FedEx: They Absolutely, Positively Should Have Gotten it Right the First Time

by Randy Cassingham

I just about tore out most of my hair trying to ship a package via FedEx, and it should have been a piece of cake.

First, since the last time I logged in to my account, they changed something and wanted me to add some information. No problem: I did that. Then I had to "confirm" my address. It showed me the address it had on file. It was correct, so I clicked "Continue". Bzzzt! "Information doesn't match what we have on file." Huh? And it wouldn't let me "update" my address info without typing in what they had! How can I possibly do that if they have an error and won't show me what the erroneous info was!

I couldn't go forward and thus had to call FedEx. The agent who answered couldn't help and I was transferred to "tech support". But they couldn't figure it out either! So I was transferred to the billing department. After I explained the problem for the third time, the clerk there found the problem: they had my Zip Code wrong in their system -- they had the Zip for the local FedEx office, which is in the next town (and the next county), rather than mine.

Yeah, whatever. "That's not correct, and here's the right one," I said. She typed that in, but her system kicked it out: the Postal Service, she said, couldn't verify that Zip Code for that address. Well so what?! They're not the Post Office! But, she explained, they match everything with the Post Office data base for address verification, and that's the way it is. "But," I counter-explained, I don't get mail delivery here! There is no mailbox at my rural location; I have a PO Box in town to get mail. "Since the Post Office doesn't deliver here, they can hardly be considered the authority for what my address is, can they?" Plus, I pointed out, FedEx delivers packages to my address all the time, with the Zip Code on the package being right for my town, not the town in the next county!

Yet she wouldn't budge: that's the way her system works. The only thing she could do, she said, was call the Post Office and see if she could get that corrected. Gaa! She put me on hold -- and astoundingly was back with me within two minutes, saying my Zip Code was fixed. I was suspicious that anyone at the Post Office could do anything that fast, but I went back online and was able to get my packaged "shipped". Next step: drop it off to the nearest FedEx pickup spot. I went to their "Find a Location" screen and typed in -- yes -- my Zip Code.

No locations found. It did show places in three other towns, but I thought it was rather odd that they wouldn't have a pickup spot here. Surely I didn't have to drive an extra 20 minutes!

I was pretty sure there was a pickup spot close by, so I went there and, sure enough, there was a drop box, pretty much smack dab in the middle of my Zip Code. When I got back home I went back to and again checked my Zip Code for a pickup location. None found. So I went to their support page and informed them that their system shows no location in my Zip Code, but there most definitely is one, and I provided the exact location and asked them, "Please update your system!"

I quickly got a reply:

Re: FedEx Express [Incident: 060821-002376]

Thank you for your inquiry.

We received your message and are routing it to the person at FedEx who is most qualified to answer. We hope to be back with you shortly.

They "hope" to be back with me shortly? Sheesh! I hope so too! But at least they'll route it "to the person at FedEx who is most qualified to answer." Sure enough, just 17 minutes later, I got my reply from that "qualified person":

FedEx provides thousands of convenient locations, staffed and unstaffed, where you can handle your shipping business. To find the nearest locations and check detailed maps showing how to get there, use our online drop-off locator.

We hope this information is helpful. Thank you for shipping with FedEx.

Elaine A.
FedEx Customer Service

Elaine is the "most qualified" person to answer? Quick: sell your FedEx stock! If Elaine is an example of someone who's "qualified" within FedEx, she and everyone with similar "qualifications" will take the company down for sure! I had just made it clear their "online drop-off locator" had erroneous information. Hello?

By now I had spent over an hour online and with their phone support to ship one package, and this is what I get for helping them improve customer service to make it easier for people in my area to use them next time? I was now officially a Cranky Customer. "It's obvious you didn't actually READ my message," I replied. "Please do so, and don't send me a canned response again."

Just 28 minutes later, "Kristine C" did a much better job:

We appreciate you taking the time to advise us of your concerns as it only through our customer's feedback that we may make improvements in our services. I have alerted the appropriate FedEx personnel for corrective action needed.

Was that so hard? All anyone had to do was actually read the customer feedback and route it appropriately. Simple! How many other customers would spend so much time to help them? Probably few would bother to help in the first place. When someone goes to the trouble, the least they can do is read the message and understand it -- it was a mere two sentences long -- rather than just blast out a boilerplate autoresponse and call the job done.

Elaine blew it, and needs remedial training. Kristine should get a raise so she doesn't get FedUp with her job and leave it to the Elaines of the world. The question is, will FedEx do either one?

- - -

One-Month Update: It could well be true that "Elaine" and "Kristine" are not real people, as several of the comments suggested (see all comments). Either way, the bottom line is that after a full month nothing has changed on the FedEx web site: it still shows no drop-off location for my area, advising customers still need to drive to the next town (10 miles) for a simple drop-off box, or to the next county (35 miles) for a staffed location. Shame on FedEx for not getting it right, and double shame on them for not getting it right even when they've been told of the problem!


Randy Cassingham is the publisher of This is True, the curator of the popular joke site, Jumbo Joke, and is the founder of Cranky Customer.

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I had a similar experience in Manning, SC, but it was with UPS. A Fed Ex driver told me there was a UPS drop off location next to the Interstate. The UPS website, however, told me the nearest location with people was 20 miles away, but there were unmanned locations I could drop smaller packages in town.

I told the people at that location (a truck stop that sells CBs, does detailing, etc., and is a shipping drop off point). They said it was probably because they weren't JUST a delivery drop off point.

STILL ... I don't want to drive to ANOTHER county seat in order to ship my package (it was prepaid, so I didn't want to use Fed Ex.)

These companies can be ridiculous.

Katy from TX

What non-sense do you work for one of these clowns? your company takes the shipper's good condition PACKAGE, charges an extra fee for JUST IN CASE DAMAGE, then takes their hard earn MONEY then smashes the package then expects the shipping client to beg or plea with your company to please refund me back my money plus the item's value asap only to be told please be nice to us although we are kicking you in the rear and we have your money so if I don't like your tone I can really stick it to you since I (fedex,usp,dhl etc.) are holding all the cards.


If you have zero integrity and cannot stand behind what you claim and charge for then get out of business ASAP.

"I do not know how big businesses like this got to where they are with such useless people working for them."

I have to step in for this one in favor of all the customer service reps out there, I don't work for Dell, I work for Fedex and I have to say that it is really not because you don't know how to "do a very simple task". let me put things into perspective before you make such rude assumptions:

imagine you are an unemployed regular person that is in REAL need for money, but they didn't or haven't gone to college and don't have a ton of skills that can pay a rent. (I, for example, just started college and I need some extra money to keep up with my personal spending)

now imagine you get this job offered at a company about stuff you've NEVER dealt with in your whole life (seriously, how many of you actually know how to fix a computer?), but you get the promise that you'll learn that stuff real nice so you look like an expert in front of customers.

then you get training like when you were in school and if we all remember school, most of the stuff we learned we would forget shortly after the final. then the stuff that does get stuck is still only theorical knowledge as you haven't really needed to apply it.

and now you have just become a rep that can kind of help people, but the biggest issue remains, most CS reps will agree with me, big companies have a software they use to manage the data and the information, and believe me, this is no pretty looking software with rounded corners and colorful buttons full of icons, its a VERY basic program filled with technical abbreviations and you have to learn to go through that program to help customers out, now within this point, do you know how most people that work at offices have internet restrictions? well its exactly the same for us, except we don't get anything else in our computers except said ugly corporate software, basic CS rep tools such as a notepad to write log of the calls we take, calculator, etc.
so we don't even have the material we were taught with (not that that helps much either anyway).

also within the corporate software issue, you have to know, these tools are very restricted in what they can actually do, for security reasons they are written in a way that something that may look like an easy task is a real challenge for a rep that doesn't know exactly how to punch it in a system, imagine someone asking you the correct spelling for "cassette" and the only tool you have to find out is a calculator and a command line, good luck with that. this software was written to put a ton of restrictions so that its safe to be used by just about any rep with no danger of fraud to customers, so that they can give out account numbers and addresses knowing they are safe. and most of the time it looks very primitive and complicated, I really don't think any of you would have ANY idea on how to deal with this software unless you were taught exactly how to, just like us.

to end this really long rant I have to admit, I myself have had terrible experiences with bad CS reps, and some of them are my coworkers who I see making terrible mistakes and the only thing I can do is facepalm, really. but the key to everything is taking in mind that reps don't mean to waste your time, because the only thing they want to do is get you off the call as soon as possible as they have keep the call flow steady. so next time you lose your nerve with someone you think its being stupid, don't yell at them or sound confrontational, because that will make most of them actually unwilling to help you even if there is something they can do. If you really feel like you will lose it, hang up and call again, that kills two birds with a stone, it helps you get help from a better rep (hopefully) and it helps the previous rep keep their job.

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