UPS Offers Day-Definite Delivery Guarantees

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United Parcel Service Inc., Atlanta, begins offering day-definite, money-back guarantees for residential ground shipments today.


There will be no extra charge for the service, which applies to the continental United States. Shippers will have to request the service. Shippers also will have 15 days from the scheduled delivery date to request a refund.


UPS spokesperson Susan L. Rosenberg said the service is targeted at shippers that have residential destination packages. She said guaranteed delivery might not apply to some larger shippers with customized contracts.


"Some of the larger customers would not apply for the residential guarantee because they create their own delivery commitments to their customers based on their own fulfillment operations," she said.


In addition, Rosenberg said, they might not want to confuse their customers, "since the clock doesn't start ticking from the moment the order is placed. Instead, it starts ticking when the shipment is picked up by UPS."


Industry analysts said guaranteed on-time delivery would be welcomed by the direct marketing industry, provided it is used properly.


"While this could be confusing to customers since shippers control the fulfillment period, not the carrier, shippers can use software that helps them figure out what the estimated time of arrival is for a package based on when a package has been given to the carrier," said Satish Jindel, a transportation consultant at SJ Consulting Group in Pittsburgh. "Then, they can send ... an e-mail notification to customers that provides the customer with an estimated time of arrival."


Many direct marketers already provide such tracking information in their confirmation e-mails, though without a guaranteed delivery date.


Jindel said marketers can use a tool called ShipMatrix ETA to estimate the time of arrival of a package. For more information on the product, visit www.shipmatrix.com.


Jindel said the service will reduce the number of canceled orders caused by customers uncertain about when the order will arrive.


To promote the service, UPS drivers are distributing fliers describing it to shippers. In addition, an e-card was sent to targeted customers by the UPS sales force this week.


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