About Me

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After 35 years in public education as a university administrator and a high school English teacher, I began my second life as a freelance writer, winning San Diego Society of Professional Journalists awards for my opinion columns in the former San Diego daily North County Times and the San Diego Free Press.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

AMAZON and UPS: A Failed Marriage

It was a dark and stormy night at the Riehl’s a couple of weeks ago, when Karen told me her ancient computer keyboard had been misbehaving. I suspected it only needed dusting, but unable to find our compressed air canister, I ordered a new keyboard from Amazon. It arrived the next day.

A few days later, I ordered a four-pack of Falcon Dust Off Electronics Compressed Gas Dusters. Amazon wouldn’t sell me just one. Buying four online was easier than driving to the nearest CVS store to pick one up.

Judging by how seldom we use them, our four new keyboard dusters will last longer than both of us. I must have inherited my security issues from my father. At my age, Dad wore a belt, plus suspenders.

Two weeks after my order, Amazon notified me that my package could not be delivered. I was told to check with UPS to find out why.

According to the UPS website, the package had been delivered on December 3, at 9:42 AM to “San Marcos,” left at the “front desk,” and “Lanny” signed for it. Deliveries by Amazon have always been placed at our front door, accompanied by a friendly knock.

Our Château Lake San Marcos is a gated community, so I assumed the delivery truck driver left the package with the concierge in the château’s office. But that was not to be. No package there, nobody named Lanny to sign for it. I called UPS but could not reach a live person. A recorded message told me the package had been delivered.

Out of desperation, I called the nearest UPS store. Brianna (not her real name) told me they didn’t get the package and that nobody named Lanny worked there. She suggested I try the city’s other UPS store. There was no package or Lanny there, either, but Savanna (not her real name), gave me a number to call, assuring me they could help.

Upon calling the number she gave me, I was greeted by an electronic voice, urging me to try for a free Royal Caribbean Cruise vacation by answering a few questions. Taken aback by this UPS gimmick, I did not answer the questions truthfully. What they learned about me is I’m under 25 and don’t like vacations. Not to my surprise, I was congratulated for winning the free cruise, except for a nominal $65 per person boarding fee.

I was then greeted by a human, who gushed, “Welcome to Royal Caribbean Cruises! This is…” It wasn’t a UPS scam after all. I hung up, figuring Savanna had given me a wrong number. At this stage, I was unwilling to concede an error on my part.

Karen suggested I try calling the retirement community next door to see if my package had been dropped off there. But Vanessa (her real name) politely informed me there had been no delivery, no Lanny on their staff.

Alarmed by my heavy breathing and reddening face, Karen told me to abandon my quest, forget about the $16.99 I paid for the canisters, and take to my blog to write about the experience. It would be therapeutic.

But, before following her advice, I took a last look at Amazon’s website, where, under “continue to customer service,” I found, “have us call you right now.” There was a space for me to enter my home phone number. Under it was a button titled, “Call me now to talk to a specialist. We will call you immediately.”

Yeah, right, I scoffed to myself, as I typed in our number and pressed the “Call me now” button. Before I could count to three, (I’m not kidding here), the phone rang with a live person on the other end.

She knew all about my order, including the claim that it had been delivered. After I explained how hard I worked to find the package, she gave me a full refund. She told me, if the package eventually reaches our door, I could keep it with no charge.

And that’s why I do my shopping at Amazon and hope for a UPS divorce.