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UPS/FedEx Shipping Issues

9:39 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

This is going to sound like a whiny rant, but I honestly do wonder if I'm doing something wrong.

I normally use USPS for most of my stuff. But my orders have been getting larger and corporate customers also don't like USPS. So I've been having to use FedEx and UPS more.

OK, for starters... Both of their sites suck. I mean seriously, these are multi billion dollar corporations, and their sites are terrible. I've yet to be able to get the FedEx site to request a pickup for me. Every time you check 'request pickup', the history of the order says it has been requested... but apparently that doesn't ACTUALLY MEAN it has been requested. I found this out the hard way the other day when nobody showed up. I called them up and was told in a tone indicative of me apparently being a total retard, that "just because it says a pickup has been requested, that doesn't mean that it has". Wow... Really? I've yet to get a quote on UPS to be accurate. The actual billed amount is always higher. In the past I've tried to pay immediately for shipments, and the UPS site just kept asking for my card security number. I added it numerous times and it didn't work. Then I got rid of all their cookies and everything, re entered the info and it still claimed it didn't have the security code. I asked them what the deal was, and they acted like this happened a lot... so they said, just set it to bill the account. It seems convenient that this bug happens, because of course... when you set it to bill your account, then they can add all of their extra fees later. Oftentimes FedEx also bills more than they quoted. Is there some secret way to navigate through all of their 'gotchas' and catches, to actually find out what the heck you will really pay? UPS got me with a $50 'fuel surcharge' the other day for something to Australia. The FedEx guy gave me grief the other day, because he said in the international pocket, there should be two copies of the label and at least three of the commercial form. I looked all over and saw zero info on the site telling you to do that.

It just seems like, with the money and resources these guys have, it should be way easier than this.
1:11 am on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Call UPS, setup an account, and setup daily pickup. Costs like $8 / week or something.

Then use UPS Worldship software, instead of the website. You download this and install on your PC. Or if you have a Mac, use VM Ware to install Windows or something. They can rent you a thermal label printer, or you can buy one for a few hundred dollars.

International invoices can be "built in" electronically to the label, so when they scan the tracking number, they pull up the invoice data as well. It may take some convincing of your local driver about this, but its true. Electronic invoices are available for 80% + something countries.

It is true, that if you're doing paper invoices, there should be 3 copies of the invoice in the little international pocket.

For international shipping costs, just add 10 - 20% on top of the price UPS quotes you, and pass that on to your customers.
4:31 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I agree with philbish, we have FedEx do a daily pickup and use their Ship Manager software for any packages that need to be manually entered.

The online interfaces for USPS, UPS and FedEx are all horrible - the apps are much better (use Dazzle/Endicia for USPS - much, MUCH better than usps.com).
9:57 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Oh man, that's a lot to go through, since we do use Mac. We only do a couple FedEx or UPS a week. Everything else is postal. I use the other postal 3rd party guys. But how does the Endicia one handle the money you have to hold in your account? Can you put money in and have it instantly available, or does it take a while to show up?
12:31 am on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

The other option is to just go ahead and ship via USPS anyway since 98% of the customers - even B2B customers - seem to have no idea about the difference between UPS, USPS, and FedEx.
2:44 am on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Not sure if it works on Mac, but you can use Stamps.com software. It does USPS and FedEx labels.
7:00 am on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Thanks... I actually do just send it USPS anyway a lot of times. lol Most of the people that demand the other are business people... and most of them can't even remember what they did the day before. Business people also often seem to be trying to spend as much money as possible. The big 'anti PO' issue with people is always the tracking thing, and some people just have an irrational hatred for the PO... A lot of people think that UPS and FedEx is somehow better because of the tracking. In my experience, they all lose stuff and it all gets delayed sometimes... The only difference is that there's a little more info on the UPS and FedEx tracking than the postal. But bottom line, it's not like the extra tracking info on the others gets you your package found if it's lost or misdirected. I had a postal one get delivered to the wrong house the other day. I was able to call the local office and have the carrier go find it and take it to the right house. If that had been FedEx or UPS, they would have said.... 'We took it where it's supposed to go... Have a nice day.' And that would have been that.
8:44 am on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

When paying with Endicia, the money is available immediately. Starting out you can just pre-pay money in on a credit card, and if you do a lot of volume, they'll want you to setup a bank account link.

So for the software for UPS/FedEx, just buy a cheap PC.
Or spend half a day setting up VM Ware Fusion.
This is just part of the cost of doing business, and pleasing customers.

There's a lot of legitimate reasons some prefer one carrier over the other. Maybe a certain carrier has lousy service in an area. Maybe an address isn't valid to the post office. Maybe UPS comes early in the day, but the post office comes later.
1:37 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Maybe an address isn't valid to the post office.

I've found exactly the opposite. USPS delivers to remote Alaskan villages, to US territories (Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands) as domestic mail, to PO Boxes, and to military personnel overseas. They also have the lowest rates for international shipments.

I have not yet had a customer to whom I couldn't ship to via USPS. The same cannot be said for private carriers.
3:44 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I use endicia with their api to integrate into our custom shipping application to print labels and all that jazz.

I used to have it deduct straight from the checking account, but now I use my Southwest Rapid Rewards card to build miles!
8:41 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Thanks for the Endicia info.

I agree that you should do whatever you can to make the customer happy. But I do believe there's a point where you have to make yourself happy too. Case in point...

This lady had bought something from us a while back, two times. She lives outside a small town in TX. The first items both went USPS and got there fine. She purchased something a third time and sent me an email requesting we use FedEx this time. I looked at her address and it was sort of odd looking. It was like "HC68" or something, and then just a box number. Something told me that would be a problem with FedEx. I asked her about it and she was like... 'Oh, it's not a problem... We get stuff from FedEx all the time... No issues'. Reluctantly I sent it FedEx.

So Saturday morning I get an email from FedEx saying it went as far the being out for delivery, then was marked as 'no such address'. I then got to spend 20 minutes on the phone with FedEx. The first person said there was absolutely nothing they could do but return it. I called back and the second person said they would mark it to be held. This started a whole giant pain that went on for days, because the lady didn't want to drive to the FedEx hub. Finally after calling them two more times, I got them to try and redeliver. Then the actual delivery person called me because they still couldn't find it, so I had to contact the lady and get more directions, then relay them to the delivery person.

"FedEx delivers to us all the time... No issues".

So at what point does making the customer happy stop being logical?
11:30 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

So at what point does making the customer happy stop being logical?

don't have an answer for that one...

I probably would have given the customer the phone number for the fedex office that delivers to her house "all the time" and said, 'You would probably be better at giving them exact directions than I would."

One other head scratcher is that people believe UPS Ground would be faster than Priority Mail. Then after four days they ask, "where's my package?" I have to break the news to them that it takes a week to get from California to Florida when they choose UPS Ground, and if they had only gone with Priority Mail, it would have arrived sooner for less.
11:51 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Oh yeah, I told her to call straight away. She ignored that completely and just made some cryptic comment like... "Please have them redeliver it."

But yes, the UPS vs Priority is always odd. Twice as fast coast to coast and usually less money. But some people still want UPS because the tracking is more active. I don't know, I guess they enjoy watching their item creep across the country for 7 days in the tracking. Maybe that's why companies sell features like that so much... People fall for it.
12:04 am on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeah i think you are right about watching the tracking status. I would have people try and track their package right when they were emailed the tracking number. We have message now that tells them to wait 24 hours.
4:17 pm on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I think if it is at all possible to set up your cart so that it can display the flat rate / Regional Rate prices, then it would really be a good step in getting those holdovers to go with USPS.

Of course, it is kind of difficult to do unless your cart allows you an EASY way to set up some sophisticated shipping rules where you can specify which products can fit into flat rate / regional rate boxes.
11:16 pm on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Automation has always been difficult for me, because most of the stuff averages 5 feet long or more, added with little things just a few ounces. Some countries have the 42" length limit, while others have the 60" limit. Lots of times I just do invoice requests. I'm more a direct sales manufacturer, than a true eCommerce.
5:53 pm on Apr 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Now that USPS is including free delivery confirmation on first-class parcels/packages instead of the $0.19/ea (went into effect with their rate change this January), we've noticed a huge decrease in the number of inquiries/complaints and a big increase in customer satisfaction. In the Endicia software (is available for Macs), you can customize emails to automatically send when the postage is printed, whether it's from an automated/xml feed or not.

People have been trained that USPS is not as fast as FedEx/UPS because their tracking system was so frustratingly antiquated ("oh, that's just a CONFIRMATION number, not a TRACKING number"). USPS is quickly coming up to speed, and the third-party tools like Endicia/Dazzle are helping bring their new features to the forefront. Even if they caught on a little slowly, they see all the volume in parcels/online shipments and are fighting for their piece of the online pie.
6:38 pm on Apr 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I agree, they've made a lot of improvements... and on average, I think they usually offer the best deal. But I worry that Congress is going to kill them slowly no matter what... and I also foresee another PayPal scenario, where it won't ever matter how hard they try... Some people are still going to hate them no matter what. 10 years from now some people will probably still be saying they offer zero tracking.

Thanks for the Endicia info.
3:43 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

USPS is quickly coming up to speed, and the third-party tools like Endicia/Dazzle are helping bring their new features to the forefront.

But I worry that Congress is going to kill them slowly no matter what...

That's the thing: If congress wasn't trying to kill them with the stupid retirement fund prepayment they have enforced upon USPS, then they COULD invest more money in improving infrastructure and service.

My only REAL complaints with USPS are:

1) Insurance claims are nearly impossible to get processed. It seems like even though you can BUY insurance automatically, making a claim must be done by paper in person (as far as I can tell).

Thankfully, if you use endicia, you can buy endicia insurance. You still have to wait 30 days to make a claim, but at least they have a more automated way of filing insurance claims.

2) Tracking updates are slow. Often, the update emails will come two or three days AFTER the postman has already delivered the package.

One thing I noted when using dazzle (the endicia software package). There were times when the program would say that an address was verified, but it turns out it was actually an undeliverable street address. Packages ended up being returned.

I double checked those addresses in the logs, and it DID say they were verified, but they only showed the 5-digit zip code. Normally, dazzle will automatically return the 9-digit zip code when it verifies and address.

So while using dazzle, I had to keep an eye on the zip codes; if it returned the 9-digit zip code, then it was fine. But if it returned the 5-digit zip code, then there was a problem.

I don't know whether endicia has fixed this problem or not. My ecommerce site (Miva Merchant) has a built in endicia module, so now I can print out postage directly from my web site admin.
11:15 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

That's interesting about the verification thing, because it was my understanding that virtually everybody taps into the database maintained by the PO themselves... UPS, FedEx, and even the map sites. And that is also one flaw that still exists with the PO's actual site, is that there is no way to force an address. It will just tell you something is wrong, but it won't tell you WHAT is wrong. Which is sort of ridiculous. So yes, they still are not perfect. I had an int. package disappear for over two months. It showed up at my door the other day out of the blue in new packaging, and said it was from the 'recovery department' or something like that. The air sticker had Atlanta as the starting point. So I have no idea what happened, or if it even made it out of the country. I called and asked if I could get a refund and they of course said no, because it was just priority. If any other business took your money and didn't do what you paid them to do, that would be considered fraud. But apparently not with the PO. :-) But oh well... I still don't get that... 'We're trying to F you' feeling with them, that I do with the private companies. UPS use to be much more honest and operated very much like the PO years ago. But not anymore. Just another greedy corp'
2:53 am on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Planet13, that is good to know about the 5-digit zip vs. the 9-digit. I have had the experience of addresses verifying and then I get the thing back as no such address. I never noticed the zip length.

I also get people who sometimes really really want FedEX. I tell them that I am in a rural area and that the FedEx office is at the airport, which is 20 minutes away. Not EXACTLY true, but pretty much. Serves its purpose.:)

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