Tuesday, May 19, 2015

FedEx Flounder: A Tale/Fail of Two Shipments

So the latest company to seriously piss me off is FedEx. While to a certain extent, shippers are like airlines -- it's all good until the screw up, but they all screw up one time or another -- what distinguishes a shipper (or should) is how they handle their screw up. Fed Ex choked this one pretty hard, but UPS failed so bad the last time, that I still haven't intentionally shipped anything with them since. For me, this is probably the only thing driving any loyalty to Fed Ex.

On to the story...
On Friday, we ran by the Fed Ex office in Sunnyvale to drop off a couple of shipments. It was after lunch, but early enough to avoid the shipping cut-off rush. We had two shipments going out, one box of samples bound for Atlanta and being sent cheap shipping, and four boxes of items that needed to be delivered on Monday for a conference / tradeshow. This would be our booth, brochures, equipment, the usual stuff. Normally, for this type of thing, the event often starts on Tuesday, but this is one of those events with a reception on Monday night.

I arrived in the afternoon on Monday, planning to set things up before the 6:00pm start of the reception. My booth and such hadn't arrived. After checking with the hotel bell desk and trying to track things down, I eventually looked up the tracking info. It looked like it was scheduled to be delivered by 4:30. The status confirmed that it had already arrived at the airport. I went back to my room to deal with email and wait for 4:30.

As I got close to 4:30, I began checking the FedEx site to see if delivery had been confirmed, but nothing. I went to the bell desk to check again. Nothing. Finally, I called FedEx (it seems like it's become more difficult to find a phone number for them these days). When I finally got them on the phone, it became clear that it would be delivered by 4:30... on Wednesday. WTF?!?

I got through to a customer service person. I explained the problem. Her answer -- sorry, we can't do anything. It shipped on Express Saver and it's not scheduled to deliver until Wednesday. She said that they couldn't do anything to expedite it or deliver it sooner because it was already at the airport in a large container and that nobody knew where it was. I tried again to explain the urgency and request alternative solutions. No answers. I was hosed and she didn't want to offer me any alternatives.

It took me a couple of minutes to calm down. I won't share with you the words I used to describe FedEx at that time, but let's just say they had me channeling my driving in traffic with idiots vocabulary. Thinking quickly, I contacted my Fiance and my office. My fiance offered to help get stuff together and run it to FedEx if I thought it would help. I asked her to head over to my office, then contacted my office to let them know she was on the way. Then I spoke to one of my colleagues -- a sales guy for a different business unit than the one on display at the conference. Thanks to a Facetime video call, I was able to talk him through collecting up materials from old versions of the tradeshow booth so that I could build "Frankenbooth". He packed it up and then he and my Fiance raced it over to the local Santa Clara FedEx office to drop it off for First AM shipment before the cut-off.

Frankenbooth arrived early this morning. I still didn't have my brochures or product samples, but at least I was able to build a backdrop. I still had a problem though. FedEx wasn't planning to deliver my shipment until Wednesday by 4:30, but the show was over Wednesday morning and I was scheduled to leave before they ever delivered the booth. I decided to take one more shot at getting help from FedEx customer service.

With my second call, tracking informed me that my packages had been delivered to the local substation and were scheduled for deliver tomorrow by 4:30. I explained to the customer service agent that I wouldn't be here and needed them to send my packages elsewhere. He informed me that if they rejected the shipment, it would be sent to New Hampshire, the address listed on our account. Ultimately, we decided to reroute the shipment back to our offices in Santa Clara. He also mentioned that additional charges may apply.

Now here's the thing. I'm pretty sure that the reason why everything arrived late is that the clerk at the FedEx office entered the wrong class of service because she was confused by the first box she processed. And I understand that they are unwilling to do anything to "speed up" the shipment -- even though they clearly had enough info to move my packages closer today. But considering that I just paid a premium to ship a replacement here First Overnight, the idea that you want to charge me, the customer, for returning the original packages since you couldn't do anything about getting them to me when I told you that I needed them by.

At the end of the day, the reason why I use FedEx is because, when we had a similar situation with UPS, they had no idea where the package even was. It was somewhere between here and there, even though it went here and back to there while it's other buddy-packages were delivered. In this case, FedEx knew where the packages were and the packages were all together, but armed with that knowledge, they didn't want to do anything. Overall, I would rate this as their infrastructure working, but a customer service FAIL.

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