The workers at the FedEx Kinkos in Astor Place didn’t know how to react when reader Eric asked to overnight a letter. They were apparently trained to handle only the Kinkos side of the store, and weren’t sure how to ship Eric’s parcel—a school board election ballot—to Hackensack, New Jersey. Their solution was both innovative and idiotic: they told Eric to write his credit card info on a slip of paper, and promised to take care of everything the next morning.
When you walk into a store that says FEDEX on it, one would think that the employees there would know how to ship things via FedEx. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to be the case on Sunday night at the FedEx Kinko’s on Astor Place in Manhattan.
My town is having a school board election on Tuesday. I’m in college now, so I requested an absentee ballot. The county clerk’s office mistyped my address, so I only ended up getting the ballot on Sunday. I brought it to Kinko’s to make sure it arrived back at the clerk’s office in time.
Unfortunately, when I got there, no one at the store knew how to handle FedEx because their “shipping station was closed”. Of course, the hours listed on their website don’t say anything about separate hours. The employee’s solution was to fill out an order form and then call the store back tomorrow to get the tracking information. Because of the time-sensitivity of it, though, I needed to know if I could sent it ground or if it had to be sent overnight. No one could give me an answer, other than that I should call 800-go-fedex. I asked 3 people in the store (Malik, Stephanie, and the manager Carlo or Carlos) if they had some kind of internal number they could call for me, but they claimed they didn’t. So, while standing in a FedEx store, I called FedEx. The guy on the other end didn’t seem to understand the concept of days (First he said ground would take one day and arrive on Wednesday, which doesn’t make sense. Then he said that it would arrive on Tuesday but it could arrive on Wednesday). Eventually it was all sorted out and I decided to send it ground.
Then came the next issue. Since they couldn’t tell me how much the cost would be, I had to write my credit card number on the order form, which presumably gets attached to the package and sent all over the place. Seems like a really good opportunity for identity thieves. And because I was just handing it to a person who wasn’t actually entering it into the system, I couldn’t get a receipt and there was no tracking number. The only thing I could get confirming that I had given them the package was one of the carbon-copies of the order form, which anyone could just pick up and create. When one of the nice things about FedEx is being able to track the package at every step, this didn’t fill me with a lot of confidence.
This morning, I called the store to get the tracking information. I was on the phone for 22 minutes, constantly being put on hold and then being asked who I was holding for. I was worrying the whole time that they lost my package. This kept going until someone took pity on me and said she would call me back. When she did, as luck would have it, there was a tracking number and the price appears correct. Hopefully FedEx is able to deliver it better than they were able to receive it!
I called the district manager last night to complain; I left a voicemail but he hasn’t called back.
We want to commend Eric for his civic awareness and commitment to local democracy. School board elections are dominated by seniors, angry parents, and property owners, so it’s all the more impressive that he was willing to get involved while in college.
That said, have some faith in the government! Hackensack is 20 miles from New York. The post office would’ve been up to the challenge.