As the economy continues to irrationally sour us against each other, I discovered that one of the not-so-silent casualties of this money war is FedEx.  I have noticed over the last couple of months that deliveries are not arriving on time and the company is blaming “mechanical difficulties” more and more for their failures as the dawn of summer begins to linger into the dog days of August.

Here’s an email I sent yesterday to Stew-Mac when an urgent, overnight, delivery did not arrive as expected:

I get lots of deliveries daily. FedEx are overwhelmed and under-performing the last couple of months or so. They’ve taken over 90% of the Amazon deliveries from UPS and my experience is their plane infrastructure is overwhelmed and cracking. They can’t handle the extra load.

A couple of weeks ago, in Memphis, one of FedEx’s planes had an engine fire on an early Friday morning that resulted in a daisy chain of delays that cascaded into Monday.  My regular FedEx guy had to work an 18-hour shift to get caught up on all of his packages deliveries that were meant for Friday, but were added to his Monday run.  My usual early morning delivery was pushed back into late evening.

I was told by FedEx that the missed delivery yesterday was because of a “mechanical failure” on a FedEx plane in Indianapolis.  We’re now into the second day of waiting and there’s no online update and absolutely no indication of when, or if, the package will be delivered.

FedEx told me on the phone this morning, “Once a package misses its promised delivery date, there’s no rush to get the package to you because our on time promise has already been broken.”


Where’s the honor in the failure?

I am of the mind — and so did FedEx used to be — that if one fails to deliver a promise, every effort must be made to heal the wound and not dig deeper into the aggravation.

If FedEx are really having a hard time maintaining their airplane fleet in this moribund economy — and “mechanical difficulties” isn’t just the convenient excuse of the day for their recent incompetence — then FedEx have a serious problem.

If we lose faith in their care to deliver our wants and wishes on-time as promised — then what do they have left except their partial functionality and zero brand performance preservation?

FedEx have always been about glitz and shining — and if they’re now grounded down to the ordinary — we must begin to wonder why and if they will ever be trusted to rise again.


    1. FedEx is a puzzling company. They obviously lowballed UPS to get the Amazon Prime Shipper deal — but to what end if their planes can’t handle the extra load?

      FedEx need to have another base excuse than “mechanical difficulties” because it does not make them sound robust. Their first excuse for delivery problems is always the weather, then mechanics and then, venially, blaming the courier.

  1. I am an aircraft mechanic for FedEx. The aircraft are more
    than capable of handling all the loads thrown this way. I apologize
    for your bad experience.

    1. Hi John —

      I see from your IP address you do work for FedEx at the Memphis hub and I thank you — even if it is six months after the original publication of the article — for standing up to comment.

      Can you tell us more about how engine fires start on a cargo plane and what sort of regular inspection routines FedEx planes undergo compared to something like UPS or United? Do cargo planes get less, more, or the same mechanical scrutiny of a passenger plane?

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