By on October 18, 2017

carseatkid

A few weeks ago, I told you that I had found the winner of my impromptu let’s-give-away-a-child-seat competition. If you are possessed of an outstanding memory, you will recall that the child seat I was giving away happened to be my son’s Britax Pinnacle 90. If you also happen to know your child seats backwards and forwards (because some are rear facing — get it?) you will note that the child seat in this photo is actually a Britax Boulevard, not a Pinnacle.

What happened and why? Well, it started with a FedEx clerk who was just bright enough to poke buttons on a computer, but no brighter than that…


“I can give you the total before you leave.”

“It doesn’t really matter, I just want it shipped.”

“Alright then… the total is $371.20.”

“Hold on a minute. I guess it matters after all.”

Two weeks ago I went to my local “FedEx Office” to ship my son’s Britax Pinnacle to its new owner. I didn’t have a box for the child seat, largely because my wife had recently thrown away about thirty cardboard boxes of various sizes I’d had stuffed in the basement for future eBay sales. She pointed out that I was selling items at the rate of one a month and that most of the things I was selling fit in a Priority Mail six-by-nine. So she had a point. Nevertheless, the amplifier box she pitched would have fit the admittedly massive Pinnacle seat very well. I have not yet forgiven her for that.

I did expect, however, that the FedEx store would be able to find a box that fits a child seat. After all, they claim to be able to ship everything from bicycles to furniture. Yet when I got there I had to sit through a twenty-three-minute process in which the woman behind the counter called multiple stores to find exactly the right box. Finally I was told that the box would, in a case of at least mild irony, be shipped to the FedEx store within two days. At that point I was ready to pay whatever they asked, assuming that it would be even vaguely reasonable. It wasn’t.

There is no reason that FedEx should charge $371.20 to ship a child seat across a grand total of three states, but my helpful clerk was experiencing a decided inability to step outside her unconscious process and apply conscious thought. The machine said it was $371.20; therefore that’s what it was. Never mind the fact that Amazon ships child seats for free and that most stores ship them for no more than $29.99. Never mind the fact that it cost me something like $28 to ship two 17-inch car wheels in a common box to California a while back. She wasn’t interested in examining whatever underlying assumptions were resulting in the ridiculous price.

So I went back home and thought about different options. I sat down to re-read the original email from the woman who had “won” our competition, trying to figure out if she was near a racetrack or any place that I might be traveling in the near future. It was then I realized something that should have been obvious to me from the beginning: her son was just short of two years old, which meant that he was too small for the Pinnacle. Had I sent her the seat as I’d planned, it would have been of no use to her.

To make a long story short, I bought a new Britax Boulevard for her son and it’s working great. But while that purchase might solve her problem, it doesn’t solve mine, to wit: I still need to get rid of this child seat. Guess I’ll go read all the original emails again — and maybe I’ll try a different FedEx store next time.

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41 Comments on “Thanks to a Stupid FedEx Employee and an Only Slightly Less Stupid Writer, We Got the Child Seat Thing (Sort of) Handled...”


  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I get fairly decent sized boxes shipped from Japan via DHL. It usually takes 2 days from the store’s counter in Tokyo to my door in Virginia. And I can usually get it done foe less than $25.

    No, not Supra parts.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Well good on you Jack for keeping your word.

    Are there not any other courier or delivery services near you? Perhaps even the US Postal Service could have been more efficient and less expensive?

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Honestly, I’m an infrequent shipper, but when I do ship I’m always surprised at how inexpensive and easy it is at the USPS.

      Also, Jack, go to Home Depot and buy a moving box and some peanuts, should cost <$10.

      • 0 avatar
        SlowMyke

        This. I worked at a ups store for a while and the boxes they sold were ridiculously priced. Home Depot is the way to go.

        And at $372, that clerk had selected either some sort of freight shipping due to size or an air service. Ground shouldn’t be more than $50 or so. The seat’s big, but it isn’t heavy.

        • 0 avatar
          Malforus

          https://dbcalc.usps.com/CalculatorSetPage.aspx
          USPS has very affordable ground shipping so its very important to pick the right kind.

          Jack clearly is out of his lane on this one. Just go to the highest volume and mass package carrier and talk to the people.

          Fed-Ex and UPS combined does less weight in a year than the USPS does in a week and a half.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            Agreed but I cannot remember the last time my schedule and the schedule of my rural post office coincided…

          • 0 avatar
            Erikstrawn

            There’s a reason some of us refuse to call it the Postal Service. There is no service. It’s the Post Office, and it’s either closed, or there’s one clerk slowly working and a line out the door. For bulkier stuff, the Post Office is usually the highest price and the slowest delivery. I usually shop FedEx Ground and UPS.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I’d say a lot of it is because Jack didn’t show up with a package to ship and instead showed up with an oversized item he wanted pack and ship service.

          So we have an overpriced box, the shipping of that over priced box, the overpriced tape and packing material too. Then there is the fee for the actual packing and since it is oversize you get an oversize packing fee.

          The employees are also almost certainly expected to offer the fastest and most expensive option first.

          Had he showed up with a package and requested the lowest cost method it certainly would have been much much cheaper.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            I was told that the box was $25, the packing was $15, and the rest was just “what it costs” for Fedex Ground.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m a part-time eBay seller. USPS Priority Mail is great if you are shipping to the same zone – I’ve shipped a 25 pound desktop from MD to Chicago for like $25. Shipping cross-country if it doesn’t fit in a flat-rate box can get pricey, though.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Jack Baruth – Cast Iron Exterior, Soft Caramel Interior.

    ;-)

  • avatar

    Good on you for doing a nice thing for someone in need!
    Lame on FedEx.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Well done, Jack.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I gave up shipping Christmas presents years ago – just order online and ship direct. I guess everyone is now subsidizing the low rates I assume amazon can bargain for.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      It cost a lot of manual labor moving boxes around the nation, put it into a warehouse, take it out of a warehouse, put it in another truck moving it around, put it on the shelf, scan it at the cashier, put it in a box, wait in the post office, send it out, take it out of the mail truck and repeat the whole process backward.

      Or you can do it at a port of entry and slap shipping stickers on every one of them coming out of a container and then toss it into another truck.

      That 20% overhead in retail plus 3% profit margin is enough to pay for a lot of shipping, and the reduced inventory is another huge overhead you can save.

  • avatar
    rcx141

    Good man, Jack !

  • avatar
    Fred

    Lowes, uhaul etc will sell you a box for a couple of bucks if that helps with the shipping.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    “I still need to get rid of this child seat.”

    Fireworks?

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Insults, check, insult in the title, check, virtue signaling, check, yup it is a Jack article.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      But there was no gratuitous sex-infused side-story, nor a single mention of a 1990s Ford product that clunks when pulling out onto the street.

    • 0 avatar

      On behalf of my dearest brother and myself, I apologize for forcing you to click on this article, as well as all of mine. I know you were forced to click on them because you commented previously that you would never, ever click on another article of mine, and yet you keep commenting on them, so I must profusely apologize for forcing your mouse to click the link, and then forcing you to comment, too.

      Please accept our most humble apologies.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        Bark, You and I have a history, so I’m making one attempt at this.

        It is a poor businessman that doesn’t care about feedback on his product. It’s worse to suggest that they simply go away. It’s abysmal to mock those that provide feedback.

        Yes, some are unreasonable and don’t deserve your attention. They should be ignored. Scott doesn’t fall under that category. I get that we don’t pay to visit the site. However, if your readership drops, so do your profits. It is a business relationship.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Thanks for understanding my point brn.

          What is particularly funny is how Mark needs to attack me because I gave him a chance when he came back after taking his self imposed hiatus. Silly me for thinking it was possible for him to change his ways and that he would have taken the many comments to heart and use it to improve.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      You’re the real hero of this story. You’re the wind beneath my wings.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Are you ‘appropriating’ the words of an Indigenous Person whose personal political beliefs are borderline ‘communist’?

        He said in sarcastica font and with a smiley face emoji at the end of his comment.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          In all seriousness, who’s the Native American? One of the writers? I can’t find anything to suggest that but one of them appears to be Texas-born so it’s rendered more likely by that.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            My error, confused it with ‘Up Where We Belong’. This has been a very hard day for many Canadians as we lost one of our most treasured singers/songwriters/performers, Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip.

            Lots of tears in Canada, including some shed by our P.M over this.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            As a follow-up, for our American friends who are music fans, here is a list of some of the most important songs by The Tragically Hip, the band that came to represent (English) Canada.

            Imagine a combination of The Grateful Dead and Springsteen and you can get an idea of how they performed in concert and their impact on their many fans.

            Hopefully 2 links are also available, Rolling Stones article on The Hip and Justin Trudeau’s comments regarding Gord’s death.

            Smalltown Bringdown (1987)
            New Orleans is Sinking (1989)
            Fiddler’s Green (1991)
            Wheat Kings (1992)
            Courage (1992)
            50 Mission Cap (1993)
            Ahead by a Century (1996) with their famous line: “No dress rehearsal, this is our life.”
            Bobcaygeon (1998)
            The Stranger (2016) a solo effort by Gordwithout the band

            http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-tragically-hip-10-essential-songs-w435104/fiddlers-green-1991-w435107

            http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/gord-downie-death-political-reaction-1.4359917

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Seems like the FedEx clerk selected “next day air.” Anyway, there’s UPS and USPS. Get a box and packing material at Home Depot, Loews or a big U-Haul store.
    Well done for not disappointing the original winner, even the child was too small to use your seat.

  • avatar
    bechsteinb

    Good “carma”, Jack. I too have little patience for clueless clerks. Would it have hurt to at least acknowledge that a $371 shipping bill is a bit ridiculous? Common sense much?

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Sell it locally on craigslist, that thing should still worth around $150 or so at least.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Maybe a decade ago I bought a pair of Recaros for my M3 track car from some guy who lived outside of Columbus, OH — and no, he wasn’t named Baruth! They were sold as secondhand but were actually new-in-box because the owner had sold the car they were intended for before he got around to installing them. Due to their bulk and weight, shipping would have been an expensive PITA, so the seller was highly motivated for anyone who would come and get them.

    As it happens I’m only a couple of hours away in Indiana, and my wife had just bought a nice CPO 5-series wagon. Sometimes it all works out for the best.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’d say honor is served and it’s time to Craigslist the old seat.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    A couple years ago I had to ship a set of Mercedes seats that I sold on ebay from Washington to Texas. Most of the shipping options were exhorbitant.

    I finally settled on shipping them via Greyhound Express. Still not cheap, but it’s the most cost-effective way to send bulky, heavy items across the country. The cost of the shipping was more than the cost of the seats, but the guy wanted them and was willing to pay.

    You take the package to the nearest Greyhound depot, and they ship it in the cargo holds of the buses whenever space is available. The addressee then picks up the package at their nearest Greyhound depot. My package took a week or so in transit. Check it out.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    Unfortunately all of the major carriers have arbitrary tiers for shipping boxes, I found this out the hard way when attempting to ship a large bicycle. If the combined L+W+H is under X (84?) inches the price is reasonable. 1/2 an inch over and the price quadruples no matter the weight. Of course the carriers are all fat, dumb, and happy thanks to Amazon so customer service is pretty low on their priority list.

  • avatar
    raaizin

    Jack, really must you call the employee stupid. Doesnt say alot for you. Why dont you ask Amazon to see if they would ship yours for free.Have a great day

  • avatar
    brn

    1. They don’t want to ship items that aren’t in boxes (at least not high volume boxes that they have lying around). If you insist on shipping something they don’t want to ship, they charge a high enough rate to make it unpleasant. If you don’t like the cost, put it in your own box, you lazy bum.

    2. Is this an automotive blog or just a forum for you to complain about an unrelated service experience?

    3. Utilizing TTAC for name calling an individual at FedEx, or anyone not in the public eye, is unprofessional and juvenile. Shame on TTAC.

    It’s like Bark Bites is back. I stopped reading Bark (he’s better now). Jack never crossed the line for me, but this article is inappropriate. TTAC needs to be above this.

  • avatar

    Seems like no one is acknowledging the fact – at least for FedEx – is they have to fit all the shipments into a plane in the most beneficial, expedient and efficient way. That’s at least part of the reason for the combined measurement tier pricing. It helps them know ahead of time how the plane pack is going to go, how much they can pack and the appropriate charge since more room may be needed – hence another plane possibly. I agree with Jack, $371 is way too much. As someone else posited, next day air (or same day air) was probably selected. Shipped regular ground would have been way cheaper. On ebay stuff I’ve sent I always use USPS and never had a problem. Much of that is that I know how to pack things in the best manner to assure safe travel/delivery without damage. And, yes, the service from the PO varies from state to state and even within the state in some cases.

  • avatar

    I have a free, used, Britax Parkway SGL in Boston. If anyone wants it, Jack or most other admins on this site know how to reach me.

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