I come to you writing of injustice and greed and monotone, of stark adherence to rules and of people bearing dog biscuits.
I talk, of course, of UPS—the United Parcel Service—and their unknown scam.
UPS bills small businesses by the shipment. Ship four times in two weeks and you’re likely to receive four bills. Unlike Fedex, they do not bill monthly, accumulating shipments, unless….
….unless you agree to a monthly billing “deposit.” If you send UPS $100 they will do what Fedex does for free and bill you monthly, as though they are an adult business and you are not a criminal.
That $100 in NEVER refunded, so long as you ship with them and want monthly billing. Not if you’re a good customer; not if you never miss a payment; not if you polish the ugly brown van. Never. They keep it for no good reason.
What does this mean? Let’s assume that there are 200,000 small businesses in the U.S. which choose to do this so as not to have UPS bills rained down every three days. That, my friends, comes to $20 million, which you and I would at least call a “float” and which many in other professions would call “vigorish.” A modest 2% on that return, assuming arch conservatism, is $400,000 a year, but more aggressive but still sound investment would easily yield $1 million. And THAT’S if my numbers are right. UPS won’t say, but that 200,000 number could be a million.
But that’s not all, as they say on the infomercials. I am guessing that most of this is unclaimed. That is, the $100 is never returned because: small business go out of business; small business owners forget about it; the business is sold to someone else who doesn’t realize the deposit was made. You get the picture.
If even half of this is kept permanently, and is refreshed by new small business clients each year, and that interest rate continues, and you annualize the return, well, we’re talking hundreds of millions over a decade or so, because UPS demands $100 from small business owners. This makes shipping seem secondary, doesn’t it?
This is as big a scam as the fake “yellow pages” that send a “free” check to cash which obligates you to pay for worthless listings, or guys in Nigeria who want us to take millions off their hands. And from a pillar of American business respectability!
I asked to speak to the general counsel at UPS to get their side and report it here. I was told by an account representative—listen to this response—“Our general counsel and our attorneys never talk to customers. If your lawyer writes us, we will respond in writing.”
In other words, the hell with you, spend $350 for a letter to contest your $100, we’re waiting here to respond, but laughing all the way to the bank in the meantime.
Who on earth in senior management would tolerate and support these kinds of confiscatory, unethical policies? Oh, yes, I asked if someone were to cancel their service if UPS refunded the money as a matter of course. “If they ask,” I was told.
It certainly is the big brown, because it’s reminding me of something the dogs leave behind.
© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.