FedEx runs lots of advertisements in which they poke fun at the U.S. Postal Service while boasting about their own speed and reliability. My own personal experience indicates that the roles are exactly reversed. The U.S.P.S. has never lost a package addressed to me, nor have they ever delivered any such package to any other location than the one indicated on the address label. FedEx has not matched that record, here.

On 11 November 2003, I ordered some computer equipment online, paying extra for FedEx delivery. The retailer,, decided to split my order into 3 parts. The first part arrived within a few days via FedEx, the second part arrived the day after the first part via UPS, and the third part was on backorder. The third part of the order began its journey with FedEx on 24 November 2003 but never found its way here.

FedEx decided to dump my package at a little local store 3.5 miles from my home on 1 December 2003. Their tracking page falsely claimed "Customer not available or business closed". Any of my neighbors, family, friends and most of the local businesses could have told FedEx that I'm quite a hermit and it is a better than 90% bet that I'm home at any given moment. That particular day, and for several days on either side of that date, it was a 100% bet. There are 4 drivers in my household and Murphy's Law had kicked in to take all but 2 vehicles out of commission at the same time. (Luckily, my daughter had the option of riding a schoolbus while I frantically worked to get things repaired). FedEx never attempted to deliver that package to this address. After two calls to FedEx and multiple emails to, I was finally told on 23 December 2003 that the price of that package would be removed from my credit card.

On 22 December 2003, I ordered a pair of hard drives from Being so close to Christmas, I expected delayed shipment. emailed the FedEx tracking number to me the next day. This package began its journey with FedEx that day, 23 December 2003. The tracking entry for 25 December showed the package "departed" a "sort facility" in California. It orbited or circled or visited some alternate universe for four days, finally arriving in Nashville, TN on 29 December 2003. It then proceeded to Bowling Green, KY, the last stop before it was supposed to be delivered to my home.

FedEx tracking showed the package "On Fedex vehicle for delivery" at "4:02 am" on 30 December 2003. The same tracking page had shown "estimated delivery date 12/30/2003". When the package had not arrived by the evening of the 31st, I decided to try to email FedEx to find out what is going on.

Here is the text of that email:

Does the "estimated delivery date 12/30/2003" mean that my package may arrive in a few days, give or take a couple of days, but I shouldn't quote you on that?

Since your tracking shows the package was placed on "FedEx vehicle for delivery" at "4:02 am 12/30/2003" in Bowling Green KY and it is now 4:50 PM on 12/31/2003 in Brownsville KY, which is normally a leisurely 45 minute drive from Bowling Green and the intended ultimate destination of the package, I assume that you are now holding my package hostage within that "FedEx vehicle" for further ransom. Please just go ahead and shoot the package now so it won't be subjected to any more torturous travel within its prison of that "FedEx vehicle for delivery".

If you are not holding the package for ransom, would you please tell me the FedEx policy, or point me to some nice snazzy, hyperbole-filled website outlining such policy, concerning how many days a package must be hauled around before being kicked out the door at some random location? I really would like to begin the hunt for this particular package before St. Valentine's Day. (Alas, the previous package, tracking number ###############, was never retrieved. FedEx chose to dump it at a random business which just happened to permanently close before I could begin the chase.)

P.S. I suggest a new slogan:

FedEx -- when you absolutely, positively don't care if it gets there on time, or ever.

End email, begin telephone.

Have you ever tried calling 1-800-GO-FEDEX? It is an amazingly irritating, frustrating experience. They have the seemingly obligatory cutesy phone menu, but they go a few steps further into the bizarre. FedEx uses a voice recognition menu with no option to get out. You listen to the syrupy repetition of the menu items and then are expected to "say" your choice. The creator of this circle of torture apparently could not conceive of any customer desire that would not fit one of the menu choices. If your particular customer need does not fit a category, you can have those categories repeated. Here's a tip to get to speak to a human: screech something totally incomprehensible, some primordial animal noise, into the phone. It should be extremely easy to do that after you've heard the menu repeated, whether you ask for it to be repeated or not, two or three times. Simply vent the rage it instills in you. Be careful, though, sometimes the system interprets such non-verbal screeches as words such as "scheduling" or "tracking". This just helps you to make the next noise more animal-like.

I called FedEx to ask about my package. After the above-indicated screeching, the call was transferred to a human being. I asked if there is a way to get a package released from the clutches of a "FedEx vehicle for delivery". I also asked if the estimated delivery date actually meant within several days of that date, less than many, more than a few, give or take a couple of days, but that I wouldn't quote FedEx on that. After giving the tracking number to this person, she told me that she couldn't tell me when my package might be delivered because that "local facility is closed for today and tomorrow". (Amazing, isn't it? FedEx spends lots of time and money bragging about how speedy they are, then, because they missed their own "estimated delivery date", my package is delayed indefinitely). This prompted me to ask if there's a chance I could get my package sometime within the next year. She wouldn't commit FedEx to any such thing.

Perhaps FedEx should eliminate some of the smugness in their advertisements and cease poking fun at the U.S. Postal Service until such time as they can actually deliver as reliably as the U.S. Postal Service.

UPDATE: 2 January 2004

A plain white van, with no FedEx logo in sight, delivered my package late this afternoon. Unfortunately, the hard drives arrived 1 day after the old drive failed. Gee thanks, FedEx for taking longer to deliver than the U.S. Postal Service's First Class Mail. Naturally the U.S. Postal Service doesn't make promises about when they will deliver; they just get the job done. Maybe I'm strange, but I care more about the package getting here than I care about FedEx's empty promises.

UPDATE 2: 2 January 2004

UPS just delivered a package. It took UPS Ground 3 days to deliver. So, both UPS and the U.S. Postal Service could have delivered my package here and back to the vendor in less time than FedEx took to get it just here. Actually, if UPS maintained the speed of this 2nd package, they could have delivered here, back, and here again with a day to spare, compared to FedExSux.