If you hadn’t heard about the Nashville floods last week, then you must have been hiding under a rock – like me. I was so busy preparing and attending the Avia Wildflower Triathlon (notice I said “attending” not “participating”), that I had not watched, read or listened to the news in over a week. So I was clueless that something so devastating was happening in Tennessee - until my Twitter buddy, Newton Dominey of The Crag at Cool Springs Climbing Facility ( @cragcoolsprings ) contacted me.
On Monday, Newton sent me an email asking if I would consider sending some Action Wipes for the volunteers and shelters in Nashville. He advised that the city was under water after a storm dropped 13 inches in a short period of time and that one of the water processing plants was submerged, thus causing a severe water shortage. The city was asking its residents to cut water usage as much as possible – which meant the volunteers could not shower.
My immediate response was “of course!” I told Newton I would be happy to send several cases after he confirmed the city would accept them. (You may be asking yourself “why would you ask that?!” Well, when I wanted to help the Haiti disaster, none, and I mean NONE, of the agencies would take the Action Wipes - even though “hygiene, baby wipes and wet wipes” were listed on the “Need” lists. They would only accept cash donations.)
A day later, Newton called to tell me he had spoken to the Mayor’s office and they would love to have the Action Wipes. So, I told him I would send them out right away. As time was of the essence, they had to be shipped overnight, they could not wait for ground shipping, which takes a week. I was so happy they could actually use the wipes that I didn’t even think about the cost to ship several boxes “overnight”. So when I went to the USPS and UPS sites to calculate overnight shipping, I just about fell out of my chair when I saw the rates! (USPS quoted $309 and UPS quoted $490 to $690, depending what time of day I wanted it there.) As a small business, I just can't afford the overnight shipping.
So I called UPS, explained the situation and asked if there was anyway they could provide better rates. Their immediate answer was “no, those are the rates”. So I asked if they could verify that the boxes would get there first thing in the morning, only to find out they were not delivering to the area at all. Next call was to USPS. I asked the same thing, “do you have a disaster fund that can help me get these boxes at a better rate?” “No, and delivery to the area is being delayed due to the floods" they advised.
Now, when I get something in my head, I leave no stone unturned! I knew there had to be someone out there that could help me, help Nashville. So I began calling friends and shipping companies everywhere and still, no one could help me. Then, I realized I had not yet tried FedEx!
Frustrated, tired and on the verge of tears, I called FedEx - after going to their website first and finding the Custom Critical Surface and Air Expedite number, which I thought was a good place to start. I went through the story again and asked if they could help. I was advised it would cost about $900 as I had to rent the entire truck.
*Sigh* My first thought was…”Sh*t, H*ll, F*ck!” But, here is what real customer service is all about… realizing my frustration and hearing the “sniff, sniff” of my dripping nose and teary eyes, he suggests we try a different department. He then calls around and transfers me to the Standard Shipping Division. It’s getting better, they quote me $695. As my voice starts to quiver and tears start to roll down my face, Gary then suggests “let’s try the Customer Advocate Division”. What?!
After going through a couple of transfer hiccups, I’m finally speaking with Debbie in the Customer Advocate Division. Unfortunately, she can’t help me either…but again, Debbie doesn’t blow me off, she suggests I speak with the “Charity Division”. What the…did she say “ Charity Division”?!
Now I'm hopeful; can FedEx really help me?
Enter Lisa from… the Charity Division. I don’t even get five words out when she asks “how many boxes we talking about?” Four I tell her, “what’s the weight?” 72 lbs I advise, “Oh hell, that’s nothing. Here’s what I need you to do…” Holy crap, I actually found someone that can help me. I’m shocked, I’m in disbelief, I don’t understand. “What’s it going to cost me?” I ask. “Don’t worry about it honey, we’ll take care of it. When tomorrow do you need it there?” she asks “Um, first thing in the morning?” I ask timidly. “OK, is 8:30am good?” she wonders, “Um, um, yeah!” I reply.
And battabing, batta bang holy Batman, we have a shipment going to Nashville – overnight!
THEY DID IT. FedEx stepped up to the plate and delivered. This huge corporation helped me, a small business, help Nashville. The packages arrived as promised at 8:35am the next morning. Amazing!
So Thank you FedEx for caring. Your great customer service helped me help others. I am - forever grateful.