FedEx Responds!

Earlier this week I wrote about the unusual payment procedure at a Shanghai FedEx Kinko’s outlet located on Huaihai Road. Instead of maintaining one register for shipping and documents, this particular outlet has a separate cash register for documents … and a little tin box for shipping charges. When I visited on July 10, I was told that I could not use a credit card for the shipping charges, and that I could not be issued a receipt (the store clerk promised that a receipt would be mailed to me). As I handed over my cash, I watched with some astonishment as it was stuffed into the little cash box.

Anyway, FedEx has elected to respond to my post. In full, it is:

Under the FedEx brand, we have separate companies which are separate legal entities that operate independently, compete collectively and are managed collaboratively. We strive to offer seamless service to our customers. For regulatory and accounting reasons, we are unable to accept a single payment for services offered by separate companies. In the case of FedEx Kinko’s in China, we accept both credit card and cash payments for FedEx Express packages. These payments are however kept separate from the FedEx Kinko’s funds.

On July 10, FedEx Express credit card machines were temporarily out of service. For a short period of time only, all transactions had to be paid in cash.In regard to the first paragraph, I am inclined to give the company the benefit of the doubt. But just to be sure, I sent the response to a friend who runs a major business consultancy for overseas corporations in Shanghai. He has expertise in these matters, and writes back:

In a way, they are right…they probably do have two legal entities and need to account for them separately. However, it is VERY possible to pay one and then that amount can be divided among the two companies through back-office transfers, etc. It is a pain in the butt to do, of course, because this is China and we are all still on a cash-based system! Barter works too, I suppose.

Fair enough. However, the second paragraph of the statement – the one claiming that the company’s credit card machines were down on July 10 – defies belief and is, at best, misleading.

I’ll explain. Since writing this post, I have heard from two readers of this blog who have had the same payment experience at the Huaihai FedEx outlet. That is, they had to pay cash for the shipments (credit was not allowed), and that cash was deposited into the little cash box. No receipt – register or otherwise – was issued. In either case, the Huaihai outlet has only one cash register, and that register is used only for the printing business. There is no cash register – and thus, no credit card machine attached to a register – for the use of FedEx’s shipping business. Could there be a credit card machine attached to that little metal cash box?

Anyway, I am going to email FedEx’s media people and ask:

1. Do they have a credit card machine specifically for the shipping business in the Shanghai Huaihai outlet?

2. Can they produce a cash register receipt – either cash or credit – issued between July 1 and 10 for a FedEx shipping charge in the Huaihai office?

Bottom line for all of this: FedEx China cannot (and will not?) meet the company’s US service standards.

Updates forthcoming.

[UPDATE: In the comments section below, ScottL sums this up nicely: Whatever their spin service is not seamless, nor is the problem temporary as confirmed by others having similar experience. Why not fess up to the consumers’ experience that FedEx Kinko’s in China disserves FedEx’ well-earned US reputation? Rather than dissimulate, why doesn’t FedEx simply say, “we’re going to do better” and do it?]

2 thoughts on “FedEx Responds!

  1. Whatever their spin service is not seamless, nor is the problem temporary as confirmed by others having similar experience. Why not fess up to the consumers’ experience that FedEx Kinko’s in China disserves FedEx’ well-earned US reputation? Rather than dissimulate, why doesn’t FedEx simply say, “we’re going to do better” and do it?

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