Monday, November 28, 2011

This “UPS My Choice” Thing is Actually Pretty Neat

Does anyone remember using eBay before the whole “My eBay” thing existed? No? You may find it hard to believe, but when eBay launched (a looonnnng time ago) they’d email you confirmations of your activity (bids, sales, etc.) and you’d use those emails to keep track of that was going. It wasn’t until years later that eBay offered a centralized “my account” page with that information.

It’s insane to imagine today that it used to work that way but I swear it did!

And yet UPS doesn’t even work that well for most people today. You order something and if you’re lucky, the vendor gives you a tracking number which you constantly monitor to see where your widgets are and when they’ll arrive. Some vendors and shippers added the ability to subscribe to email notification for specific tracking numbers, which helped, but that wasn’t a great solution either.

Then, when I started tracking a package last month, I somehow ended up at UPS’s My Choice system. At first I thought this was just a reinvented notification engine. It didn’t really make sense to me initially because it seemed like the nice features were hiding behind the premium version. And I was really tired.

I scoffed at the notion that I’d have to pay some annual fee to get trivial functionality out of a shipping company and forgot about it.

Then, a couple weeks later I got this in my email:

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It took me a couple seconds to realize what had happened. I apparently wasn’t paying attention to the sign up process because what UPS is doing is notifying me (automatically) whenever anyone ships me a package. It matches packages by address and name (multiple names allowed) and lets me know when they’re on their way, if they are delayed, and when they’ve arrived.

This is more than I expected and it turns out to be pretty much exactly what I want. In the weeks since, the emails keep coming:

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These emails take you to the UPS version of “My eBay”, which does exactly what you’d hope.

They still offer completely unhelpful delivery windows, like this:

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Which means it’ll get here sometime between 7:30 am and 7:30 pm. Or later. Maybe.

But To their credit, allegedly the paid version of “My Choice” improves this by giving you a two-hour delivery window, among other things for $40/year.

This is one of those things that is hard to understand why it hasn’t existed all along. Thanks, UPS, I love it!

Your move, FedEx. I’d call out USPS, too, but their tracking is so laughable that the notion of them implementing anything serious is ridiculous.