Ordinarily, UPS is rock solid reliable but this is the Christmas season when package loads increase and the parcel service brings in extra drivers to handle the volume.

One of them, assigned to deliver in Floyd County, got lost Tuesday and went back to Roanoke is many packages undelivered.

One of those packages should have come to Chateau Thompson, where UPS delivers 15-20 packages a month. On Monday, I ordered some urgently needed photo and video supplies from B & H Photo in New York and paid the premium to have them shipped overnight.

By 6 p.m. the package had not arrived so I checked the tracking number on the UPS web site and found this message:



Obviously, they were trying to contact me via pony express because no phone call came into either home or office or via email. The message was posted at 6:09 p.m. I called at 6:30 and, after several frustrating attempts to get through their voice prompt system, finally reached a live person.

Or so it seemed.

"The driver couldn’t find a street number where you live," he said. "You need to have an identifying number out in front of your house."

Identifying number? We have three of them: The number on the mailbox in front of the house, a sign that points to our number and the number of the only other house on our lane and a lighted number sign at the entrance to the driveway.

Perhaps, I suggested in a lower tone of voice that indicates seething anger, the driver got lost?

"Oh I doubt that sir but I will contact the regional center (in Roanoke) and have them call you within the hour."

Ninety minutes later and still no call back. So I called back. A bored sounding woman said the regional center was now closed and she would have someone call me in the morning.

"Unacceptable," I said. "Let me speak to your supervisor."

She tried four times to say her supervisor was not available and would call me back before she finally understood that I would not accept that brush off and would not hang up until a supervisor came on the line.  When the supervisor finally got on the line I explained in an escalating volume that I was sick of being jerked around by UPS and wanted an answer tonight on where the package was and just when they expected to deliver it.  She promised to check into it and call me back in thirty minues. In five minutes she was back on the line, having reached someone in Roanoke who admitted that, yes, they had a temporary driver on the Floyd route Tuesday and, yes, he got lost and that, yes, there were a lot of angry customers like me who didn’t get the delivery they expected.

After multiple apologies and a promise of a full refund of my shipping charges, UPS promised to deliver the package first thing Wednesday morning to our studio in Floyd.

Let’s see if they can deliver on their promise this time around.

UPDATE: 3:17 p.m. Package arrived. Not exactly "first thing Wednesday morning" but at least it is finally here.