Darwinism and the USPS
Categories: Friday Rant |
Many of you may not know me. I'm the numbers guy behind Spend Matters. I run Spend Matters Group (Spend Matters and MetalMiner's consulting arm) and I'm also CFO of the parent company, Azul Partners. I tend to lead and manage by the book (and as Jason says, I keep him and the rest of the team in line). When I encounter a lack of process and transparency, my head spins, and such is the case with a recent order from Amazon that the United States Postal Service (USPS) managed to truly butcher.
As background, like many of you, my family spends a small fortune with Amazon, on everything from diapers to appliances. Amazon does just about everything right for us – except choosing the USPS as a fulfillment partner. Here's an example of why Amazon should give the boot to the USPS. It's time to let Darwinism take down a shining model of logistics inefficiency whose ultimate death is forgone conclusion without continued bailouts from the Federal government.
Here's my tale after placing an order with Amazon "delivered" by the USPS. The story starts with an online tracking effort via Amazon that shows USPS attempted to deliver the package on 11/16 and 11/17 and could not. Of course this is impossible (we have 24-hour doorman and receiving room in our apartment in downtown Chicago).
Then USPS says they delivered it on the 19th, but there was no sign of the package. With this information, I decide to stop by the main post office downtown Chicago on the 20th (Tuesday of Thanksgiving week) and ask to see the supervisor after the front desk clerks proved useless.
The USPS team then gave me an inside look and sent me to the loading dock in the back. After talking to 2 or 3 mail carriers, finally I got hold of the supervisor ("Mr. A") who said that he's about to leave, and asked that I come back tomorrow morning at 8AM.
So I showed up at the loading dock at 8AM on the 21st (day before Thanksgiving) only to find out that Mr. A did not show up for work. Another carrier told me to come back after Thanksgiving. I again found myself at the loading dock (8AM on the 26th; the Monday after Thanksgiving) and another carrier tells me – I can't make this up even if I wanted to! – that Mr. A has retired.
By now, I'm livid. I asked to see Mr. A's replacement and a carrier sent me to the upstairs distribution area to find a supervisor named Mr. B. Once there, I learned that apparently I'm not supposed to upstairs under any circumstances due to Homeland Security concerns, so walking through the distribution center unescorted (and without a badge) certainly ruffled some feathers. Regardless, Mr. B heard my story, and tracked down a carrier named Mr. C, who swears up and down that he delivered the package to my building. Mr.B then asked me to wait a week until they sort it out internally (Mr. B was actually trying to be helpful).
Well, I wait a week. And there's still no package. And my calls to USPS were not returned. And I was obviously done with showing up at the dock at 8AM. Enough.
I contacted Amazon's customer service this morning – an interesting process, by the way, because there is no 800-number given on the site (only after you plug in the order number and answer a bunch of questions, the site asks you to plug in your number and press either call me now or "call me in 5 minutes" button). I pressed the "call me now" button and some lady from an Indian call center rang me exactly a second later.
I explained the story to her. She checked my accounts and saw that we have ordered a ton of stuff from Amazon in the last 10 years (and have never had issues) and promptly offered next-day delivery on replacement goods.
One call from Bangalore (Amazon): problem solved. Countless run-ins and phone calls with USPS: nothing. When interacting with USPS employees on US soil, I felt like I was chatting with zombies – folks with zero initiative or incentive who are just waiting to retire. Amazon, on the other hand, leveraged technology and a friendly, low-cost Indian customer service center and solved the problem in five minutes, thus keeping me as a loyal customer at the end of the day.
It's time to retire the USPS – let alone all the workers waiting for that government pension who can't be bothered to put customers first.