UPS shuts out Mac-using clientele

New United Parcel Service software only works on PCs, though company says Web tools are on the way.

United Parcel Service touts its new automated shipping software as an easy, all-in-one solution for business customers, but Mac-based offices can't enjoy its benefits because the program runs only on Windows operating systems. And even though UPS says Mac users can perform many of the same tasks through platform-agnostic Web-based tools coming soon, some users say the disparity in tool choice is a slap in the face.

At issue is UPS OnLine Office, free software that automatically processes packages for delivery worldwide, prints labels, tracks shipments and keeps records. Now at Version 6.0, the software requires an Intel-standard PC running Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0 and, for printing records, a Windows-compatible printer.

A deadline looms for Mac customers because UPS says that all third-party software for processing UPS packages must be compatible with the Windows-only UPS OnLine suite by Oct. 1. The only options for Mac-based offices are to do UPS business over the Internet, rent a stand-alone tracking device at added cost or buy an Intel-standard PC to handle package delivery.

"I can't believe they're doing this," said Stephen Keyes, president of Corporate Services International, an Encinitas, Calif., supplier of promotional products. "I'm a daily pickup customer, and they're telling me that I have to buy a PC to keep doing business with UPS."

Keyes, who runs a Mac-only office, said he learned of the new requirements from a recent UPS newsletter that promoted the new version of OnLine Office but made no mention of Internet options for Mac users.

Limited options
"I called UPS and they confirmed that they're not going to use their daily record book any more," Keyes said. When the sales representative said "You have a Windows computer, don't you?" Keyes said no. "She said, 'Too bad. You're going to have to get one.' "

In fact, UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said Mac users will have access to OnLine Office's functions through a collection of Web-based tools that will work on any computer platform that can run a Web browser.

Rosenberg, based in UPS' Atlanta headquarters, said the Web-based tools have just entered beta testing and should be available by early May.

"Macintosh isn't the only platform we've had challenges with," she said. "There are several other non-Windows platforms that need access (to UPS services), and that's why we're implementing a Web-based shipping system."

OnLine Office will remain a Windows-only product, Rosenberg said, "but Mac users will be able to do everything an OnLine Office user can do."


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