March 19th, 2008 • 1:34 pm
A client of mine here in southwest Nova Scotia, Canada had a dead iBook and needed a new machine fast. He chose a 20″ iMac and asked me to order it for him. So I did, and I mentioned that he had two shipping options: free shipping and expedited shipping. The latter was $43CDN for this machine but he decided to go for it, in order to get the replacement machine sooner.
The iMac was shipped on March 13 via Federal Express. The shipment notification from Apple included tracking information for the package. So I followed the link and saw that it had actually left from California on March 14.
After a quick stop in Memphis, TN, it arrived “in transit” in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Saturday, March 15. At least that’s my recollection of it, because I checked the tracking information on FedEx’s site every day. But for some reason the tracking information was changed later and now says that the package actually reached Winnipeg on Monday, March 17. Still, I am 100% sure that the tracking system already mentioned Winnipeg on Saturday, March 15.
In any case, yesterday (Tuesday, March 18), the package was apparently still stuck in Winnipeg. So I grabbed the phone and called FedEx.
I didn’t bother to mention the date change in the tracking information, since I had no hard evidence that this had happened. But I did say that the package appeared to be stuck in Winnipeg. The operator told me in no uncertain terms that it was not their fault and that the package was held up in customs.
I indicated that an “expedited shipping” option usually meant that things were, you know, like, expedited, which obviously they were not. The operator repeated that there was nothing they could do about it, and that it was Apple’s fault, with Apple being responsible for custom clearances, etc.
So I phoned Apple instead. I am pleased to report that the Apple customer service person was very nice and immediately offered to refund the expedited shipping charge, for which I thanked him. He also said that, according to his system, the package was actually in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia as of March 18.
I do not know what tracking system he had access to, but it obviously was not the same as mine, because mine clearly said that the machine was still in Winnipeg as I was speaking to him.
In fact, the package arrived here in southwest Nova Scotia later on yesterday, i.e. on March 18. As of this morning, March 19, 9 am, the FedEx tracking information still said that the machine was in Winnipeg—even though by 12 pm I actually had it in the trunk of my car.
The tracking information was updated later on in the morning and now says, as of 2:00 pm local time:
with an “estimated delivery” of “March 20, 2008 by 5:00 pm.”
The conclusion? FedEx’s tracking system is completely useless. And if you order things from the on-line Canadian Apple Store, the “expedited shipping” option might not be worth the expense—although I have noticed that things ordered with expedited shipping tend to be shipped from the USA, whereas things ordered with free shipping tend to ship from China. But maybe that is just a coincidence. I don’t place enough orders to be able to draw firm conclusions on this matter. (Maybe it’s just a difference between stock machines and customized orders. This order was customized.)
In any case, the package did actually end up being delivered within 5 business days, which I suppose still falls within the stated delivery time frame (“Allow 2-5 business days after shipping date.”), so I quite grateful to Apple for having offered to refund the shipping charge. But there is certainly no point in trying to rely on FedEx’s tracking system to keep track of where the package and when it might actually be delivered.