Fellow Keepers and Breeders,
I want to warn you about the current state of shipping. I’m guessing that most, if not all, will ignore this warning, because to heed it may cost you sales. Nevertheless, the experience I had this week, along with some insight I received while working through it with the support folks at the shipping service, should at least make you pause before placing another living creature in a box and sending through FedEx.
I want to start by acknowledging that I sent out two snake shipments on Tuesday following Memorial Day. I figured there would be some additional volume due to the Monday holiday, yet worse case scenario in my mind was an extra day and a Thursday delivery.
Right off the bat, I knew it would not be smooth sailing, as I awoke on Wednesday to see that my packages were still in Phoenix. This brings me to one of my big complaints; there is no mechanism to recall your packages once they are out. None. Even if I had driven to the Phoenix airport, I could not have stopped the week of hell that my baby boas were about to endure.
Finally, the packages arrived at the Memphis Hub at 11:41 A.M., an hour and ten minutes after it was supposed to have been delivered in Minnesota. Having paid obviously for OVERNIGHT delivery, I chalked it up to experience and planned for a Thursday delivery. Thursday came and went, and the snakes didn’t move. Friday was nearly over before the Minnesota package finally left Memphis. Again, this is now 2 1/2 days into an OVERNIGHT delivery.
Despite leaving Memphis at 3:43 P.M., apparently, it is a nearly 16 hour flight to Minneapolis, because the package did not arrive in MN until 8:00 A.M. on Saturday. Customer Support at the shipping service requested an expedited Saturday delivery, not apparently knowing that the MN hub would be closed on Saturday. It will now be (supposedly) a Monday delivery. That’s right. It will have been seven days on an OVERNIGHT delivery. At this point, I can only hope that the little guy makes it.
Now, you’re probably saying “yeah, but you shipped on a Tuesday after a holiday,” or “yeah, but this is really rare.” Wrong. During the course of the week from hell, I have exchanged many many emails with the support team at the shipping service, and have learned some things that make me very skeptical of live shipping, at all. the shipping service constantly claimed to have contacts at FedEx, and to be “closely monitoring your packages,” both of which I am now very skeptical.
They also constantly told me that they would get back to me with any updates, which they never did, unless I initiated the communication with them.
On Thursday, the shipping service told me that severe volume was the culprit. They again claimed to have multiple agents watching out for my packages at every stop. If that’s true, they are completely useless and overpaid, because it still took a week to get the packages through! More likely, it’s nonsense designed to give people confidence to continue giving them business.
On Thursday evening, the shipping service told me that “Covid and the resulting e-commerce boom has turned the shipping world on it’s head.” FedEx, et al, have seen “holiday volume every day for over a year straight. The systems were never designed to be able to manage this typos of volume over any sustained period of time… there was no time to make the infrastructure more robust to handle this volume.”
Does this sound like a system into which we should be placing our valuable animals? Remember also, once they are picked up or dropped off at a hub, you have no way of retrieving them or recalling them; they are stuck and must proceed through the system no matter how jammed up it is. Speaking of which, if the volume is so crazy, why do they accept OVERNIGHT packages of live animals without batting an eye? Wouldn’t the ethical thing to do be to temporarily suspend live shipments? With the technology available to them to tell you where any package is anywhere in the world at any given time, they can’t look at you and tell you that it likely would face delays? Nope. Just take their money and shove the box into the system. And the shipping service goes right along with this bologna.
the shipping service also told me that FedEx tracking info “can be irritatingly optimistic with their Expected Delivery Date info. I’ve seen packages stuck in Memphis still show anticipated delivery that day at 10 P.M.”
the shipping service also told me that there were still three planes going to MN on Thursday, so there was a decent chance for the package to get there that night. Again, an OVERNIGHT delivery sat in Memphis while three more planes went to MN. In an email on Friday, the shipping service told me the confirmed that the ship station in MN would be open on Saturday, yet on Saturday, they told me that the FedEx hub in MN was closed. So did they just make up stuff when they told me that they had confirmed it would be open?
This story isn’t over yet, but I wanted to get this out there. I’m more than acknowledging my part in this mess. I should not have shipped on Tuesday after a holiday (although on that, the shipping service told me that 10-15% of shipments are delayed, most of those are for 24-48 hours, not a week). This situation has me questioning whether to take part in live shipments anymore. I assume that most (if not all) will ignore this warning, so as not to lose sales. Most of us would rather hear a comforting lie than an uncomfortable truth. For my part, I have pulled my remaining boas for sale as I think long and hard about my role in the lives of these animals under our control. We owe them more than a fair shake at a good life. They are not just ours to profit off of. If you’re still with me, thank you for reading, and I sincerely hope that we all will do what is in the best interest of our animals, not our wallets.