Subject: Serious Customer care complaint
I am writing to complain at our treatment as long term and loyal customers over many years.
We send out regular consignments of the same size and weight every week to our various customers and many are returned as part of a hire pattern. The charges have been stable over time with only the annual increase being notified and therefore easily accommodated within our charging structures. We have worked with Fedex depots and drivers to make the system as smooth as possible and have been generally happy with the service – and sometimes it has been excellent.
A few weeks ago – in the middle of our annual peak trading period ( from 8 weeks before Easter until after Pentecost) we were told that our account was being ‘upgraded’. We and our customers wrestled with the new system – particularly the return shipments – however what came as a shock was the unnotified price increase that came with the first invoice on the ‘upgraded system’.
Our regular baptistry consignment is 5 parcels weighing about 80 kilos and up until the change in system it cost around £36 ( see attached spread sheet)per consignment. We charged £50 to allow for the eventualities that inevitably occur. This price has been pretty stable for years. Our first invoices showed prices for the same item varying between £66 and £184! Since we charged our many customers over this period only £50 because we had no notice of this price increase we made a loss on each consignment of between £16 and £134. Margins are tight and so this amounts to a loss of significant revenue at a peak trading period.
The other key consignment is our Galilee/Round baptistry. Fedex staff and treatment of the baptistry has indicated to us for some time that this needed to be phased out – which we indeed were but there are a few loyal Eastertide customers that required it for their particular situation. Before the changed system we had two regular prices: £29 and when cubed £77. We had increased the shipping prices to £140 to accommodate this (hopefully nudging customers to the Nonagon above) and were trialling the flatpack Galilee with a view to replacing it. The invoicing for this item was coming back at either £65.51 or £302! We only charge £180 for the hire of the equipment.
Please note that when I sat down and did a rate quote for each of our consignments the rates were significantly lower than what we were actually being charged.
We immediately contacted our account manager who referred us to our sales manager, we told him something was wrong because the bills were wrong – totally different from previous bills. To be fair to Sundhip he has been an excellent customer care manager in the past and he took time and trouble to investigate and seek some resolution to the issue, but in the end came back to us saying that in the main these prices were correct. We repeatedly referred him to our invoicing going back months and years – invoicing on which our shipping prices to our customers are based – he said this was not relevant: the current pricing was correct. We complained that this amounted to an unnotified price increase in the middle of the year ( not at the beginning of the year as usual), his response was that it was not, the pricing was the correct pricing we should have been paying all along. There was no acknowledgement, explanation or apology for the implied Fedex mistake of under billing of the last 6 years and more. I have emails that show that around 6/7 years ago Fedex put forward a proposal and rates to engage all our business volume which was successful and has been the basis on which we have operated until this recent ‘upgrade’. We do not accept this response.
During this period I wrote a letter setting out the issue raising our concerns in a systematic manner and asking for the matter to be escalated. I was informed by Sundhip that the matter had been escalated, but no one else has ever contacted me. I have chased Sundhip on the matter of escalation as my only contact until I am sure he is fed up – but no one has communicated with us on this issue other than Sundhip. My most recent attempts were made in the week of 22nd May I was finally told very late in the week that a phone call could be arranged with a senior manager for Friday afternoon – the day I had taken off having not had a day off since Christmas. I now must wait until this manager returns from her fortnight’s holiday in the coming week for a phone call – is there no one else capable of handling this issue in Fedex UK? Why should I have to repeatedly request this conversation – should it not be offered?.
We are astounded at the appalling treatment we have received at the hands of your company and the complete neglect of your customer care systems – something that is endangering our business and cashflow:
We are being subjected to widely varied charges on the SAME consignments – even on the SAME shipment going out and returning! This looks like a problem with the system – maybe double counting? But no one is being prepared to admit there is any problem within the Fedex system and willing to tackle it. But there clearly is a problem.
Mitigation might have been an improvement in service however the service has deteriorated during this period.
We have repeatedly raised this issue with our staff contact, with evidence and comparison of previous and current bills, also complaining about the difference between the rate quotes and the actual bills coming in. The response has been:
There has been no price increase
Past invoicing patterns are not relevant to the new invoicing
We are being invoiced correctly
When we have asked for the matter to be escalated to a senior level, we have been told this has been done but no senior staff member has contacted us or discussed the matter with us or asked for further information. This is a dereliction of customer care
Finally, we were told in a Friday afternoon phone call that in actual fact our type of business is no longer wanted by Fedex. Our parcels are too big, and it is only because we have stayed with Fedex over many years that the service continues. We were told that if our account was reviewed it was likely that we would be told our business was no longer wanted and we must go elsewhere. This leaves us with the very clear impression that our treatment is about getting rid of us the nasty horrible way – by treating us so badly that we will leave of our own accord. Is this the case?
Fedex could have contacted us in advance of the upgrade and explained that the invoicing might change, a new rate card could have been agreed, we could have given notice to our customers of a rise in shipping cost if that was indeed the case and everything could be have been implemented in an orderly fashion and all would have been well. Alternatively Fedex could have approached us with the difficulty that our items now fall outside their usual terms and plan our exit in an orderly time and manner maybe retaining some of our business that still falls within Fedex current terms. What we have actually received is a shambolic and dishonest service which has put our business at risk with large price increases without notice, widely varying prices that do not match the rate quotes or each other, and repeated denials that anything is wrong when it patently is.
As the CEO and Customer Experience Director of Fedex UK we would like you to take a lead in this matter and ensure that we receive proper customer care, and just and ethical treatment. We must inform you that after several weeks of getting nowhere and fearful for the security of our business we have moved all our shipping to Parcelforce – who are charging us, incidentally, the same or less than what you were charging before the change. And have a much more transparent charging system in place. We have also decided not to pay any further invoices until the matter is resolved. We are currently calculating what we would owe on the old system and will set that aside to pay to you as we always seek to treat all our suppliers properly. We will be happy to arrange this payment with a senior member of staff resolving the matter.
Please be aware that your reputation is at stake and we are going to ensure that all within our wide business network and beyond are aware of your actions in regard to this matter.
We look forward to your considered and prompt response.
Every good wish
Glynn Davies MP
Russell George AM
Philip Davies MP
Mid Wales Manufacturing Group and Chamber of Commerce
Bradford Chamber of Commerce
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