There's a package en route to me. Yesterday morning, UPS's package tracking system showed an "arrival scan" in San Pablo, CA. For over 24 hours, there's been no further movement.
I called UPS just now, and the following dialogue ensued (loosely transcribed from memory) (note that this time, for once, I managed to be polite and nonconfrontational throughout):
Me: [explains the situation]
Her: The package is not physically in California, but it's not scheduled to be delivered until Thursday, so it's still on time.
Me: It says "arrival scan."
Her: That just means that that's the package's destination.
Me: If it's not in California, then where is it?
Her: It was in Illinois on Friday, and ground packages didn't go out on Friday or over the weekend, so it may still be in Illinois.
Me: So why does it say "arrival scan" in California?
Her: That's when it was supposed to arrive, but it hasn't arrived yet, because of the holiday weekend.
Me: So, just so I'll know for future reference, when the tracking system says "arrival scan," that doesn't actually mean that it's arrived and been scanned?
Her: No, it just means that's the destination.
Me: So "arrival scan" really just means that the plan is that it will eventually end up at that location at some point in the future?
Her: That's right.
I failed to ask her how she knows it's not in California; it sounds like she has access to some sort of extra-special secret tracking system that contains information that they don't put in the package tracking system that I can see.
If what she said was accurate--it doesn't match anything I've been told in the past, but UPS people have told me all sorts of wildly inconsistent things in the past, on all kinds of topics, so who knows--then it's a stupid, lousy way to do things. What's the use of a public-facing package tracking system that (a) doesn't show the package's actual location, and (b) uses extremely misleading terms like "arrival scan" to mean things that no normal customer would expect them to mean?
I think the moral continues to be "Jed should avoid UPS if at all possible." I've been having lousy UPS experiences on and off for over 15 years, so you'd think I would know better than to use them. (Though I know that plenty of people have good UPS experiences.) Unfortunately, I wasn't given a choice of shipping companies.
Anyway, I imagine that on Thursday or Friday we'll go through the whole rigmarole all over again, and they'll explain to me (as usually seems to happen when UPS fails to deliver something to me on time) that whatever novel way of messing things up they've happened upon this time is really my fault, just like all the other times. But it's possible they'll surprise me.
(To be fair, this doesn't hold a candle to the ridiculous customer-service conversation I had with Apple a couple weeks ago, which I keep forgetting to post but will try to get to soonish. Having said that, I should note that that one did come out okay in the end, when I called back and spoke to someone who actually knew what they were talking about.)