Sometimes, a FedEx package might not arrive on the doorstep when promised. Or it does, but the shipper or customer receives a shipping exception notification before it arrives. While this can be alarming to a customer, it is usually not a cause for concern, and it’s possible the reason behind the exception will result in a refund of the shipping charges (if you ask in just the right way).
Shipping Exceptions: Understanding the Basics
FedEx lists 10 status exception codes noting the reason for a change to the delivery, “business as usual,” model for a specific package. Again, not all indicate a package will be late, just that something different happened. That can be a delay due to customs, attempted delivery to a closed business, a pick-up exception where the package did not originate from the shipper’s usual location, or even that FedEx is holding the package to deliver closer to its commitment time. A package with a damaged bar code, a holiday, or someone eating lunch and not answering the door to sign for a package can trigger a shipping exception as well.
How to Avoid the Shipping Exception Code
Some shipping exceptions you can’t avoid. Like the weather or a business closing early for the day. However, there are others you can plan for. Here are some to consider:
- Revisit quality assurance: Packages can be delayed if one digit is off on the ZIP code or numeric portion of the address. If you notice an increase in errors, that might point to a weak spot in your operations. Perhaps an employee could spot check outgoing packages to ensure addresses are proper, or that barcodes are easily readable and adhere well to the packages.
- Revisit packaging: If boxes are leaking or falling apart, that could be your responsibility as the shipper. Not only will a package and potentially its contents be damaged (with you at fault), it could be delayed as well. If you have any reports of damaged packages, audit your system to see if there’s a problem in-house or with your distributor. FedEx provides packaging guidelines to eliminate or reduce problems.
- Shipment damage: In rare cases, FedEx can damage a package in transit, which may result in a delay as the carrier investigates. FedEx typically covers the first $100 in damages and provides additional coverage that can be purchased when setting up shipping. Third-party companies also provide insurance options, some of which are less expensive than policies offered directly through the carriers. If you or your customer gets an exception message relating to damage, keep all original packing materials once the item is delivered in order to process the claim.
- Remind customers that delays could be their responsibility: If customers are typing in their own shipping information, your website can automatically remind them to double check their entries to confirm they’ve reviewed it. Remind them that any errors on their part could result in a delay and potentially additional charges. While no customer wants a shipping exception or delay, if they had to confirm their information, they may realize they’re at fault for shipping hiccups.
- Building in extra time around holidays: An obvious time to alert customers of potential shipping delays is national holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But local holidays like Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day are also legitimate reasons for a FedEx shipping exception in certain parts of the country.
Alerting customers to potential delays before the package is sent goes a long way in setting customer expectations and improving relationships. Getting a service exception for a delay is less problematic for customers when they knew before shipping to anticipate one.
Understanding the FedEx® Money-Back Guarantee
There is sometimes recourse if your shipping exception results in a delayed delivery, defined as more than 60 seconds after FedEx’s published or quoted time. FedEx offers this money-back guarantee for transportation costs for every U.S. shipment via FedEx Express, FedEx Express International, FedEx Ground, and FedEx Home U.S. deliveries, FedEx International Ground if using the brokerage-inclusive option, and some FedEx Freight shipments. Customers can receive a credit for the shipping charges, or a refund.
The money-back-guarantee will not be applied automatically. It leaves the onus on the customer to stay on top of the complicated and sometimes narrow band of allowable refunds. That’s where Shipware can help, at no cost to you.
Of course, there’s a long list of exceptions, where refunds won’t be provided. It’s helpful to understand those exceptions, so you know how to maximize shipping success and also know when you legitimately can collect should delays arise.
Exceptions where the money-back guarantee does not apply may include:
- Illegible label
- Improper address
- Inclement weather
- Air traffic control problems
- FedEx receives a request to redirect a shipment from a delivery address to hold at a FedEx location.
- Your shipping location releases an unexpectedly large number of packages.
- Payment instructions or your FedEx account number is not valid or in good standing.
- The package is undeliverable or returned.
- There was a natural disaster, act of terrorism or civil commotion.
- There was an actual or anticipated strike, including at non-FedEx organizations.
- There was a communications outage, at FedEx or elsewhere.
- A FedEx Ground package was accepted after a location’s regular scheduled pickup time (adding an extra transit day to the scheduled delivery date).
- A FedEx Appointment Home Delivery shipment didn’t include a valid telephone number for the recipient in the proper field.
- The shipment contains dangerous goods or dry ice.
- The shipment was delivered at specified times close to Thanksgiving or Christmas.
- The person who was to receive or sign for the package was not available or refused it.
- Security or regulatory delays at the recipient’s location caused the delay.
There’s more in the fine print, so don’t consider this an exclusive list. Check the FedEx Service Guide for all the details.
Requesting and Processing FedEx Refunds
Requesting and processing FedEx shipping exception refunds is highly regulated by FedEx as well. For refunds due to what they consider a “service failure,” meaning they are responsible, they require the shipper to notify them via their FedEx Billing Online application, through their invoice adjustment feature at the FedEx website, or through their telephone invoice adjustment system. The request method you must use may depend on the FedEx service. You’ll need your FedEx account number, tracking number and shipment date. And it must be done quickly. They require requests for those transportation charges to be received within 15 calendar days of the invoice date or within 15 calendar days from the shipping date, depending on how you pay for their services.
And FedEx can suspend their money-back guarantee at any time at their discretion, which would leave the shipper with no other remedy.
Does that sound like a lot of very technical work? Do you have someone on staff who can tackle that and do it quickly and accurately? If this isn’t your company’s strong suit, you’re probably losing money by doing it yourself.
That’s where a company like Shipware comes in. Shipware’s invoice and audit recovery solution is a technology that, not only identifies FedEx service issues in each client’s invoices, but automatically sends refund requests each day. The money shows up as a service credit in your account, and Shipware only receives a small portion of that as payment. There are no out-of-pocket fees for the service, and no work to do on the shipper’s part but count the savings. Onboarding into the secure Shipware platform takes less than five minutes for set-up, and then it runs automatically. You can’t completely avoid FedEx shipping exceptions, but you can get the refunds due to you if you are proactive.
Shipware delivers volume parcel and less-than-truckload shippers intelligent and innovative distribution solutions and strategies. Whether you ship with FedEx, UPS, the USPS or regional carriers, our invoice audit and contract optimization services are guaranteed to reduce your parcel and LTL shipping costs by 10 to 30 percent, with no disruption of current operations. Our team of experts has over 200 years of combined carrier pricing experience. We have negotiated thousands of FedEx, UPS and LTL contracts, and have saved our clients an average of 19 percent on shipping.