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Todd Terry
FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 4:20:24 pm

Here's a rant, and a question. Mostly a rant.

I think FedEx needs to turn the "forward" arrow in their logo around backwards... because, to me, it seems they are going that way.

In the early days of my company, we used to send out hundreds of overnight packages a month... mostly shooting off Beta tapes with commercials on them to television stations all over the country.

For years it worked pretty flawlessly... we would do the shipments on a computer, there was a little printer (provided by FedEx) that would spit out a shipping label, and voilĂ , you're done.

One thing we did notice through the years was that FedEx would very frequently update its shipping software. And each new version was invariably worse than the one before it. It was always clunkier, more problematic, more complicated, and less reliable than its predecessor. To this day the very BEST version of their shipping software remains their FIRST version... from about 15 years ago.

Times change, and those zillions of packages we used to send out have dwindled to almost none, since most everything we do is by digital delivery now. Now, we might send out one FedEx a month, if that.

Well our general manager went to ship something on Friday when someone actually needed a hard dub, and once again things had changed. We could no longer print a label, as FedEx was no longer supporting or using our little printer. Instead, he had to go online, prep the shipment, and our printer spit out a piece of paper with a QR code on it, which he was to show at the FedEx office where the "real" shipping label would be generated. Problem is, we usually use a drop box that is right in our neighborhood, rather than drive the several miles to the nearest manned FedEx office. Apparently the only way for us to use a dropoff box is to grab a blank airbill and a pen and write out a shipping form with a bare hand like an animal. This is something that literally used to take two clicks.

To complicate matters, when he took the package and his printout with the barcode on it to the FedEx office, the person behind the counter told him that their reader would not read the QR code off printed paper, that it would only read it off a mobile device. So... he had to go in on his phone, find the source of the label, email it to himself, and then she could read the code off the screen on his phone.

Is this progress???

Has anyone else had similar shipping troubles? Or deal with it in some other way?

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rob Grauert
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 5:38:51 pm

At my work we log into our account on FedEx.com, prepare the shipment (which isn't anything more than you would fill in if you were filling it out by hand), and then print the shipping label from any printer. We just stick the label in one of FedEx's adhesive pouch things, and then some FedEx guy picks up the package. He comes at the same time every day. If we don't have the package prepared in time for pick up, all we do is dropped it off at the nearest FedEx. I've never had a problem. Do you have a FedEx account?

Rob Grauert, Jr.
http://www.robgrauert.com
command-r.tumblr.com


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Todd Terry
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 5:55:49 pm

[Rob Grauert] "Do you have a FedEx account?"

Oh yeah, and we've given them tons of money through the years.

It was all easy, we had the little dedicated printer (supplied by FedEx) that held rolls of their blank labels, and it would spit them right out... stick em on, and they were ready for pickup. Frankly, we usually missed our daily outgoing Fedex pickup since things were often complete late in the day... but a drop box is nearby.

I will admit I'm relaying this second hand, since it was my biz partner who had the trouble Friday, and who usually handles the shipments.

He swears that, after Friday's software update, he is unable to print actual labels, either real labels or paper ones that you can put in a pouch... that he MUST just print a sheet with the QR code on it and get the "real" label from the FedEx office. He could be mistaken.

I'm not too concerned... as I don't do the shipping myself. But it sure seems kooky... and through the years I've just seen FedEx get more clunky and harder to deal with.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Greg Ball
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 6:24:40 pm

We also have a Fed EX account. We go on-line, insert the info and print an 8/2 X11 sheet. We fold it in half, since only half of it has the info. We use a clear pouch provided by Fedex, and attach it to the box or envelope. We can then drop it in a fed ex drop box or bring it to a local Fed EX store like PakMail.

Very easy.


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Todd Terry
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 6:35:12 pm

[Greg Ball] " We go on-line, insert the info and print an 8/2 X11 sheet."

Yep we always had the option of doing that, too, although we almost always just used the FedEx label printer rather than the stick-on-a-pouch route (unless, say, the label roll was empty). But we were told that as of the software update released Friday that neither was any longer an option. Hopefully we were misinformed.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rob Grauert
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 6:46:53 pm

I would ditch the printer that FedEx gave you and print the label on the 8.5X11 sheets of paper. I've watched a FedEx guy scan those and they seem to work just fine. Its easy-peasy :D

Rob Grauert, Jr.
http://www.robgrauert.com
command-r.tumblr.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 7:01:16 pm

We have an account and they give us a ream of perforated tractor-fed pre-printed airbills with our account number and all the sending info pre-printed. I call the 800 number and tell Miss Soryama (how I picture the phone robot) when I need it and etc. I fill out just the destination info on three lines and tick 2-3 boxes on the form, slap it on the envelope or box (we stock up on these when we go get more printouts), throw the tape in, keep the top sheet for our records, leave it downstairs, never fails.


Do remember not that long ago, the universe ended each day at about 4;30, when the UPS or FedEx guy made his daily scheduled last pickup? And he only waited 90 seconds if you were not ready to go. We don't get a daily scheduled pickup any more, we have to call for it, but I can make that call until almost 5 to get a 5:30, and if I blow that deadline, hop in the car and go 20 minutes to their shipping center where they are good until as late as 7 PM.


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Todd Terry
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 7:10:42 pm

[Rob Grauert] "I would ditch the printer that FedEx gave you and print the label on the 8.5X11 sheets of paper."

That's the point... we were told, by FedEx, that we CAN'T print our own labels on plain paper, NOR could we use their proprietary label printer... that we MUST just do the printout with the barcode and that FedEx had to print the real label at their location. Unless we wanted to write one out by hand.

I understand how everyone else does it... we've been doing variants of all of those same exact ways for years. We've printed them on paper to put in pouches, we've printed the half-sheet stick-on labels they had years ago (anyone remember those?), and we've printed with the proprietary FedEx printer and the roll labels (which we were doing most recently). And probably some other ways that I don't remember.

It's just that we've been told... by our FedEx rep, I believe... that we CAN'T do it ANY of those ways anymore.

I was just ranting more than anything else... and trying to find if anyone else had received this sudden-unforeseen FedEx roadblock to the old ways of doing things. Apparently no one has, but us.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Steve Martin
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 8:24:53 pm

It would seem that they're turning into something like our friends at the USPS. It's all about them and their processes.

"Hey, we're the government - you don't like it? Tough $#*+ !!

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!


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Mark Suszko
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 8:50:41 pm

So have you looked into what Brown can do for you?


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Bill Davis
Re: FedEx
on Oct 31, 2011 at 9:17:03 pm

Todd,

I feel your pain.

My entire history seems to be chock full of once useful devices like your label printer that had became central to how I worked, right up to the day that some software "update" or interface "advance" killed them as regards my workflow.

Sometimes the new way was pretty compatible with the old process and maybe even better. Sometimes the hardware didn't make it through an OS "update" or driver issue and suddenly a valuable device or process simply got impossible to continue to use.

Sucks, but it's the price of "progress", I suppose.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Emre Tufekci S.O.A.
Re: FedEx
on Nov 2, 2011 at 12:47:28 pm

My rant is not about the printing and updates that may be crippling some businesses but with FedEx all together. Now this may be a regional thing but FedEx where I live does not work.

I have had overnight shipments sent to me with 2 people waiting for the truck all day (literally looking out the window all day long) and they would never show up. Then I would get a message that said "No one available to receive package, re-attempt delivery next day".

This has happened about 7-8 times where they simply will not deliver packages.

I switched to UPS and have never had a package delivered late in fact the driver would see there are no cars parked so would drive back 2-3 times until he would be sure there is somebody there to pick up the package as opposed to just leave it on the steps or attempt delivery the next day.

No more FedEx for us.

Emre Tufekci
http://www.productionpit.com



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Todd Terry
Re: FedEx
on Nov 2, 2011 at 4:01:50 pm

Well, even though I was on a FedEx rant earlier, I would counter Emre's bad experience with a positive one or two.

The FedEx drivers that come by our place... especially one particular driver, Marty... are just great.

Once I was the only person scheduled to be working in our office one day (everyone else was on location), and I decided to go into work late that morning. Marty tried to deliver an important package to the studio, but everything was locked up tight as a drum. He drove it to my house, where I was still home. Unbelievable.

Another time I was flying out of town early, but had an important package being sent to me that I needed to take with me... but it was still out on the FedEx truck for delivery. The local FedEx lady tracked Marty down, who called me and said "I'm not delivering in your neighborhood for a couple of hours, but if you can meet me at such-and-such corner by the so-and-so building downtown in 10 minutes I can dig it out for you."

I've actually had great service from FedEx through the years, and when we travel to shoot on location I actually ship all my gear in advance by FedEx (even though it costs a fortune)... and they have never lost or damaged anything (I can't say that for the airlines).

BUT... their new shipping software sucks. Out loud.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Nick Griffin
Re: FedEx
on Nov 2, 2011 at 8:22:29 pm

Funny how local and/or regional this can be. Where we are it's UPS that sucks and FedEx that's quite reliable. I believe that we've had drivers simply decide that they're not willing to come down our driveway and turn around so (in the tone of the Seinfeld Soup Nazi), "No UPS for you!"


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