When we get it wrong, how many of us apologize and make it right, or at least try to? I’m sure most of us do. So when it doesn’t happen, especially from one of my favorite companies, I’m baffled and disappointed.
Over the weekend, I learned, by accident — not because the firm let me know as a customer — that my passport was incinerated in a FedEx truck crash Feb. 23 near Mountain Home. There were no human injuries, thank goodness.
I discovered it because someone else was asking about whether his passport had returned with a visa for Vietnam, where we will travel in less than three weeks. His had arrived. Mine had not. But once the question came up, I checked on packages and only then discovered that mine was mostly likely ashes. Even now, I have received no confirmation that it was one of the destroyed packages. But the passport hasn’t turned up, so I’m assuming the worst.
I now have the hassle of getting a new passport and visa in a hurry — a trip to Seattle, an in-person interview, an application for new passport, and then a dash to get the visa. The whole process, of course, costs money and time I hadn’t planned on.
I raise all this because I’m surprised that FedEx did not contact me immediately after the accident to say, “Your package was in the container that burned. How can we help make this right?” Have I missed something?
This is a firm I have loved from the first time I heard the Fred Smith story about his Yale paper describing the idea. I’ve loved the fun ads and the great service I have gotten sending packages to faraway places.
Not hearing from them, and then being told they will reimburse only the cost of the passport (about 20 percent of the total costs I’ll shell out), makes me feel let down.
Perhaps FedEx is simply overwhelmed, with the rapid increase of online purchasing and shipments. Think about Amazon alone in the last decade and how many boxes it ships daily. No wonder it has started its own delivery system. Is that a competitive pressure that FedEx is facing, and are their systems unable to keep up with customer and package tracking and reporting?
I guess my takeaway is that any service provider should try to avoid surprising customers in an unpleasant way. I apply that to my own organization. How can we catch and then resolve problems when they are small, rather than waiting till they become large and really annoy a customer? I understand that accidents and misunderstandings happen, but if we don’t catch, talk about and try to solve problems, the fallout could be troublesome.
I’m still hoping that my old passport, with all of its memories, will emerge from the ashes. But I’m realistic enough to know many things we wish for do not come true. Let’s just hope that good customer service from a great company will be one that does return.