Scraping a driveway--does it deserve a warning letter?

Discussion in 'UPS Discussions' started by soberups, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. soberups

    soberups Pees in the brown Koolaid

    A couple of weeks ago I had a Pottery Barn order for a residence. I'm pretty sure it was either a couch or an easy chair---in any case, it was way oversized as well as being over 70 lbs. Its girth was such that getting a handtruck under it was pretty well impossible. So I chose to back into the customers driveway in order to get as close as possible to the garage.

    I followed all proper methods; I honked, I cleared the area, I approached the delivery so as to make a driver-side back, I backed at a safe, controlled speed, and I backed only as far as necessary to avoid blocking both lanes of the street.

    I had backed into this driveway once before without incident for a similar delivery, but on this occasion the weight of my remaining deliveries plus the condition of my back tires (almost bald) caused the bottom of my trailer hitch to grind on the customers aggregate driveway and leave a nasty scrape mark.

    I have been told that I will be charged with an avoidable backing accident and issued a warning letter, even though I have routinely scraped the bottom of my bumper on the steep driveways in my rural area for the last 16 years and never once been charged. The explanation for this discrepancy is that "I was backing up when it occurred instead of going forward."

    I feel bad about damaging the driveway, and I realize that UPS's insurance company will have to pay for the damage, but the fact is that I followed all relevant methods and it isnt my fault that UPS chose to "go cheap" and install a low-hanging aftermarket hitch on my car instead of fabricating one that mounts above the bumper as has been done on the older cars I have driven. Its a design flaw that is entirely fixable if the company were simply willing to spend the money to do so.

    I could care less about whether or not I am "charged" with an accident, or whether or not I have to wait an extra year to get my 14-year safe driving award. But the warning letter is a threat to my job, and I think its BS. Opinions?

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  2. stevetheupsguy

    stevetheupsguy sʇǝʌǝʇɥǝndsƃnʎ

    Sorry sobe, you should have known that you were going to scrape the driveway. You should have called for someone to come out and help you, if the pkg was THAT heavy, or tried to get it on the handcart as good as possible. I'm like you, in that I don't care about the awards and stuff, but personally, I do care about my customers and won't risk damaging something that belongs to them. It's been since April of 2008 that I haven't backed/pulled into a driveway, for just this reason. When in doubt!
  3. timebonustodd

    timebonustodd New Member

    all depends where you stand with management on that one if your on the "A" team it maybe swept away if not take the warning letter and learn from it ...............sorry to hear
  4. scratch

    scratch Least Best Moderator Staff Member

    Did the customer call in a complaint? And how exactly will a scratch on a concrete driveway get repaired? This is bogus, the fresh concrete scratch is just going to weather and darken, it doesn't look like you actually cracked it. I was stuck with a P7 for the last ten days that had a low bumper hitch while the transmission in my regular car was being replaced. It is very easy to scrap a driveway with one, you can hit the brake at the wrong time or be backing at a certain angle.
  5. Anonymous 10

    Anonymous 10 Guest

    If I was in this situation I would have rolled the package up the drive. If this wasent possible I would have asked the customer or called the center and asked for a fellow Teamster.
  6. helenofcalifornia

    helenofcalifornia Well-Known Member

    That white spot on the driveway at the middle of your bumper is the "accident?" Wow. Pretty darn petty. And I understand that uyou thought you would be abler to get in the driveway as you had done so before. Customer called it in? Did you call it in when it happened? We have had drivers here who have been charged with an accident for scraping driveways, but their scrapes were a visible indentation and the people who called it in were in a very high class neighborhood. Sober, just consider it a sign of the times. Hard to believe you will be charged with an accident over a scrape.
  7. toonertoo

    toonertoo Most Awesome Dog Staff Member

    I believe it, its the New UPS. I never back in a drive, anymore, Ill haul it, drag it, call, or ask them to come help at the residence. Beautiful sunshiny day, ruined. And although it cant be fixed, and will be fine, its a chance to get money, so even people you thought were nice, wont be. Sorry.
  8. stevetheupsguy

    stevetheupsguy sʇǝʌǝʇɥǝndsƃnʎ

    A drop of oil or a tire mark would have resulted in the same thing. The best thing is to stay out of driveways altogether.
  9. soberups

    soberups Pees in the brown Koolaid

    All good points, however....

    1. "Rolling the package up the driveway" is not an appropriate delivery method for a furniture delivery in my opinion.
    2. The customer was an elderly man.
    3. Fellow Teamsters would not have been available for several hours at best, and the size of the package was such that working around it was simply impossible.

    Bear in mind that I had backed into this driveway before without contacting it, so I had no reason to think that it would be a problem on this occasion. The difference was that this time I had more weight in the back, and my tires were worn out instead of being new. These two factors can alter the geometry by half an inch or more, which is the difference between scraping and not scraping.

    I get that we are supposed to stay out of resi driveways. I wrote the trace for this area specifically to eliminate all backing. But the reality is that, sometimes, there is simply no reasonable alternative but to back.

    The company made a business decision to solicit oversized/overweight furniture volume from Pottery Barn. The company also made a business decision to equip this particular car with an inexpensive aftermarket RV hitch that bolts underneath the frame and severely limits the ground clearance rather than investing in one that mounts between the frame rails above the bumper. In addition, there are caster wheel kits for RV's with hitches that bolt to the bottom of the hitch or bumper and allow the vehicle to roll rather than drag when going up steep driveways. The company made a business decision not to invest in such kits when they mounted these hitches to the newer package cars.

    In my opinion, the combination of these three business decisions makes occasional ground clearance incidents all but inevitable, and the revenue that is generated and saved thru these decisions ought to be applied towards repairing the damages that occur as a result.
  10. atatbl

    atatbl Active Member

  11. bumped

    bumped Well-Known Member

    I would have rolled it up the driveway. I'm surprise a handtruck wouldn't have helped you though. I would never have tried that driveway, but then I have a P-10. My perspective is a little different.
  12. soberups

    soberups Pees in the brown Koolaid

    This was a high-class neighborhood, and the customer was at home when it happened. He wasnt a jerk about it, but he did take pictures and he does expect it to be fixed. I cant say that I blame him. I reported it immediately, of course.

    Contrast this with another customer I have on the rural area of my route. His driveway is 1/4 of a mile long, and joins the road on a blind corner. The driveway goes up at about a 40 degree angle. There is no shoulder on this road, hence no place to safely park. The only way to make the delivery is to drive up there.

    Both the road and the customers driveway have deep gouges and scrapes on them from many years of vehicles going up and down. I have been scraping the bottom of my bumper on the way in and out of that stop for the last 16 years. So does the Fed Ex truck, and so does the customers personal farm truck. When I first bid the route I would report it, but I was told not to bother any more because it was inevitable, it wasnt damaging the truck, and the customer was aware of the situation and did not care since he scraped it too.

    Its pretty easy to preach the mantra of "stay out of driveways" from behind a desk. Its also pretty easy to proclaim that any damage caused by the vehicle ought to be a chargeable accident. Both theories tend to fall a bit short when you try to implement them out there in the real world.
  13. UpstateNYUPSer

    UpstateNYUPSer Very proud grandfather.

    Sober, as much as I respect you, I have to say that you did not make the right call on this one. I would have parked on the street and used the hand cart as best I could to deliver the package. I do agree with you that a warning letter is excessive and a verbal warning woud suffice.
  14. JonFrum

    JonFrum Member

    I don't see an actual gouge. It looks like a good long blast from a garden hose would wash away the pulverized concrete dust and leave the area almost like new. Maybe spray the entire driveway so it will blend in.

    I'v always thought driveways are dangerous because they are narrow, and may have walls and things to hit on either side. But this driveway is as wide as a street, and has great visibility. The normal hazards don't apply.

    Ask UPS how that same delivery should be made by parking against the curb, if it was raining or there was snow on the ground. How would you get up that slippery incline with such a big heavy piece of freight on a two-wheeler? I'm not even sure a second driver could be much help going up the incline. What if it "got away from you" and started to roll back onto you?
  15. FracusBrown

    FracusBrown Ponies and Planes

    The customer is what got you in trouble. I find it hard to believe that the customer will actually attempt to repair the driveway, but UPS will still have to pay a substantial amount for the damage. I'd say the customer IS a jerk and he'll probably make a few grand for being one.

    UPS is just following the basic definition of an avoidable accident. Did it cause damage - yes. Was it avoidable - Yes.

    The next question is what is going to be done to deter it from happening again - warning letter.
  16. Pkgrunner

    Pkgrunner Service Provider

    I have been in a similar situation and; like you, deliver in a rural long driveway area with no shoulders, many blind curves and many roads that are paved up to and around the trees. Staying out of driveways is suicidal in many situations.

    Since you were charged with an accident, you will be getting a ride along.
    Is the warning letter for the accident or is it for parking on a driveway?
    If it is for parking on a driveway, I would request that the center manager give me the ride along so you can make it clear that you will no longer drive onto any resi driveways under any circumstance for the next 9 months for fear of further disciplinary action. That is, of course if your center manager is being unreasonable.

    I had a safety ride a while back with a rookie on-road who never drove a day in his short career. He insisted that I ALWAYS back first....So I demonstrated what happens when you go against the camber of the road...of course I stopped before the pkg car became totally high centered. I also demonstrated that by backing second in certain situations you can see both directions of the road while still staying off the road at a blind curve...where as by backing first you see only what is behind you while pulling into the oncoming lane blind...
  17. soberups

    soberups Pees in the brown Koolaid

    Any accident can be deemed "avoidable" from behind a desk with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

    The frustrating part for me in all of this is that there are also a lot of things that the company could do to deter it from happening again, yet they are conveniently overlooked or dismissed. I guess its a lot easier and cheaper to throw warning letters around than it is to make meaningful changes to poorly designed equipment.

    It goes without saying that I wont be backing into that particular driveway again. By issuing me a warning letter, the company wants to make me responsible for what occured. Fair enough, I guess...but will the company also be taking any responsibility for the design of its equipment? Or is "responsibility" only a one-way street?
  18. soberups

    soberups Pees in the brown Koolaid

    If I had instead parked on the curb and then damaged the package or injured myself trying to muscle it up to the house, I would probably be told that I should have backed into the driveway to prevent the damage or injury from occuring. Hindsight is always 20/20 from behind a desk.
  19. Pkgrunner

    Pkgrunner Service Provider

    Just looked at the looks as if you might have been able to make it if you took the driveway at more of an angle instead of straight on....the driveway is a bit short to warrant a must back situation....
    In this case, I would chalk this up as a learning experience and remember from now on to account for additional weight along with the angle of approach for this and similar driveways....Test the waters first(so to speak) when in doubt.
  20. FracusBrown

    FracusBrown Ponies and Planes

    I have done the same thing in my own truck. I guess I should expect Ford to take the blame.

    Every package car, passenger car, truck and every other type of vehicle has a clearance limit. Some lower than others.

    The driveway is fixed. The clearance is fixed. The drivers actions are the variable.

    I feel your pain, but in this case, nothing makes better sense than not backing into an upward sloping driveway in a truck with limited rear clearance.