federal express ground - when you absolutely, positively want to lose an important package|
posted January 31, 2003 at 12:00
So, I bought a new keyboard about two weeks ago. Part of the deal I made with myself was that if I was going to spend any money on new gear, I had to sell the old stuff. So I turned to my old pal eBay for help. I put both of my old keyboards up for sale and sold both. The first board, the Yamaha (the dharma sons board), shipped with relatively no incident. Let me get off track for a second here...
I decided that I would also get rid of anything in my spare bedroom that I didn't need. Mostly old computer stuff, CD Drives, old Web cams, junk like that. I put all of this up on eBay as well and it all sold, surprisingly enough. I live about 5 minutes from a FedEx drop off location. They're open until 8:30 PM, so the night that all of my auctions closed, I boxed everything up and took it over to the drop off location. I walked in the door and the girl who works there, we'll call her Amber, shot me a look like I just gave her the finger. You would think I was walking in with a pile of dead kittens or something.
I ask Amber if I need to fill out separate forms for each package or if I can put them on the same one. She barks back "Are they all going to the same place?". "No", I reply. This is met with a heavy sigh. Heavy enough to almost knock me over. She says I can put up to three on each form but I need labels on each package. I show her my labels and again get the old heavy sigh. I guess as a non-FedEX laymen, I don't understand the proper procedure for both packing and labeling a box, hence the attitude. Anyway, I think you get the picture, she's the very picture of friendly customer service. Believe me, it took all my strength to not let loose with a line of smart-assed comments about her quality of service and dedication to her work.
A few days go by and I get an email from a guy in West Virginia who purchased a CD Rom drive from me. Apparently it's broken. That's really surprising considering that I had just used it moments before boxing it up and I bubble wrapped the shit out of it. But considering Little Miss Sunshine was working the night I dropped it off, it is very possible that the second I left the building she kicked it to the ground and took a piss all over it, and then kicked it a few more times for good measure, just to teach me a lesson about proper package taping techniques.
Now the fun starts. Let's tell FedEx they messed up! I call the 800 number and good old Vance gives me the low down. They'll pick up the item and ship it back to me. I can then file a claim. But during this discussion, the one key thing that Vance keeps telling me is that I'm some type of sub-human or just a plain loser because I don't have a FedEx account number. Ostracized, I ask Vance how I, too, can become one of the beautiful people. I also ask why I'd want to be part of such an elite group. He explains that in an instance when they smash the shit out of one of your packages, it's easier for them to find out which package, if they can look up your account.
Okay. Whelp, it WAS a pain in the ass to fill out all of the shipping forms the last time, so maybe it is a good idea to open an account and do all of that prep stuff at home. So I bite and go on the Web site and join the wonderful world of online shipping. Woohoo. Now I can print labels and track and well, that's really about it. But I can now walk in to the FedEx drop off location and give Amber a big fuck you as I slide my nice pre-printed label into one of those sticky-label holder things and put it on my package, drop the thing on the scale and walk out. Nice. I picture it in slow motion, too.
Here's the real-world version of this. The first package I try this with is the other keyboard, the tried and true Nixon Clocks keyboard. This baby has seen better days, as well as most every bar, frat house and club in a 100 mile radius, but it still sounds great and I'm ready to ship it out. So I do the online magic to print me a label. All goes well and the label spits out. I grab this and head for the FedEx counter.
Just as I planned, I stroll in, get the sticky label-holder thing, apply the label and I'm out of there. Man, am I cool. The place is littered with novices, trying to mail crudely wrapped tennis rackets and half opened loaves of bread. People are wrestling with tape guns and air bills, and the veins in Amber's neck are most certainly going to burst at any second. She sees me with my oversized, non-standard packaging parcel and is about to nail me with one of her trademark sighs - but, too late! I'm done and out of there! Wow. That was nice.
After dinner I log in to the FedEX site to track the package and there's nothing there. Hmmm, well, maybe they don't show up automatically, I think. As of today it still has not shown up. There's no record of it in my history. So I obviously can't track it. I called FedEx 7 times today - each call to a different 800 number, each one as annoying as the next. I talked to Tracey and Verna, Charles and Jackie, Roger and Susan and finally Gina. No one has a clue. I even ventured over to try and sweet talk my buddy Amber into looking it up on her computer.
"How are you?" I said as friendly as I could possibly be. "Peachy", she replied. Great. Amber is peachy. I give her the whole long story and her response is "Was that shipped Ground? Oh, I can't do anything about that". Apparently FedEx Ground is the bastard step-child of FedEx. They'll take the packages from you, but once they leave that front part of the office, who knows what happens to them. As far as Amber knows, they get thrown into a circus truck that's driven by a few crafty monkeys. No further information is available.
So, then come the hypotheticals. What if I drop off a package with a label from the online thing and there was a problem with it? It would be returned the next day to me. So, it did get shipped, there's just no way to find it. Next I'm told it will probably take 4 days to get to its destination. Once the billing info posts to my account, they can track it from that. That should be in there after 5 days. Um... so what I'm being told is I'll be able to track it after it arrives? Well, that's helpful.
That's really the end of the rant, it's just a shame that a company that goes to such great lengths to create systems that should make things easier end up making things more complicated. I've never heard so many customer service reps say they couldn't help me (outside of the state of California, that is). If anyone else is having similar issues with these guys, you may want to think about selling your stock. Amber alone is enough to make me want to stick with the good old fashioned USPS.