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FedEx House Arrest

If it's 1:00 in the afternoon on a weekday and I haven't shaved or showered yet, that doesn't necessarily mean I've turned into some degenerate wastrel.

I could just be waiting for FedEx.

Online shopping eliminates the need to deal with a number of real-world annoyances--smaller inventories, long checkout lines, or heading to Tysons Corner--but it does have its own inconveniences. Here's one that I had to deal with yesterday.

For items coming to my house, the schedule should be simple enough: The truck usually leaves the Alexandria depot a little past 7 a.m., which means it generally reaches my home between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. But if the delivery requires my signature, I need to be ready when the driver knocks: If I take more than a couple of minutes to get to the door, he or she has already left.

(It's hard to tell if a shipment will need my autograph. I had to wait by the door when a review computer was shipped to my home, but when I bought the same model a few months later, FedEx unceremoniously deposited the box on the porch.)

Note: I don't mean to pick on FedEx alone. The same thing has happened with UPS at times, but most of my signature-required deliveries ride on FedEx vehicles.

So anyway, on delivery mornings, I certainly can't hit the snooze button too many times when the delivery might appear. (I know, I know; people with real jobs are already up by the time the truck is rolling.) Just to be sure, sometimes I'll throw on some old clothes and wait to shower until after the package arrives.

But the real trouble begins if the delivery doesn't happen in the usual 8:30 to 10:30 time slot. As long as the tracking page still lists "On FedEx vehicle for delivery"--as opposed to the dreaded "Delivery exception"-- I'm stuck in logistical limbo.

Calling the company does no good; the people there can't estimate when the truck might show up. (Never mind that FedEx is sufficiently wired to report a completed delivery online minutes after I scribble away on the screen of the driver's handheld gadget.) All I can do is listen for the low hum of a diesel engine, just in case said engine happens to be inside a white truck with a certain, familiar logo on the outside.

It's safest to assume that the vehicle is never more than a few blocks away--hence my cargo cult-ish behavior.

Yesterday, my wait stretched until almost 2:15, but at least I had plenty of work to do from home and no appointments in the office. Next time, remind me to ask the online store if it wants my signature on delivery... because I certainly wouldn't have expected a $200 digital camera to need such treatment.

What other online-shopping hassles bug you the most?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  May 25, 2007; 12:50 PM ET
Categories:  The business we have chosen  
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