FedEx Email Support: Useless

So the next shipment of ShiftBrites was delayed in Alaska Customs again. Last time, I had to call and provide an EIN or social security number, I hoped they had that on file. Also, they never billed me for duties and eventually sent a collection agency after me. That always looks good on a credit report. Anyway, I used their online support contact form to ask for help:

Customer (Garrett Mace) - 10/27/2008 04:40 PM
              Name: Garrett Mace
            E-Mail: <deleted>
Nature of Request: Package Trace Support Question
How would you
like us to respond: Email Me
          Category: FedEx Express International
       Subcategory: Status of Shipment

Package Tracking #: <deleted>
    Account Number:
   Appx. Ship Date: 10/23/2008
     Sender's Name: OurPCB
  Recipient's Name: Garrett Mace
Comments: Hello, the shipment listed above is in Customs Delay. Last time, I had to call in and provide a social security number. Can you confirm that my information is still on file, or do I have to call in again? Also, I was never billed for customs fees last time, but later received a collections notice. The shipper should have referenced my FedEx account, <deleted>, for billing purposes this time, please ensure I will be correctly billed. One more thing: the address in tracking says "Foster, CA" when I am actually in "Foster City, CA" a difference of a few hundred miles. Can you confirm the shipping ZIP code is 94404 so this shipment is correctly delivered? Thank you for your help....

I immediately got an autoresponse:

Auto-Response - 10/27/2008 04:40 PM
Thank you for your inquiry.

We received your message and are routing it to the person at FedEx who is most qualified to answer. We hope to be back with you shortly.

In the meantime, you have several ways to get some fast answers:
- Track the status of your shipment online:

- Browse through frequently asked questions about FedEx, our service options and more:

We hope this information is helpful. Thanks again for contacting FedEx.

That's normal enough. But an hour later, I got this gem of customer support:

Response (Peter B.) - 10/27/2008 05:32 PM
Dear Garrett:

We received your e-mail. Thank you for contacting FedEx.

We apologize for the inconvenience.  If you need immediate assistance, you can also call FedEx International Customer Service at 1-800-463-3339 and press 4 or say “International” when prompted. Our specialists can provide information on rates, delivery commitments, commodities, document requirements and other key global shipping details.

We hope this information is helpful. Thank you for shipping with FedEx.

Peter B.
FedEx Customer Service

And nothing further happened. I eventually did call in and provide my information to get the shipment out of Alaska, but I'm left wondering why FedEx even has online support. In contrast, similar contacts I've had with the USPS email support team have been rather speedy, and conversational instead of a form response quickly selected before quittin' time.

Update: I called FedEx on Tuesday and provided the information, and was assured that everything was set. Still no tracking updates. The Chinese shipper contacted me saying that FedEx needed more information or they would send it back. So I had to call in again yesterday, and the guy was able to look at the incident report but told me I had to call today since it was too late. So I did that, had to say what the product was, and what it was for, didn't have to do that last time...OurPCB describes them adequately. I got the number of the FedEx broker so I can call her if there's still a problem. Oh well....

Update: Checked tracking again, the package has been released! 6 days in customs...what can you do? I think I'll call the broker tomorrow and just ask for tips to prevent this from happening again.

Submitted by Garrett on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 11:42.