontational and unhelpful, lies and misinformation were distributed by almost every single person I spoke to, and ultimately there was absolutely no accountability laid at the feet of the first driver for their failure to even ring my doorbell before saying a delivery attempt had been made (nor for leaving a blank slip; if I hadn’t called, I wouldn’t even have known no further delivery attempt would be made nor how to find my package), of the supervisors who gave me wrong times for pickup availability, zero concern from supervisors whose job – and maybe this is old fashioned of me, but what can you do – is to help customers who are being failed by the company. Over and over, I asked, what is UPS going to do to make this right? And over and over again the question was met by silence. (Please note that there was, of the dozen-plus people I spoke to, exactly one employee who was able to get my packages off a truck so I could drive a 90-minute round trip in a borrowed car to pick them up.)

As far as I can tell this is a systemic issue with the East New York facility, or at the very least with the driver assigned to this route. Your company representatives’ refusal to address or even acknowledge that, coupled with the disrespectful way I was treated for daring to ask where my packages were, are utterly nauseating.

My entire career has been one where customer satisfaction and issue resolution has been critical to the success of my employers. Please know that your team (with literally one exception, more details in the update below my signoff) failed miserably. I strongly suggest you advocate for an investment in better training for CSRs, depot supervisors/managers, and most importantly your drivers. Otherwise UPS will continue to let both itself and its customers down.

Having had enough of a letdown, I will not be one of those customers.

Good luck fixing things; I hope you encounter far less apathy than I did.


Rachel Brody

At 11:30pm last night I got an email saying the package was being sent out for delivery. I IMMEDIATELY phoned the depot and asked what was going on and would the package be there in the morning when we came to get it. I was ASSURED (by Tisha? Tricia? Tina?) that it was going to be there for pickup and was not going to be sent out for delivery again.

Well, guess what, I woke up this morning to another email saying it was on the truck and out for delivery AGAIN. I tried calling the depot and was put on hold for over 5 minutes before I hung up to call again. At that point, no one answered the phone. After multiple calls back, I got in touch with Janice at the depot. I told her the package had been guaranteed to be available for pickup this morning, that I had spent four hours on the phone last night trying to make sure we would be able to get the package, and that her coworker had promised at 11:30 last night that it would definitely, absolutely be there, so why was it back on the truck.

Janice responded by telling me not to “take a tone” with her, that she understood I was angry but she was trying to help me, and that she was not going to be spoken to with anger or frustration and that was not going to be spoken to in that way. She put me on hold to go see “if she could get the driver to take it off the truck,” and when she came back she said that my package was out on the truck. (Obviously. That was why I was calling).

IF I had any kind of tone in my voice, it was because I have spent the last three days dealing with your company employees’ failure to do their jobs. I have now dealt with three days of being lied to by your employees.  Including specifically being told last night, after calling at 11:30pm. I have spent two days waiting in my apartment and neglecting errands and other commitments because receipt of these packages is so absolutely critical.

Anyways. I reminded Janice that the shipment was TWO packages, not one package, and she seemed surprised by this, despite my conversation with Deb last night, making it explicitly clear to the depot (at least, she said she had) that it was a two-package shipment. She took my phone number at 8:52am and said she would try to reach the driver then phone me back.

I have now been waiting for nearly half an hour to hear back. I have written to both the companies who shipped me goods and begged them never to use your company’s pathetic excuse for “services” again. Not once have I been able to get ahold of the same person I talked to previously. Not once has anyone actually followed through on commitments made to me over the phone. Not once has anyone taken any kind of responsibility for what has happened. (Note: See below for the eventual resolution. Seriously, Janice is the only employee you guys should be keeping on board at this point. And I mean in the entire company)

After waiting over half an hour for a call back, I finally phoned Janice again and once again asked her how I am supposed to get these packages. I said I am upset because I have an event tomorrow of 100 people who need what is in those shipments, and I’ve already had to arrange two different friends to drive me out there to pick them up. She has put me on hold again.

Finally, at 9:24am, Janice has assured me that the packages have been taken off the truck and my friends and I can come pick them up. Once I have the packages I will be posting this letter to my blog. This is the worst customer service experience I have ever had, including the last time I posted an open letter to a company on my blog, which was several years ago.

Of everyone who works for you at 10401 Foster Ave in Brooklyn, and every single employee who I spoke to on the phone, Janice has been the ONLY employee who took the time and effort to actually solve this problem – and even that was after an initial confrontational attitude where she all but threatened to hang up on me because I was upset over being mistreated and lied to for three days straight.

Every employee other than Janice has lied or misled me, from the driver on Wednesday who said he had made a delivery attempt but never rang the bell, to the UPS customer service reps on the phone who gave me the runaround on when and how to get my shipment, to the UPS “help” group on Twitter giving me contradictory times about when the shipment could be picked up, to both Renee and Trisha/Tina/whatever her name was at 11:30pm last night.

That is all.

A Moment of Sunshine

Went to the beach on Saturday. It was great. Here’s a photo. 🙂


Call for Submissions: Climate Change Fiction Short Story Contest

Hey, socially conscious authors! Want to win $1000?

This January, Arizona State University’s Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative is inviting speculative fiction writers to:

“…submit short stories that explore climate change, science and human futures for its first Climate Fiction Short Story Contest.”

41UM6llyj9L._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_If that theme sounds familiar, you might recall the collection I edited and published several years ago, Hot Mess: Speculative Fiction About Climate Change (purchase link in the sidebar). Obviously, climate change – a phenomenon that the Democratic primary challenger Bernie Sanders calls the greatest national security threat there is – is a subject near and dear to my heart, and one that I think can be addressed effectively with fiction. While I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a follow-up collection to Hot Mess, seeing others take the initiative to start their own short story contests on the subject has me even more excited.

Also newsworthy about this contest: the judges will include none other than award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson, a science fiction legend.

With a deadline of January 15, 2016 and a grand prize of $1000 (and no entry fee!) there’s still plenty of time to polish up (or start fresh on) your favorite cli-fi themed piece of work.

What are you waiting for? The glaciers are melting, and it’s time to get to writing!

For full contest rules and details, and a link to submit stories for consideration,


Special thanks for information on this contest: Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager for the Center for Science and the Imagination as well as Assistant Director, Future Tense, at Arizona State University.

Malawi Update: Overwhelming Response!

Earlier today a friend pointed me to an article that’s gone up on the Malawi Project website:

Empty Medicine Bottle Response Brings Unimaginable Response

If you haven’t read it already, here’s my piece on taking part in this project. I now keep a box of empty bottles in my kitchen so I can save up and get ready to send another box full of bottles.

If you take medication (regularly or just once in a while) consider saving up your medicine bottles to pass on to this fantastic project! If not, they also take monetary donations – each shipment of bottles costs quite a bit to send, so every little bit helps.

Black Mirror Got Better

Holy crap.

So, a couple of weeks ago I wrote Black Mirror, Blunt Teeth, discussing how much I felt like season one of Black Mirror didn’t hold up to the hype — but I was still going to check in with the second season (and subsequent ones) because I’d been hearing so much about the show.

Well, I finished season 2 over Christmas weekend, and does that show ever warm up in its second season. Seriously, it was almost like watching two different shows: one lukewarm and cartoonish, the other utterly chilling.

We kick off with Be Right Back, which plays with the idea of people preserving themselves via their social media and online history. It’s an idea I’ve been playing around with in a few short stories, so it was kind of cool to see it done so well in this story. A young woman whose boyfriend dies tries to keep from letting go of him – and what happens because of it will give you goosebumps. For some reason, this episode reminded me of British Zombie show In The Flesh; thematically it covers different territory but the tones are similar.

Next up? White Bear. This was the episode all my friends had been talking about, and it was the one I watched on a big-screen TV. It’s also the one my mom walked in on halfway through; she was so freaked out by it that she left the room after a few minutes – but she did ask me, later, how it turned out. While the first season’s episode The National Anthem toyed a bit with the idea of entertainment as the dehumanization of the masses, White Bear took this a step further, showing how terrifying it would if revenge and justice were conflated on a societal level.

Which brings us to the end of season two, and The Waldo Moment. This episode had a different tone; less chilling and more analytical, might be the way to put it. Initially I thought they’d spin in a direction that was completely opposite to where the episode ended up; ultimately it seemed like another indictment of society’s willingness to hand over responsibility for itself to nameless, faceless wielders of power.

I’m not sure I’d recommend that one skip season 1 entirely, but so far, for me, season 2 is where it’s at. Check it out on Netflix for some seriously creepy viewing.

Way Healthy Pancakes (Low Sodium, Gluten Free, Flourless, Delicious)

While lamenting how much I wanted pancakes the other day, a friend on Twitter sent me the following image:


No, seriously. It’s actually that easy. They were delicious, not too filling, and the recipe above makes about four 3-4 inch diameter pancakes. I’d probably double the recipe if I were making more than just for me. Add syrup (if you like, or fruit as pictured) and voila!








Keep Calm & Carry On

So. I went to the doctor yesterday and got my scan results, and they were a bit worse than I had been preparing for (I’ll be okay, nobody panic, I just hadn’t realized how serious this injury would turn out to be). It was pretty upsetting, and I’m glad some of my friends were around to talk with once I got the news. I’ve started physical therapy and will be trying my best to be a model patient while that’s going on.

This morning, in a wildly successful attempt to brighten my spirits, my friend @aboleyn from Twitter has set up a delightful tumblr which we’re populating with pictures of British actors whose work we enjoy.

In the tradition of Calming Manatee, and courtesy of the brilliant @aboleyn, I bring you: