This customer experience has happened to me several times now and I decided to write about it to help others avoid the same experience. I shop for Bonneville parts and accessories from a number of preferred vendors, among them being Bella Corse, British Customs and New Bonneville. They each have strengths and weaknesses in what they carry, different online shopping experiences, and various levels of customer support.
Shipping policies are not created equal…
I’ve discovered a weakness with the British Customs shipping and delivery policy that creates a poor customer experience. It’s caused by their requirement of a “direct signature” from the customer (me) to the Fedex delivery person before a package will be left. I’ve checked their “Terms and Conditions” page (http://www.british-customs.com/terms) and there is no mention of this policy.
If you are not aware of this, and you are not home when Fedex visits to deliver a BC package, Fedex will leave a door tag on your door. This door tag will state that they tried to deliver the package, and that they will try again the next 2 days. The door tag will NOT include a signature section (which is an option if British Customs were to allow it) where you can sign your name, leave it on the door and Fedex will then deliver and leave the package the next day, taking your signature with them.
So, in my case a package was shipped on January 15, 2014 from Gardena, CA. and my credit card was debited that day (I paid for it!). According to the included tracking schedule, it made its way to Chicago on January 20, 2014. The first delivery attempt was made at my home that same day. The second and third attempts made each day following. I left hand written notes on the door each day asking them to leave the package and I provided my own “signature.” I also went online and used the Fedex “customize my delivery” feature, to alert them I would not be home until Saturday… but nothing changed.
I also emailed British Customs, who responded that they would have Fedex deliver the package to me on Saturday when I would be home. Fedex never showed up.
Snail Mail… Really?
Upon arriving home on January 29, 2014 I found a post card in the mail (REALLY? What is the purpose of having an online Fedex account with email, phone number, etc?), stating that my package was being held at a “local” (Chicago area) Fedex facility FOR ME TO PICK UP! Today I called the hand written telephone number on the post card (708-594-3984) to learn that my ONLY two options are to (1) pick up the package myself, or (2) call the Fedex 800 number to have the package delivered to Fedex facility closer to where I live – to pick it up there!
Today I went to my local Fedex Shipping Center (through a winter snow storm) and discovered that my package was not there. I was told it is being held at a “Fedex Ground” facility somewhere else. As it stands today it is seventeen days after the package left British Customs. I have already paid for the product plus an additional $10.95 for the privilege of going to pick it up myself, only to discover my extra effort was in vain.
I was subsequently unable to arrange a time to go and pick up this product from the Fedex Ground location within the allotted timeframe, so the item was sent back to British Customs. I am awaiting final resolution on the item with BC, assuming they will do the right thing and reimburse my credit card for the ordered item and shipping.
So, what do you think I am going to do next time I need a part or product for my Bonneville? Yep… buy from Bella Corse, New Bonneville or other online retailers like Amazon.com who do not have this crazy “direct signature” requirement. BTW – I have never had any problems with packages received via Fedex, UPS or USPS that did not require a direct signature. So, all you Bonneville aftermarket product customers beware! You too could end up paying for a product online, not seeing it even a half month later, and still paying for the privilege to go pick it up yourself and discover it not there!
British Customs did refund my money including shipping on February 12, 2014, almost exactly one month after I placed the original order.
Because of this shipping fiasco, I decided to order a different (and far better) solution from Seth Bernstein of D9 Brackets.