MONTPELIER – Customers of FedEx are complaining that there is a significant problem with deliveries in the Capital City and central Vermont.
There have been dozens of postings on Montpelier Front Porch Forum in the past year, listing a litany of complaints about FedEx packages that were not delivered, delivered to the wrong address or customers were forced to drive to the company’s distribution hub in Williston to pick them up.
In other cases, the contents of packages were damaged or spoiled because of delays in deliveries, and there were also concerns about medication deliveries, in one case left in a place susceptible to theft.
The matter came to light recently when Montpelier resident Joanne Greenberg complied an extensive list of the FPF postings, and contacted The Times Argus, the Vermont Attorney’s Office’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) and the New England Better Business Bureau (BBB).
CAP and the BBB both confirmed they have received complaints about FedEx service in Montpelier and central Vermont and have tried to get the company to resolve them with customers. Greenberg redacted the names and addresses of people who posted on FPF, to protect their privacy, providing only the date and the content of the posting.
Unable to connect with FedEx in Williston to raise the issue, Greenberg contacted FedEx’s corporate offices in Memphis, Tennessee, but said she received little help from a company executive.
An internet search revealed several websites that also listed hundreds of complaints about FedEx delivery services. One of the sites noted, as did a Montpelier Front Porch Forum posting, that the problem is the result of FedEx contracting out delivery services to independent individuals and companies that are less professional and lacked accountability.
The Times Argus was also unable to reach a company official at FedEx in Williston. When contacted by The Times Argus, a corporate spokesperson issued the following statement, but refused to allow a FedEx official in Williston to respond directly to concerns about the hub’s delivery problems.
“We are happy to look into any customer service issues that are brought to our attention,” the statement said. “When customers can provide shipping information about their packages, our advanced tracking systems can quickly help determine the status of shipments. We encourage anyone who has a question about the status of their shipment to contact us at 1.800.GoFedEx.”
Greenberg said that the number of complaints represented “an overall pattern.”
“People were posting not just that their packages were going astray, they were posting that they were not getting satisfaction when trying to deal with the branch office or hub,” Greenberg said. “They tried contacting Williston, according to their posts, with really minimal success.
“A few of them were businesses that were having trouble with orders. That’s a whole other level of unfair,” she added.
Greenberg said she didn’t include every FPF posting but picked the most “vivid” or egregious postings.
Greenberg noted that the postings didn’t identify problems with any other delivery service, such as United Parcel Service or the U.S. Mail, just FedEx.
Greenberg said she tried contacting the FedEx depot in Willison but was unable to speak to a person because the automated system didn’t offer that option.
Greenberg said she was able to speak to John Ackerson, a FedEx executive support specialist, at FedEx headquarters.
“I asked him what should they do? He said they should go to the 800 FedEx number and they’ll get routed but that’s just more automation,” Greenberg said. “He did say that my complaint had gone to the executive level.”
Greenberg said a search of the internet revealed a number of other links that also had numerous postings about the company’s poor delivery service.
“There were these web sites that said things like, “FedEx sucks.’ So, it’s not just Montpelier, Vermont, it’s nationwide,” Greenberg said. “I did try to say to Ackerson that FedEx has a problem, and our area, if not many areas, are not getting the service they deserve.”
“That’s why he said it was going up to the executive level, but he wouldn’t say what anybody was going to do about it. He didn’t say anyone was going to get back to me; he never said that,” she added.
Greenberg said she would take her concerns to Vermont’s Consumer Assistance Program and the New England Better Business Bureau.
The Consumer Assistance Program provided a list of 27 complaints against FedEx in Vermont since February 2014, of which 11 remain open (still to be resolved), while the remainder were closed (resolved).
Charity Clark, chief of staff at the Attorney General Office, who oversees the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP), says the division tries to resolve complaints through “letter mediation.”
“We would write a letter to FedEx and say, ‘Hey FedEx, this consumer has complained about you, see attached complaint, tell us what you’re going to do about it. Can you explain this and please get back to us in 7 to 10 days,’” Clark said.
“Sometimes they do get back to us. It’s mediation, so we don’t take sides, we just say, ‘What do you think?’ The business will get back to us, and say whatever they’re going to say, like, ‘Good point, sorry, we’ve already given a refund,’ or ‘Hey, this didn’t happen, this is a he-said, she-said, and I see something totally different.” We don’t take sides, we don’t give legal advice. We just try to mediate via letter-mediation,” she added.
Consumers also had the options of civil court action or taking FedEx to Small Claims Court to see redress without incurring high legal costs, Clark said.
Clark urged consumers to contact the Consumer Assistance Program with any complaint if they felt they had been unfairly treated.
“We have recouped, last year, well over $100,000, total, for (all) consumers (complaints) in Vermont, which is great, and the average recovery amount for fiscal year 2018, was $786. That’s just the complaints that were resolved,” Clark added.
Nancy Crawford is director of marketing and communication for the Better Business Bureau, serving the mid-South of the country.
“Our BBB processes all FedEx complaints, nationally, because they’re headquartered in our area, and that’s regular BBB protocol,” Crawford said. “Wherever a company is centralized, that’s where the complaint goes.
“When a consumer files a complaint, we send that information to the business and say, ‘This is the problem that one of your customers has told us they having and we’d like you to address it. We typically give the company a couple of weeks to get back with us with a response. If we don’t hear from them, we’ll contact them again,” she added.
“I looked at the FedEx complaint list from central Vermont. It looks like there were seven reportable complaints in Vermont in the last 12 months and all of those were closed, either answered by the company or resolved,” Crawford said. “In a case where we send the complaint to the company, they send a reply back to us and we send that reply to the consumer and say, ‘Here’s what the company said.’ In some instances, that’s where the exchange stops; the consumer gets back with us and says, ‘Yes, that’s what I wanted,’ and we close those as resolved.
“In the case where the company responded, and we sent the response to the consumer and we didn’t hear from them again, then we close those complaints as answered. If that consumer comes back to us, then that process might go back and forth a couple of times before we get to the point of closing the complaint,” she added.