Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Finding Pugsley

Well, the saga continues. Today I had both my mom (who is much better at wading through the murk of corporate America than I am) and NPR's Bryant Park Project lobbying FedEx on my behalf. They both received a version of the same runaround I was getting yesterday, except for today the customer service people added bad weather as a reason packages didn’t go out earlier. I wanted to tell them that I live in Juneau - if the weather was too bad this week for flying, that must be the case 348 days out of the year. When the radio host told them she was from NPR, the customer service agent reacted by saying, “We don’t respond to threats.”

I dropped back into the Juneau office again later this morning to play their own weather argument against them - if the bike’s still in Juneau, I said, I want it back. The woman at the desk made a call, chatted for a bit and then said to the person she was speaking with, “Yeah, that’s probably her. I probably have her right here.” Then she cupped her hand over the mouthpiece and said, “Are you the woman with the bicycle?” I nodded. I already had my tirade mapped out. I was ready to unleash when she got off the phone and said, “There’s really nothing we can do. We don’t know exactly where your package is. But if it went out Monday as you said, it really should be scanned into the Anchorage system by Friday.” Maybe FedEx is a good shipping company. I don’t know. Their customer service is sure terrible.

I’d like to believe Pugsley will be in Anchorage by Friday, but I have no real reason to optimistic about that. The package is literally off the radar, and probably has been since the moment I dropped it off. I am not without options, however. There is a bike shop in Anchorage that actually offers race-ready Pugsley rentals, at a special Ultrasport price that is nearly half what I spent on my own Pugsley in the first place (and these bikes may or may not be available this close to the event.) There also appears to be some benevolent souls in the core Anchorage winter cycling group that may be willing to lend me a bicycle. I don’t have a definite replacement lined up yet, but I am at least a few steps on the optimistic side of just going out and buying a pair of snowshoes and a sled. Either way, I’m showing up at this race. I am not going to let FedEx be the challenge that beats me.

I spent a lot of emotional currency on this problem yesterday, and felt a bit guilty about indulging my stress to such an extreme. After all, unexpected and even potentially catastrophic hiccups are just part of running the Iditarod. At the same time, if I have no bicycle, I have no race. So why should I conserve my emotional state? But working through all that negativity and panic and outright despondence has actually been cathartic. It has helped me clear my head of other building stresses and look more clearly into the big picture. This morning, I was trying on a new pair of socks that finally arrived yesterday, two weeks late (via UPS), which I let sit in their unopened package all day because, “If I don’t even have a race, why do I need socks?” But as I pulled on the warm wool socks this morning, I felt this rush of confidence. “Finally,” I thought, “My armor is complete.” I’m ready to go to battle. Steed or no steed. Firm trail or soft trail. Come what may.


  1. Hi Jill,

    This whole FedEx drama is bizarre. Are they going to make a TV show out of it or just a Mini-Series?

    In any case you can let FedEx know that your fan club doesn’t consist of the kind of people who make threats. However, we are the kind of people who keep promises.

    I still believe that FedEx will get Pugs to Anchorage by Friday (via New Delhi) with stories to tell. "Let me out of here!"

    Perhaps Pugs engineered this whole escapade to get out of the Iditarod Invitational? Have you thought about that possibility?

    I think that FedEx's next line will be: "The bike ran away!" "It’s not our fault."

    I strongly suspect that the local yokel FedEx people know more than they sharing. They are bored, and having way too much fun jerking your chain. By any chance, when you call “Customer Service” are you talking to people with funny accents? Aren’t they a trip?

    The schmucks will get it there. Relax.

    Good luck. Be safe. Don’t sleep under any tall trees, because the wind will blow clumps of snow off the branches and keep you awake (or worse).

  2. What's a ballpark figure on the cost of the rental in the event you don't have Pugsley in time?

  3. Oh Jill. My heart goes out to you. Hang in there.


  4. Aaarg! Juneau's FedEx makes me insane! I'm sorry this is happening, I'm sure it will work out for the best!

  5. Jill,
    Today's post reveals that you're already on your way. I wish we could be with you vicariously, much as we've been through the build up, but I'll settle for reading about it afterwards via this blog.
    Control your breathing and live it. Good slogging!


  6. Keep your chin up Jill. Without the sour, the sweet just aint as sweet. Sending good thoughts your way.

  7. NPR: "I'm from NPR..."
    FedEx: "We don't respond to threats."

    That's good, 'cause those NPR people can bring down a pledge drive on your head faster than you can say "supported by local listeners like you." And the last thing FedEx wants is their call center tied up writing down $25 credit card payments and shipping out CDs of Car Talk's Greatest Hits.

    From the mounds of comments on the Lost post it sounds like something will work out if Pugs doesn't make it. And either way you've got one hell of a story and the race hasn't even started!

  8. Bonjour Jill! When you find your Pugsley in Anchorage, you'll feel so grateful for it that the last hours before the race will be a blessing!

  9. I do hope the NPR guys accept the invitation given to them by the FedEx CS droid.

    You'll be in the race, one way or another. If I had a Pugsley I'd give it to you, although I'd have to ship it from the UK, of course...

    Great news about the socks - I've been losing sleep for days about those! :-D

  10. Jill,
    I come from a very large Italian family, with many more Italian friends. Believe me, we know how to take care of situations like this and get answers. Of course I cannot divulge too much information. Hint, hint, wink, wink. Let us know if you need some help. In the mean time good luck. As far as FedEx goes...well, I better not go there.

    I see a TV commercial or an ITeam investigation in the works.

    Much luck to you. It will all work out.

    Nigity - "Always keep a smile in your heart."

  11. Rude! I read your post yesterday and felt so bad for you and for fedex to make it even worse is just horrible business! I'll make sure not to use them to ship my stuff to AK in a few months when I move.

    In the meantime, it sounds like you have the right attitude! Save your energy for the race and keep your chin up! It sounds like you have a lot of friends in good places, and in possession of good bikes. Even more important :).

    As a side note, I've been reading your blog for awhile now and I have to say, you are a great writer! I really enjoy hearing about your adventures. Your pictures are gorgeous to boot! Keep up the awesome blogging.

  12. Your descriptions ae lovely.

    Cold though. ;)

  13. What I was trying to say:

    David J. Bronczek-CEO of FEDEX
    FedEx Corporation
    942 South Shady Grove Road
    Memphis, TN 38120

    Frederick W. Smith
    Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of FDX

    Robert Palmer
    FedEx Corporation
    942 South Shady Grove Road
    Memphis, TN 38120


  14. I will probably never again do business with FedEvil because of their lack of customer service I am reading about here. While they "may not respond to threats" hopefully they will lose at least some business as a result of this.

    Still rooting that pugs shows up here on Friday for you. Since I am in Anchorage, if there's anything I can do from this end for you in the meantime, please let me know.

    Good luck Jill!

  15. Why do broads like to manufacture drama? If I read correctly, you PACKED UP and SHIPPED your bike for a TUNEUP? Is it even possible to pack/unpack a bike without requiring a tuneup afterwards? I just don't get it. - Dumb Guy

    p.s. Your Pugsley is shivering alone in the cold, wondering why it is being punished.

  16. Jill, I have my fingers crossed for you. Also, I hope after this whole thing is over and you've kicked ass in the race, that you send a very strongly worded letter to the top suits at FedEx documenting the customer "service" you were given in trying to find your bike. I've gotten very good results with sending letters to the right people. They need to know what's going on and they need to compensate you for any equipment you have to buy or rent because they screwed up. Anyway, good luck! I'm really hoping Pugs makes it to the starting line.

  17. Why don't you go ahead and reserve a Pugsley from that rental spot, so you have a bike like the one you've been training on.

    Between your generous readers, UltraRob's generous readers and my generous readers, I am certain that we can more than cover the cost of the rental.

    We all want you to start this race in the best way possible. You've got enough crazy variables you can't control (FedEx among them); if you can get a backup bike, I think you should.

  18. This is one of the reasons I never ship FedEx and if I have a choice between FedEx and USPS ... I'll have to choose USPS and pray. At least the shove-off from the governmentally regulated shipper tends to be more weary, tired and ultimately "hey, we know we suck sometimes. Sorry" instead of "Who are you to expect customer service, peasant!" of FedEx.

  19. I'm sure it'll all work out in the end, scary as it sounds. And remember, you're getting $600 in June that you can use to pay for that rental bike if need be! But seriously, I'm sending good thoughts from the Gateway to the West - you were a big inspiration this morning to ride to work during a sleet storm!

  20. What FatCyclist Said, get the reserve bike taken care of.

  21. Good luck. Maybe Pugs will turn up like your new socks.

    Wish I were there to race too. Alabama is just not the same.

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