Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Shipping Woes

FedEx is in charge of getting my cow PC from the pasture to my door. So far I have no beef (ha ha!) with them, although I’m beginning to wonder if they’ll even get close to their arrival date of tomorrow. To mess with my head, Gateway has sent my PC order in five packages: one with Norton Antivirus, one with Microsoft Works, and the other three with the actual computer parts. NAV arrived yesterday, MS-Works is now in Atlanta on the delivery truck, but the actual computer has yet to be picked up. FedEx is showing that they received the shipping information just after midnight on the fourteenth (technically Tuesday the fifteenth), but that was the last update. So what are the alternatives?

I’m glad they’re not involved. That’s how I got my last computer and, until today, I forgot my promise not to buy a PC from any company that uses UPS. They shipped the package on time, but scheduled delivery at my house when nobody would be home. I called and requested an alternative date and/or time, or that they just hold the computer at their office until I could pick it up. The operator patiently explained that they didn’t work that way. UPS would load my computer onto a local deliver truck, attempt to deliver it to my house twice (whether or not I would actually be there), then hold it in their office for three days before returning it to the sender. No, they were not open weekends or past five in the evening.
After they drove my computer around for a couple of days, I took a half day’s vacation to go to them for my delivery. The local UPS distribution hub was strategically hidden near the outskirts of Griffin, GA. (Hint to fugitives – if you are ever on the run in Griffin, hide there. It’s like the Order of the Phoenix in that you have to know where it is to be able to find it.) I finally stumbled upon the place and parked in their hilly parking lot.
Inside, the only person wearing a UPS uniform was a disinterested supervisor, a petite woman that seemed to think her job would be a lot easier if they didn’t have all those pesky customers. She made me wait while she joked with her employees and passed out undeserved paychecks. Finally she led me back into the warehouse, littered with piles of packages scattered like bomb debris. To my horror, she began grabbing Gateway boxes and slinging them at a nearby deactivated conveyor belt. Some landed on target, others crashed to the floor. Fortunately, those were other peoples’ computers. She finally found mine and magnanimously offered to let me use one of their carts to transport my boxes to the parking lot.
I loaded the cart and rolled it down the hill, resting it against the side of my car so it wouldn’t run away, and then began transferring the computer to the vehicle. I ran into a problem when I tried to load the 19” CRT monitor into the car. Between the monitor, Styrofoam molds, and the box itself, it wouldn’t fit into any opening. UPS employees gathered outside of the building to watch me struggle with the box on the hillside and guffaw with every failed attempt. I finally managed to extract the monitor from the box, lean the front passenger seat back, put the monitor in the front seat, and stuff the collapsed box and packing materials in the back. Saddened that their entertainment had ended, the employees wandered back inside.
Somehow, the computer managed to survive and is still working today.

I’ve never shipped with RPS, but I have worked there. My advice? Between the two, go with UPS. I was hired to create new shipping labels for packages with incorrect zip codes and to enter them into the computer, an old mainframe. My first day started with a short training video wherein they repeatedly stressed the importance of properly retrieving boxes from the truck instead of tumbling them out (a method they called avalanching). After that, the daily routine for the unloaders was:
1) Sit around and wait for the (late) truck to arrive.
2) Avalanche the boxes onto the concrete floor.
3) Throw the boxes onto the first conveyor belt. This would deliver them to a series of belts, each faster and more narrow than its predecessor. Unfortunately, nobody thought to install rails to contain the packages, so a third would fall off at each transition.
4) Throw the fallen boxes onto the next conveyor.
5) Repeat as needed.
Meanwhile, I did my job standing at a metal desk with a pencil and stack of address cards. When a package with an incorrect zip code came by, the driver would pull it from the belt and toss it on the floor near me (a greater than ten foot drop). If the package survived I would look up the correct address in the computer, manually fill out a new tag, and then send the offending package back to the end of the line.
I completed my tags and then spent the rest of my shift entering the changes into the computer until the daytime operator arrived (this was one of those early, pre-dawn jobs). If I filled out at least one hundred fifty tags, the supervisor congratulated me and took the others to breakfast while I continued to work. If we didn’t get that many corrections (which was the only reason I ever fell short of the goal), the others would stand around looking hungry while the supervisor reprimanded me in a voice of fake concern.
“Grant,” he said. “You only did one hundred thirty-two today. The goal is a hundred fifty.”
“We only got one hundred thirty-two,” I explained. “I did every one that we had.”
“Goal’s a hundred fifty,” he reminded me, shaking his head and walking away.
I quit during the first week. The early hours, low pay, and idiot manager were bad enough, but I began to fear for my safety as well. After a week of hurled packages narrowly missing me, a driver threw a box full of small propane tanks to the floor which immediately began hissing on impact from multiple ruptures. Before the gas leak, I had endured three chemical spills, all from packages hurled to the cement floor near my desk. I returned to Kmart and had many adventures there, which has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this post.

I’ve never dealt with them, but a friend told me they frequently deliver to his house. They are always late and their preferred method of delivery is to slow and fling the package onto the driveway. He reports that they have yet to stop and assumes the drivers are afraid of Tribble-sized dogs.

The post office is beginning to look highly efficient and professional, even with all the shootings.


Nobius said...

Is RPS still in existantance?

I work for Roadway Express, and they sold RPS to Fed Ex before I was with them and I've been there five years.

Sorry to hear you worked there...Roadway isn't much better these days. Or should I say Yellow Roadway USF?

Weary Hag said...

And yet again, I sit here in stitches at one of your posts. Great job! After a not so lovely week I enjoyed the chuckles.
By the way? I say pack yourself some heat and just go to the P.O. looking over your shoulder for disgruntled personnel. Always look over your shoulder. That's where they apparently all hide.

Grover Ainslie said...

Mmm... so what?