Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Everything went wrong today, but in the least damaging way for me.

 

I rarely go to Burger King, but when I do....

I handle a Whopper with only one hand.

- - - - - -


Today was a day where everything conspired to go against plan.  And yet, all that happened was that I became a little bit frustrated.  Three things of note were supposed to take place, two of them under my control:

  1. I was supposed to drive to Long Island for a retirement planning seminar.
  2. My Freshly box was supposed to be dropped off in front of my door.
  3. After killing time on Long Island, I was supposed to meet RO for shopping, then dinner..
None of these things happened.  And this was a better net outcome than had things gone according to plan.

- - - - - -

Waking up this morning with only 4 hours of sleep, I was in no mood to rush into the shower, shave, apply makeup, get dressed, and out the door for an 11:30 am seminar in Melville.  I planned to go to the seminar as Marian, drive out to my mother's grave in Sayville, then kill time before meeting RO for shopping near where she used to live.  Since I registered as M. Johnson, I could have gone either as Mario or Marian.  And I planned to attend as Marian.  However, my lack of sleep dictated that I stay in bed for 2 more hours, then get ready to drive to Long Island to meet with RO as planned.

Since I didn't get moving until 11:00 am, I figured that I'd check the status of my Freshly delivery.  And this is what I saw:


Shipment Progress:

CROTON ON HUDSON, NY 10520 US - 08/06/2019 @ 11:51 am
Order has been delivered Left At: Front Door

PORT CHESTER, NY 10573 US  - 08/06/2019 @ 9:00 am
Out for Delivery to recipient

PORT CHESTER, NY 10573 US  - 08/06/2019 @ 8:58 am
Loaded onto vehicle

PORT CHESTER, NY 10573 US - 08/06/2019 @ 2:38 am
Arrived at LaserShip Final Servicing Facility



I looked outside my door at 12:00 and found nothing in front of my door.  So I put on a shirt and trousers, then investigated whether the Freshly Box was delivered to the wrong neighbor in my building.  This did not happen.  So I then checked the building next door, and again - nothing found.  At this point, I knew that LaserShip wither had an incompetent delivery person, or that he was taking the packages home.  I didn't care what the explanation was.  Instead, I contacted Freshly and asked for a refund of this week's charges - which I got.

Since this was the third screwed up delivery, and the first one where the package was totally AWOL, I made a big stink, saying that LaserShip has screwed up delivery after delivery. In addition, my complaint mentioned that I loved Freshly, but hated their shipper.  Sadly, they offered no alternate shipping method.  So if LaserShip screws up again, I will cancel Freshly and make sure that I write the CEO complaining about their unreliable shipper.

Still, I was not finished with this issue.  Next, I contacted LaserShip to complain.  And I left a "Nastygram" that may get their attention, but not accomplish much except allow me to vent some steam.  This was needed, as I found out that LaserShip service is part of the unregulated, poor quality "Gig Economy"....


What is LaserShip?

LaserShip is a leading provider of same-day and next-day delivery services in the eastern and Midwest US. LaserShip partners with more than 5,000 independent contractors to make residential and business deliveries for some of the world’s largest retailers using an integrated hub-and-spoke delivery network.

What does “last-mile delivery” mean?


There are many steps involved in the delivery process. The last mile of delivery (or the final mile) refers to the very last step in the delivery process, when a package leaves its final servicing facility and is delivered to its final destination (typically a residential or business address) by a carrier such as LaserShip.



You'll notice this key statement from LaserShip's self description:

LaserShip partners with more than 5,000 independent contractors to make residential and business deliveries....

Does this make you feel warm and fuzzy about depending on LaserShip?

In short, LaserShip is like Uber - instead of moving people like Uber, LaserShip moves perishable goods.  Neither LaserShip or Uber owns the vehicles nor employs the drivers.  This means that there are no assigned LaserShip routes, such as with UPS or the Post Office - and this often results in erratic quality in product delivery.  In my case, after the first delivery to my front door, the next delivery was placed downstairs by our mailboxes.  This was not acceptable, as someone could (and would) trip over the Freshly box if not looking. The next delivery was even worse, as it was against the other wall, where an open door would block sight of the box before one goes up the stairs to her apartment.  Finally, the next two deliveries had the box placed on its side, where my delivery was as specified, but done in a way that the delivery person could show his contempt for having to carry a 23 lb. box up 1 & 1/2 flights of stairs.  After a good delivery or two, I had an erratic delivery schedule due to holidays and weeks I knew that I wouldn't be able to consume 6 Freshly meals. I was pissed off at LaserShip and knew that there was not much I could do about them if I want to stay with Freshly.  But I could write "Nastygrams" and make sure people knew about my experiences - and this I've done.


LaserShip's Wikipedia page contains the following juicy tidbits:
  
Disputes and settlements:

Package tossing, property damage, and theft

Numerous news reports backed up by surveillance camera footage depict LaserShip delivery drivers recklessly tossing packages onto customers' property. A New York magazine article entitled "LaserShip, Amazon's New Shipping Partner, Might Be the Most Hated Company on the Internet" features a compilation video showing numerous such incidents at over a dozen different households, with packages ending up on porches, in front lawns, and on driveways. In one incident from 2016, a LaserShip delivery man was caught on tape tossing a $500 camera lens several yards onto a poured-concrete porch. In March 2017, a customer caught on tape a delivery man tossing a package containing a router, damaging the contents, and reported the incident to Lasership. After the complaint, the delivery man then returned to the customer's residence four times, prompting the customer to call the police. The customer spoke with the Vice President of LaserShip, who noted that the employee had been with the company for 10 years.

In February 2018, a LaserShip driver dumped a package onto the lawn of a Naples, Florida, resident before proceeding to run over an orange tree sapling in her front yard while quickly executing a three-point turn. The resident captured the incident on a surveillance camera and reported the story to WINK News.

At 5:19 PM on 7 July 2019, a LaserShip employee was caught on tape delivering a package and then stealing a Coach bag from the garage of the delivery destination containing $1,600 in electronics. 

 

Misclassification and nonpayment of drivers

In April 2014, the company reached a class-action settlement of $800,000 with drivers in Massachusetts who accused the company of misclassifying them as independent contractors. In November 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that workers were denied overtime payments, were unlawfully denied earned compensation, and for other violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The results of this litigation are pending.

In June 2019, LaserShip was ordered to pay almost $600,000 to drivers in New Jersey who had been classified as independent contractors after an investigation by the US Department of Labor.



In short, LaserShip is like Uber - instead of moving people like Uber, LaserShip moves perishable goods.  Neither LaserShip or Uber owns the vehicles nor employs the drivers.  This means that there are no assigned LaserShip routes, such as with UPS or the Post Office - and this often results in erratic quality in product delivery.  In my case, after the first delivery to my front door, the next delivery was placed downstairs by our mailboxes.  This was not acceptable, as someone could (and would) trip over the Freshly box if not looking. The next delivery was even worse, as it was against the other wall, where an open door would block sight of the box before one goes up the stairs to her apartment.  Finally, the next two deliveries had the box placed on its side, where my delivery was as specified, but done in a way that the delivery person could show his contempt for having to carry a 23 lb. box up 1 & 1/2 flights of stairs.  After a good delivery or two, I had an erratic delivery schedule due to holidays and weeks I knew that I wouldn't be able to consume 6 Freshly meals. I was pissed off at LaserShip and knew that there was not much I could do about them if I want to stay with Freshly.  But I could write "Nastygrams" and make sure people knew about my experiences - and this I've done, including a review I placed on Yelp.


If I end up dropping Freshly, I may consider subscribing to Factor 75 for my pre-made meals.  However, if I do so, I will ask them who they use for their "last mile" shipping.  If they say LaserShip, I will respond - "You've just lost a subscriber before you've had one.  They (LaserShip delivery people) are totally unacceptable, as they've screwed up more deliveries to me than the ones they delivered correctly."  Thankfully, I have Top Chef Meals as a backup.  Not only can I pick my meals up directly from the commissary, but I can spend a few extra dollars to have them (Top Chef Staff) do the delivery themselves.

- - - - - -

Now that I've finished ranting about Freshly and LaserShip, it's back to the normally scheduled discussion....

Around 3 pm, I started getting ready to see RO.  We had agreed to meet at The Avenue in New Hyde Park, and then go to a Sushi joint for dinner.  Just before I was about to leave, I got a call.  RO told me that her husband was taken to the hospital after an accident, and that she was rushing there to be with him.  Dinner was cancelled, and I was now very glad that I didn't bother with this morning's seminar.

Now, I had nothing to do.  So I decided to grab a bite to eat at Panera.  And later on, I decided to walk around Target to get my blood flowing, as I was not in the mood to go home and get ready for bed until I was good and tired.  Eventually, I made it home for the night, and moved my money and identification into Mario's wallet for use tomorrow....






PS:  The next day, I received a reply from LaserShip on Yelp.  (I had placed a review noting that only 4 out of 11 shipments were delivered properly, and that 1 of these 11 never even made it to my apartment complex.)  Someone didn't like what was written.  However, I don't hold out much hope for LaserShip to fix the underlying problem, as its core business model of using individual contractors for delivery is fatally flawed. 

PPS: Three days later, my building's super found the box delivered to another apartment in another doorway.  All of the food had gone bad by this point, so I tossed the unopened box into the dumpster and wrote a sarcastic complaint email (with photo documentation) and sent it off to Freshly and LaserShip.  (More on this in a future entry.)












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