One of my nephews plays tennis. Because the cost of tennis equipment in Israel is twice as much as elsewhere, and because I am the English speaker of the family, I take care of all high-end Tennis needs of the kid. Four months ago I brought with me from Paris a Wilson Six One Lite BLX racket, and last week I ordered a Wilson BLX tour Federer super six pack bag from Tennis Warehouse, USA, paying $33 for shipping this great bag with UPS.

The delivery man brought, together with the bag, an invoice on NIS 264 (roughly $70), which included Israeli taxes and handling fee. I asked the delivery man why I need to pay handling fee, because I already paid for the delivery. He referred me to UPS-Israel customer service.

After 2:40 minutes waiting on the line, while the delivery man waits  beside me, a nice lady answered. I explained to her the issue and she said that I must pay this amount, since someone at UPS handled customs for me.

  • But I already paid for the delivery, I said.
  • The seller should have told you that you would have to pay additional amount, she answered. You should contact the seller.
  • If I talk with the seller about it, they will tell me that UPS overcharged me, and that I should contact you, I objected.
  • There is nothing I can do. You have to pay handling fee.
  • Can I speak with your manager?
  • He will tell you the same thing.
  • Can I speak with your manager?
  • He won’t be able…
  • Can I speak with your manager? I asked for the third time, irritated.
  • Wait a moment.

After two minutes she went back on the line, saying that they decided not to charge handling fee this time.

After the delivery man left I started wondering: did I have to pay the extra handling fee? If I did, then why did UPS decide not to charge it? Suppose they sincerely believe that the vendor did not tell me that I would have to pay it; then why not tell me that they decided not to charge me this time, without arguing? They can think of it as a one-time education bonus that the customer receives from UPS. If I did not have to pay this extra fee, then why did they claim that I had to pay it? The risk of being caught and the consequences that will follow are not worth the extra revenue. The way it turned out was the worst possible for UPS: they did not charge the extra handling fee, and they have an unhappy customer.

Can someone rationalize UPS-Israel behavior?