All Commentary
Thursday, February 9, 2017

Yes, Twitter Can Save Your Sweater from the Government

The store and UPS helped me. The post office did not.

A few weeks ago, I did what many Americans probably did and took advantage of J.Crew Factory’s increased sale on clearance. $80 dress pants for $15? Absolutely my boyfriend needs those, even if his closet disagrees.

Half an hour later, I’d saved about $200 on my haul. I told the web robots to send most of the stuff to my boyfriend and a couple things to me. That meant two different addresses, but it was the website’s idea, so it seemed like it should work.

My sweater stayed in a hot-potato handoff between UPS and USPS for two weeks.Two days later, Google told me my boyfriend’s stuff had been delivered and, very specifically, put in his mailbox (doing it a bit too well there, Google. Calm yo self). My stuff was in a hot-potato handoff between UPS and USPS just a few miles away from my apartment.

And then it just stayed that way.

For two weeks I checked the tracking updates, seeing no change, thinking it was a glitch in the reporting system. But then a cold front came, it no longer felt like summer outside, and I wanted my sweater. So I did the obvious thing and got on Twitter.

Twitter to the Rescue

I went to J.Crew’s main Twitter page and saw they had a special account for customer service issues. I went over there and tweeted at them, “It looks like I may have an order stuck in limbo at the UPS-USPS handoff?”

Within two minutes my phone went off as J.Crew Help followed me and replied to my tweet, asking me to follow them so we could get the problem figured out as quickly as possible in a private message.

Ten minutes later, UPS tweeted me too, asking if they could help find my package. I hadn’t tagged them in my J.Crew tweet or tweeted them directly. They just popped up out of nowhere ready to find my sweater.

USPS was silent. All five of their national accounts.

Twenty-five minutes after first tweeting them, J.Crew officially pronounced my sweater Lost In Transit (i.e. the post office lost it), a replacement was being express shipped to me, and UPS was cheering from the sidelines.

The sound of crickets came from USPS’s direction.

Out with the Old

I could have fixed my problem the old way and called J.Crew’s customer service. But I didn’t want to talk to a person, customer service calls take a notoriously long time, and I wanted to eat lunch.

When a customer calls, they can be put on hold for ages. But if they tweet their issue instead, the problem is there for the world to see.Twitter is not only more convenient, it also guarantees a faster response rate. When a customer tweets a problem at a company, the complaint is public. The entire world could see that I had an order that had been missing for two weeks. No customer, potential or current, is going to be happy to see someone having a problem like that, and no business wants that because they know it could cost them customers. The faster they respond and resolve the issue, the faster the complaint tweet will either be deleted or replaced with a glowing review.

And J.Crew’s Help twitter page is full of glowing reviews. UPS’s page is similar, with the added plus of having personal initials at the end of each help tweet. Meanwhile, USPS’s Help page literally says in the main page description, “We apologize for response times as we are experiencing high volumes of traffic. Contact us at 1-800-ASK-USPS or visit us at,” and all of their tweets but one say the exact same thing:

Most of the replies are versions of, “Lol ‘working hard.’ You never even responded to me.”

So if one option is nicer, friendlier, faster, and uses modern tech, and the other is aloof, unresponsive, slower, and uses old tech, I will be using the former, even if it means I have to pay for shipping.

Oh wait, I have to pay for shipping for the slow way too. Even if I don’t use it. Thank you, taxes.