Canadians overwhelm Ogdensburg UPS store

Hope you’ve got extra time, you’ll need it!

There’s a small UPS store in Ogdensburg that you’d probably prefer to avoid right now. Unless your idea of fun is standing in line for most of the day.

Earlier this month I was somewhat surprised to find the customer area stuffed to the door with a 40-person conga-line that twisted like a pretzel around some snow tires stacked in mid-floor.

There was ample opportunity to chat since everyone’s proximity was (shall we say?) intimate. Nearly everyone in line was Canadian. And they/I had to stay in line because they/I had driven from Ottawa (or wherever), paid the bridge toll and were committed to getting the errand done.

Someone near the head of the line said she had been there 90 minutes already. Sure enough, that’s how long it took me to get my one small box and go.

A week later one of my husband’s co-workers (from Ottawa) grumbled it took her 6 hours to collect her package. CBC has already done a story on this, as word filters back to this side of the border that the great money-saving trick has become less great.

I was in Ogdensburg today to use a U.S. post office. (Four people in line ahead of me, it took 2 minutes of waiting.) Stopping for groceries before I returned to Ontario I counted 68 people in the UPS line that stretched down the sidewalk. (That would be on top of the capacity crowd inside.)

Here I want to say a couple of things. First of all, it’s a good thing Canadians are known for being patient and polite. I don’t want to think about how that might go if the patron base was quick to anger. Secondly, if you’re an area resident and you’ve had to suffer trying to get your item at your local freight store…sorry about that, eh?

Here’s the problem: there’s WAY more stuff to buy in the U.S. than in Canada and U.S. prices are almost always better. Sometimes this makes sense, other times not at all. The day I waited I overheard one person bemoaning the fact the item he was buying was actually made in Canada – but sold for less in the U.S.

Next, many U.S. merchants will not ship to Canada – or will charge a prohibitive rate to do so. Then there can also be something called “brokerage fees” that add a hefty charge just because said item crossed a border. Add the fact that some companies offer free shipping within the continental U.S. and what you have is a stampede.

Some of us have taken advantage of shipping to Ogdensburg c/o the UPS store for years. It’s always been”interesting” at Christmas. But now the user demand has gone beyond ridiculous.

And I pity the staff. As my wait stretched on toward the dinner hour, I overheard one of the long-time staffers say he had yet to see his lunch.

Let’s face it, we did this to ourselves, my fellow Maple Leaf bargain hunters!

And if your package still needs collecting in Ogdensburg, better bring a good book and maybe a stool.

Personally, I won’t go near it again until February, I think! And probably not at all next December.

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7 Comments on “Canadians overwhelm Ogdensburg UPS store”

  1. Wow, consumer goods aplenty in Obama’s “socialist America”… go figure.

  2. Alan says:

    This is a massive irritation up… or rather down here … as Kingston is SSW of Canton and O’burg. Bought a Canadian made canoe in Maine for $315 that was being sold here for $699. NNY and VT old cheddar is a big saving, too. But some wines are way less up here as are other things – often based on the different free trade treaties. Just got to know what is what.

  3. Hank says:

    UPS needs to open a satellite store in Cape Vincent right close to the ferry dock!

  4. Mike Smith says:

    I guess not many Canadians know there is a UPS store just 30 minutes away in Evans Mills. There’s no wait there at all because they use the computer to logically sort and store packages they receive. The UPS Store in Ogdensburg does not use the computer and instead writes the person’s name and date received on the package. I’m pretty sure they make all their profits from the hold for pickup business, whereas the UPS Store in Evans Mills is so close to Fort Drum that they handle more shipping than hold for pickup. Hence, I’ve never waited more than 10 min for packages in Evans Mills.

  5. Shawn says:

    “The UPS Store in Ogdensburg does not use the computer and instead writes the person’s name and date received on the package.”

    Incorrect. Obviously this person has no idea what they’re speaking about. The UPS Store in Ogdensburg has built a customized computer program to keep track of the packages incoming and outgoing. I should know – I built it.

    If the Evans Mills store received 7,500 packages in 3 days this December – how would they logically place each package so that it was easy to find? Do they have the 5-6 staff members that it takes to process 800 packages coming in every day? Do they even have the room to store 20,000 packages in the small store in Evans Mills? If not, then you would be waiting for far more than 10 minutes to get your packages in Evans Mills.

    The wait times at Ogdensburg’s store has nothing to do with the computer system – it’s the sheer number of parcels that they received in a 15 day period + the number (300+) people that come down to pick them up daily.

    For 2013 There is a bright side:

    Rest assured, next year they will be revamping their warehouse to be able to hold many more packages and the computer system will go one step further and retain not only the person’s name, sorted alphabetically – but the specific coordinates of each package. Not only does the UPS Store in Ogdensburg plan to do even more business next year, they plan on cutting those wait times from 15 minutes to 5 minutes, which will speed everything along. Canadians demonstrated that they’re willing to ship thousands of parcels to The UPS Store in Ogdensburg — and the store will improve it’s performance to ensure that lines like people experienced this year don’t happen next year.

    If The UPS Store in Ogdensburg isn’t going to be your destination for shipping next year – there are 3 or 4 other locations inside of Ogdensburg that don’t get this kind of volume, have shorter (or non-existent) weekend hours and have their own prices. You won’t wait in line as long at these places (this year) but there aren’t as many conveniences as The UPS offers, either. Waiting in line in the cold isn’t fun. They get it. Time is money and valuable – they get that too.

    It gets better – we won’t have this problem next Christmas.

    To those Canadians who put on warm clothing and stood in line to pick up their parcels, thank you for sticking with The UPS Store and letting us help you get your parcels this holiday season. We truly appreciate the business and will make certain that what happened in December 2012 doesn’t repeat in years to come. As our customer base grows, so will the list of accommodations.

    Shawn
    Employee, The UPS Store in Ogdensburg

  6. Adam says:

    Mike Smith is bang on. That’s the whole point – you shouldn’t have to wait 4-6 hours, especially when it happens year after year. Mike should have gone to a larger location years ago when he moved to this space. It’s not like this is new volume they’ve never seen before. Remember the days when packages created their own aisles out front of the counter. I’ve been in this newer Ogdensburg UPS store searching for my own boxes at 7:30 in the morning with Don; and yes – behind the counter in the back checking names and dates on the boxes. I do hope they get a new system in place because with social media and the newspaper coverage (even in the Ottawa Citizen), start-ups like Kinek will become more popular

  7. Shawn says:

    Adam,

    I agree that you shouldn’t have to wait 4-6 hours. Ever.

    … But let’s not pretend we had this problem any year prior. They have never had the volume that they had this year. I’ve been with the store since the new location opened on day 1 — and the volume of business this year is far more than their average increase for the year.

    That being said – the store gains in popularity every year and even though there are a few stories circulating on the internet / social media sites – we have received dozens of calls and emails from customers thanking us for “keeping it together” while we got through the holiday season together.

    “I do hope they get a new system in place because with social media and the newspaper coverage (even in the Ottawa Citizen), start-ups like Kinek will become more popular.”

    We’re on it. New bin ID system coming this week – allowing us to speed up the sorting / finding of packages. We are also planning to increase the floor space to hold additional packages – but that design/build phase takes time.

    Have a great holiday!

    Shawn

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