UPS in Spain

UPS are SO never getting my business again


Update 14/10/2015

Absolutely predictably, after promising delivery today – UPS have once again marked the tracking system as “incorrect address” and given up. I keep sending them simple Google map links and they keep writing back to say they cannot read them – how can you not read a link to Google MAPS!!!???!?!?

Update 12/10/2015

Here we go again… despite telling every supplier NOT to use UPS, I’ve just received an email from UPS to say there is a parcel arriving tomorrow from China – or is it Wednesday?

So the email clearly states

Scheduled Delivery Date:

Tuesday, 13/10/2015

Estimated Delivery Time:

End Of Day

There you go – you don’t get any clearer than that – except that it ALSO gives a tracking number. Hopping over to the website – the tracking page says…

Scheduled Delivery:

Wednesday, 14/10/2015, By End of Day

Of course – none of that is important because based on past history – tomorrow afternoon the tracking page will say that the address is wrong (I’ve sent them a map) and that they will try the next day…. and the next… 

Well, one could be optimistic and say “third time lucky?”  – I’m not getting too excited. More info later.


Update 20/09/2015

As some of you know, in July 2015 I was invited by Espressif to MIT in Boston, USA  to be involved with their  microprocessor product and how to use it. This small microprocessor has lots of uses and I’ve been independently blogging about the subject for some time – with some success judging by the numbers in here.

I was trying to think of something visually appealing to show people and it occurred to me that as I had written some software for serial LEDS to simulate a CLOCK, it would be nice to actually take a very bright CIRCLE of these LEDs with me – and the software and a little board so that people could visualise a nice use for the chip.

This presented me with a problem – I was moving to Spain for the summer and needed a quick fix. A Chinese company sold a LED ring for £11 which was reasonable – but it would take 2-4 weeks to deliver the little product to me. So I asked them to ship it via courier. They chose UPS. Bear in mind, while reading this the cost of the product – £11 or maybe 16 Euros.

So all in Euros – the product cost around 15.57 Euros. The postage cost 22.62 Euros – that’s a total of 38.21 Euros inc delivery. YES that’s a LOT for delivery – but I was in a hurry. Normally that kind of stuff chips from China for free.

It would seem that when charging VAT, UPS charge VAT on not only the product but the delivery – which seems UTTERLY ridiculous to me – but that’s life – so at 21% that would be what, around 8 EUROS?

The first time I realised something was up – was when UPS contacted the Chinese supplier for 17.20 Euros extra, bad enough after accepting a delivery job, but then it got worse – MUCH worse. Now, remember they have already contacted the SUPPLIER for more money. It turns out they also recommended he up the value of the package… reading the previous paragraph makes me wonder…

Where we live in Spain, Google maps had at the time, not caught up and the address did not show up on the maps. So I made sure that UPS had the address of a business in the village of Galera where we live (a mere 6 minutes by car from the significant main road into town and the map showed a clear path) – The people at that address speak English and Spanish – so I figured they could give directions to our place. How naive can you get.

So I missed a call from Spanish Inland Properties – UPS had called and wanted – wait for it – 38 Euros extra – half VAT, half “brokerage fee”. As Spanish Inland could not contact me they quite rightly refused  the package. It was never intended that the delivery would be to that address but the driver clearly thought it was appropriate – it would seem talking to  others in the village that this is “normal” and they put up with this poor service. Several villagers have now said “we pick stuff up from Spanish Inland Properties as the delivery companies can’t be bothered to deliver to our places”.

This seems to be acceptable for some and if it works for them that’s fine – but we’re not getting discount for laziness here so I decided to tackle this. The postman in the village has NO problems delivering to our place – a mere 6 minutes from the main road into the village. He delivers stuff from all over the world to me no problem.

I provided UPS with photos, coordinates and even a direct Google link as by this time Google had added our place to the maps. Every now and then I would see revised instructions on the tracking note – but none of my information was passed on to them – it always came out as it I had changed the delivery address or that it was wrong – neither being correct.

I had a promise of delivery a week later – nothing – then another written promise of delivery days later  – nothing.

Meanwhile because UPS systems don’t like my address – when I filled in a form on the web to provide more info – it would never complete.  I then receive a letter from “UPS MY CHOICE” – typical American-style bull letter to make me feel welcome – instructions – access code – the lot – I filled it all in on the website – lovely. But the very first time I tried to make ANY change, provide ANY information – this was refused as first I have to go to the user area which is not where the web form suggests (but I found it anyway) to update my info – which it will not accept. Back to square one.

On the UPS website I entered the tracking number – there is an option to add a description – so I pasted in the Google URL I made to show the directions… nothing – the ADD button did nothing – clearly intended for short, sharp responses and nothing else – but badly designed as no error message. The only option was to cancel. I could not find a way on the site even to tell UPS to put this off for another day so I could HAVE A LIFE. If you try to contact UPS – you are forced down a narrow range of operations – the nearest I could get was “receiving a package” – ” InfoNotice Number” – and …. nothing – I could not  get any further in contacting them. For someone having a problem – the UPS website isn’t worth a light.

Anyway, several days after I was actually expecting the parcel and far too late for my trip which had come and gone, I had just about given up when… the van arrived – as it happens we’d left the house but we stopped the car just outside – sure enough  38 Euros had to be paid. So AT LEAST I proved one thing – if you stand up for what’s right – it appeared at the time that they COULD deliver to the door – not without a fight and with charges that bore no relationship to the cost of the product.

So now you, dear reader, now know what to expect from UPS in rural Spain – others have already warned me – terms generally seem to focus on the word “rubbish”. Another reader has warned that he too has been subject to “brokerage fees” totalling twice the value of the product… and he won’t touch UPS.

I then wrote and asked for an explanation as to WHY they charged me 30 Euros more than the VAT and why they also charged or tried to charge the SUPPLIER more.

A letter came back  – the VAT was the supplier’s fault – for reasons WELL beyond me – on advice from UPS , he had declared a value more than twice the actual value of the goods, on the package. Why would ANYONE want to do that. But that only accounts for HALF of the ridiculous price – the rest came from “Brokerage charges” – Now I have to say, in my 60+ years I’ve not come across this in the UK – maybe I’ve just been lucky – but check this bunch of nonsense out – on the link, scroll down to “brokerage charges” –

It seemed there were a couple of lessons here… (a) make sure your supplier UNDERSTATES the value of goods, (b) Avoid UPS – but mainly, when buying from China – avoid couriers altogether and stick with simple airmail. It may be slower but in my experience it is reliable and there are NO charges – indeed on small packages there isn’t even any VAT (and up to now that applies to both Spain and the UK).

And that was that – at least the parcel arrrived, they now knew my address. FAST FORWARD to September 2015. I’d bought a watch – a smart watch, from America and it did well for a while but got some water damage. They said no problem – we’ll ship you another straight away – you’ll have it in days.

And they chose… UPS. Too late to stop them.

On time the supplier sent me a tracking number – and the parcel would arrive Wednesday. I made sure they had the map link, that they sent the map link to UPS and I sent a copy to the guy I’d previously spoken to at UPS in Spain. What could go wrong.  Eventually the tracking info updated and sure enough – LATE WEDNESDAY ARRIVAL. We were off to the coast for a couple of days (Thurs Fri) so I let everyone know. Early Wednesday afternoon – “Incorrect address” – I could not believe my eyes.

I immediately wrote to everyone involved and ensured they knew that 1. My address was correct and 2. I was NOT going to be around on Thursday or Friday.

Sure enough nothing happened on Wednesday – I sent a stream of correspondence off and we went off on our trip to the coast, with a confirmation from UPS that they’d try again Monday.

Friday, an email came in on my phone – UPS have DELIVERED YOUR PACKAGE.  The address was nonsense – 2 letters – and the delivery was to “SOAN L” – not only was the address rubbish – but who on EARTH was “SOAN L” – didn’t really even sound Spanish and it certainly wasn’t English.

So after screwing up the Wednesday delivery, they sent the package on the WRONG day to the WRONG place to the WRONG person.

As it turns out – they’d just resorted to form – and delivered the package to …. Spanish Inland Properties – “SEAN L” – the very helpful chap there and on Saturday I picked up the replacement watch from him.  They simply could not give a SHIT about customer requirements.

All’s well that ends well, but now I feel it is my duty to warn everyone, everywhere – DO NOT USE UPS IN SPAIN AS THEY ARE COMPLETE RUBBISH.


10 thoughts on “UPS in Spain

  1. Up here in Tarragona we get a lot of stuff shipped ‘express’ from China. Mostly fairly high value solar stuff. It seems to come by a different route every time with different handling agents.
    We have now opted to have it delivered to the local Correos (post office for Brits). I can then drop in and pay the customs duties etc. They always seem to be about €30, whatever the value of the goods.
    Stuff usually gets here in 4 or 5 days now.

  2. Remember way back working a PC shop. UPS was our best customer! The amount of damage they did to packages we sent or received was 5-digit a month! We loved them! The best one was a Tower PC with 21″ CRT that was actually delivered to a (livid!!!) customer after they managed to drive over the whole package with a forklift. The total height of the package was 5 cm! And the best thing was, that they still tried to deliver the package!

    1. We used to have the same love of TNT – or as we used to call them “TNT Smash It Overnight”. Well, at least we got some laughs out of it. UPS are a different matter – the way they handled this delivery is WAY past contempt.

  3. Yep. If you’re a big business (and don’t care what shipping costs, or can negotiate a deal) and have a fixed, obvious address in a major city… UPS is your friend. Ditto for same-country deliveries from major online sellers (Amazon, etc).

    if you’re just a person, trying to import something and use UPS… you’re toast.

    Several years ago, I ordered a windsurfing sail and mast (one order, one shipment, in two pieces sent at same time) from a place in the US. UPS charged me TWO brokerage fees.

    Until the government shuts it down (with taxes or duty) I am more than content to order from Chinese vendors, endure the wait and enjoy the free shipping.

  4. So now you know how they cherry pick their customers. Deliberately p***ing off the difficult ones. Works wonders for the bottom line. 🙂

    Think yourself lucky they didn’t return it to China and charge you all those costs again!!

    Look forward to hearing about your trip to Boston. You have done your ESTA form haven’t you and avoided the rip off ads that appear when you do a Google search? ESTA is another US invention designed to frustrate us innocent suckers.


    1. Hi Simon, not seen an ESTA form, but they won’t be getting my business in future and right now up to 1000 visitors have seen my comments… if they don’t refund me the “Brokerage Fees” a hell of a lot more will know about it. I don’t like being ripped off. Boston – provided my blog is working properly (having an image issue – something to do with security – the company are looking to put a VPS together for me) I’ll publish plenty of pics of what’s going on there.

  5. Your UPS driver is probably just like me, Pete …hammering the little “-” icon like crazy to try and find -somewhere- that he’s heard of. :^)

    1. Very glad to hear that it did eventually arrive, though. Have fun
      in Boston (…and please tell Espressif to ship the full damn SDK
      instead of dribs and drabs!).

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