Anatomy of a parts order
Friday, 19:23: Driving home, music up loud, and my phone rings.  Actually, what I hear is a voice in my head, "Call, phone one."  It's my bluetooth device, serenading me.  It is a very distraught customer.  He is in need of ratchets with load ratings stamped on them.  He has a municipal inspection on Monday, and now it is Friday night.  He wants 80 ratchets.  I don't have 80 ratchets in stock, but he wants what I do have, which is about 60.  Problem is, he needs them by Monday morning at 08:00.

Now the voice in my head is asking me, "Why did you answer the phone?"

It is Fiesta Friday at our house (Mexican cuisine, Mexican beer, Margaritas), so I need to get home to join the festivities, but I pull over and talk to the customer about our options.  I think I can get something shipped out on Saturday.  I agree to call him in the morning.  I do some research to see where UPS will receive packages, and there are a few UPS stores within 10 miles of our warehouse that are open on Saturdays till 17:00.  Should work.

Saturday, 09:32: Normal Saturday at my house.  My wife has to work, so she is gone.  My older son has a friend over who spent the night.  One of my daughter's swim-team teammates has also spent the night, and they are at practice.  After practice Grandma is taking her into town to the salon where my wife works to get her hair done, then she's going shopping with a friend, and my wife is picking her up at the mall after work.  This throws a monkey wrench into my customer service plan.  My daughter cannot be home to babysit.  My older son is old enough to be in charge temporarily (my youngest son is 6), but not with his friend over.  He wants his friend to stay into the afternoon.  Confused?  Welcome to my world.  How am I going to get to work to get those ratchets out?  I definitely don't want to cart both of my sons and my son's friend to work on a beautiful sunny Saturday.  We compromise.  His friend will stay till 13:00, which should give me enough time to drive into work to get the ratchets shipped out.

I call the customer to tell him it's all good.  They are very grateful.

Saturday, 13:07: My son's friend has gone home, the boys have been fed, and I give them instructions to not burn the house down while I'm gone.  I speed off to work.  I get there, unlock the warehouse, box up 60 ratchets, run the customer's credit card, print out the shipping label for Next-Day Air Early AM delivery (I won't tell you what that cost--you can't handle the truth), and get ready to head to the UPS store.

Saturday, 14:53: Just before leaving the warehouse, just in case, I call the UPS store to verify that I can drop off this shipment and it will get to Ontario, CA, by Monday morning at 8 a.m.  "Our next-day air pickup is at 2:30 on Saturdays," the girl tells me.  Hmmm... it doesn't say that on the UPS website.  I call the main UPS customer service line, and they give me the address of another UPS store.  I ask when the NDA pickup is at that store.  They don't know.  I explain what happened with the other store, and they tell me they don't have NDA pickup schedules for the stores open on Saturdays.

Saturday, 14:58: I call other UPS stores to see when their pickups are.  One store tells me that they think that the store in Lake Oswego has a 3:30 pickup.  I call there and they verify that their NDA pickup is at 3:30.  It's a little over 20 miles from our warehouse to Lake Oswego.  I give the girl my cell phone number and tell her to call me when the pickup driver arrives, if I am not already there, to see how far I am away.  I load the 128 lb. box into the passenger seat of my '97 Civic and begin exceeding the speed limit.

Saturday, 15:28: I arrive at the UPS store in Lake Oswego.  They are happily waiting for me.  The box is received.

Saturday, 16:33: I arrive back at home.  I take the boys to Dairy Queen for dessert for not burning the house down.  My daughter arrives home from shopping just in time to get her dessert order in.  I bring the desserts home, crack open a beer, and relax.

Sunday, 11:01: I track the shipment.  It is in Des Moines, Iowa.  What it is doing in Des Moines, Iowa, I have no idea, but it is on track to be delivered by 08:00 Monday morning to Ontario, CA, from Lake Oswego, OR.

Monday, 06:23: I track the shipment again.  It went out for delivery at 05:43 in Ontario.  It made another stop in Kentucky before getting there.  I am wondering about the UPS routing system at this point.

Monday, 09:53: Customer receives his order, 1 hour and 53 minutes late.  Why it couldn't get there by 08:00 when it got on the local UPS delivery truck at 05:43, we may never know.  He is upset at UPS, but very happy with TowPartsNow.  I assume all goes well with his inspection, because he doesn't mention otherwise when I confirm later that day that he got the order.


Spoke too soon.  Customer calls a few days later and wants me to refund the shipping charge because UPS was late.  The shipping charge is more than the charge for the ratchets.  I call UPS – because the box was overweight (over 60 lbs.), they say that they do not “guarantee” any expedited shipping guarantees.  Again, something not prominently obvious to us, the shipper.  Oy.  I ask the customer to file a claim with UPS directly.  He refuses.  I contact our UPS account rep to ask for help.  He doesn’t.  We end up refunding the difference between the expedited shipping charge the customer paid for, and the expedited service they ended up getting.  To keep the customer happy.  Never hear from them again.

Just another order for ratchets.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper


Leave a Reply.