We had a meeting overseas (Berlin) for which our team had prepared a large amount of meeting materials that took 2-3 months to complete. The client for whom these materials were for was our biggest account and as as production manager, I was overseeing the project.
$15K worth of print matter was sent via FedEx International Priority. Based on the shipment size, contents, destination, etc., I was told guaranteed delivery within 3 business days. Now, I realize that when you're dealing with customs, all bets are more or less off, but I was ssured by the agent that I spoke to that if I had the proper paperwork and there were no major delays in transit, no hold up should occur and that if one did, it was built into that 3-day window.
I checked the tracking hourly once it went out. Everything was fine. Only 2 days after we sent the shipment off, the site reflected that all boxes had cleared customs and were in transit to the local facility in the destination area. Great! Shipment on target to arrive that evening. I called sometime later to check the status over the phone and got the same message--in transit. That raised a red flag because it had been in transit for an awfully long time. When I called, I was told that not only had the shipment not gone to the facility, but that it never actually left customs. The website had an error, I was told. And amazingly, the CSR admitted that the automated tracking service through 800-GO-FEDEX is not reliable.
After much back and forth and lots of folks unable to asnwer my questions, I figured out that the lead package cleared customs on the morning of the second day and was sent off to Berlin...and the other 18 stayed in Frankfurt. Why they wouldn't release the other ASAP after that is beyond me, but unfortunately they just sat in a facility. No one called me despite my having listed my telephone number and having written special notes to PLEASE inform me if there were customs d elays. Then on the third day, the lead package was sent BACK to Frankfurt to be with the other packages. Why, I can't understand.
Well, I thought, okay, I still have Saturday as the meeting is Sunday and Friday was the 3rd business day. So it'll be a rush, but it'll slide in under the door. No panic. Sorry! FedEx facility is closed on weekends! So the shipment will be delivered Monday evening at the earliest. Yeah. That'll be a great help when the meeting is over and I'm out of a job.
The CSR folks were just awful. Every person had a different answer for me. No one seemed remorseful. No one could tell me why I hadn't been called when the shipment missed its "guaranteed" deadline. No one could explain why the FedEx tracking system had errors. No one could explain why the 19 packages needed to stay together if all had copies of the original waybill and all had cleared customs. No one could explain why they got separated in the first place. Just a lot of run around and promises to "investigate."
LUCKILY what saved my ### was my customs broker who drove 5 hours from Berlin to Frankfurt to retrive the shipment (who also had not been called despite clear instructions to do so in the even of delay). Honestly, if they hadn't done that, I would probably have gotten fired...doesn't matter how good the job looks unless it actually gets SEEN by people and utilized as intended, and it doesn't matter this this screw-up wasn't my fault, or that the client took their sweet time finalizing the work and ignored my numerous reminders of deadlines.
So, I'm DONE with FedEx. I should've known better and used DHL or UPS as I'd heard that FedEx isn't great but I just figured, well...it's FedEx! They're the best, right? Incidentally, I had 6 boxes of CDs made and sent to Berlin directly from the vendor via UPS and despite those being sent BACK to the States because of an issue with customs once they'd arrive in Germany, they STILL arrived by the 3rd business day.