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The Big Brown Mess

The Big Brown Mess

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.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 9

  • Edy

    November 21, 2007

    If you think UpS is bad with costumers you should ask their employees.

  • Brown Bombshell

    December 19, 2007

    If you want a real scam go to UPSOVERCHARGEDME.COM and get a real unadultirated scam that’s been going on to who knows how many corporate customers,franchisees,pack and mail businesses etc. This carefully developed situation can only be implemented by a corporation that is squeezing every last penny out of it clients by any means possible. That’s what a pile of brown can do for you.


    December 19, 2007

    The brown mess is only a child of a scam compaired to the UPS STORE franchise. MBE (MAIL BOXES ETC )is the disguise for UPS to directly compete with it’s franchisees. The best part is the franchisee has to use the UPS software iship which is immediately captured and send to UPS DATA BASE. Read between the lines and directly competing with your parent company as you give them your customer base to boot! BAMBOOZLED

  • Frozen North

    December 20, 2007

    The UPS Store is a scam franchise. It is a way for UPS to enslave unsuspecting people to spend their hard earned savings to run a very expensive UPS drop off location. The owners of these stores have been financially raped by Mailboxes Etc. which is a shell company for UPS.

    On further note if you are a UPS Store and the drop offs exceed your income derived from shipping, should you get behind on your bills with them they will suspend your account. Even if you bring your bills up current they will not reinstate your account unless you allow them to EFT your checking account every week. As stated in previous posts the UPS bill is fraught with errors. You have to audit your UPS bill every week for the over charges, double charges, charges for packages you didn’t ship. On an average week I would save approximately $40.00 in overcharges, never mind any of the other charges I stated.

    If you allow UPS to EFT your checking account freely you will never get your money back on the billing mistakes they make.

    This company needs to be investigated by an entity that will not be bought off or influenced by them in any way.


    December 20, 2007

    Talkbrown.com, brownboard.com, these 2 websites expose monumental amounth of unhappiness and discontent on what UPS/MBE has done and contiue to do to it’s franchise owners. Brown Board owners assoc. was created in late 2004 attempting good faith negotiations for a year with UPS/MBE and was told in simple terms to seek legal counsel. The frighten stayed part of the BBOA ONLY TO CRY ON THEIR WESITE INSTEAD OF FIGHTING BACK. Talk brown was created by the store owners who broke off the ineffective BBOA and did seek legal counsel(BROWNSHEILD ASSOC.). Now to date UPS/MBE have 1-IAMCO GROUP and PLATINUM SHEILD ASSOC. both of which are MBE store owners that refuse to convert to the UPS store scam and with 47 billion dollars UPS has not been able to derail these 2 groups even though UPS has done everything possible to crush them mentally,and financially. Brown Sheild Assoc. On the other hand is a combination of MBE converted stores and new UPS stores that bought into the planned scheme by the scam master UPS/MBE. BLUE MAU MAU WEBSITE also has a significant amount of information on this franchise abortion. UPS now has to deal with 3 different individual group litigations, 1 class action litigation involving all of the converted MBE stores, another class action that involves the overcharging scam discussed in another post with who knows how many other store owners that could afford to file suit on UPS on their own. This is all happening at the same time because UPS thought they could use dillutional marketing tatics and then intimidate the little guy and use the small entrepenur as a casualty of business. GUESS WHAT UPS it didn’t work. THOUSANDS of litigants are looking forward to their day in court against UPS/MBE!

  • mbeforever

    December 20, 2007

    Did you know that UPS new CEO was Scott Davis. Scott Davis was the man in charge of the off shore insurance problem that was ligigated and which UPS was found to be doing things illegal. So What does UPS do for Scott Davis. PROMOTES HIM TOO THEIR NEW CEO. And they say that UPS has ethics and morals. It is hard to see when the core is rotten.

  • BigBrownStain

    December 20, 2007

    Why I bought a UPS Store. At the age of 47 I had achieved what most people work so hard for.A three year old 400K house, paid off. No car payments, no credit card debt no debt at all, plus about 400K nicely invested. I was also fortunate enough to have a loving wife with a 6 figure income. My son was 13 and started playing golf with me, in fact that summer was filled with golf, cookouts sitting on the deck and enjoying all that we had achieved, but definitely no work.
    In June of that year I discovered that we inadvertently had a large amount of non interest earning cash in our checking account ,something in the order of 35 to 40K.Well I thought there was only so much golf I could play and at 46 I wasn’t ready to be a golf bum. After two months of doing my “due diligence”, intervening store owners, having my accountant review numbers. I decided for 180K that I would take the plunge and buy a UPS Store, I main reason was the name.UPS was such a respected well recognized brand, how could anything bearing those 3 initials be anything but good? The only trepidation I had was UPS had no previous retail experience , other than their own counters. All my fears were alleviated when UPS/MBE hired Stuart Mathis who was heading Dominoes Pizza to take over MBE.I could not of been more happy, I did the training and although I did not think the instructors at MBE headquarters knew how to teach, I just assumed they were inexperienced at lecturing. Remember what everyone always said about assumption? There were some red flags while I was in San Diego. The first was the security of the building, learning that the pass card that got me and my fellow trainees into MBE headquarters only allowed access to the first floor, all the corporate people were on the above floors. It was small,but I asked myself why people that where going to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, are not trusted enough to see the inner workings of a franchise corporate headquarters.Most troubling was talking to some of the instructors. The majority have worked for UPS for many years,and looking back this could have been some kind of reward,sending that person to San Diego,or more likely the person should have been fired,but because of his/her tenure UPS gave that person one last chance.Another was learning UPS’s executive hiring practices,it stated simply everyone starts on the loading dock.I do not know about you but if after spending upwards of 200K on my sons graduate degree education I would not be to happy to hear of him employed on any loading dock.In other words I doubt there are many Ivy league MBA’s working at UPS. I will not name names here,I have my reasons.

  • BigBrownStain

    December 20, 2007

    To make a long story short I owned my UPS Store for 20 months,in my best months(excluding December) I only lost $1,000.00,bad months I lost $3,000.After 9 months I had enough and put it up for sale .There were no buyers.To my regret I stayed open for 11 more months.I received no help from the area franchisee,they are incompetent anyways .UPS offered no help,so after 20 months I locked the doors and said goodbye to 230K dollars.The money was bad enough , however the emotional toll was devastating, my wife left me,my son was disappointed.Remember I was fortunate,I had reserves I did not refinance anything,did not waste my credit,many did.I had many,many bad months blaming myself for not succeeding. I will never ever use anything that has UPS on it. And I will spend as much time as necessary to tell people my story and the story of people who lost everything following those three letters.

  • Making it simple

    December 22, 2007

    1-Decieve any and all clients.
    2-Bamboozle the small entrepeneur(franchisee)
    3-Train and encourage unconsienable tatics of intimidation by their corproate management as well as their area franchisees. BURN AND CHURN the failures as incompitance.
    4-ZERO attempts to make things better for the existing franchisees over the last 4 years. ESTIMATED 60%-70% of existing store in unprofitable situations.
    5-Setting up even more obsticles for the franchise to fail by partnering up with other corporate entities of the likes of STAPLES, OFFICE MAX, whose main source of profitabily has nothing to do with shipping and can easily undercut the UPS STORES with zero financial out come.
    6-FIVE different major litigation against UPS/MBE all revoling around their UPS and MBE franchisees.
    CONCLUSION one of the most recognized brands in the world is now being recognized as a humongus pile of brown. You can smell the brown outcome of these poor souls (FRANCHISEES). The above comments are correct UPS is now america’s #1 scam master. P U to UPS someone ship some toilet paper via FEDEX next day air early AM!

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