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Our Courier Service Dispatcher in the 90’s

The following is an interview done with one of our dispatchers from the 1990s. 

So, what were some of the most memorable aspects of dispatching when you worked at A-1 Courier?

One thing that sticks out is how stressful it was when we were growing our customer base but had difficulty hiring courier drivers to service these accounts.  I remember we picked up one account that took advantage of our free trial offer, which we were excited to give them, but how crazy it turned out to be.  Jonathan brought the account in himself, and he said they were high volume but boy were they ever high volume! I remember we had enough drivers, but the phone would not stop ringing with their delivery orders.  I think the company was @#$% Artists, and it wasn’t that hard to service because most all their orders were going from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills and Century City.  But we were really stressing out because it was a free week of service, and they were doing over 40 runs the first two days. 

It’s funny now, thinking about it, but the owner was calling asking how many runs they were up to each day, and I hated telling him, but he took it well, however, we were all nervous, not just to give them great courier service, but to hope they’d stay with us after such an investment of people and power. 

zip code of 90015
Here’s a cool historic brick building in Los Angeles circa 1930

What ended up happening with the account?

From what I remember, they never asked about prices, and just started the free trial.  They ended up getting great courier service, as usual, but after getting the invoice that showed no amount due, they said they would stay with their current messenger service.  I remember that we were all annoyed that the guy who signed up, didn’t take the time to look at our rates before he used us about 100 times that week.  Not that our rates were high, they weren’t, but there are a lot of bottom feeders in this courier business in L.A. Jonathan said the guy decided to pay for half the runs, but the funny thing is, is that I don’t know if that really happened.  Either way, we put a cap on the free trial offer after that.  Live and learn, I guess. 

Any good memories from the time you worked at A-1 Courier?

Oh yeah, the camaraderie with the couriers was very cool.  Back then we had all the messengers on one radio frequency with CB radios, or whatever they were, and everyone heard everything, so it lent itself to some funny moments, that I ended up using in my screenplay, that as you know I sold, ha-ha. I had to plug that, even though the show ended up being a bust.  I mean who wants to watch a TV show about the stressful stuff about making on-time deliveries at a courier service in Los Angeles traffic.  But we had some great messengers that were funny and we also had some that were pains in the ass.  I felt like I was a social worker sometimes, but that’s the problem when everyone is on the same channel.  And the thing is, is back then those two-way radios were so expensive.  I think they were like $400 each and installing them in the driver’s cars was not so easy.  Now it’s amazing how much easier dispatchers have it.  Everyone brings their own phones, or from my understanding, there are company phones? 

radio for courier delivery
Our first Motorola radio system for couriers in Los Angeles cost $10,000.

What are you doing now?  Would you dispatch in Los Angeles again?

That would never happen.  Nowadays I’m working in Hollywood as an assistant director for TV when I can get it.  I’ve had lots of jobs in the entertainment field and I kind of think A-1 Courier was one of the stepping stones I needed.  I worked for you guys for about 4 years, and then, boom, I got a chance to work at Paramount and haven’t looked back since.