UPS, and to a lesser extent Federal Express, got black eyes this past holiday season when thousands of packages were left undelivered in time for Christmas.
Some retailers like Amazon, Kohl’s, and Walmart promised to make peace with their customers by variously offering shipping refunds, gift cards, or complete refunds. But what about UPS and FEDEX themselves?
Both companies have on-time guarantees.
For UPS, air shipments are guaranteed throughout the holiday season. But, if you used UPS Ground service, they have conveniently excluded the two weeks before Christmas:
Federal Express on the other hand, appears to have left their full money back guarantee intact.
For overnight deliveries, their policy is generous:
“FedEx offers a money-back guarantee for every U.S. shipment. You may request a refund or credit of your shipping charges if we miss our published (or quoted, as in the case of FedEx SameDayÂ®) delivery time by even 60 seconds.”
Wow, even if they are only a minute late you get back your money. Wow, again.
In small type, however, the customer is referred to Fedex’s “terms and conditions” and ground tariff. For both overnight express and ground services, their money back policy begins this way:
“We offer a money-back guarantee for our services. This guarantee can be suspended, modified or revoked at our sole discretion without prior notice to you.” [emphasis added]
So they have this great policy, but tuck into the fine print that they can suspend it at will. Nice, huh?
Sure enough, FEDEX created a special holiday money back guarantee . For FEDEX Ground shipments, they invoked that weasel clause just when it might be needed most.
“The money-back guarantee for FedEx GroundÂ® and FedEx Home DeliveryÂ® services will be suspended temporarily for packages tendered during the 14 calendar days before Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 (Wednesday, Dec. 11, through Tuesday, Dec. 24).”
And for FEDEX express services, they give themselves an extra 90 minutes to make on-time deliveries, just like UPS.
The company issued a statement after the big media uproar about packages being delivered late (primarily by UPS), saying:
“Every single package is important to us, and we will continue to work directly with customers to address any isolated incidents.”
The bottom line is that these companies have tried to absolve themselves of on-time delivery responsibilities, and have been relatively silent about how they would make good for disappointed shoppers.