It’s a problem that happens far too often in New York City: A 10-minute online order leads to weeks of phone calls, missing products and significantly delayed and often damaged packages.
There are dozens of courier services delivering orders in New York City, but two companies used by major retailers — including Amazon, Ikea, Sephora and Chewy — have a poor history of consumer satisfaction. The Better Business Bureau has received 433 customer complaints against LaserShip and 109 against XPO Logistics within the last three years, and there are hundreds more issues reported against the companies on social media.
Despite the BBB interest, there are few regulations statewide that would protect the consumer from shoddy delivery service, which often leaves New Yorkers with little recourse when their ordered package doesn’t show up as promised.
Missing packages and no communication
Matt Gerardi and his girlfriend needed a futon in the summer of 2018 for her mother to sleep on when she visited, and placed an online order with Ikea. Despite an email confirmation that the package would be delivered on a Sunday, five days before his girlfriend’s mother was set to arrive, the only thing he received on delivery day was a phone call from XPO Logistics saying that the futon was not coming.
That is when, the Huntington, Long Island resident said, the problems truly began.
“I ended up having to call XPO again. The thing with them is that they didn’t believe me about anything. They were like, ‘You called Ikea and they said they shipped it? Well, that’s not true,’” he recalled of one of the many conversations. “I was just ping-ponging back and forth waiting on hold for up to two hours at a time. Every time it felt like I made a step forward of progress, I would have to call the other company and I was basically taking two steps back.”
Gerardi did not receive his futon until eight days after it was supposed to arrive.
“I spent that entire week on the phone with XPO, calling them back, trying to talk to managers. I would spend an hour on hold, get to someone, and then they either wouldn’t understand or tell me some information I already knew,” he said.
An XPO spokesperson said the company handles tens of millions of deliveries every year, with most of them being “seamless.”
“A small percentage of the time, things don’t go smoothly,” the spokesperson said. “Last year, we experienced an unexpected surge in New York City deliveries due to customer promotions. We quickly addressed any issues and got back to business as usual in the city.”
A search for XPO on Twitter reveals many others with complaints similar to Gerardi’s, as well as accusations against LaserShip of sending completed delivery notifications for packages that never arrived.
That happened to West Village resident Gabriela Ramos. She said she waited all day about two weeks ago for a package to be delivered, only to receive a notification on her Amazon account that LaserShip attempted to drop off her purchase. Not true, Ramos said.
“What happens with all these small couriers is they say they call, but they don’t. … They didn’t even leave a note,” but would deliver her package the next day, she said.
LaserShip didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
Many consumers do not have a choice of which courier will deliver products ordered online. An Amazon spokesperson, for example, said several factors go into determining the courier that will be responsible for delivering packages in specific orders, but did not detail those considerations. The spokesperson said most deliveries are successful and that the company works with customers directly to address any service issues.
Hundreds of Better Business Bureau complaints
Regulations surrounding these courier services are sparse. While there are consumer protection laws, the New York Department of State said there are no specific regulations about delivery services in New York City and it has not received complaints about the issue in the last three years. The city has its own consumer protection law that bans all “deceptive or unconscionable trade practices in the sale, lease, rental, or loan, or in the offering for sale, lease, rental, or loan of any consumer goods and services, or in the collection of consumer debts.” However, a request for comment from the mayor’s office regarding delivery service regulations was not returned.
The state Department of State recommended consumers only use well-known shipping companies, including UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service. If consumers must use a private delivery company, they recommend looking for reviews about the company and ensuring the company is licensed with the NYS Division of Corporations, provides tracking information and has an estimated delivery date. LaserShip is registered with New York’s Department of State and XPO Logistics is registered in Connecticut.
The Better Business Bureau, meanwhile, has taken action on behalf of consumers.
LaserShip’s company profile on the BBB’s website displays a corporate message recognizing a pattern of complaints about the business, including missed deliveries, lack of follow-up to complaints and ineffective customer service. LaserShip said on Nov. 8, 2018, that it will use a “visual proof of delivery system,” a loss prevention team, a new chat feature on its website to help “preclude the complaints outlined” and will refocus on the customer experience, according to the message.
Edward Johnson, president and CEO of BBB’s Washington, D.C., bureau, is not convinced those measures have made a difference. He recommended consumers keep a paper trail of their orders with tracking numbers and notes of when items are intended to be delivered in case they experience issues with the company.
“The complaint volume has not gone down,” he said, adding that if the complaints continue to occur, “their ratings will probably be affected depending on how they’re handling the complaints, whether or not they’re resolving them, answering them.”
XPO Logistics did not respond to the BBB’s attempts to address consumer complaints, according to Melissa Companick, president and CEO of BBB’s New Jersey bureau. However, an XPO spokesperson said the BBB’s letters were delivered to its warehouses and the company has a “clear process in place for responding to requests from BBB or other business service organizations.”
Regardless of the BBB’s efforts, Gerardi and Ramos both believe the state and local governments could be doing more to regulate the industry.
“Even at the time I was looking online and was seeing a lot of people who had similar issues and similar complaints,” Gerardi said. “It really does seem like something that consumers need better protection on.”