Why I’ll Never Use FEDEX Again to Ship My Camera Gear

And What You Need to Know Before You Ship Your Camera Gear

UPDATE 07.17.2017

Update on my FEDEX fiasco.

On July 5th, 2017 I was contacted by a Logistics Manager [name being withheld for privacy reasons] from FEDEX’s President’s office. On behalf of FEDEX the Logistics Manager apologized for FEDEX’s lack of service and for the trouble and out of pocket expenses that I encompassed due to my delayed delivery. Their apology for profuse and sincere for the delay and my troubles that ensued from their shipping delay.  I was also asked to file a claim with FEDEX and that the claim would be handled personally by the Logistics Manager I was speaking with. FEDEX followed up with me times to ensure I had received the claim form and to let me know that they had received the from, again, apologizing each time for the delayed delivery and for what I had to go through to replace my delayed shipment items. I submitted my claim with copies of all my receipts. In a matter of days, FEDEX expedited and approved my claim, and FEDEX’d me a check which arrived July 15th, 2017 with a hand written note apologizing for the delay and the troubles that the delay had caused me. The amount of my settlement shall remain undisclosed. FEDEX also let me know that should I have any issues at all in the future, that I should feel free to call the President’s office and that they would personally handle any problems/issues that might arise. Had it not been for the power of the internet, I would have never received the call from FEDEX upper management.  FEDEX stepped up big time to make things right for me.  I’m delighted to put this chapter behind me now and have learned some valuable lessons about shipping my camera gear, having a back-up plan and what to do and not do in the future. 



Who can you trust to ship your photo and camera gear?  Not FEDEX!  What follows is the story of how FEDEX utterly screwed up my delivery and cost me over $1000.00 to get new gear and re-printing of all my workshop materials. Here’s the true to life story of how FEDEX screwed up my shipment and Why I’ll Never Use FEDEX Again to Ship My Camera Gear. The story begins in Irvine, California at the FEDEX delivery hub. I was teaching a Luxury Real Estate Workshop in NYC in early June 2017 and needed to ship out a ThinkTank Production Manager 40″….which weighed 60lbs.  Following all the rules, I showed up at the FEDEX facility 1 hr. before the shipping drop-off deadline of 5:00 PM on a Tuesday.

What follows is the story of how FEDEX screwed up my delivery and cost me over $1000.00 to by new gear and re-printing of all my workshop materials.  

A few things to know about FEDEX shipping/delivery options.  a)  Business delivery is delivered to the destination Monday thru Friday only.  b) Home delivery is delivered Monday thru Saturday.  Since my drop-off was on a Tuesday by their deadline….and 4 days was required for transit…I chose home delivery….which should have reached my destination by Saturday end of the day.  I say should have because according to FEDEX this was their guarantee.


Everything was going according to plan….I followed all the shipping and deadline rules.  But, on Friday morning at 8:00 AM, two of hours before my flight from LGB to  JFK.  I logged onto the FEDEX website to track my package … Much to my surprise, I saw that my shipment was scheduled to arrive by the end of the day Tuesday, June 6th instead of Saturday, June 2nd as promised.  I thought….this must be some kind of weird mistake.  But NO it wasn’t.

If my gear showed up on Tuesday, June 6th,  that meant all my gear would show up after my workshop was finished. Basically, I was screwed. I immediately called up FEDEX.  They told me it was my mistake. That I had shipped it incorrectly. First, they told me that I didn’t meet the deadline.  Then they told me that I did meet the deadline but that I was in the wrong line…in a FEDEX Express line.  Then they said I was in the right line but that I shipped it business delivery…which I did not.  And that the package wouldn’t be there until the Tuesday, June 6th by the end of the day.  I asked to speak with a supervisor and was told that I couldn’t speak with a supervisor and that there was nothing that they could do for me. WTF?  I wasn’t having any of that.  So I call up the facility for where it was shipped from and was able to get a manager on the line, and this is what I learned….

The on-site manager at the Irvine depot said that her hands were tied but that she’d get back to me and see what she could do for me. About 30-45 mins. later she got back to me.  This is what she told me:  The driver who was picking up all the packages from the Irvine depot got an emergency call that his niece had been in a car accident and left the depot with all the packages except mine.  My package spent an extra day sitting at the Irvine depot. The driver had screwed up. Hey, I feel for the guy.  But we are talking about a multi-billion dollar, multinational Fortune 500 company, ranked #58 on the Fortune 500 list in 2017.  You’d think that they have policies in place to prevent this?  But they don’t.  The on-site manager at the Irvine facility told me…..”It wasn’t until Wednesday at some time during that day that my package shipped…..and that the package was on a truck somewhere between Joplin, Missouri, and NYC.”  She had spoken with the managers in both the Missouri and New Jersey depots and that there was nothing at all that could be done. Basically, I was F#cked! All my lighting gear, all my light stands, tripods, batteries, and all my printed materials for my two-day workshop would be delayed {and possibly lost} until after my workshop was over.  I had just opened an account with FEDEX a couple weeks earlier.  This was my first shipment ever with FEDEX.  How could this happen?  I was panicking.  I needed to replace all my gear!  I needed this essential gear to teach my workshop and also needed my books which I give each student.  The first thing on my mind was that I needed to take care of my students.

Luckily my workshop was in NYC.  Imagine if it had been in Kansas or Montana?  How would I have been able to replace my gear on such short notice? We landed in NYC on a Friday evening at 10:30 PM.  Both Adorama and B&H camera are closed from the Sabbath from Friday sundown until Sunday morning.  So, on Sunday morning, I walked into Adorama and plunked down $1000.00 for new gear.  Renting the gear would have been $800.  In my mind, spending $800 on a two-day rental was a complete waste of money.  So I purchased all new gear.


So here’s what I found out.  FEDEX won’t do anything for you at all for a delayed shipment.  They won’t pay for you to rent or buy new gear.  Your insurance company doesn’t pay for delayed shipments either.  My insurance policy is with a  triple-A rated insurance company with a comprehensive business policy.  My American Express Platinum which I pay $450 a year for doesn’t cover me for delayed shipments either.  Only for lost airline luggage.  Again I was F#cked.  The key here is that the shipment wasn’t lost….it was delayed.  It gets worse though.  If FEDEX is to pay out anything….they will only pay the insured amount, that you’ve stated on your FEDEX shipping bill. And they get to keep the case and its contents that you shipped.  But wait…it gets better…You have to prove that value of everything that was in your shipment.  That’s right….you need to show proof of purchase and the receipt for EVERYTHING that’s in your case that you’ve shipped.  They make it very difficult to get your money.  And it’s a lengthy process that can take several months.

How to Protect Yourself When Shipping Your Camera Gear

  1. Make a list of all your gear
  2. Photograph all your gear in the case
  3. Record all the serial numbers and have proof of purchase receipts
  4. If needed, make copies so if you are traveling to a foreign country and you need to start a case with FEDEX you can start it right away.
  5. Know that you are not covered by your business insurance, or by your credit card and that FEDEX will not take care of your expenses should you need to rent or purchase new gear.
  6. If you really want to protect yourself, have an identical case of back-up gear ready to ship overnight. This may seem overkill, but what are your options?

Needless to say, I’ll never use FEDEX again.  And before you go thinking that this is an isolated situation. I shipped another package from NYC to NJ and FEDEX proceeded to lose that package completely.  In the end, my case finally arrived by the end of the day Tuesday, June 6th at my friend’s apartment in NYC, 4 days late!….When my workshop was completed and done.  By that point, my case of gear was of no use to me.  FEDEX ended up reimbursing my shipping costs both ways from CA -> NYC and from NYC->CA.  But that was nothing compared to the stress, 2 hours on the phone with FEDEX, the time and $$$$ it cost me to replace all my gear. In the future, I intend to use UPS for my shipments. And have an extra case of gear ready to ship just in case.