UPS Madness, Amtrak Fun

My friend Stephen ended up mysteriously in the USA with no identification, which made the prospect of getting back into Canada somewhat daunting. (You may ask “how did he get into the US in the first place?” the answer to which is that he did have ID on the way in, but left it on the dash of his travelmates’ VW Fox and they took off north back into Canada).

After consulting various customs and immigration websites for both countries, it became apparent that crossing the border with no ID just wasn’t going to work, so Stephen managed to contact aforementioned Fox owners and arranged for them to FedEx his ID to him in New Hampshire.

Except that they didn’t FedEx it, they sent it via UPS. I think UPS stands for “Useless Poor Service” because the envelope sent Tuesday afternoon and due in Dublin, NH on Wednesday morning was actually “temporarily left” in Pennsylvania, and therefore not able to reach New Hampshire until Thursday morning. To make matters worse, when we checked in on Thursday morning with UPS, they told us that they’d goofed again and the envelope was in Brattleboro, Vermont.

You would think this was a Good Thing as, in fact, our plans for today were to drive Stephen to Brattleboro so that he could catch the train north to Montreal and home. But, alas, Brattleboro is not a “UPS location,” it’s only some sort of mystical UPS weigh station, so packages that are stuck there are not able to be retrieved. Some back and forth with UPS revealed that at some point the envelope would pop out in Keene, NH where we could retrieve it. Unfortunately the best estimate of when this would happen was “sometime today.”

So we rearranged our schedule and planned a stop in Keene on the way to Vermont.

Except that when I arrived in Dublin to check in this morning what should I find but Stephen’s envelope, delivered at 9:00 a.m. Which means that as I was being told it was lost in Vermont it was, in fact, deliver in New Hampshire.

So UPS is bad at both trucking and tracking, and has lost my business and, no doubt, Stephen’s.

The residual ill-feeling in our hearts towards Brattleboro as a result of this debacle — through no fault of Brattleboro’s, of course — prompted Stephen to rearrange his travel plans entirely.

So this evening we drove down to Boston where we deposited Stephen at South Station at 9:05 p.m. for a train to Toronto. Except Amtrak doesn’t go from Boston to Toronto, so Stephen is taking a train to New York City that arrives at 1:00 a.m., then enjoying New York until 7:00 a.m. at which points he catches a 12 hour train to Toronto.

This may, on the surface, appear to be an insane way to travel. And it does have insane components, indeed. But the combination of exoticness, non-sensicalness, and thrift (the entire journey is only $93US) is what makes it appealing in a way that perhaps only Stephen and I can properly understand.

So as I type this note in my comfortable discounted Swissotel room in downtown Boston, Stephen is on an Acela Regional steaming south.

Tip: if you want to hear an interactive voice response system that’s world class and extremely functional, dial 1-800-USA-RAIL from anywhere in North America. It’s a work ot art.


Andrew's picture
Andrew on September 6, 2002 - 15:15 Permalink

My first time buying on ebay was from a user in California. I had the package shiped via UPS then Canada Post. UPS ended up messing up the package several times before handing it over to Canada Post. From that time on I now have everything I order online shipped Fedex.

Alan's picture
Alan on September 6, 2002 - 15:45 Permalink

I think I crossed back into Canada a decade or so ago without ID and was quizzed about Hockey Night in Canada, federal politics and Tim Hortons…or maybe that was an ad…

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on September 9, 2002 - 23:46 Permalink

I just received call from vendor in California — his UPS shipper could not find Prince Edward Island California and the zip code did not seem right. When I explained to him that his web store used the abbrev. CA for Canada he said, “oh, my UPS shipper will not ship to Canada as they have to put green stickers things on the package” Interesting outcome is that I went to a local vendor, bought the same product at a better price than the wholesaler was providing. (I would have done that in the first place if I realized the product was available here)