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This page contains a single entry by Westley Annis published on January 22, 2007 9:47 PM.

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Shipping Woes

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I receive a lot of packages and they are probably evenly spread between the three main carriers, UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service. The big question is, which one does a better job?

From a customer service point of view, I would have to put UPS as number one. They may have a machine answer the phone, but I can get past the machine in about ten seconds.

FedEx and the Postal Service are both hanging on to the bottom rung. Not only because their "answering machine" is horrendous, but they are also in a competition to see who can lose your package and blame it on the other guy first.

Let me explain. FedEx has a service called SmartPost. Do not let the name or the website fool you.

What FedEx has attempted to do, in partnership with the Postal Service, is take a package from the shipper to the destination city. Once the package reaches the destination city, it is then delivered to Postal Service which makes the final delivery to the receivers door. It even includes tracking and delivery confirmation. Sounds great, what could possibly be wrong with this?

The problem occurs in the hand off between FedEx and the Postal Service. The two tracking systems cannot verify that FedEx has actually delivered the package to the Postal Service and the Postal Service cannot verify that it has received the package.

I think FedEx only uses the service to fill out their planes and trucks. There is no direct link for SmartPost on their website and it uses an entirely different tracking system and customer service platform from their regular service. In my attempts to contact FedEx SmartPost, all I ever reached was an answering machine. After leaving several messages for both the tracking answering machine and the sales answering machine, I have yet to receive a call back.

Another area where FedEx and the Postal Service is the same is that neither one likes you to talk to a human being. FedEx's answering service will not go down lightly when you try to by-pass it for a real human.

I recently had an attempted delivery, but since no one was home and a signature was required, a notice was left on the door. Try to call FedEx and have them hold the package for me to pick-up was a five minute ordeal trying to reach a human.

Before you think I'm only picking on FedEx, UPS is not going to get by scott free. While you can get out of touch tone hell faster and easier with UPS, it becomes a timing issue with them. There is a very narrow window between when you can call UPS and have them hold or otherwise redirect a package. If a package is on a truck or plane, forget it. You will need to wait until the package gets to the next depot before the operator will ever entertain making any delivery changes.

Let me give one kudos to FedEx. If you miss a delivery and catch it early enough, FedEx will agree to let you meet the truck driver at another location to take delivery. This isn't 100% and drops big-time for FedEx Ground packages.

With the amount of technology all three of these services are using, they still have a lot of room for improvement. Let's hope they learn how to take their customer service up another notch or two.

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