Roku Uses FedEx TARDIS Service, Sends Package Back In Time

Roku and Fedex have done an amazing thing. They didn’t send Merujo’s new media player via Smartpost. They sent it three months back in time and to the wrong city and state. Or maybe they just can’t find the correct tracking number.

Yesterday I ordered a Roku HD-XR directly from Roku.com. They’re offering free shipping right now, and I figured I would buy directly from the source. My experience this afternoon, though, leaves me scratching my head and wondering if I should have bought it via Amazon.com.

As anticipated, I received a e-mail from Roku.com today, noting that my box had been shipped, via FedEx, and provided me with a tracking number. So far, so good. I recognize that it can take up to 24 hours or so for a shipment to show up on the FedEx radar. Since the e-mail indicated that that box had already shipped this morning, I figured I’d check the FedEx tracking site. Sometimes it’s reassuring to simply see that the billing information is in place for your package.

Imagine my surprise to see that the tracking number Roku provided to me for my order was actually the tracking number for a box that FedEx delivered to someone in New Jersey. Last October. I immediately called the FedEx toll-free number and carefully read my tracking number into the phone, just in case. Yep – they confirmed that package was delivered in October.

Puzzled, and more than a little concerned, I called the Roku customer service number, and after a short wait, was put in touch with someone who sounded like they were in a call center very far away. I told the CSR that I’d just ordered my Roku box yesterday, that I appreciated the prompt “order shipped” e-mail, but that I’d clearly been given an incorrect tracking number. He put me on hold for a few seconds while he looked up my order, and then came back and said, “Yes, that order was delivered on October 22, 2009.” I reiterated that I’d just made the order yesterday, and that this tracking number was provided to me by Roku.com today. He said that this was happening a lot – they’d had a lot of calls – and I should just wait the 8-10 days for the delivery of my box. He was sure it would arrive!

While I appreciate confidence, I didn’t realize that Dionne Warwick and her psychic friends were handling customer service these days. You have tracking numbers for a reason.

I asked the CSR how was I supposed to know if the box was delivered while I was at work, when I had no valid tracking number. He got a little flustered at this point. He went away again for less than a minute, only to come back this time and say that this tracking number was provided to Roku by FedEx, and FedEx had clearly made the mistake. He then said, he’d been in touch with FedEx and that they’d send me a new tracking number. I asked him when he’d been in touch with FedEx, since we’d been on the phone less than three minutes. He became more flustered and then told me they have agents who will be in touch with them. “I can’t be in touch with them personally.” I should wait “a few days” to get a new tracking number. I pointed out that my parcel should be here in a few days.

When I told him I really didn’t believe him, since he’d fibbed about taking to FedEx, and the package was shown to have *already shipped* under this incorrect tracking number, he got more flustered and annoyed with my questions. I told him Roku had my $150 and I would just like to know the REAL tracking number.

He was sure someone would send me a real number and then told me – this is great – that this tracking number was probably just a placeholder and my box hadn’t shipped yet.

I read him my e-mail:

“Item Qty
Roku HD-XR Player 1
Premium Cables 1

This shipment shipped on 1/5/2010 9:21:02 AM.

Here is your FedEx tracking number: (redacted)”

At that point, he reached a point of exasperation with me and told me I simply wasn’t listening. Gosh, I wonder why? Could it be that expecting customers to just trust that a shipment will reach you under an invalid shipment number is a little bit messed up?

I asked him what would happen if my box didn’t show up and I had no valid information to prove or disprove delivery. “Oh, I’m sure we’ll refund you your money.” Me? Not so sure about that.

I finally gave up trying to get some legit info when I realized he was just going to keep telling me the box would show up and I’d get a real tracking number eventually. I’m forwarding this message to both the help and sales addresses at Roku.com, but I wanted to give folks a heads-up that, if they order from Roku, they should check that tracking number asap.

Maybe try calling Roku back and trying to get a slightly more competent customer service rep would help. “Let’s just see if it gets lost” is not a confidence-builder, guys.