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Friday evening we came home late and discovered an UPS package delivery sticker on our door. I followed instructions and logged on the UPS website at 9:15 pm, intending to place a Hold and Will Call on my package so I could pick it up the next morning, Saturday.

I soon discovered that the site would not let me pick up the next morning because I had not logged on to the UPS Customer Service Center website by 7:00 pm. This meant I couldn’t get my package until Monday. But I was scheduled to fly out to the Middle East Saturday afternoon and wanted to take that package, a laptop for a SAT-7 international staff member.

So the next morning early I called the local UPS Customer Service Center and on the third try, got a human being. She eagerly tracked my package, came back to the phone, and happily announced, “Yes, it’s here.” So I asked if I could come to retrieve it and she told me I had not logged on by 7:00 pm the night before, so she could not give me the package. I told her I’d logged on, only to learn of the deadline. I told her that I was leaving for the Middle East that afternoon. I told her I’d gladly pick it up. No go. I didn’t get my package though it was right there within her reach.

This is “bureaucracy” in all of its negative manifestations. This is a company that's focused more on the means than the ends, something called “ends/means inversion,” wherein UPS forced policies upon customers and personnel with no discretion, policies more about the system than the purpose—to help me get a package.

I know companies, especially large ones, must have systems and cannot make exceptions for everyone who wants one. But come on. Remember, “Yes, it’s here.” But so what? It didn’t do me any good and the bureaucracy prevailed. This is poor customer service happened in a big-box-company but would not generally have happened in the typical Mom n Pop.

The same morning I made a run to the Apple store at the mall. I did not have an appointment, but I had been invoiced by email for software that had not downloaded. I also had a few questions.

As usual, when I walked into the store it was packed with customers and at least 20 techs in blue Apple t-shirts. I found the floor general and shared my problem. He hailed another tech who listened, asked to see the receipt on my iPhone and then said, “Do you have your laptop with you?” I did. He checked the diagnostics, discovered I already had one kind of software I thought I needed to purchase and showed it to me, then directed me to “Sit right here and download your other software on the store’s fast internet.”

Then, he made sure my download was working. After that, he stuck out his hand for a handshake and said, “Glad to help you. Come back and see us.” Needless to say the contrast with UPS could not have been greater.

This is not my first positive experience with Apple. In fact, every time I’ve gone to the store I’ve walked out pleased, even when I had to wait. They care about your problem or your interest, love their products and what they do, and are trained to treat the customer, including non-techies, with respect.

I’ll go back to Apple, and I’ll avoid UPS.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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