I started this a week ago, when the event — and the telescope — were fresher in everyone’s minds.
You know what makes a human feel small and puny and powerless? No, not the astoundingly beautiful images released by NASA from the James Webb Telescope, itself located one million miles from us puny humans. No, I’m talking multinational corporations that don’t give a crap about you while you are completely reliant on them.
Way back in mid-May, I undertook what I didn’t realize at the time would be An Ordeal. All I wanted was a copy of my birth certificate, and the front end was easy: I filled out my forms, supplied a copy of my ID and sent it all off, certified.
The state’s website said it would take 30 days to process this request, and I had the option of receiving my certificate via Lynn’s Postal Service for no additional fee, or express delivery through FedEx for $20. I thought it would be good to have a tracking number, so I paid the $20.
And then I waited. And waited. And waited. I waited 30 days. I waited 60 days. While the request form still said 30 days, other places on the website were telling me six to eight weeks, until that slid to 10 weeks.
A week ago Thursday, without any warning or tracking number, I came home at lunch to find a FedEx tag stuck to the door: “We will make another attempt. Must be present for package delivery.”
Now, the state didn’t mention a signature requirement for this exact same certificate they were willing to toss into regular mail, which I now see would have been the far better option. I don’t mind requiring a signature, because I was kind of worried about it just getting left on a windy doorstep, but I was unaware this was a requirement — and I had been given no option to have the certificate sent to a different address, say like the place I spend my daytime hours.
As the tag instructed, I texted the word “follow” to a number on my phone, where I was told the package was delayed in Montrose. Obviously this was wrong, because someone had stuck a tag on my door. I tracked the door tag on the FedEx website, where I learned that they would make three attempts to deliver this package and then send it back to a faceless bureaucracy where 30 days slowly unfolds over eight-plus weeks. (Kind of like the telescope, where it’s looking back in time on pretty much the same scale.)
I tried the robochat. It didn’t go well. I tried calling and got another robot. It didn’t go well, and the robot didn’t understand “it depends” when she wanted to know if I would be home or not on Friday. I pushed 0 and got “William” (clearly not his real name) and tried holding a conversation in English (clearly not his real language).
I explained that no one would be home until 1:30, and I asked if it would be okay if Lynn signed for the package. William said sure, no problem, and the package would be delivered after 1:30. I gave William a 4 out of 5 on their survey scale, but it turns out he was a zero.
I put my door tag back on the door Friday morning, with a note saying we would be home after 1:30 and that I could be found at Pat’s before that. I came home for lunch to see the note still there, but when I tracked the door tag it said Attempt #2 had been made at 12:30, which in my understanding of time comes before 1:30.
I called FedEx and got “Elise” (clearly not her real name). I understood a lot more of her words, but she wasn’t understanding me at all. She kept telling me I could go pick it up “tomorrow,” which was Saturday, and I kept trying to explain the counter is in Montrose, a telescope’s distance away from me. I asked why they couldn’t deliver it to Pat’s, but that would be a change order and would take 24 to 48 hours. I asked for a supervisor; Elise put me on hold and never came back.
Lynn managed to come up with the top-secret number for FedEx in Montrose. The woman there, who spoke real English, asked if I would be willing to meet the courier somewhere with my photo ID. Yes, at this point I was willing to go one million miles into space to get my certificate — anything so long as I wasn’t faced with the prospect of starting over again in mid-May.
But the driver never called. On Thursday afternoon at my shop I watched a FedEx Express van drive right past my door. On Friday I watched two of them do that. I even attempted to chase one down, but lost it in the Cattlemen’s Days traffic.
Monday I took the drastic step of staying home. Bear and I didn’t dare walk out of sight of the front door; I brought parts (but not enough of them, it turned out) of payroll home to work on that while I waited. I waited. I waited. The cosmos was born and beamed over to Earth as I waited.
Around 3 I called the top-secret number in Montrose. Oh, they’d had someone call in sick and she didn’t know why they didn’t think to tell the other driver to get the package. Hopefully it would come back to Montrose and she’d send it out the next day.
This is FedEx’s idea of “express”?
She’d try to call me to let me know when the courier might deliver it. She also seemed familiar with Pat’s when I suggested I could be found there. Monday evening I watched a FedEx Express van drive down Kokanee here in Riverwalk — and then drive right back out without stopping at my house.
When I spoke to some man in Montrose Tuesday afternoon — because I still had no package — he thought that was strange, and tried to convince me it was a “ground” truck I’d seen. “No, I’m quite versed in FedEx vans by now,” I assured him. I watched them drive by the shop again. The man also told me he couldn’t “make” the courier call me, but he would try to find a delivery time and call me back.
And then, surprisingly, he actually did, to tell me I would be the last stop of the day, after the courier drove all the way to Taylor Reservoir and back. At about 5 the woman from the previous day also called to give me a 6 p.m. ETA. Lynn accepted the delivery at home right about 6 on Tuesday — a mere five days late. “He seems very anxious to get this,” the courier said to Lynn.
Well, yes: this was the biggest run-around FedEx could manage since they lost half of a Pat’s order in Montrose that required Kara to make a week’s worth of phone calls to the originating company, something that really is called “Border Buddy” and 4,000 people at FedEx before she located Michael, who reliably called Kara every morning for about four before the second half of the order arrived, two days too late for the event for which it was needed.
My vow, only strengthened now that Kara’s friend has lost a package through FedEx, which then compounded the indignity by eating her electronic complaint form right after she filled everything out, is to have nothing more to do with this odious company that charges a lot and delivers so little.
But we all know that FedEx still has the upper hand and that when it comes to my shipping needs, I am only one little speck floating in their vast universe that doesn’t give a crap about me.