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May 20, 2005 12:03 AM

Broken: FedEx truck drop-box

Deena writes:

I put an envelope in the drop box of a FedEx truck one week ago. It contained important tax-related material that needed to get delivered.

I just found out that it wasn't delivered. In fact, I've discovered that FedEx actually lost the priority overnight envelope. I contacted FedEx and spoke with two people about the situation. They still haven't found the envelope.

The second person I spoke actually told me that he was surprised that we hadn't lost something through FedEx before. He said we should never drop stuff in the box on the sides of their trucks. He said we'd been lucky. (!!)

I have to contact FedEx again today because the driver of the truck never called me like he was supposed to.

[This is a pretty incredible story, so I've verified that it's all true. If anyone from FedEx would like to get in touch, I'm at mark at goodexperience dot com. -mh]


I'm not sure what boxes on the side of the trucks you are referring too since our fed-ex trucks here don't include them could you get a picture of it?

anyway definetly B-R-O-K-E-N so they supply boxes then tell you not use them how lame!

Posted by: Kent at May 20, 2005 06:06 AM

sorry that should've been to not too

anyway I was first

Posted by: kent at May 20, 2005 06:07 AM

I'm second or am I third?

Posted by: sefsdgs at May 20, 2005 07:49 AM

The other night, my girlfriend I went into a 24-hour Kinkos/FedEx to drop something off at 10 pm.

She was okay with letting it be picked up the next morning, but she was unavailable from 5 am on so she wanted to leave it the night before.

The employees refused to take it unless we had a corporate account, saying their 'system was shut down.' We asked how long it was shut down for, and they said until midnight. We can come back at midnight to drop something off, but not at 10 pm, we asked? Yes.

When we asked to speak to the manager, he said he knew less than the employee, and walked away.

We called FedEx asking them for the location of another drop location in NYC that was open at 10 pm. They said they wouldn't look it up for us, they don't have that capability. After about 5 minutes, they simply hung up on us.

It was a great FedEx experience. Viva la UPS!

Posted by: Mac at May 20, 2005 08:38 AM

Like all carriers, FedEx has a carefully established system for package intake. If you arrange for pickup, use an official drop off box, or hand your item to an employee over the counter at a FedEx retail location, you are in the system.

However, if you toss a package onto the back of a truck, all bets are off. This is kind of like walking into a US post office with a letter and just throwing out randomly. Maybe somebody will happen to find your letter and deliver it for you, or maybe not. Since you didn't personally stick it in an official mailbox (or give it to a postal employee), service cannot be ensured.

I don't know exactly what happened in this case but it certainly sounds like the poster attempted to deliver their package in a manner not consistent with FedEx's normal intake systems. If this is a common phenomenon, then of course FedEx should figure out how to either accept packages dropped off in this way, or change the signage/appearance/design of the "drop box on delivey trucks" to discourage this activity.

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at May 20, 2005 08:45 AM

Just curious. But, you don't say if they have a record of having received the envelope. They lost it, but do they show it entering the system?

I've used Fed Ex since 1977. The few times things have gone wrong, they've always made it right in short order. Including, offering to put a 35 pound package in a taxi cab in Bloomington, Ill., and have it driven to Springfield (about 70 miles). They gave me a choice of the cab ride or free delivery with a one day delay.

Re the drop box on the truck thing. Fed Ex just told me that some trucks in New York City have them. That's why the rest of us haven't seen this.

Posted by: Marie C. at May 20, 2005 10:12 AM

If you read the fine print on the FedEx stuff, you'll notice the overnight (or whatever) guarentee is not that they WILL deliver the package, simply that if they don't they will pay (perhaps just refunding the shipping cost unless you insure it). Around Xmas time or other times the guarentee isn't in effect you can forget that too.

Posted by: Matt N. at May 20, 2005 10:23 AM

I've always had good luck with Fedex. They have been better than UPS IME.

However, there is one problem. If you have an online account and print out your own shipping labels and either drop the package by a Fedex pick-up location or even a main Fedex terminal, you have to wait for it to be scanned officially in the system before an official record of their having taken possession is produced.

That is, they just take the package from you with no receipt given. You just have to take on it on faith that it'll not get lost between when you hand it to them and when it first gets scanned.

This system is even more of a problem when you drop off at the pak-n-ship type places where the fedex driver makes a pickup. In that case the package sits in the store until the driver picks it up at 4:30 or whenever and takes it to the fedex terminal and it eventually gets scanned. Not very comfortable when you're shipping something a little valuable.

Posted by: Dave at May 20, 2005 10:53 AM

Fedex company policy states that when items are picked up by Fedex couriers, they are supposed to be immediately scanned into the system and the data transmitted to the terminal. If Fedex has no record of your package in their system, that means it was very possible that it was never picked up by Fedex.

Posted by: Chaos at May 20, 2005 01:41 PM

Doesn't anyone read the article before they post? The package was placed IN A FEDEX DROP SLOT, not just randomly thrown into a truck (some Fedex trucks have a well-marked drop slot on the side... I've seen 'em). That should be at least as reliable as placing the package in a standard drop box, shoudn't it? If Fedex provides a slot on the truck marked "Place Packages Here" there's a reasonable expectation that it'll get processed... especially since there's no question about it being picked up, since it's already on the truck!

With that said, it's worth mentioning that I've used Fedex heavily for many years and I've never had a bad experience with them. I wish I could say the same for UPS.

Posted by: Larry at May 20, 2005 02:08 PM

New York City-based TIB fans: Can someone get a photo of a drop box on one of these trucks? This seems to be the critical issue in understanding exactly what happened to the original poster's package!

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at May 20, 2005 02:37 PM

What is broken here is that the second customer service person said that things get lost on the drop boxes all the time. If the boxes really are not reliable, the customer service employees should work internally to get them either changed or removed, while taking ownership of the problem at hand for the caller. I.e. "We lost your package on the truck? Let me give you a free overnight delivery to rectify the situation."

Instead, his words have permanently marred the customer perception of FedEx. And in effect he said, "You are stupid for putting things in the drop box. This is YOUR fault."

That employee should be fired.

Posted by: Boris the Spider at May 20, 2005 02:57 PM

I concur with all the "drop box on the side of the truck? What the fuck are you smoking?" posts.

Posted by: James Schend at May 20, 2005 03:24 PM

Boris, I would be quite certain he was fired if it was ever reported that he said that and the district manager found out.

Posted by: Chaos at May 20, 2005 04:02 PM

If anything, the FedEx employee was risking his job to be honest with Deena - the dropboxes just don't work. I, for one, plan *never* to use a FedEx truck dropbox in the future.

Posted by: Mark Hurst at May 20, 2005 04:11 PM

my question is, what exactly is the point of a drop box on the side of a truck? Isnt it random whether or not you may or may not run into a truck while your strolling along the sidewalk, package in hand. I for one wouldnt prowl the streets looking for an unsuspecting driver, sprinting up to his truck, dropping it in and running away before he has the chance to notice. The fedex couriers, or any for that matter are only a moment or two away from their trucks, i just dont see the logic in having a drop box at all. If you're there, and the truck is there, that means, the driver is there so go hand your package to him.

Posted by: Dragon at May 20, 2005 08:09 PM

"my question is, what exactly is the point of a drop box on the side of a truck? Isnt it random whether or not you may or may not run into a truck while your strolling along the sidewalk, package in hand. I for one wouldnt prowl the streets looking for an unsuspecting driver, sprinting up to his truck, dropping it in and running away before he has the chance to notice. The fedex couriers, or any for that matter are only a moment or two away from their trucks, i just dont see the logic in having a drop box at all. If you're there, and the truck is there, that means, the driver is there so go hand your package to him."

Apparently this exists in NYC... I would suspect that there are many times when the drivers are not right next to their truck in NYC.... deliveries to offices in skyscrapers and such.. also in smaller towns when they deliver to stores in a mall or such.. they usually go to each store in the mall and are not just right next to their truck to hand the package to..

Posted by: Infinity at May 20, 2005 09:16 PM

Heres a story I found on how the drop slots in the trucks came to be in NYC

And apparently In some parts of the country ups is starting to do the same thing with the slots..

Posted by: infinity at May 20, 2005 09:19 PM

>Boris the Spider:

>What is broken here is that the second customer service person said that things get lost on the drop boxes all the time. If the boxes really are not reliable, the customer service employees should work internally to get them either changed or removed, while taking ownership of the problem at hand for the caller.

Agreed, though I feel compelled to comment as a (former, thank God) customer service supervisor for a major company. First, while a major blunder on the part of the rep, it is not necessarily indicative of a big problem. True, once is a big problem for an individual customer, and the rep should take ownership to solve that one problem. On a corporate scale, however, losing just 1/10th of 1% of the 2.1 million packages per day Fed Ex handles (which would be a phenominally good rate) means that 2,100 packages PER DAY would get lost, and this rep has the job of dealing with those customers on a daily basis. Without the view of the vast forest, he just sees a lot of trees and starts feeling that there are nothing but righteously angry customers. Understandable in a high stress customer service environment, but ultimately ignoring the other 2 million + happy customers who DON'T call to say "Hey, my package got there on time, great service, thanks!"

Secondly, this rep may be experiencing burn out precisely because he has seen the same problem so many times he has identified common elements and made suggestions to fix them...only to see the suggestions ignored and the problem continue. Improvements come slowly in large organizations. As a supervisor, I saw many excellent suggestions disappear upward into the ether--until finally a feedback system was set up. Even then, the feedback would come back to the agent with various reasons the suggestion wouldn't be implemented (usually labeled as not practical or cost effective). On some occasions these "not cost effective" suggestions would show up six months after the identical idea from my rep was rejected--this time as policy, with the new submitter written up in the company newsletter and given a $100 prize for the best idea. That's a really great way to motivate people, by the way.

Point being, there are always some things broken in an organization of any size. Some are big, and some are small, and some interact in different ways. Personally, I think the truck drop box idea is pretty cool, and like the way it came to be (thanks to infinity for the link). It does appear the implementation has some wrinkles, however, and agree that this particular experience with Fed Ex is definitely BROKEN and shows some things wrong that need to be fixed.

Posted by: Erich at May 21, 2005 12:20 PM

I can't believe you all are angry at the customer rep for giving you the truth as he sees it.

He has not yet been given the responibility to fix problems with the system as it is, and will not be given that reponsibility until he has worked there long enough to accept the system with its problems. And with accepting system problems he will cease to identify them as problems that could be fixed, instead accepting them as part of the system and move on to other issues.

You should be happy that he gave you the inside information, and adapt accordingly. But I suppose that some of you would call up his supervisor and get him fired for telling you the truth?

Sure if he has been trained to make things right with a customer who has been wronged, then he should do that. But empowerment to give customers restitution must be continually enforced by managers through periodic training.

Policies come and go. And line workers know that. So if a policy, like the ability to give a customer something of monetary value is not periodically enforced, it will eventually be ignored, and never learned by new employees.

Blame the manager for the policy, policy enforcement or lack thereof.


Posted by: josephc4 at May 21, 2005 05:44 PM

FedEx is stupid for ever making the drop boxes on the truck. The truck is going to any random place. They then have to sort it somewhere. However that place coul dbe anywhere. No one knows where anything enters/exits the system.

Posted by: BOB at May 21, 2005 11:38 PM

Uh, BOB...just who do you figure picks up from the regular drop boxes? How you you think the packages get to the sorting center from driver pick ups and packaging stores?

Yep, on those said same identical trucks. Having the drop box on the truck itself just eliminates a step in the chain.

Packages don't just miraculously teleport from drop off to distribution, they are collected by the delivery drivers and taken back to the hub. They know where things enter the system by the entry when the package is scanned by the driver with a wireless computer. They know where they exit the system by the delivery address and the delivery scan. Apparently, from the experience that started this thread and the rep's reaction, there is some problem with the drop process itself, perhaps getting some drivers to actually check their truck's drop box if they're not used to it yet (or if there's a security problem and packages are getting stolen or any number of possibilities). I would venture a guess that many more packages are lost from simple mishandling in package stores and dropoff points than disappear from the trucks themselves.

Posted by: Erich at May 22, 2005 12:19 PM

I had important documents that needed to be somewhere on a Monday. FedEx promised they would be picked up Saturday and meet my 4pm deadline. 2/3 got there on time. The most important of those 3 did not. I was promised a manager call back - never got it. I had to call them FOUR times to find out the whereabouts of my package! What they DID do however was refund the delivery cost to me since they failed to deliver their service. Regardless, if I have documents I need to ship now I Dont use FED EX. First experience was poor=dont feel like i can trust them to get my things to where they need to go on time. Canada Post has a quick ship program and I've had good luck with that 2 or 3 times and its less than half the cost for the same delivery timeline!!!

Posted by: J at May 23, 2005 08:31 AM

At war with FEDX myself now, I had a package slit open and over 1000.00 worth of items missing from inside, I had valued the package at 2000.00. 3 wks later I am still being told that unless I have sales tickets for all the items that are missing, Tough luck. 4 phone calls to get a claim form, 4 more to get a response, two more to get another claim form and now not a word from them. I ship over 3000.00 a week and will never use Fedx again.

Posted by: swtim255 at May 23, 2005 09:42 AM

Then use UPS then damn, either you get lost packages or smashed packages, either way you won't win. This is America, land of the half asses and cut-corners LMAO

Posted by: Netgerm at May 23, 2005 11:19 AM

Reminds me of the brouhaha when UPS stopped shipping firearms. A lot of police suppliers, gunsmithing repair shops, and shooting sports competitors suddenly lost their favorite shipping method, and the reason?

Nothing PC, mind you, it wasn't because UPS was anti-gun.

No, it was because THEY COULDN'T KEEP THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES FROM STEALING THE GUNS AND SELLING THEM TO GANGBANGERS. After a batch of police guns ended up involved in murders after being stolen directly out of the UPS distribution center, they decided they had too much liability and refused to ship any more.

Really nice when you lose business because your own employees are stealing your customer's shipments.

Posted by: Hoki at May 23, 2005 03:02 PM

I have received FedEx packages to my house by mistake twice. The addresses weren't even close. Both times, I called to have the packages picked up and redelivered, and both times, nobody ever showed up. One time, I was accused of picking the package up myself from the incorrect address. Ridiculous. Also, when I spent a summer in India, I needed some time-sensitive materials sent to me, but it took 8 weeks to be "delivered," and even then, I had to travel miles out of my way to pick them up myself at a FedEx station. In contrast, everything that was sent to me while I was in India via the USPS arrived at my door and in only a week's time. We recently had a FedEx package delivered to our house, but true to form, FedEx dropped it off at a neighbor's house two blocks away (not even with the same street name as ours). The neighbor came and delivered it to us. FedEx bites the big one.

Posted by: JMM at May 24, 2005 06:56 AM

I don't know if anybody is ever going to get this far down the page, but for anybody who is listening, or reading, UPS is much better.

Posted by: Spicy Meatball at May 25, 2005 12:24 AM

what about DHL?

Posted by: Dragon at May 25, 2005 02:53 AM

Let me call my senior support on that, please hold.

Posted by: Marcia Luhmann at May 28, 2005 12:47 PM

good sir,

a letter was sent to me by a friend in states and cant find it and dont really know what is going on ,the sender name is krista downes thanks

Posted by: jayesimi olawale k. at June 22, 2005 07:55 AM

I own and operate a mail and parcel center. Of the three carriers (FedEx, UPS, and DHL), FedEx is by FAR the more dependable, trustworthy company. UPS has the worst track record for lost or damaged parcels. DHL is just getting into the ground game. Their pricing is good, but they are combating the growing pains. I don't recommend UPS to any of my customers.

Posted by: Paul at July 26, 2005 05:34 PM

I had a FedEx ground shipment from Jacksonville, Florida on it's way to Calgary Alberta Canada that mysteriously went missing in Georgia. In the box was a custom motorcycle rear wheel, tire and brake setup, plus a custom motorcycle seat and a couple of fiberglass items valued at around $3500. When I spoke to customer service about this, they basically told me that it was possible that one of the drivers stole the box. I lost 3 grand on this one box and I will never use fedex again!!!!

Posted by: Gord at November 23, 2005 11:03 PM

I know this is a super late response, but I am a Fedex Express Courier. I can't believe the BS runaround you got from customer service. The funny thing is, with those in truck drop boxes, they appear on the driver's daily pick up manifest; there is hardly ever anything in them, but we are still required to check them everyday! The courier in question should have been held responsible for missing a pick up. FYI, those boxes are in the process of being closed off and phased out. Also, couriers are able to print "reciept" labels... most just never do because Fedex rushes us to the degree where we barely have time!

Sorry we failed you!

Posted by: jeff at July 7, 2006 12:29 AM

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