Note that Innovell Logistics has been purchased by CostCo, and is now called CostCo Logistics. Another name for the company is XPO Logistics. They are a delivery organization, similar in concept to UPS and FedEx, only customized for large (freight) items from a small number of large stores (CostCo, Sears, etc).
On Thursday November 26, 2020, I ordered a mattress from CostCo, because it could be scheduled for delivery on Wednesday December 2, less than a week later. Every other mattress I found could only be delivered in January, much later.
Having heard nothing further, on Tuesday December 1st I called CostCo’s Concierge service to find out how and when I would be contacted about the delivery. After spending 2 hours on the phone with them (most of it on hold), it turns out that while the mattress left the manufacturer on November 27, it was not yet at the Innovell location from which it would be delivered. They hoped that the mattress would arrive sometime before the 5th, at which point the mattress might be delivered on the 8th; if not then, by the 15th. So 1 or 2 weeks late at the very best. As you will learn later, “arrive” is a complex verb when in the hands of Costco and Innovell. And almost none of the above was true.
At the end of the phone conversation, I was instructed to send some “feedback” to CostCo using the blue flag on the right side of their web site. The first thing I was asked was whether I wished to provide web site or warehouse feedback. Of course, neither option is appropriate. I was trying to provide shipping feedback. So that failed immediately. I clicked on Warehouse and a popup appeared. Under Chrome, opinionlab.com is listed as a phishing web site, so I was done with that attempt at feedback. CostCo needs to figure out why their feedback collection organization is flagged as a phishing site.
That evening I received one email saying the mattress would be delivered on the 2nd between 12:45 and 2:45; another email saying essentially the same thing; and a third email allowing me to track my package. When I tracked the package it said that it would arrive between 7 AM and 9 PM on December 2nd (different timing than the other two). It further said that it had left Pennsylvania at 8:30 PM on November 26th, and was due into Vermont at an unspecified time and date. It also said that at 6:18 PM on the 1st it had shipped from Cross Dock (whatever that is). So much information. But what does it mean?!? As you will learn later, all of this was misleading.
On the morning of Wednesday the 2nd, I received two email reminders about the impending delivery (at 6:30 AM and 8 AM), as well as a text at 8 AM.
By 9:30 AM, the situation had changed. I received one text explaining that the delivery would not take place (but pointing me to a web page that claimed that the delivery would take place as scheduled!), and then a phone call saying that the delivery would not take place. No one knew when delivery might be possible. The people making the calls had little or no information about what was going on.
At 11:15, I received another email saying that the delivery would be delayed. It pointed me to a web site to reschedule the delivery. The tracking information on that site said that the mattress arrived in Colchester, VT, at 7:55 the morning of the 2nd, so it is hard to believe that it was not available for delivery on the 2nd. As you will learn later, this information was false.
There was no facility for rescheduling on that web page, despite their saying “Please visit <the web site> to reschedule”. So I was back on the phone once again, listening to loud and distracting music, punctuated with apologies. The phone number to call for assistance on that web page is different than the phone number in the email. Which is right? Who knows.
After 75 minutes on hold, I spoke with someone. They said that the trucks are pre-loaded the night before, so the fact that the mattress arrived on the morning of the 2nd meant that they could not deliver it on the 2nd. But that also means that they knew, the previous night, that delivery would be impossible. They sent all of those emails and texts announcing the delivery at a time when they knew delivery was already impossible. What a stunningly flawed system!
A week later, on Tuesday, December 8th I received a text announcing the impending delivery on the 9th. On the 9th I received another text. On the 8th I received two emails announcing the delivery. And during the day on the 9th, two more emails. A lot of communication, some from CostCo, some from Innovell.
So, you can guess what happened. Yep. They decided to not deliver the mattress. Since they only deliver to this area once a week, it would be another week’s delay, not another day’s delay.
I asked if I could borrow a truck and pick up the mattress, but they said that would not be possible (this, too, turned out to not be true). They would hold onto it for another week and try again. Note that their web site says that if they cannot deliver within 10 days, the order will be canceled (also not true).
After having been told that the delivery would be pushed out another week, I received another email saying that I must reschedule using the web site (which, as you already know, does not work) or by calling. I spent 80 minutes on hold, after which I simply gave up. The first email (from Innovell) said that it had been rescheduled; the second email (from CostCo) required me to reschedule the delivery. Very confusing and un-coordinated.
Through the intervention of the local CostCo Warehouse manager, I finally managed to get Innovell to agree to let me pick up the mattress myself. I went to the local facility, in Colchester, on Thursday the 10th. I learned a lot during that visit.
The address I was given to go to was 4 Acorn Lane; in fact, the correct address is 113 Acorn Lane. Neither CostCo nor Innovell actually know the correct address of their facility.
When trying to deal with this situation, on the evening of the 9th, CostCo personnel had given the order number to the Colchester personnel, to try to identify the shipment. But the items that the Colchester folks have, and the documentation that they are given, do not include the order number. The fact that CostCo has no idea what is going on at the shipping location is just one sign of how disorganized things are.
Here is a screen shot of the tracking information for my mattress. Note that it appears to have first arrived in Colchester on the 1st at 7:15 PM, the night before it was originally due to be delivered. But at the Colchester facility I was told me that the mattress in fact only arrived in Colchester on Tuesday the 8th. If you look at the tracking information, there is no information for the 8th at all! It appears that there is a larger warehouse in Kingston, New Hampshire, and that location is mislabeled as Colchester, Vermont, in the tracking information. Thus, the tracking information is useless to the customer. None of the assumptions I had made about the location of the mattress were correct, because I was given false information. And that led to misunderstandings and frustration. Needless to say, the tracking information needs to be correct and accurate.
I live in Fletcher, Vermont (although the USPS forces me to say [falsely] that I live in East Fairfield). The adjoining town is Fairfax, Vermont. While Innovell only schedules delivery to my town once a week, the Colchester organization (Innovell) delivers to Fairfax every day. So, while CostCo and Innovell were apologizing and explaining that I would have to wait another week, the Colchester organization had already offered to both CostCo and Innovell management to deliver the mattress the next day; but neither CostCo nor Innovell made that offer to me. Why would CostCo and Innovell go so far out of their way to inconvenience a customer? Both shocking and puzzling.
Part of the problem is that all deliveries in Vermont are scheduled in California, by people (and software?) who/which has/have no understanding of the geography. Often, the Colchester delivery people are asked to make a series of deliveries that are virtually impossible; they have to juggle deliveries every day in order to compensate for the unworkable orders that they receive from California.
I was given the phone number of the regional Innovell manager (Shannon) at the Kingston location after I did a lot of shouting. But no one ever suggested that I simply speak with the Colchester organization. They have no problem with speaking with customers. In fact, I was given their contact information, in case I needed it again (and, ironically, I needed it, for a friend in a similar situation, within hours). Other people tried heroically to help me over the past few weeks, but the one group who could have helped me was never involved.
None of this had to be so complicated. If the mattress arrived in New Hampshire on the 1st or the 2nd, then it could have been in Colchester on the 3rd and delivered on the 4th. I would not have minded such a minor delay. But I’ve now spent 2 days at home, waiting for deliveries that never came, an afternoon paying for and renting a truck and picking up the mattress, and over 4 hours on the phone trying to figure out what was going on. An enormous wast of my time. All for “free delivery”.
Even on the day that I rented the truck and picked up the mattress, the Colchester organization would have been happy to deliver it the next day. But no one told me that this was possible, because everyone else had already decided that it was impossible.
CostCo and Innovell need to clean up their act. They need to reduce call wait times: at the moment, they are intolerable. They need to reduce the thick bureaucracies that prevent customers from reaching local management. They need to stop trying to impose ridiculous constraints on local people, who actually know how to do their job better than the higher-ups a continent away. And they need to focus on getting the job done, delivering the packages.
Oh. Yeah. A week later, the emails and texts started again. I guess they will try to deliver another mattress on the 16th. Ridiculous. Their system is broken.
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