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A Delivery Dilemma


Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 in Small Business Today Articles

Normally I have nothing but the highest respect for parcel delivery companies.  They deliver packages all over the world on time and with the utmost care.  I would say Christmas around the Friedman house would have been significantly different if not for the timely delivery of the items we purchased online.  We even received regular emails stating that our package would be delivered the next day and follow-up emails stating that a package was delivered to our front door.  Last week my faith in that normally solid company with solid customer service was shaken.

It all started when we were helping son Ben plan for his semester of study in Portugal.  Ben is a great kid, but a last minute planner, which drives some of the rest of us a little crazy.  One of the things we found out late in the process is that the credit card Ben was going to use on his trip carried foreign transaction fees.  Our daughter Jenni was part of the conversation and told us that her card did not carry those fees and she was willing to order Ben a card.  The only potential problem was that the card was going to be delivered to her house in Seattle.  We counted the days before Ben was set to leave and figured that we could use the 2 day delivery option and still get the card to Ben in time for his trip.  So the card was ordered on a Friday.

Ben was scheduled to leave from Dubuque a week from Monday so there should be plenty of time if Jenni turned it around the same day.  One week before departure, we checked the automatic tracking and found the card was “In Transit”.  On Wednesday we again tracked the card and it was going to be delivered that day!  With 2 day shipping to Dubuque, Ben would get the card on Friday.  It would be close, but the plan was coming together.  Jenni took time from work to collect the package and ship it from the company store in Seattle.

On Thursday we tracked the card via UPS’s tracking system and found that the card was again “In Transit” with delivery in Dubuque expected by end of day on Friday.  Tracking it again on Friday, we noticed that there was a delay and the card was going to be delivered by end of day on Monday.  That was a problem because Ben was leaving at 9:15 Monday morning.  Jenni took more time off of work and called the company who notified her that there was a problem at the sorting facility in Portland, and there was no way to get the card to Ben before he was going to leave.  After being transferred to a supervisor, the company said they were confident they could fix the problem and get the card to Ben in Dubuque on Saturday.

As small business owners and managers, sometimes we cannot prevent mistakes from happening.  We live in an imperfect world.  How we handle those mistakes makes the difference between losing a customer and potentially gaining a loyal customer for life.  Honest communication, making promises that we can keep and seeing the mistake from the eyes of the customer are the keys to problem solving.

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