UPS and FedEx let me down me last week. I contacted them to start up new business account. I wanted First Overnight service and I got Economy Ground. I wanted LAX to ATL in cool air express and got San Jose to Modesto in a semi-trailer truck on a asphalt hot bed.
I recently started a new job with a early stage medical device company. In the near future the company will begin shipping our products around the world. In preparation I reached out to UPS and FedEx to introduce our company and request the name and contact info for a local rep who could look me in the eye and welcome a partnership.
I’ve worked with both of these companies extensively over the years but found myself without any contact information at hand. No problem I thought – I’ll call the main number from the website and they will direct me to the appropriate person. I thought wrong. In each case I reached a front line rep who gave me scripted answers and was unable to tell me why he (it was a he in both cases but I’m sure a she would have been equally un-empowered) could not simply direct me to a local rep.
UPS and Fedex are both very competent at moving millions of packages around the globe. I guess I just expected that the process to find a local rep would be easy. And then I recalled an experience I had with FedEx several years ago at another small medical device company. Not unlike my current professional endeavor we were preparing to ramp up for commercial launch of our first product. I met with the FedEx rep who was blatantly uninterested in our company. I remember telling the sales rep, Brian, that we were small now but that over the next few years we would be his biggest customer and probably make him rich. He smirked and went on to insinuate how insignificant our account was to him. Years later he was still our rep (much to my chagrin), we were his biggest customer, and he was rich. AND, he wouldn’t look me in the eye because our company made him a lot of money in spite of his arrogance so many years before.
I understand that FedEx and UPS are mega giants in our global distribution network and economy. I also understand that my company, at this point, is barely a blip, if that, on their prospect list. But I can’t help but think back to Brian and think that someone better get their butt in my office real soon and look me in the eye and tell me how anxious they are to partner with my company so that in a few years they can still look me in the same eye with humility and a sincere desire to remain partners. After all, my experience could impact their retirement or children’s education fund.