On Sunday, if everything goes the way it should, my daughter Amanda will graduate from the Southern California Institute of Architecture.
No thanks to FedEx.
No thanks to FedEx's delivery system.
No thanks to FedEx's service recovery system. (What service recovery system, you ask? Good question!)
No thanks to FedEx's customer advocate team. (What customer advocate team, you ask? Good question!)
Here's the story in a nutshell.
Amanda ordered two special prints from a firm in North Carolina. The prints cost more than $1,000. She needed them in LA on Wednesday to put up her thesis presentation so she could graduate.
The firm in North Carolina sent the prints FedEx for overnight delivery.
That's when things went wrong.
The prints were supposed to be in LA Wednesday afternoon. Absolutely positively overnight.
The tracking information on the FedEx web site said the package was delivered and signed for--by someone my daughter had never heard of.
She called FedEx Wednesday afternoon, having stayed up in a series of all-nighters, very upset. She needed those prints.
FedEx told her they would track the mis-delivered prints--within 48 hours!
You heard that right: FedEx can deliver a package overnight--but it takes two days to find out how they mis-delivered a package!
So I called FedEx around 9pm Wednesday night. They told me the same thing: 48 hours.
I asked for a supervisor.
She told me that FedEx's LA offices were closed; there was nobody for her to ask about the mis-delivered package until the morning.
At 8 am Thursday morning I called and asked for the Customer Advocate Team. I spoke with another FedEx woman--who said they would put someone on the case.
The driver who mis-delivered the package had already left to make his rounds. How would they get to him? Why hadn't they asked him when he reported to work in the morning? What had happened all night? What was the point of taking my call Wednesday night if nothing had happened by Thursday morning? When would we hear from them?
If we didn't hear soon, we'd have to call North Carolina and have another set of the prints made, have them shipped--and hope for the best in getting the thesis presentation up on the wall.
By 12 noon, there was no word from FedEx--but Amanda had found the prints.
They'd been delivered, for no apparent reason, to a storefront shop next door to Amanda's apartment building. Not the right address, not the right person--and no word from FedEx as to why the mis-delivery had happened or where they thought the package was.
So I called the Customer Advocate Team.
I told them their service recovery system was terrible. It didn't work. In an emergency, waiting 48 hours to find out what had happened to an overnight delivery was ridiculous.
I understand your point, the woman said, as if what I was looking for was understanding.
How did they expect to satisfy me as a customer if they hadn't been able to discover what had gone wrong? When did they think their service recovery system would actually uncover and rectify the problem?
I understand your point, the woman said. Understanding wasn't what I wanted.
I want a full credit for the shipping cost, I said. It was more than $250 for them not to deliver that package!
I can't do that, the woman said. The shipper in North Carolina has to request the refund.
But the shipper is getting paid by me, I said. The shipper in North Carolina has no incentive to waste time dealing with FedEx.
I understand your point, the woman said. But that's our policy.
Your policy? I asked. I thought you were the customer advocate. Why don't you call the shipper and facilitate giving the shipper credit for FedEx's mistake?
I can't do that, the woman said. I don't have that power.
So exactly how are you a customer advocate, I asked.
She didn't have an answer to that.
Other than that she understood my point.
So what we have here, my friends, is a company that actually doesn't have a service recovery system.
They can't run their system in reverse--they can't reverse engineer their delivery system when it goes wrong.
And they can't do it fast.
They can't do it absolutely positively.
And they can't fix the billing.
They have a customer advocate team that's a customer advocate team in name only.
They have no real authority, no real power to do anything. They don't even advocate.
They just "understand."
Next time: UPS.
Or maybe Fred Smith will send me a check for $250.
All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb