Recently I made a pretty big purchase. I bought a new piece of equipment for my business that is probably the single biggest purchase I have ever made outside of a car or a house. In case you curious, what I bought was a laser cutter, that allows me to cut and engrave a variety of different materials like wood, acrylic, slate. This is some I can offer small runs of custom gifts and promotional materials to my clients. Drop me a line if you are interested (wink). It look like this:
Anyway, the item is irrelevant in this instance. The points to hold in your head are these:
-The laser cutter was expensive.
-It was being imported from the USA (Grapevine, Texas, to be precise) so the delivery, also, was very expensive, around £400 (ouch!)
-there was no other option other than to use FedEx (unfortunately).
The tale begins on August 9th 2020 (imagine wave lines and chimes playing).
I decided to pull the trigger and order the laser cutter that I hade been admiring from afar for over a year. I had toyed with the idea of buying a different brand, but this one was the one for me. There are very few laser cutter brands that are based in Europe, most are in China, a few in the USA. I had looked at a smaller unit from a Chinese manufacturer that had a reseller in Europe, but the exchange rate and reseller fee made it look like a poor deal next to the Glowforge I eventually bought. Any that are manufactured in Europe are either intended for industrial use (i.e. huge) or way out of my price range.
So trigger pull and wallet significantly lighter I settled in for a long wait, knowing that there was some way for it to travel. I was therefore pretty surprised when 2 days later I got an email saying it was due to be delivered on august 17th, barely a week later. Happy days! I had to scramble to make space in my studio and build a trolley for it to sit on (I have a small attic studio space, so I needed it to be out of the way when not using it). Anyway, excitement grew and it got to Sunday night, it was arriving the next day.
On inspection of the tracking link I had been sent, I saw that it had arrived at Stansted Airport at 15:08 on Sunday, and assumed it would be making its way up to a norther distribution centre overnight so they could make the delivery. The next morning that was clearly not what happened as it was still marked as being in Stanstead until 14:41 on Monday. Unlikely to make in 200 miles north to me by 6 pm then. Ok, no bother, I’ll just have to wait until Tuesday. No problemo. Good things come to those who wait, and all that.
Better news on Tuesday, my shipment was in Leeds, just 25 miles away and due to be delivered. In fact, it had been loaded on to a FedEx Vehicle at 7:04, great, they have 11 hours to move a shipment 25 miles. That should be a piece of cake for one of the worlds leading courier companies.
Fast forward to 18:00 that evening and still no sign or word. Harumph. Starting to get a little ticked off here. So I wondered home and called customer service at about 6:30. Closed. International courier company FedEx don’t take calls outside of office hours it seems. Great. Anyway, I go about cooking dinner and putting my daughter to bed, and come downstairs at about 20:30 to update on my tracking – ‘Delivery exception – incorrect address’.
I checked the address I had given when ordering, that was right. in fact the order confirmation had a map on it with a big red marker over the correct address. Very odd. I looked again at the tracking. The ‘incorrect address’ note was from 11:24 that morning. Some 9 hours earlier, but had only just been updated. Now I was getting angry. Why had no one called or emailed to check the address? Why was there absolutely no effort to contact me? This is a pretty bad customer service.
So knowing that the phone lines were not an option at that time, I emailed customer service as instructed by the recorded message, and told them the address again, and let them know my displeasure at their service.
I then had a beer, watched 4 episodes of The Office and went to bed in a better mood.
Up with the lark. Determined to get it sorted today. I phoned the customer service number at 7:45, still closed. Grrr. again at 8:00 on the dot, and got straight through (well after messages about recording for training and how they are operating through coronavirus). so, I give them my reference number, tell them the address and my phone number, which I am then told are exactly the same as the ones they have. Ah, so it wasn’t that you had the wrong address, it was that your delivery driver is incapable of using Google Maps. or using a phone to call me. Great. Anyway, I request that if there is an issue, could the drive call and I will direct him to the address. ‘Yes’ the said ‘no problem, and it has been passed on to the ‘escalation team’ who will make sure it gets to you. Brill, no idea who they are but, all I want is my parcel.
It gets to 15:00 and there is still no sign. Honestly, I had given up by this point. 3 days of waiting around had made me a little numb. The excitement was gone. It had been replaced with the gnawing stomach ache of being inconvenienced, and having paid through the nose for it. Like when your flight gets delayed, or you get the wrong meal at a restaurant. You know people have it worse than you, you know eventually, it will all be sorted out, but in the moment, this is the biggest issue you are facing so it is all-consuming.
Anyway, another call and I’m told, yes it will still be there before 6 pm. 17:00 rolls around and I call again. yes, still out for delivery. 18:00 comes a goes, and nothing again. So, home I go, cook dinner, daughter to bed, come back downstair around 20:00 to an email saying- ‘Your shipment was delivered at 14:00 today’….
I quickly check at the studio, but no, nothing delivered. So I look at the delivery note, which has no real information on it. No address, no signature, no photo, and all it says is ’delivery address: YORK, Delivered to Receptionist’
My studio is in York, I will give them that, but so are about 100,000 other building. And I do not have a receptionist, nor is there anyone else working at the studio.
WHERE THE HELL IS MY SHIPMENT!?!?
Have I paid these goombas £400 to deliver my shipment to the wrong address? I hope they have some pretty good bloody insurance!
Anyway, Same as the night before, can’t call so email and tell them (very professionally) what I think of the situation and how I want them to rectify it. Obviously no response that evening. So had a couple of whiskies and watch about half a series of The Office (the American one, it’s not that bad really), and went to bed feeling about the same.
Again called dead on 8:00. At this stage I was pretty PO’d with FedEx (more like FedUp, am I right?) I got through to a customer service person and explained (again) the entire debacle. Their response was that they could not help me as they could only deal with domestic cases. Could I please ring this special number… the same number I had called to get to them. This was getting beyond a joke. She could not transfer me, I had to call again and go on hold… again.
So that is what I did. After 20 minutes I go through to someone who could help me. Although help seems like a strong word in this situation. I was then told that, no, My parcel had not been delivered to the wrong address, there had been an issue with the electronic signing thing, and this is how it manifested its self. Which sounds like grade-A BS to me. However, my package was on a truck as we spoke and would be with me before 6 pm. They had given it to a new delivery driver and he had been instructed to call before delivery. Fine. I told them I had zero faith in what they were saying at this point but had little option but to go along with it. We will see what happens.
I had a video meeting first thing that day, which I took and all was well. Just after finishing, I when to make a coffee at about 10:15. And my phone rings, for about 3 seconds, so I call back and the miracle of miracles, it’s a real-life FexEx driver and he says he has my Shipment. And he is only 5 minutes away!
Still not fully believing what I am hearing, I decided to walk out to the street to wave him down so that there was no way that he could miss me. I saw him coming and waved, he pulled over and parked on the grass verge on the street. Amazing. in front of next door for some reason, but whatever. I went to clear a space in the passageway for the boxes. He followed and handed over a box about 70cm by 50cm, I signed and he started to walk off.
So I asked, ‘are you going to get the other package?’
He turned and responded ‘ Oh yeah, there was mean to be a second package, but I couldn’t find it’ and then started to walk off again.
WHATTTTTT! That was the main thing, what he had delivered to was just the instruction and the power cord, the actual machine still wasn’t here. I wasn’t having this.
‘Wait, can I look in your van?’ I asked.
‘Ah ok but I looked, and unless its a big box with ‘laser cutter’ on the side it not in there.’
‘yes, that’s exactly what it is!’ I exclaimed, I wanted to add ‘you incompetent moron’ but bit my tongue.
In the back of his van, standing on its side, despite a ‘this way up’ sticker point to the top, was my Glowforge. The drive got in and pushed it to the back to get it out. ‘Oh yeah the address is on the top’, he says as he pushes it. Complete and utter nincompoopery. Of course it’s on the top. THAT’S WHERE ADDRESSES GO! Also, apparently, it had been in the back of his van for 3 days. So much for getting a new driver to deliver it.
He was on his own despite this package weighing around 60kg and bring about 1 meter by 1 ½ big, so I had to pitch in and haul the parcel to the doorstep. I paid all that money to drag it the last 20 yards…. Seems about right.
So, I eventually got hold of the laser cutter. And to the credit of Golwforge, this thing was packed up to the hilt. It had clearly been badly treated, scuffed, bashed, shoved, one of the handles had been ripped off. But inside the unit was immaculate. So kudos to them.
I spent the rest of the day setting it up and playing with my first few cuts. It’s a great piece of kit, I will be writing more about it at a later date. I am currently in contact with FedEx, trying to get some sort of recompense for their ineptitude, but no luck so far, I’ll keep you posted.
The experience of actually getting the unit certainly tainted my enjoyment and excitement of what should have been a really big deal, and while that isn’t the Glowforge’s fault, there are takeaways for them and everyone in the business.
Be careful who you work with.
Glowforge did very little wrong in this situation. In fact, in the midst of all this, I emailed them to ask them to put pressure on FedEx from there end to try and sort things out. They were much quicker in responding that FedEx and followed up after the delivery to make sure it all when OK.
The problem is that they are tainted in my mind now with this experience, only through association with FedEx. As you can imagine, I will never, ever use FedEx again after this, but if I wanted to buy from Glowforge again, they are the only delivery option, so effectively, I can never ever buy from them again. I am also going to think very carefully about recommending them to anyone else. I love the machine, but the experience of the delivery is so stressful, that I think I would suggest going somewhere else.
Communication is key.
The only communication I got from FedEx that was not initiated by me was the initial email with a tracking link, the email that said it had been delivered when it hadn’t and the phone call from the driver just before it actually got to me (even that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked for it)
At no point did I get any update or help without first having to email or phone, and then there was very little in the way of real information. There was clearly something going very wrong at FedEx, but they didn’t have the systems in place to let the customer know. If I had been kept abreast of thing, I still would have been annoyed, but much less frustrated.
Keeping customers informed helps alleviate some of the anxiety they may have. In this instance, I would have been perfectly happy if they had said it would not be delivered until August 21st. If that was my expectation, and it turned up on that same day, I would have been a happy camper. It’s about setting an expectation. If I am told one thing, and then you don’t deliver, I’m going to be annoyed. tell me something and then over-deliver and ill be over the moon.
Get the basics right.
This one is key. FedEx Have one job, They make deliveries. That is literally their entire purpose. They make sure things get from one place to another. In this instance the demonstrably failed to do that on a number of occasions and only avoided doing it again because I stopped them. If they cannot deliver (pun intended) then what good are they?
They need to sort out some key fundamentals of the courier game before they can even consider calling themselves a delivery company. I get that this is probably not how every delivery goes for them, and most deliveries are probably stress-free, but not having systems in place to flag issues like this is a big problem for a company like them. If they aren’t taking these problems, then how are they going to learn from them.
If you want to get in touch with me about my new services I can offer with my new laser cutter, or any of my other Graphic design service, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m Alex Dyett
I am a freelance Graphic Designer and Photographer, and Flickering Light Studio is my company. I live in York, UK, with my wife and daughter.
Hopefully, this blog post has given you some inspiration to go out and tell your business’s story with great design and eye-catching images. Take a look at the other blog posts to get some more ideas, and if there is anything that you feel I could help you with, please feel free to contact me, and I will be happy to work on a project with you.