Making Fun of FedEx

Original photo by Jon Scheiber, © 2006 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

… or, “So I didn’t actually expect to get my package, did I?”

My cell phone died earlier this week. In technical terms, the charger-connector-thingee broke. And that means I no longer have a working phone. Therefore, I am dying of loneliness, because I have been cut off from the outside world (except for Twitter, Facebook, email, and the entire blogosphere). So I’m sure you’ll understand, because of my extreme loneliness, why I’m justified in being so hard on the FedEx guy… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Seized with panic at the demise of my phone, I immediately after waiting about 6 to 8 hours logged into Verizon’s website, and I ordered a new one. Simple enough, it seemed. A trés kewl model with purple highlights, a pop-out QWERTY keyboard, built-in MP3 capability, and a 2 megapixel digital camera. And I understand it can even make phone calls, too!

Of course, to place the order, I had to log in as my wife, because she’s the one who officially owns my cell-phone account. (All you married men will understand this.) But please don’t tell the FBI that I ordered a phone by logging into my wife’s Verizon account, because I think it might be some sort of federal crime.

Verizon shipped the new phone on Wednesday, for free overnight delivery, which at first I thought was really cool. Then I discovered that they had shipped it via FedEx, and my first comment was—and this is actually true—”So it might get here tomorrow.” See, I don’t use FedEx ever if I have a choice, ever since an incident three years ago involving a website, a FedEx delivery guy, and a case of wine.

Seriously, three years ago was the last time I ran into the FedEx monster. I had ordered a case of wine from But in order to get the alcohol actually into my grubby hands, I had to call—on the phone. The guy there seemed to care more about me getting drunk than the FedEx guy did. That was the last straw on my FedEx camel, and I vowed never to use FedEx again if I could avoid them.

Even so, I hoped that my new phone would arrive the following day, which I’ll grant you: that was stupid.

Yesterday around lunchtime, I was in the livingroom when the FedEx guy arrived. I know it was him, because I heard something at the door, and I wondered what it was. It was not a knock, because I would have recognized the telltale sound of a knock at the door. I’m also quite sure it wasn’t the door buzzer, because I know that sound too, an even more distinctive sound than a knock. This sound was different, a subtle, rattling noise. Sounded like maybe Mr. Hurd come to sell me a vacuum cleaner. Or one of the neighborhood kids about to ask if C and the Little One could come out and play. I thought, Don’t they know they’re both at school?

The sound stopped, and I thought no more about it. Maybe it was the wind, I thought.

Coincidentally, I was about to step out anyhow. So after a minute or two, I opened the door to find attached to the doorknob a 4×10-inch slip emblazoned with the FedEx logo. Underneath the logo was printed the words:


I’m way too stupid to be qualified for this job. But unfortunately for you, I have the package you need. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!

Nyah being the Japanese word for “meow,” I immediately wondered if maybe the FedEx guy had been conspiring with my cat, as a practical joke. But neither were anywhere to be seen, so I figured, no, that probably wasn’t what was happening.

I continued reading:

Please sign below, and I’ll make another attempt to ignore you tomorrow.

– Your Friendly FedEx Guy

P.S. If you can even figure out who to complain to about my incompetence, please don’t bother, because it’ll only get you more upset, and it won’t accomplish anything. Remember, my competition is the U.S. Postal Service!

P.P.S. Please disregard the part about not calling to complain. I just realized, I have your phone! Ha!

Now, I typed the text above from memory, and I might have taken some liberties with the exact wording, but I’m pretty sure it said something along those lines. At least that’s the gist of what I remember.

In any case, I immediately ran out to the road, to see if I could find his truck and maybe catch him before he could ditch me. But neither he nor his truck were anywhere to be seen. I imagine he was really, really hungry—it being around lunchtime and all—and that was probably why he couldn’t take the time to actually ring the doorbell and get my signature right then. I understand.

My first thought was to complain to FedEx, despite his written warning. But fortunately for me, FedEx doesn’t appear to have any readily available way to contact them about delivery complaints. My second thought was to contact Verizon and let them know about the foulup. But I quickly discovered that the “Contact Us” page on Verizon’s website doesn’t actually have any way to contact them, except via phone. Seems the FedEx guy was right about that, too. Drat!

Now, I understand, as I’m sure someone is going to point out, that it’s not FedEx’s fault, because it’s just the last-mile service that has a problem, and there’s not much they can do to fix that. Besides, the poor guy has a whole truckload of packages to deliver and only one day to deliver them. And his employer keeps asking him to deliver more and more packages faster and faster. And with all this pressure, they’d rather that an occasional package need to be redelivered than for him to spend too much time trying a neighbor’s apartment or looking for the door buzzer.

I also understand that residential locations have lower priority than business locations, and so neither FedEx nor the deliver guy can be blamed for that. Even though someone paid a lot of money to have the package delivered overnight. (Someone besides me, granted, but someone nonetheless.) And I might have foolishly rearranged my entire schedule to meet the delivery guy. (No, I didn’t. But I might have, and he didn’t know that I didn’t!) And I think he should have tried a little harder to avoid an additional trip to my apartment the next day, even if he does enjoy taunting me.

It seems I’ll have to suffer until later today, when I expect the FedEx guy will be unable to find my apartment, because he can’t be late for his Friday-night party.

Meanwhile, I repeat:

UPS: For when it absolutely, positively has to actually get there.


UPDATE: The phone actually arrived later Friday afternoon, and the FedEx guy actually read the note we left him—asking him to knock—and he actually did knock on the door. And he seemed like a nice guy. And I’m sure he was.

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My experiences have been exactly the opposite, and were exemplified by the fact that when i used to ship things daily via FedEx and UPS, and any items that came back to us via UPS (usually because someone screwed up their own address) would have a boot print on it. EVERY TIME.

And when UPS failed to deliver things on time and we’d call them for a refund it required faxing back some form and crossing fingers that they might do something about the charge in a week or so, whereas with FedEx you’d call them and they’d say “OK” and credit your account immediately.

Also my street address has a fraction in it…. for at least one year UPS was absolutely incapable of delivering to it, FedEx, DHL, USPS… everyone else was able to find it just fine.

Yeah, the consensus seems to be that it’s a regional issue, a last-mile thing. So around here, all my friends heartily agree with me. But some friends from elsewhere in the country have had other experiences. Maybe the local or regional FedEx and UPS distribution centers are managed differently in different regions.


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