We ship hundreds of packages every week and we have relied on UPS for our shipping for many, many years. However, we started to see that the apparent strife within the ranks of UPS (both drivers and office workers), was starting to affect delivery, pickups and even billing. Luckily, we saw this building months ago and wisely switched to FedeX. However, some shipments still come in every day from UPS, so it is not possible to remove ourselves from the blowback entirely.

Drivers switch out regularly for various reasons, so we see a good cross section of them in the course of a normal month. Drivers have complained about management for years, and we got accustomed to listening to various diatribes about how awful UPS management treated certain drivers. No big deal we thought, they’re just blowing off steam, and I’m sure that some of their customers, including us, could provide a sympathetic ear.

However, this year seemed to ramp up to a level that borders on “going Postal”. The drivers would come in the door angry and cussing their bosses – without any prompting questions, such as “How are you today?”
Then we noticed that any conversations with office personnel or dispatch were also turning ugly. Every conversation would yield a rude, snotty, uncaring employee who would make any routine task or question problematic. It seemed normal to be put on hold indefinitely with no one ever coming back to you, or to be told they would do something and they would not.

It’s easy to be constantly angry, rude and non-helpful to someone on the phone, but when the drivers, who we have face time with every day, starts showing signs of cracking up right in front of you – you know things must be pretty bad back at their base.

This past Friday was the scariest episode yet, and has left many of our employees fearful of encountering any of the UPS drivers again.

We had an International shipment arrive with a Customs fee due. No problem, this is routine. We have recived this same shipment many times and we knew from experience that the fee is always between $30 and $40. However, this time the fee due said that it was more than $3000. It was obvious that a mistake had been made somewhere down the line. (turns out it was a mistake made by a UPS employee who keyed in the wrong information).
We told the driver that we needed the shipment pretty badly, but that we would have to refuse the shipment temporarily so that we could call UPS and get it straightened out. Well, the driver went absolutely ballistic. Yelling, cussing and generally throwing a huge fit. “there is no mistake”, he bellowed. He then proceeded to spit out that if we refused the shipment that he would not bring it back – even if he was ordered to by his bosses. Ohhhhkayyyy. How are you supposed to respond to that? We tried to coddle him as much as possible, just to simply get him out the door.

Eventually he left and we got the problem straightened out within just a few minutes of calling UPS. We also told them about their driver totally losing it.

No more than 2 or 3 minutes after hanging up with UPS, the driver came back, screeching to a halt and storming into the building yelling to speak to whoever “lied to his bosses on him”. I heard the yelling from my office and knew that we were witnessing a complete meltdown. I pocketed a gun on my way to the warehouse, because I knew from the sound of things that this guy had totally lost it and there was no telling what he would do next. I never had to pull the gun, but I fully expected this guy to pull some kind of weapon at any moment. It scared the crap out of all of us. We had seen this driver many times before and had never seen him like this, nor had we ever had any trouble or disagreement with him before this.

After we pleaded with him to calm down, he admitted that his bosses were probably lying to him, and that he had an ongoing war with them for many months. He also admitted that we didn’t do anything wrong at all, and that we were not responsible for any mistakes that were made at his company, so he should not have taken it out on us. We were just grateful that he finally left and that no one was hurt.

We have since heard from other businesses in various other states, that they are starting to see the same things we are seeing – and it’s not just around the holidays either.
So, yes, it seems UPS is imploding. Beware, and be safe.

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