EDITORIAL - Staffing shortages cause FedEx to botch response to misdelivered packages.


FedEx delivery person with package under arm - FedEx Media Relations

Kettering, Ohio – On December 13, 2021, I ordered a new queen-sized mattress from Walmart.com. Walmart said that the mattress would be shipped via FedEx and would arrive by December 16, 2021. That delivery date turned out to be wishful thinking.

The problems began with the package's routing. The mattress started its journey to Kettering in Frazeysburg, OH on the 13th. From Frazeysburg, the mattress reached Columbus on December 14that around 10:39 A.M. Then on December 15th, FedEx sent the mattress for a brief stopover Southeast of Columbus to Groveport, Ohio. FedEx tracking data shows that the package left Groveport on December 15th at around 3:50 A.M. and then almost 24 hours later arrived in Independence, Kentucky at 2:54 A.M. on December 16th. The package then left Independence, Kentucky at 4:35 A.M., December 16, 2021, and finally arrived at the FedEx distribution center in Miamisburg, Ohio 24 hours later at 4:16 A.M. on Friday, December 17, 2021.

The trip from Frazeysburg to Miamisburg is a total distance of 136 miles and typically takes about 2 hours and 11 minutes. Yet FedEx managed to take the package on a circuitous route that traveled roughly 276 miles over the course of 4+ days. And unfortunately, this did not put the package at my house yet, which is where the real problems began.

The FedEx tracking system shows that the package was put on a FedEx truck for delivery to my home at 4:37 A.M. Friday, December 17, 2021. By that evening at around 8:00 P.M. I still had not received the package at my residence. So, I double checked the FedEx tracking system to determine if there was a delay. I discovered that the system claimed that my package was delivered at 4:46 P.M. that same day. I did a thorough check of my property and even checked with my next door neighbors, and there was no package.

So of course, I contacted FedEx. I was initially told that I should wait 48 hours to see if the package was redelivered. I believed that was insane given that if the package was left at the wrong location. it could have been long gone in 48 hours. When I insisted on opening an investigation immediately, the customer service representative did so, but I was told it could then take 48 hours for them to start the investigation. Again, I felt this was insane given the value of the package at $400. So, I requested to either speak with a supervisor or with someone directly at the Miamisburg distribution center. I was refused that request. I was told repeatedly that I could not be transferred to a supervisor. I asked to have a supervisor call me back the following day. That request was also refused.

Saturday morning I received an automated text informing that FedEx had opened the investigation regarding my misdelivered package. Later that morning I called the FedEx customer service line to check on the status of the investigation. I was initially told that the package would be found that day. When I pushed a little, the representative admitted that they did not know where the package was yet, but that they would be checking the warehouse, the truck, and would have the driver come back out and look for the package where he delivered it. I asked if the package would be delivered that day if it was located. I was informed that no, the earliest the package could be redelivered was Monday. When I asked why I was informed that the FedEx computer systems do not allow for having even misdelivered packages to be redelivered the same day they are located.

At this point, I went into journalist mode and started looking for contact information for the FedEx Corporate headquarters and the Miamisburg Distribution Center to file a complaint with them directly. I couldn’t find any direct contact numbers other than the main customer service line. But I did find the contact information for the press contact office. I wrote that email address, explained my situation, and informed them that the Sentinel was preparing a story about the issue. I posed the below questions to the FedEx press office. 

1. Is the described above consistent with FedEx's corporate policy on handling packages that your drivers leave in the wrong location?
2. Can you provide a copy of FedEx's policy related to misdelivered packages?
3. How many packages does FedEx misdeliver annually?
4. How many packages does the Miamisburg, Ohio facility misdeliver annually?
5. How does FedEx investigate misdelivered packages?
6. What is FedEx's official policy on handling redeliveries of misdelivered packages that are ultimately located, and why does the company not offer same-day redelivery when it is FedEx's mistake that resulted in the mis delivery?
7. Can you explain the bizarre routing of this package and how routing decisions are made (i.e. this is not the first bizarre routing I have personally seen or heard about for FedEx deliveries)?

Shortly after writing the press office, I received an email back from Shannon Davis of that office. Ms. Davis asked for further information on my situation. By this time a neighbor from up the street came by to let me know that he had my package at his house. My house has a 3779 street number. Despite having a street number sign above my mailbox, and two at the end of the driveway that point so that they are visible to drivers coming from both directions, the FedEx driver delivered the package to 3797. I verified that the package was indeed addressed correctly to 3779. Ms. Davis indicated that she would look into the situation and that FedEx would respond to the inquiries for the article.

About an hour later I received a call from Ms. Beverly Smith who stated that she was from the FedEx Executive Team. Ms. Smith expressed her apologies for the package not arriving properly. Ms. Smith confirmed that FedEx customer service representatives are currently instructed not to transfer customers to supervisors or offer supervisor callbacks. She stated that normally FedEx’s policy is to immediately transfer customers to supervisors upon request. But she stated currently because of shipping volume and severe staff shortages, FedEx does not have enough supervisors to field complaint calls. Ms. Smith also stated that if a mis delivered package is subsequently located on the same street, FedEx drivers should always redeliver it to the proper location that same day. She did acknowledge that sometimes drivers have to backtrack to find packages they misdeliver. But Ms. Smith also acknowledged that FedEx computer systems do not prevent same-day redelivery of mis delivered packages. She stated that same-day redelivery of mis delivered packages is FedEx’s goal, but said that sometimes, depending on where the package is located, the time of day it is located, and driver availability, the package may not be redeliverable until the following business day.

After speaking with Ms. Smith, I also received a phone call from Andrew Shaw of the FedEx Miamisburg Distribution Center. Mr. Shaw also apologized for the misdelivered package. Mr. Shaw acknowledged that the Miamisburg Distribution Center had been having an issue with a driver who had been delivering packages to incorrect locations. He believed the incident with my package would likely result in that driver’s termination. Of course, for personnel confidentiality reasons Mr. Shaw was unable to identify the driver. Mr. Shaw acknowledged that FedEx was fighting staff shortages but indicated that the Miamisburg Distribution Center had so far managed to hire enough drivers and staff to get through the holiday season.

The Kettering Sentinel also reached out to other Kettering residents to try and learn of their experiences with FedEx deliveries. On the Everything Kettering Facebook page, several residents had posted about similar misdeliveries and similar complete unresponsiveness from the FedEx customer service line.

On Monday, December 20, 2021, the FedEx Press Office responded in part “…During this busy time of year, we appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding as we navigate significant holiday package volumes amid an industry labor shortage. To increase visibility and control of their shipments, customers are encouraged to register for FedEx Delivery Manager which empowers users to customize home deliveries to fit their schedules, or redirect deliveries to alternative delivery locations, or even leave instructions for the driver. For more info: https://www.fedex.com/delivery.” FedEx declined to answer any of the seven questions The Kettering Sentinel asked.

I am left with two thoughts from this incident. First, I will now try to only order products online from merchants who use shippers other than UPS. Second, it is clear that the way to get a problem resolved with FedEx is to get the issue into the hands of the FedEx Executive Team. In fact, in our call Smith acknowledged this saying that FedEx wants to resolve customer service problems, but the Executive Team needs to know about the problems in order to resolve them. Consequently, the lesson seems to be that if you are forced to deal with FedEx and are unfortunate enough to suffer a non or mis delivered package, do not be afraid to push to have the problem escalated from the customer service line to the Executive Team. FedEx has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FedEx and a Twitter Feed at https://twitter.com/FedEx. These are additional avenues of contact with the company if you do not get a positive response from customer service.

Have you had negative experiences with a FedEx delivery? If so, tell the Sentinel and other readers about your experiences by posting about them as a response to this article.

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