This page explains why we do not use Federal Express, try to discourage others from using FedEx when shipping to us, and no longer ship COD.
Note 1/5/04: After quite a few comments from FedEx employees over the years, we've finally heard from one who didn't like this page. A person from FedEx's legal dept. left a message threatening legal action if we didn't remove their logo. He didn't express an opinion on his company's ethics, and didn't offer to repay our money. There's no reason the logo needs to be here, so we took it down. We find it surprising that it took them so long to notice it, considering the number of FedEx employees who have seen this page over the years, who have apparently thought more of us than of their employer.
IT IS NOT SAFE TO SHIP BY COD, BY FEDEX OR ANY OTHER CARRIER! You have ABSOLUTELY NO guarantee that you'll ever get your money! They WILL collect as payment anything that says "Cashier's Check" on it, no matter how obvious it is that it's not a real one! Our story is bad, but we've heard several worse stories from people since we put this page up. The common threads in every story are:
We discovered that paying for CODs with forged cashier's checks is a very large ongoing problem that's only gotten worse since the advent of cheap color inkjet printers. Everyone in the shipping industry and law enforcement knows it, but you'll never hear it from them until it happens to you. The shippers don't care because it's not their money and they're not held legally responsible; and law enforcement doesn't want to hear about it, presumably for the same reasons.
We shipped a package by FedEx, COD secured funds (cashier's check or money order) for $2061.50. They delivered the package and picked up an obviously fake cashier's check. It's such a bad fake that any $6-an-hour retail clerk would be expected to know better than to accept it, but FedEx claims their drivers shouldn't be expected to recognize even a really bad fake because they're not bank employees.
The fake check was obviously produced on a color inkjet printer. One doesn't even have to look closely to notice that -- the printer's registration error (poor alignment between adjacent print bands) is clearly visible at first glance. (Several years ago when this happened, most inkjet printers weren't nearly as good as they are now.) Even worse, where the MICR printing should be (the machine-readable numbers along the bottom) is a series of numbers containing not nearly enough digits, and printed in a font that's clearly very different from the MICR font that's required on all checks. Many people don't know what the MICR font is called, but it's so distinctive in appearance that the wrong font is obvious to anyone who cares. Anyone who handles checks as part of their job should know better than to accept a check with the wrong font -- unless, of course, their employer doesn't care whether the check is real or not.
FedEx says their only responsibility is to pick up a "facially valid" cashier's check, i.e. anything that says on it that it's a cashier's check. I asked, but was not told, exactly where FedEx draws the line on what their drivers would accept as a cashier's check. Apparently they'd be perfectly happy with something scrawled on a grocery bag, as long as "Cashier's Check" is scribbled on it. If anyone ever manages to get an answer to this question, I'd really like to hear it.
I talked to a number of people at FedEx, from the local office to several people at their legal center. In every case, when I (calmly) explained the problem, they no longer wanted to talk to me, and couldn't get me off the phone fast enough.
FedEx stonewalled me at every turn in my efforts to catch the crook. Several of their people stated that FedEx absolutely would not provide me with any help whatsoever unless I had a court order forcing them to help me. I was told that this is company policy in such matters, and that they run into this situation frequently.
I contacted the police local to the delivery address. They wouldn't even take a report unless they could talk to the only witness to the crime -- the FedEx driver. Of course, FedEx had refused to put me in contact with the driver, and even worse, they actually refused to have the driver contact the police directly so I could file a police report. I was surprised that they wouldn't at least have the driver call me, but I was quite shocked that they refused to put him in touch with the police -- especially because they knew that was my only chance of recovering my money.
We sued in small claims court on the grounds that FedEx failed to fulfill their contract obligation; specifically, they failed to collect payment for a COD shipment as required by their service contract, reasoning that because it was so obvious that the check was fake, it was unreasonable for them to claim it could've been mistaken for a real check. We lost because it says "Cashier's Check" on it; therefore, it's "facially valid," which in the eyes of the law absolves FedEx of all responsibility. We could've continued to pursue the matter legally, but doing so would've cost a lot more than the $2000 we lost, and there was essentially no hope of winning unless we happened to run into a judge with a functioning brain, or perhaps one who wasn't a lawyer, neither of which is very likely.
If the fake check had been a better, not so blatantly obvious fake, I wouldn't blame FedEx. If they'd tried to help me catch the counterfeiter, even tried just a little, I wouldn't blame them. But it's a really obvious fake, and FedEx did everything they could to prevent me from getting anywhere with it, so I do blame them. If they'd even just acted like they wanted to help, or acted like they even cared whether I ever got my money back, I wouldn't have put this page up.
The upshot of all this is (1) if something like this happens to you, everyone bigger than you will rub your nose in it, then grind your face deeper into the mud, just because they know you can't stop them; and (2) if you can't afford the loss, you can't afford justice either.
Federal Express is not the kind of company we want to support with our business.
I'd be happy to add links to any other pages dealing with bad experiences with Federal Express, or with similar experiences with any carrier. Email address is here.