UPS Pickup

So this time, I leave work a little early, and get to UPS at 5:40pm.

I wait in line. There are two lines normally, one for pickup, and one for dropoff.
However, the young woman working the dropoff register is obviously new, probably her first day, so the guy who is supposed to handle pickup (I am not sure, but I think the same guy who shook his head at me yesterday) is walking her though everything. The guy ahead of me is getting a couple packages shipped, but the process is taking so long, he’s not really paying attention, and instead is talking on the phone. Possibly he would be talking on the phone even if it wasn’t taking forever, people are like that these days.

“Chicken. Yeah. Breast, I like the breast,” the man says to his phone.

“Now enter the width,” the older black man says to the young woman.

“Where, here?” she asks.

I look around the place. UPS is a dump. It’s hard to pin down exactly why it’s such a dump compared to FedEx, I think it’s everything just lacks that level of polish, everything is worn, broken, or out of place.

A cardboard sign for shipping costs has some pop-up elements, pictures of packages. Two of them are torn off, probably someone brushed against them, tearing them off the sign, and didn’t bother to fix them. The carpet is old and stained. The facing on the counter is peeling. The light seems dim in places, harsh in others. A few old computers are set up over to the side, I guess so customers can do searches or print labels or something. There aren’t any signs explaining what they are for. Dollies stacked with packages stand unattended in the middle of the room.

The whole place has the feel of a loading dock. It reminds me of VB interfaces by programmers – functional, but unattractive. My belief is that Usability is the correct merging of Form and Function. Some people think that you have to choose between the two, but the truth is if you do it right, you get them both right, and they compliment one another.

UPS : FedEx :: Wal-Mart : Target :: Home Depot : Lowes

UPS, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot all get the job done.
FedEx, Target, and Lowes get the job done, with style.
Until recently, I’d put Microsoft : Apple in there too, but Microsoft is starting to add some style to their substance as of late.

Finally, the pickup guy reaches his hand out to me, wordlessly. I hand him my Pickup Slip.

He goes into the back and comes back with my projector box.

As he hands me the ruggedized handheld barcode-scanner/inventory computer to sign, I comment, in as casual a way as I can, “You know, I came here yesterday at around 6:08, and you were closed.”

“Yup,” he says, “we close at 6pm.”

“Well,” I say, signing the computer, “that’s not what it said when I called to have the package held. They said you were open till 8pm.”

“Nope,” he says dismissively, “6pm. They must have meant another place, maybe the UPS store.”

I raise my voice, almost imperceptively, “This is the address they gave me. I was very upset when I got here just after 6 and you were closed.”

“As long as we’ve been here, it’s been 6pm. This is 315 Hartford Turnpike,” he states, as if to indicate that indisputable facts mean the conversation is over. He takes the handheld computer back from me.

“I know, this is the address they gave me. On the phone, and on the website, it says you guys are open from 12pm to 8pm.”

He grunts dismissively.

Suddenly, a woman in line behind the guy on the phone says loudly, “he’s right, you know! I called and they said 8pm. Not just on the automated message, it says 8pm there, but I talked to someone in person and they said you were open till 8 also!”

Confronted thus by 2 of 3 of the customers present, he begrudgingly said “well, I don’t know why they would be telling people that. We’re open till 6.”

“Well, you should get them to fix that,” I say over my shoulder as I walk out, carrying my projector.