Sunday, June 05, 2005

Absolutely, Positively Bunk 

In the interest of full disclosure, I must begin by saying that I am employed by FedEx. As such, I took the mini-rant by Jeff Jarvis somewhat personally. Compound that with the assumed credibility conferred by a Glenn Reynolds link, and felt damned-near driven to do what I could to defend the honor of the Purple Promise.

Jeff's entire problem is based upon a patently wrong and misleading assumption:
FedEx is now charging fees if you need a signature from the recipient to guarantee that the company delivers the thing you entrust to their care
The fact is that FedEx Express service has always required a signature for delivery as a normal part of the service, unless the shipper explicitly authorizes the courier to leave the product at the door (and then only if a signature cannot be obtained). Nothing has changed. What Jeff found confusing was the addition of three new delivery options now available to shippers at a nominal fee:A huge difference between residential and non-residential shipment has always been the failed delivery rate (i.e. no one was available to take receipt of the package). Before, a shipper sending a product to a residential address had two choices if the customer wasn't home: have the courier leave the package at the door (not a great idea in some neighborhoods) or have the package returned to the station and inconvenience their customer by requiring them to either pick it up or schedule another delivery. Now, however, the shipper has more options to provide timely delivery of the product and still accommodate their customers' convenience. This is good for both the shipper and his customer.

The Adult Signature option, a service I don't believe is available from any other carrier in the industry, both allows the shipper to be responsible for adult materials (such as alcohol, fire arms or erotic materials) as well as provides a proactively solution for possible legal compliance. In light of the Supreme Court's recent interstate commerce ruling in regards to the New York wine industry, it is entirely possible, and some would contend responsible, for State legislatures to require age verification for all adult purchases, both direct and mail-order. Without this new delivery option it would be impossible for many shippers to comply with such laws in multiple States. Living in Tennessee, I would have imagined Glenn would have quickly seen the potential of this last service option.

So, in summary, Jeff got his panties in a knot over three brand new options that work to enhance the recipient's service experience or enable transactions that are currently legally or logistically prohibitive and an assumption that fees associated with these options somehow applied to the delivery signature service that has always been a normal part of service at no additional fee. These new options not only represent the sort of service differentiation that has always helped to define the FedEx brand, but they all are demonstrably designed with providing a better online retail experience for the customer, something Jeff has been all for in the past. I can only guess that past problems alluded to by Jeff clouded his judgment, leading him to not read the actual words he quoted but instead to lash out based upon his erroneous assumptions. It sincerely saddens me that Jeff may have had a poor service experience with FedEx, but from working in the company for some time and based upon numerous independent service studies I truly feel that FedEx does a better job at both preventing delivery failures and, when such failures do happen, making it as right as possible. These three new services are examples of FedEx continuing to offer shipping customers more choice and ensuring the customer receiving the product has the best possible experience.

(Update: I fixed some awkward syntax and spelling errors as well as emphasized that normal FedEx delivery signature service has never and still does not cost extra.)

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