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
Local and national media contacts
This is a short post just to keep things up to date. Whilst a pallet service will be an option, it looks as if we can still offer a ‘parcel’ service at a reasonable rate. It has been a bit frenetic as we’ve pushed to get the new carrier in place for next week
To clarify, this crisis with FedEx has only affected the pool hire side, heaters (being much smaller) go with DHL and they’re fine.
After using FedEx for over 6 years we have had major problems with them over Easter. Hopefully, customers will not have noticed. However, FedEx implemented a new online booking procedure and, in short, it was chaotic and their pricing and billing system has become erratic and unreliable. What is clear is that it has been a cover a for a price hike.
To send a Nonagon pool now would cost £140 there and back whereas it used to cost £100. To send the old Galilee pool, we were recently charged over £300 instead of £120! We are urgently looking at other carriers and it is likely that we will have to use a pallet service as the default carrier. This has three immediate benefits: it is cheaper; the delivery is within a much narrower time-window; the baptistry is easier to repack for the return to us. The down-side is that a customer must be able to receive a pool on a pallet. The carrier will have a tail-lift on the lorry and a pallet truck and will deliver to the foyer on the level. For customers who can receive and return on a pallet, we are looking at other carriers who can cope with such large consignments.
As all this may wish you could buy the pool, we are putting together a way for customers to buy in instalments over more than the 3 months currently offered.
The lease scheme is better value than hiring if you use the pool more than 3 times per year, and whilst it is a 5 year lease, there is an opt-out at 3 years.
The Galilee baptistry, which was very popular because it was quick to set up and had a double-liner system has become too expensive to send with FedEx because the curved panels result in big, bulky boxes. Hitherto, FedEx were the only ‘parcel’ carrier who would deal with boxes of this size, now they seem to be charging silly prices. To help matters, we have redesigned the pool to give the new Flatpack Galilee. At the same time, we’ve made changes to the dimensions – the new flatpack Galilee is 78cm deep (the same as the Nonagon and Croydon pools) because some felt the depth of the Galilee a little on the shallow side. It is also a wee bit longer and broader. at over 7′ long and 5′ wide internally, this is a very spacious baptistry that stores well.
Unless the architect or builder are prepared to guarantee the concrete and tile baptistry will not leak (and not need regrouting!) in under 10 (or 25) years, don’t bother!
Our fibreglass baptistries mean less fuss and cost at installation as the unit comes as a whole. Insulation is built in, the walls need no additional support, and the reinforced lids can take the whole choir! And our fibreglass baptistries need no maintenance for years to come. The baptistry is guaranteed for 10 years, though it will probably last well over 25 years.
Concrete pools are poorly insulated, if at all. Ours come with 50mm of insulation built in as standard. Heating the water in concrete and tile pools is expensive and wasteful as you end up heating the concrete as well as the water. The fibreglass lids can be put over the tank whilst filling and heating to keep in the heat and, unlike wood, will not swell and warp. Even treated timber starts to swell once the varnish wears.
GRP pools do not need maintenance (other than an occasional wipe down). The grouting between tiles soon attracts mould and we have phone calls from churches with leaky tiled baptistries at the rate of one a month. It isn’t just a false economy, it’s no saving at all to have a concrete and tile baptistry.
Get in touch because there is a fibreglass pool for your budget.
For nearly 10 years now we’ve run the baptistry hire side of our business as a service to church congregations of all denominations because we think it is an important part of mission for churches.
We’ve taken a long, hard look at baptistry hire and come to the conclusion that there is a group of problems centring on sustainability.
Sustainability- transporting them to and from is dead money for the customer. Sustainability – transporting pools around by courier leads to more wear and tear on them and the need to keep making new ones. Post-Brexit, raw material costs are creeping up. Sustainability – the business. This year we carefully looked at the figures and worked out that we were barely breaking even on the hire side. And there is the sustainability of us as people – there is a lot of work in organising the logistics, packing and repacking pools, making and repairing pools, and so on and we are not getting younger.
We will carry on renting out the pools but we have formed a new way for customers to get their baptistry. With leasing, customers will pay a far lower weekly rate and not have the transport costs between hires. Nor will they have to worry about whether another church has damaged the kit as you will have complete control over the pool with you. If the liner does get damaged, we factor in one replacement liner during your lease. You will have a baptistry at your church all the time and the facilities on hand to offer baptism more often.
Leases can be for 3 or 5 year periods as you prefer. If you currently hire 3 times a year, then it would be worth your while to look at leasing. Leases are available now (speak with Ruth).
Rentals as we do them now would carry on but the cost would reflect the true cost of putting on such as service. We know that for special one off events and for particular Church circumstances a hire service will still be required, but we also know that to sustain the service in the long run we will not be able to do the work ourselves. So we are planning to pay staff to do the work and offer the service. We want to pay a real living wage and to do this our hire prices will rise from Pentecost onwards. The Apostle hire will go up to £300 plus £120 delivery, the Croydon and Galilee will hire at £235 plus £100 delivery and the Nonagon will hire at £225 plus £100 delivery.
We are redesigning the baptistry water heater, so in the New Year, this will only apply to 4.8kW heaters shown here.
With the 4.8kW heater, one element is the master and the other the slave. Both are independently earthed but the earth on the ‘slave’ flex will not work unless the master is plugged in and switched on. So, unless you have two PAT testing kits, it is important to get the correct plug.
To get an earth, the usual thing to do would be to touch the heating elements with the earth probe. The coil manufacturer advises that a contact should be sought at the base of the coil (see the photograph).
The 4.8kW water heater has two plugs and we mark the flex for the master element with a piece of black tape so you get the correct plug. Then one needs to make a test on both elements (at the base of the element). Even then, scale on the elements can give a false fail, and I have found that the ‘pencil-like’ earthing probe doesn’t get enough contact. Most kits come with an alternative ‘dog-tooth’ clamp fitting to go on the end of the earth probe.
To get at the coils, unscrew the 4 corner screws and lift out the top plate (picture 1). The coils are attached to this and should lift up with it. Use the clamp to scrape away at the scale and get a better contact.
Summary – Use the plug with black tape on flex, and get a good contact on the coil.
Building a tank in GRP is far better than in concrete and tile – for you and the user! It is cheaper in terms of getting a finished baptistry and in ongoing maintenance. Short of an occasional wash down, the GRP needs no maintenance. Whereas tiled baptistries need regrouting and their failure keeps us in business.
A fibreglass tank is also quicker to install. All it needs is a concrete pad on which to sit and the finished pool can sit on top and will take the weight of the water. And it is insulated as standard. So, savings can be made at the installation stage too.
And the filling and emptying can be as simple or complex as you wish. And as cheap or expensive as you want.
Our portable immersion water heaters will need testing periodically and many churches either have their own kit or bring in an electrician.
There are two things that need to be understood as they may lead to false fails.
When seeking for an earth, the usual thing to do would be to touch the heating elements with the earth probe. We are advised by the coil manufacturers (in the UK) that a contact should be sought at the base of the coil (see the photograph).
When it comes to plugging in the appliance for its Portable Appliance Test, the 2.4kW heaters are straight-forward as they only have one plug. The 4.8kW water heater has two plugs and it is important to get the right one. With the 4.8kW heater, one element is the master and the other the slave. The latter will not work unless the master is plugged in and switched on. On our 4.8kW heater we mark the flex for the master element with a piece of black tape so you get the correct plug. Then one needs to make a test on both elements (at the base of the element).
As a final point, any scale on the elements can give a false fail, I know a trained spark will know this but it does get forgotten. There is an article on cleaning away scale, other than just scraping and chipping a bit off.
It may seem a bit odd to be advertizing another company but bear with us! Wooden Baptistery Co make portable wooden baptistries such as the ‘Ben’s Boat‘ and we put together a kit box for each of their pools, hence us advertizing their baptistries. All their pools are handmade in the UK and a particular favourite is the wooden hexagonal because of the way it fits together without any tools. At 5′ across it is quick to fill as well making it an excellent baptistry where a church needs to set up and take down quickly.
We provide a kit for each of their pools which contains a pump, lay-flat hose pipe, base pads, insulating cover and, if ordered, a heater and a step.
Protect your pool heater! After a customer sent in their heater for its service in a flimsy cardboard box, and, unsurprisingly, it arrived cracked and bashed, we decided that the heaters need the tough crates for protection. These are the same lidded crates we use when sending out a heater in hire. These will keep the heater safe when in storage and in transit. We’ve put the prices up to cover some of the extra cost.
This applies to the 4.8kW pool heater and the 2.4kW with Control Box.