Did FedEx Finally Deliver?

If you recall, last week I was waiting for my case of wine to be delivered. The business to which I had it delivered was open and staffed all week. But on Monday and Tuesday, FedEx’s tracking said, “Delivery exception: Customer not available or business closed,” which was just wrong.

Wednesday morning, I checked FedEx’s web site to find a way to get in touch with them to find out if there’s anything I needed to do, anything I could do, to make sure the package was delivered. Buried deep within their website is a form to submit queries, including regarding “tracking” issues. Later, I also found their 800-number, on a different page of the site. But Wednesday morning, I used the tracking-support form to send a message:

Name: Tim King
E-Mail: timk@j….com
Nature of Request: Package Trace Support Question
How would you like us to respond: Phone Me
Phone: [my phone number]
Category: FedEx Ground
Subcategory: Status of Shipment

Package Tracking #: [tracking number]
Account Number:
Appx. Ship Date: 04/14/2006
Sender’s Name: Wine.com
Recipient’s Name: Tim King
Comments: On both Monday and Tuesday, the tracking information says, “Delivery exception: Customer not available or business closed” and “Local delivery restriction, delivery attempted.” However, on both these days, the delivery address ([my office address]) has been open and staffed. How do I assure that a bona-fide delivery attempt is made today?

Now there are several good ways they could have responded. They could have said they were sorry I was having trouble getting my package. They could have said they’d do what they could to get it delivered. They could have even had someone call me to confirm the delivery address. They could have given my phone number to the delivery guy. They could even asked me to wait to see if the package was delivered on Wednesday and if it still wasn’t to call such-and-such a phone number.

Instead, I got the following email:

Dear Tim:

We received your e-mail. Thank you for contacting FedEx. We apologize for any inconvenience.

To help us follow up on this situation, please e-mail the following information to us:
– The complete names and addresses of the shipper and recipient.
– Telephone contact number

Once we receive these shipment details, we will forward your correspondence to the appropriate terminal.

Thank you for your patience in this matter, and for shipping with FedEx.

Okay, now, re-reading it, I see that they did say they were sorry, “for any inconvenience.” And they also said they would do something, “forward your correspondence to the appropriate terminal.” And now I really feel I understand why the complement sandwich doesn’t work. Because all I saw was that part in the middle, where they asked me for information I had already given. I took great pains to give them as much information as I had. And I definitely gave them enough information to deliver the package: I gave them the tracking number.

I felt that no one had actually read my message. If someone had, they wouldn’t have been asking again for me to tell them what I just had. In reply, I felt like being a wise-ass. But I then thought better, and I politely responded, repeating all the information I had previously given. I also explained that I did not have the complete shipping address, nor is that information needed to get me my package.

Now, I realize the customer support people at FedEx are busy. I mean, they probably get hundreds of requests just like mine every day. But I still didn’t like getting the official run-around.

Wednesday at a little after 5, sitting at my desk at work, I saw another line appear on the tracking page. Yup, you guessed it: “Delivery exception: Customer not available or business closed.” Hmm. Silly me. I’ve been sitting here working while the office is closed. No, the business was not closed. In fact, the front door was physically propped open.

I was livid. And I was sick of dealing with FedEx. And FedEx, having made three so-called delivery attempts, would probably return the package to the sender. So that’s who I needed to talk to. I went to Wine.com’s web site. On their “customer care” page, they list an email address, but they explain that “it may take us up to 48 hours to respond to your email. If your request requires immediate attention, please contact customer care by phone at (800) 592-5870.” FedEx could learn a lot from Wine.com.

I wrote down the order number and date and called. I talked to Dean, who politely listened to my story. Then he said the driver was probably confused. He asked me to wait on hold while he called FedEx. When he came back on the line, he confirmed they had not actually attempted delivery on Monday. He also told me they would deliver the package the next day and that the driver would call me to get the directions straight.

This is exactly what I wanted. This is exactly what I had wanted from FedEx.

The package arrived the next morning. I never got to meet the FedEx guy. He never even called me.

I don’t know whether I’ll buy from Wine.com again. The big benefits they offer to me are selection and convenience. But this order overall was far from convenient. Even so, it could have been a lot worse. At least I’m thinking about it. A little sensitivity goes a long way.