Friday, January 03, 2014

UPS, Fedex, Christmas, and High Expectations

I was tempted to jump on the "quit'cher whining, ye-who-wait-till-the-last-minute buyers" in reference to the delays experienced over Christmas in overnight package delivery.  Part of me thinks that anyone who waits that long to be "thoughtful" deserves to have their hopes dashed.

But that part of me is towered over by the part of me that loathes the idea that governmental action is required to fix the problem or guarantee that it never happens again; I'm sure that UPS, Fedex, and especially Amazon will work on their own to repair the damage done to their reputations.  As for people being upset that their packages were late, this post made eminent sense to me:
Counting your blessings is always a good idea, but calling the Christmas delivery breakdown a “first world problem” points to what’s wrong with that criticism. We want first world reliability, and if the public just shrugged when things went wrong we wouldn’t get it...

Online shopping and overnight shipping have become like Google or IMDB. They constitute what what my strategy-professor husband Steven Postrel calls “new-wave utilities,” a category that also includes ubiquitous retailers such as 7-Eleven and Starbucks. These businesses have taught us to count on them -- and take them for granted -- the way we assume the tap water will be clean and the lights will turn on. Unless something goes wrong, we don’t think about how amazing they are or how we got them in the first place.

It took years of sustained efforts by online retailers and delivery services to make overnight orders realistic. It also took dissatisfaction: insanely demanding companies working to please insanely demanding customers -- or, in some cases, to offer customers services they hadn’t even thought to ask for -- as each improvement revealed new sources of discontent...

Rising expectations aren’t a sign of immature “entitlement.” They’re a sign of progress -- and the wellspring of future advances. The same ridiculous discontent that says Starbucks ought to offer vegan pumpkin lattes created Starbucks in the first place. Two centuries of refusing to be satisfied produced the long series of innovations that turned hunger from a near-universal human condition into a “third world problem.”

Complaining about small annoyances can be demoralizing and obnoxious, but demanding complacency is worse. The trick is to simultaneously remember how much life has improved while acknowledging how it could be better. In the new year, then, may all your worries be first world problems.
I don't even have a label with which to adequately categorize this post.  First world problem.


Mike Thiac said...

Great post and you answered your own question on labels: First World Problems.

maxutils said...

I did most of my Christmas shopping on line. Most of my purchases, made well in advance, made it in time. One did not ... it was a t-shirt that contained the entire novel "The Last Unicorn" in print ... and they told me it was on backorder. No problem .. . my daughter got it 12/26, and on Christmas, I gave her a box with a photocopy of the shirt. Tempest in a teapot.