February 23, 2001, 9:58 AM — When United Parcel Service of America Inc. listed the enhancements and key benefits of the newest version of its WorldShip software, it forgot to tell customers one thing: The shipping software might automatically reconfigure their Internet browsers and make UPS's home page their own.
The software, recently upgraded to reflect new rate increases and enhanced features, not only sent some users to UPS's Web site, but also added UPS links to their lists of Internet favorites.
"Our intention was to make it easier to access and use the tools UPS.com offers," Steve Holmes, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based shipping firm, said today. "This issue never came up when we piloted this software. No customer ever brought it up."
That changed as more and more companies began using the new UPS software.
"We sent out thousands of software packages, and we've received a significant number of telephone calls [from unhappy users]," Holmes said. "It's an inconvenience to customers, but we can walk them through a fix on the telephone."
He described the change as "an install issue."
"When the software is installed, if [a user] doesn't have the latest version of [Microsoft's] Internet Explorer 5.5, it will automatically upgrade his browser and put up the UPS home page as his home page," Holmes said. "The software doesn't give you a choice of whether or not you want to upgrade. Our software developers understood that if it was upgraded, [a customer's] browser had to go to our home page."
Donald Broughton, a transportation analyst at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. in St. Louis, had two words for UPS: "Nice try."
"As it happens in many companies, operations isn't necessarily sensitive to marketing issues," Broughton said. "I suspect someone didn't give this a real-world marketing testing before they moved forward with it. Or they thought it was worth it."
Holmes said the next version of the WorldShip software would be changed so customers can decide if they want to upgrade their browsers and make UPS.com their home page.