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Friday, August 08, 2008




There’s a mystery afoot-it seems UPS lost not 1, but 2 5-½ foot tubs that were bound to a pallet. How in the world can something of that size and heft just disappear? That was my mystery this week.

At the “day job” I get to help find things sometimes. Or correct little things. An example-customer calls, “hello, Carine? I don’t want to trouble you but something is definitely wrong here. My installer put the valve in the floor for the free-standing tub set and then the stone guy laid down the travertine. Now here’s the problem: the trim is 1-½” narrower than the valve. What should we do?”

Turned out that the vendor sent the European version of the valve by mistake. Now I know what many of you are thinking-get the client the right valve and all of life is beautiful. Problem is, that travertine I mentioned, it was $10,000 worth of flooring. No way was the homeowner going to pull it all up!

What did I do, you ask? Simple (LOL), I convinced the vendor to custom make the trim to fit the valve that was now permanently anchored in the ground, pay for the plumber to install a “substitute” trim (donated by them to make up for this giant size packaging error), as well as the one being created when it arrives from Germany. Oh, I also arranged to have the vendor ship everything direct-by FedEx overnight.

Not bad, client was happy, vendor was thrilled that they weren’t going to be sued and my boss was happy he didn’t have to do a thing or raise his blood pressure even one little blip.

But UPS lost 2 tubs! Somewhere between Fontana, California and Kent, Washington they have to be-but where and in what condition? Where did this “loss” occur? All I know is that our warehouse manager packed those two tubs on a pallet and UPS picked them up. If the client hadn’t called me in a well-deserved snit, I would have figured that the tubs were at her new home being installed into her two bathrooms-WHERE THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN!

What did I do? This time I shared the “wealth” of my ensuing headache-I called the warehouse manager and told him about our slight “problem”.

“Carine, I don’t know what happened, but we have a UPS rep now, I’ll give him a call and let you know what I find out.”

He called back 2 hours later-seems the UPS rep doesn’t know how they could lose something of this magnitude either. But he said he’d find out.

I told the warehouse manager the client had given us a day and a half or she was cancelling the order and said “let UPS pay you the damages, I knew I should have just ordered them up here”.

What was the end result? UPS did find the tubs-somehow they took a rather “scenic” route via Dallas, Texas!

Fortunately after she calmed down and realized that for all her threats-the only tubs available were at the local home improvement store, which were of rather questionable quality. She’ll have them early next week.

I tried to solve this one in a timely manner. But some things are just out of the realm of possibility. I’m sure you’ve all heard the cliché: sometimes you’re the hero and sometimes you’re the goat. Well, I guess this week I was a bit of both-for the heroine part, I did my share of the job, I got the tubs and made sure they were shipped. Then for the goat part-I couldn’t find them once they left the county. At least not in a record amount of time.

It’s not that I think this is my fault, it was way out of my hands-after all, I wasn’t the one at the loading dock putting those tubs on the wrong truck, but I do feel bad that the client was put into such a bind.

The lesson here: Never schedule a work crew until all of the product is within full view, no matter how reliable you think worldwide shipping companies are supposed to be.

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