Recently, I got an order from a lovely customer up in Canada. He had requested I ship via FedEx, which I was happy to do. Little did I know, though, what a crazy adventure this would become. And, for the sake of lessons learned, I thought I'd post about it here.
To properly quote a shipping price to my customer, I went on FedEx.com and clicked through to their "get rates" calculator. I put in my zip code and his (in Canada) and it came back with three options - two very expensive express rates and a much more reasonable ground rate. Ground it is, I said, and he agreed.
So, then, on Thursday, I jaunt over to the shipping store and tell them I'm shipping this package Ground to Canada. "No, we don't do Ground to Canada," is the answer I get. Excuse me, you don't do Ground to Canada? Alright, I say, I'll go to Kinko's, which of course is now FedEx Kinko's. I stroll into Kinko's and tell the guy that I'm shipping Ground to Canada. "Nah, we don't do that," he says. Nor will he tell me who does, so I'm starting to think there's some sort of conspiracy going on around me.
I go home and call the FedEx customer service number and talk to a lovely woman in their International Shipping department. She calls all the service centers in the area for me and comes back to tell me that a different Kinko's (the one that, fortunately, is right down the road from my house) can help me. Great, I say - and Russ and I stop there on our way home from dinner.
At Kinko's, I tell the guy that I want to ship Ground to Canada. He apparently mis-hears me and gives me the Express forms, although I don't realize this for a few minutes, after he gives me rate quotes. "But, I want to ship Ground," I say. "Ground isn't an option," he replies. "But, it was an option when I looked online," I retort, now thoroughly confused. (This is Canada, remember, that country that I could easily drive into and not need a pile of forms.)
This is the point where the story gets really interesting, because I lucked out and was working with hands-down the friendliest and most helpful Kinko's employee ever. He searched through the computer system and couldn't find anything about a Ground rate, but told me that if I could find it online again, he'd figure out how to get me that rate.
So, I go online and, lo and behold, there's my Ground rate. I print it out as evidence and go back to him. He looks at it dumbfounded, searches through the computer some more and then calls another area Kinko's for help. And what we learn surprises both of us - I have to have a FedEx account to ship Ground to Canada.
Alright, I say, and I open an account. Then, because it's still not an option in his system, I have to go online and log into my new account and print out the labels from there. This took several tries, as their system decided to go down. And, when I finally got it to work, it printed out my label, a receipt, and eight more pages that neither I nor the guy at the drop-off counter the next day knew what to do with. I guess they go with the package?
All told, I spent about 4 hours trying to ship this package. So, ladies and gents, you can ship International Ground to Canada via FedEx, but only if you have an account and you do it yourself online. And, forget having any help navigating through all the International forms and whatnot.
I think the part that most confuses me about this whole mess is this... Why, if I only get this rate by having an account, does FedEx include it as a possibility on their very much public website?
Off to do something much less frustrating now...