Every now and then in my role as CEO of the two companies which I directly manage, I encounter customer service issues that are so stunning and breath taking in their stupidity that I just have to get on my soap box and vent.
Today is one of those days and the hapless recipient of my venom is Federal Express.
Does anyone else remember the magnificent advertising campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s that Federal Express use to run? You remember, the hysterically funny vignettes of people desperately avoiding their boss and having to explain why they had used some other shipping service? The tags lines of:
" Hellooooooooooooooooooo Federal"
" When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."
Well, as some of you know The Legal Broadcast Network just moved into a new studio and office earlier this month with expanded executive, administrative and editing offices paired up with a daily broadcast studio and what will soon be three different sets to shoot a variety of interviews from. As part of our "studio of the future" we are installing what promises to be an exceptionally effective phone and communication system, part of which was to be delivered on Saturday of this last week in order to give our technical staff time to do the wiring and install it over the weekend. That way when we opened for business this week we would have our new PBX and phone system ready and we could then move our recording and broadcast staff into the new facility and get to work.
This is where the fun begins. As I had staff at the new location on Saturday from 7 am to 5 pm, specifically to install the equipement, routers and material I made sure to do three things:
1. Insist the shipping be done by Fed Ex, because as we know, when you absolutely, positively need it there on time, you call Fed Ex, right?
2. Checked the Federal Express online tracking system to confirm that it had arrived in Phoenix on Friday evening and was in fact pleased to see it was at the Phoenix delivery station on Friday at 3:07 PM and was clearly scheduled for delivery on Saturday.
3. Called Federal Express on Saturday morning TWICE to confirm the package was scheduled for delivery, was on the truck and while they couldn't say what time it would be delivered, I needed someone at the location until 5 pm as this package needed to be signed for and could not just be dropped.
So, as the electrician, my technical expert and myself sat at the office from 7 am until 4 pm, with another call at noon to once again confirm that it was being delivered by 5 pm, we burned an entire day awaiting our promised delivery. At 4:30 I finally was able to get patched through to Phoenix dispatch for Federal Express and I was informed " That the driver made the judgement call that that particular location "isn't usually open on Saturday" and therefore decided to not deliver the package that day, all with out notifying either me or the original shipper. If I hadn't called i'd have sat there for another 2 hours awaiting the package that was just too much trouble for the driver to make an attempt at delivering.
However, I was promised by a very ernest and nice young woman that " You will get a call first thing on Monday, you can file for a credit and we will have your phones out on the truck to you early Monday morning." Cold consolation but I figured I'd call Monday, get my shipping credit and get my gear.
Fast forward to this morning when I go online to check my package status and lo and behold someone mysteriously went back into the system and changed the record to indicate that at 10 am on Saturday morning " That the customer was not available or the business was closed." All at a time when I was repeatedly checking the online system, calling the Federal Express customer service and sitting at the location next to the front door, thus indicating someone is now trying to cover their rear end by changing the factual record.
Ok, these things happen I say to myself, but what makes my eyes pop out of my head from the blood pressure rush is that the new delivery time is not today, but TUESDAY, thus insuring I am now effectively losing two days of business at my new location all because the new phones that are being delivered and that need to be wired into our studio system won't be delivered again today.
This is where the story really gets good. I proceed to call the Federal Express 800 number, ask for a supervisor because I really didn't want to unload on some poor hourly worker and I demand to know why my package, as was promised by the nice, polite and ernest dispatcher on Saturday, is not going to be delivered today. I was told, and get ready for this one,
" Sir, Federal Express doesn't provide delivery on Mondays."
After I got back up in my chair, I asked, really, Federal Express doesn't deliver on Mondays? To which I was told that because my phone hardware company had indicated on the delivery order that this was a " Home delivery " as opposed to a " Business Delivery" that I fell under home delivery system rules and that Federal Express does not provide delivery to homes or residences on Mondays.
Really? Never mind that the reason they didn't deliver on Saturday was because the driver thought we were a BUSINESS and might not be around, or that the delivery was to THE LEGAL BROADCAST NETWORK, hardly a home based business, or that the address is in a business park. No, what stunned me was that the Phoenix office of Federal Express that handles home delivery is CLOSED ON MONDAYS! As in they can't even take a phone call. As in they can't even open the door if I want to drive down and get my package myself. As in they only work 5 days a week in a recessionary environment and decided, well, they just don't like Mondays.
I called my phone hardware provider, who uses Federal Express on a regular basis, and they apologized for improperly coding the delivery as home delivery, but expressed the same astonishment that Federal Express simply decided as a business decision to not deliver packages on Mondays, a day which is historically the most important day of the week to recieve packages.
So, lets recap:
1. We are in a massive recession and companies are looking for every edge possible to keep and retain business.
2. Federal Express has branded itself at the company to call when you absolutely need to get your package on time. Branding so successful that I specifically requested they be used for this delivery.
3. Federal Express employees and customer service made a big deal about my needing to be at the location all day to receive and sign for the package. Making sure THEY would not be inconvenienced by my not being there when they showed up.
4. Fed Ex then empowers it's drivers to decide which deliveries to attempt and which deliveries are likely to result in someone either being there or might not be there. Apparently they hire only drivers who are clairvoyant as Federal Expresses own customer service was telling the customer the package was on the truck and would be delivered.
5. Federal Express also empowers it's employees to go in and retroactively change online computer records to indicate the customer is either a compulsive liar or insane.
6. Federal Express also has an aversion to actually calling it's customers to tell them the promised re-delivery for the next business day can not in fact take place, AS THEY DON"T DELIVER ON MONDAYS, so the customer is forced to contact the all powerful delivery gods at Federal Express to discover this fact for themselves.
All of this information delivered by a supervisor who was just shocked, shocked, that I couldn't understand why they didn't deliver packages on Mondays!
So what can we learn from this? That Tom Hanks wasn't the only person marooned by Federal Express and that if you absolutely, positively need to have that package delivered to your home or residence on a Monday, don't use Federal Express because, and lets all sign that song again, They don't like Mondays.
I have one question before I close, " Does the legendary genius and entrepreneur Fred Smith still run this company?"
You have to wonder, but if you run your own business or office, learn from the bad service of others to make sure you don't have similarly illogical, unexplained or irrational business practices as part of your firm. We all make mistakes running our companies, we all strive to correct them and no one bats 100%. I don't want the poor driver fired in a bad economy when everyone needs to hang on tight to the job they have. What I do want is Federal Express and companies that BRAND themselves as the choice for priority delivery to TRAIN their staff to explain when they DONT DELIVER ON MONDAYS what options are available, why the policy exists and to not pass the buck to cover their behinds when they clearly screw up.
So for LBN, lesson learned. From now on when it has to be there, we will call "Brown" and see what they can do for us.