My mom is sick, my phone is bricked, and FedEx is no help
July 25, 2021 1:48 PM   Subscribe

My parents called me the other day to let me know that my 85-year-old mother has a tumor on her lung. Either this week or next, Mom is scheduled to have more tests, at the large regional teaching hospital near me. The following morning, my phone bricked. I ordered a new one, which is to arrive via FedEx on Monday by noon. Staying in communication with my family is important right now. I would like not to miss the delivery of my new device. But the tools that FedEx has provided to ensure this are not intuitive.

FedEx has a service called Delivery Manager that allows customers to "get more control of when and where (their) packages arrive."

(I'm particularly interested in the ability to share instructions with the driver: specifically, to buzz my unit. I'm still working from home, but I live in a back unit and am worried that the driver will just head out and leave a "Sorry you weren't home" message without actually checking to see if I am home.)

In order to finish setting up my Delivery Manager account, I need to receive an activation code from FedEx. Supposedly, these codes can be delivered one of three ways: via SMS (text); by postcard; or by asking me verification questions.

I can't get texts because I don't have a working phone.

I don't have the time to wait for a postcard. (!)

I would gladly answer questions about myself in order to authenticate my identity. But FedEx isn't giving me that option. It keeps prompting me to check my text messages for an account activation code. The choice is either SEND CODE or CANCEL, not SEND CODE or TRY ANOTHER OPTION TO ACTIVATE.

If anyone else has run up against the same brick wall that I have and has nonetheless managed to set up a Delivery Manager account, please share your wisdom.
posted by virago to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Best answer: Just ring them with your docket number on 1.800.GoFedEx
posted by DarlingBri at 1:52 PM on July 25, 2021

Best answer: If working from home has flexible hours, grab a book and go sit on your porch on Monday until noon.
posted by aniola at 1:55 PM on July 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: DarlingBri's suggestion is a good one, since I have a work Zoom phone connection and can make calls that way.

If I get bogged down in the FedEx phone tree, then the recommendation by aniola will be my backup plan.

Now I'm going to do laundry and buy groceries so I can be prepared for whatever comes next. Thank you.
posted by virago at 2:00 PM on July 25, 2021

Best answer: You can also sign up for Google Voice and give that number to FedEx, and the incoming text will show up on the GV home page. I think you can also set it so it forwards texts to your email, but it’s been a while. Do note, however, that FedEx drivers often don’t read delivery instructions and waiting on the front stoop may be the best choice.
posted by fedward at 2:08 PM on July 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Oh you can also try leaving a huge, impossible-to-miss physical note for the driver. I see those in front doors sometimes.
posted by aniola at 2:13 PM on July 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: One possibility is to call the Fedex number and issue "hold at depot", and then go to the depot to get it. Generally, unless they goof up and put it on the truck anyway, it should be ready pretty early in the morning.
posted by kschang at 2:29 PM on July 25, 2021

If it is absolutely critical that you have a cellphone available, and not just a number that can reach you some other way (like Google Voice), prepaid feature phones are pretty cheap and can be activated at time of purchase.
posted by Aleyn at 2:35 PM on July 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

You can also ask a friend if they have a spare phone you can stick your SIM card in temporarily, lots of people keep their last phone as a backup.
posted by jeather at 2:37 PM on July 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Last comment from me (sorry for the threadsitting).

An extremely helpful customer service rep at FedEx has promised to have the FedEx driver buzz my unit and call my work Zoom phone when they get to my address.

That said, I think I'll feel more comfortable sitting out front with a book, so they can't miss me. It helps that Monday morning is (relatively speaking) my downtime. It won't screw up my co-workers' task-completion timeline if I do a couple of hours of work and then go outside for a couple of hours.

(I've channeled my anxiety about my mom into anxiety over the delivery of my phone. If I were in this situation again, I would opt for what kschang has suggested and pick it up at the depot.)
posted by virago at 2:49 PM on July 25, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Re: anxiety, you can also leave the book and just sit on your porch for a few hours and have emotions about your mom if that's what you need. It's a lot to process.
posted by aniola at 2:52 PM on July 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: True. I think just sitting outside would do me a world of good.
posted by virago at 2:59 PM on July 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Bring a book that you have reread countless times to the front stoop, because you won't remember a thing about it later. Or bring a crossword puzzle, headphones and music, a sketchbook and colored pencils, something to occupy your hands and brain.
Tracfones are cheap with a one year activation fee and pay-as-you-go cards or pay-per-month, as you choose.
It makes a good backup plan in case some accident fouls up your current phone again.
My condolences on your family's issues.
posted by TrishaU at 3:04 PM on July 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

An extremely helpful customer service rep at FedEx has promised

This may be different where you are, but in my city all the delivery drivers are so swamped sometimes they don't even knock or ring the bell, just toss a package on my stoop and log it as delivered. Even for deliveries where they're not allowed to release without a signature! (Wine deliveries only allowed to release with over 21 photo ID... my signature-required work laptop...).

UPS has a great feature where you can track the delivery truck in real-time. FedEx does not have this, and from experience their texts are not always real-time either. So for an important delivery, I'd definitely wait outside or in a place you can see the truck when it comes.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:27 AM on July 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

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