Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Foreign Language Lessons?

I know the title of this post is probably going to open this site to a whole new wave of spam, same as if I put "I need a bigger penis" in a post. Oh, shit.

Point is, I'm trying to learn a foreign language, but I can't seem to find tapes or books to help me out.

Anybody know a good set of tapes or a correspondence course that can teach relative fluency in UPS Tracker-speak?

I love package tracking. It gives my OCD a whole new page to constantly refresh while I'm waiting to get my shiny new things! I try to rotate compulsive page-refreshing in-between obsessive hand washings to try and keep my hands from getting raw so quickly.

As cool as tracking is in theory, it's significantly diminished by it's execution. UPS seems to have just tacked a limited public window into their internal system. 'Origin Scan', 'Arrival Scan', and 'Departure Scan' all make sense, if they're a bit user-unfriendly. They could just say "We have your package." "Your package is on it's way to Kansas City."

It's really not a problem when everything is going fine, but all that needs to happen is for something to go wrong in order for me to get a giant headful of confusion.

Here's the tracking info as it shows up on my site (it's since changed, so I tried to re-construct it):

KANSAS CITY, MO, US 01/26/2010 5:28 A.M. Delay in delivery due to weather or natural disaster
LOUISVILLE, KY, US 01/26/2010 12:52 A.M. ORIGIN SCAN

Now of course I live near KC, and I know there are no adverse weather conditions. It must be in KY, where they were in advisory for about an inch of snow. Why would the location stamp be listed in KC if the weather is in KY? There's another little oddity I wouldn't have noticed had Amazon's tracking page not told the story a little differently:

January 26, 2010 05:54:00 AM Louisville KY US Departure Scan
January 26, 2010 05:28:00 AM Kansas City MO US Delay in delivery due to weather or natural disaster
January 26, 2010 12:52:00 AM Louisville KY US Shipment received by carrier
January 25, 2010 06:49:30 PM Campbellsville KY US Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit

Yes, that's right, the top two lines are switched on UPS's additional tracking, taken out of their proper order. Why, I can't say. I suppose it makes sense to group tracking info by city then by time, because you shouldn't have the same package going back and forth between cities (and I'm sure that never happens).

So what am I to take from this? That it wasn't sent to KC because of bad weather, and I suppose the tracking info was placed as if from Kansas City because that's the next hub the package would be going to?

I would have just assumed the package was delayed going to Kansas City, but it's there now where the weather's fine and my package will arrive today. But the time stamps show it departing KY at 5:54am, 26 minutes after any info tagged to Kansas City. I'm sooooo confused.

Have no fear though, they've updated their info and it is at least definitive if not clear what went on or how:

01/26/2010 12:52 A.M. ORIGIN SCAN

So it is in Kansas City, but it didn't arrive until 6:23am, so I suppose at 5:28am they're just telling me that there will be a delay due to the weather. The funny thing is, if I didn't have tracking I wouldn't have worried and the package will still probably be on time anyway, but that's an entirely different issue.

So I'm going to attempt a UPS-to-civilian translation. Here's perhaps how their tracking info should read:

KANSAS CITY, MO, US 01/26/2010 6:23 A.M. Your package is now in Kansas City.
01/26/2010 5:28 A.M. Due to weather problems your package will be delayed (here's the important part) for about an hour ("about an hour" would have immediately put me at ease and saved me the trouble of even needing to write this post. Of course in worse scenarios they could suit it to fit the situation like "at least a day" or similar. If, you know, they wanted to be transparent and proactive.).
LOUISVILLE, KY, US 01/26/2010 5:54 A.M. You package is leaving Kentucky.
01/26/2010 12:52 A.M. We have your package in our facility.
US 01/25/2010 10:04 P.M. BILLING INFORMATION RECEIVED - We don't have your package but we are aware that it exists.

My biggest problem with tracking systems is that they don't tell you what they have planned.

For instance, Amazon's site lists "Estimated Arrival," although that's generally a bowl of crap and it doesn't change if there's a problem with an order. UPS doesn't tell me on the site when it's estimated to be delivered at all, not even the day, although I do get a clue with the type of shipping they list, "Next Day Air Saver".

I know it'd bring about a lot of problems, but it'd be really nice if they could say: "The truck is out, you are towards the end of the driver's route, which should be finished by 6pm." How about we get a queue number (how many packages are ahead of ours), and we can watch as we get closer and closer to delivery. Then they'd also have to say things like "driver went to lunch," so when I'm next in line I can know the wait is going to be another hour.

I know that's not something that's ever going to happen. But here's something that would save UPS a lot of money and make me extremely happy:

Don't even deliver the package to my house. Many times I've seen my package is in my town at 5-7am, but it isn't delivered until 8:30pm. Yes, I have had that experience with UPS.

Just give customers the option to pick up our packages at a UPS store or something, at our convenience. At 9am, after they've had time to bring it over from the warehouse. At noon over my lunch break (that would save a lot of 9-5 people a lot of problems with missing deliveries). On top of that, UPS is saving gas, it's saving driver time, and it's allowing people to not be chained to their front doors when they're waiting for a package they have to sign for.

Right now they have a simple verification system. If you're in a house, you probably live there or have permission to be there. They don't need to check IDs, they just give the package to whoever's there. They'd have to implement an ID check or similar to pick up a package at a UPS store. I personally like the idea of a customer-chosen password (or simply checking ID), but customer pickups couldn't possibly cause more problems than are already caused by late deliveries, drivers throwing packages onto door steps, and wrong addresses.

As I'm writing this I've been constantly checking my tracking info. It hasn't changed since 6:23am, over an hour ago from this writing. Perhaps I shouldn't worry, but Amazon's status says "Shipment Delayed" and UPS says "Exception." I'm 90% sure my package will arrive today, on time, but seeds of doubt...

If it doesn't show up today I'll probably write up another post. If it does arrive then I'll probably be too busy with the thing that I bought to tell everyone. Well, maybe a quick post, made from my new device. Oh, what device did I order? Oh, some new phone thingy, I might have mentioned it before, it's called an iPhone. That's right, I'm finally cool.

Just kidding. It's an N900. I haven't named it yet, but it's 6.38 ounces, and I intend to raise it Agnostic. It's a boy! Unless I lose the stylus, in which case it's a girl!

EDIT - Okay, I really have 2 packages coming, the N900 and a microSD card. The MicroSD card departed from KC at 7:16am. The N900 hasn't left yet. I will be so pissed off if the SD card comes today but the N900 does not. Very, very pissed.

Extremely pissed.


I will move things with my mind in a menacing fashion. And it will be all UPS's fault.


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