UPS - "Uniformly, Pieces of S.hit"

I ship to a lot of small dealers. They email, or call and leave voice mail, whatever.
I ship to them using their UPS or FedEx account numbers, and “bill recipient”. This means that they pay the actual shipping cost (with discounts), not some inflated price.

Recently, UPS decided that because one of my customers had not paid a less-than $100 invoice, that this was grounds to “charge back” the shipping to my account, and silently make it an “amount due”.

Neither of us got any notice of the invoice, as UPS does not mail invoices, they persistently “enroll” everyone in “electronic billing”, and send their “notice of invoices” so haphazardly, one can never be sure of getting one. Then they expect that “notice” to prompt you to go on THEIR website, and search around (they change it around often) to FIND your invoice. As if we did not have better things to do, including figuring out a way to let their “notices” get past the bayesian spam filters, while still blocking their annoying stream of spam and self-congratulatory “case studies” of, for example, how 100,000 cute kittens were saved annually by an NGO and the logistical prowess of UPS and their “just-in-time” delivery of saucers of cream to thousands of street corners to feed the stray cats, or some such nonsense.

Given that the invoice remained unpaid, as I was celebrating the holidays, and then out of the country for nearly a month, UPS sent “my invoice” to COLLECTIONS, and disabled my ability to print shipping UPS labels. Again, no mail, no email, no phone calls, nada.

Even worse, once something “goes to collections”, it no longer shows as an “amount due” on this fabled online billing system, so while there are invoices still there from months ago, that a forensic accountant might be able to use to re-construct the lack of payment, when comparing to one’s own books, from all outward appearances, all is well, and the balance due shown is “$0.00”

After being told that my account was “in collections”, and getting the associated tracking number, I explained that this shipment was a “bill recipient” transaction, and they explained their highly creative interpretation of the agreement they impose upon their customers. They they said I had to call “accounts receivable” at a different number (800-837-2434) to make payment arrangements if I did not want to pay the collection agency. I told them that I had no idea what collection agency they have engaged, as I had heard nothing, and received nothing about any of this.

I gave the receivables people a call, and asked them why they were asking me to pay an invoice for another customer’s account, and they said “because they refused to pay, so you, as the sender are liable for the shipping fees under our agreement”.

Then my customer spoke. Conference call, unbeknownst to the UPS folks, as I have known this customer for more than 30 years, have dined at her table, and have shot hoops with her kids in her driveway.

She says “But we never refused to pay anything - you never told us about an invoice, an overdue invoice, or any collections activity. How were we to know? We are happy to pay, but you need to tell us an amount to pay you.”

I said "Unless you can provide something in writing showing where YOUR customer actually refused to pay, I’m going to have to ask you to remove the amount from MY account, and re-bill it back to this nice lady who has just explained to you that she did not pay only because you did not send any invoice or notice."

I added “And I’m going to need my account re-enabled, as despite my advice to the contrary, some of my customers persist in using your services, despite your habit of screwing up massively on things like this at least once a year.”

And so they did. Nearly 2 hours wasted over a ninety some-odd dollar shipping invoice from May of last year.


There should only be 1 situation they bill you for something that was originally billed to someone else’s account.

If they claim you used their information fraudulently. That’s it. Otherwise if they authorized it, it should be their issue even if they refuse to pay.