I spent Friday waiting at home for Staples to come and pick up the chair I'm returning. (They never did, and they won't be able to find out what happened until Monday. I'll be posting a full review of my experience once it's over.) I was told that the truck would come sometime between 9:00 and 5:00, and they couldn't give me a narrower window.
Because of this, I had to spend the whole day ready for the truck to come. I couldn't use the phone because I had to keep it free for when they buzzed me. I took the phone into the bathroom when I had my shower and rushed through my shower as quickly as possible so as not to get caught in the shower when they arrived. I wanted to run down to the corner store to pick up more milk, but I couldn't in case I ended up not being home when the truck came.
GPS technology exists, and tracking GPS location via internet exists, so why don't they use this to make a website where we can log on with our tracking number and they'll tell us where the truck we're waiting for is? If it's out in Scarborough, I probably have time to have a shower or run to the store. If it's 2 blocks away, I might want to wait.
Apart from privacy issues, I do see how this might cause some customer relations problems. People might be sitting there watching their truck get closer and closer and then make an angry phone call to customer service if it make a turn that takes it in a direction away from them, even if it's following its route normally. So I also have some alternatives in mind:
- Tell customers the minimum estimated time for the truck to reach them. For example, if the truck would reach you in 10 minutes if it dropped everything and drove straight to you, the website would tell you that. This would be phrased in a way to make it clear that it may be way more than 10 minutes, and it would come with a big loud disclaimer to that effect.
- If the truck has a regular route, tell customers how far into the route they are and how far into the route the truck is. For example, "You are 75% of the way through the truck's normal route. The truck is currently 20% of the way through its route."
- Show customers the truck's normal route on the map. So if it goes all the way down the south side of the street and then comes back up the north side of the street later, the map would show that. Might reduce angry calls from customers who just saw the truck on the other side of the street and then it drove away.
- Give a time estimate, based on the scheduled route and the truck's current location, and include a loud disclaimer to the effect that this is about as reliable as the estimated download time on your computer.
In any case, some information either already exists or would exist if they'd put GPS on the trucks. Giving us whatever information is available would make the prospect of an eight-hour delivery window far less tedious, because even if we couldn't tell when delivery is imminent, we could at least tell when it isn't imminent.