[The following has been sent to the folks whom maintain the consumerist.com web site. It may or may not appear there!]
I recently had to send a notebook computer back to Hewlett Packard for warranty service. They serviced it and sent it back to me via FedEx Ground–signature required. I was out of town at a conference during the time FedEx was attempting to deliver this package. Not expecting a signature to be REQUIRED, I had someone checking my house every day for the package. All I had when I got home was a collection of door tags.
I called FedEx and spoke with a very nice lady who listened to me, spoke English as her first language (always a plus), and told me that she would put a request in the system which would ask the "local" depot to attempt one more delivery. I thanked her and went on about my business. I shortly got a call from the "local" depot informing me that they would NOT attempt another delivery because they have an obligation to the shipper (HP, in this case) to keep the package no more than 5 days. If I did not go to the depot to pick up the package myself, they would return it to the shipper.
The "local" FedEx depot is over 60 miles away. It would take me 90 minutes to get there. I can’t, nor should I have to, take almost 4 hours out of my work day to go get this package!
Recognizing that in this transaction I have no relationship with FedEx (they are working for HP) and respecting that they are simply fulfilling an obligation to their customer, I decided to call that customer (HP). I called HP and gave them my case number. I suffered through usual Tier 1 Hell and eventually got transferred to someone with whom I could have a rational conversation. I explained what FedEx had told me and that I wanted HP, as the company who hired FedEx to deliver this package, to call FedEx and absolve them of their responsibility to return this package after 5 days and to give them permission to attempt sending it one more time. I was put on hold for some time, after which I was told that there was nothing HP could do. "But they’re returning it because they think you want it back!" I tried to explain. "Tell them you want them to attempt re-delivery!" I was told there was nothing they could do. I ashamedly admit I was so pissed and frustrated that I hung up on the person who had been reasonably polite while dealing with me through this.
I took one last stab and called FedEx again. I gave my door tag to the EXTREMELY nice and polite gentlemen who took my call. I then told him the whole story. I explained how HP, the company that had hired them and to whom they (FedEx) alleged they were beholden regarding the 5-day rule attempted to tell FedEx to attempt re-delivery of the package already in their possession. He informed me that the decision to do so is made at the individual depot level and that there was no FedEx procedure that allowed anyone to countermand that decision. "You’re going to deliver that package one way or another," I exclaimed. "That package is going to go back to HP, they’re going to slap another sticker on it, it’s going to come back to that same depot and that driver is just going to shake his head and LAUGH." Then *I* laughed and said, "You’re FED-EX! I thought you were in the EFFICIENCY business!!" The nice gentleman understood my point. He even seemed to genuinely agree with me.
But he still couldn’t help me.
I am incredulous. If there’s "blame" to be placed in this idiotic scenario, I’ll take my fair share. I suppose I could have assumed that a signature would be required. (That they’re required for ANYTHING in this day and age is likewise idiotic, but that’s another rant/discussion.) I could have better timed my arrangement of this repair such that the computer would be returned when I wasn’t out of town. Fair enough.
I’m all for rules and policies and procedures. But to follow them blindly without exception is hardly "efficient". FedEx must be doing something right. They routinely get stuff from Hong Kong and other exotic eBay and other online origins to my VERY rural address in astonishingly SHORT amounts of time. That they would EMBRACE glaring, seven-foot, snaggle-toothed and drooling (and obviously very ravenous) INEFFICIENCY as it stands right in front of them instead of taking an obvious and safe escape route when one is presented to them is mind-boggling at best, patently ludicrous at worst.
So, FedEx (if you’re reading): Have fun! In addition to the fuel you’ll expend bring that box to my house (which you WILL be doing anyhow), you now have to pay to ship it back to HP. And I hope you have to refund their account for failure to perform the service for which you were contracted (namely the delivery of my package). And then you’ll have to ship it right back to the same depot which will have to deliver it to my house. Unless I request that HP send it UPS instead…
Oh, and HP? Are you here too? SHAME on you for closing my CaseID! When I asked if I could proactively put in a request to have the computer re-shipped to me when FedEx returns it, I was informed that that’s not possible because my CaseID has been closed. "How can my case be CLOSED?" I asked. "I haven’t gotten my computer back yet!!" "We close the case when the product ships back," I was informed. "That seems remarkably short-sighted of you…" I said. (I think it was shortly after that that I hung up on the person assisting me.)
I finished my conversation with the FedEx rep by telling him that this experience will affect my decision making the next time I need to ship something. "If you’re taking notes," I said, "put that in there, would you?"
"Yes sir! I certainly will!"