Some delays are out of a carrier’s hands, while others aren’t quite so divine. Here’s what your business should consider if FedEx denies your shipping refund due to uncontrollable circumstances.
A visit to the FedEx website reveals an updates page providing service alerts to customers regarding extreme weather, natural disasters and other uncontrollable events that can delay deliveries. It’s how FedEx opened the year – they had to close freight deliveries in 11 states due to extreme weather.
Extreme weather and natural disasters classify as “Acts of God.” Such events are legally described as: “an occurrence without intervention of man or which could not have been prevented by human prudence. It must be such that reasonable skill or watchfulness could not have prevented the loss.…”
Acts of God only apply to extreme weather; ordinary bad weather like snow or heavy rain doesn’t qualify. Nobody can make a delivery if God gets in the way, but short of that, what does FedEx mean by “... and other uncontrollable events”? Why didn’t they deliver your package on time and why should your business be penalized by losing their refund?
Where FedEx stands on “unpreventable” delays
The FedEx liability disclaimer states they won’t be held responsible for delays in connection with your shipment if:
“... caused by events we cannot control, including but not limited to acts of God, perils of the air, weather conditions, mechanical delays, acts of public enemies, war, strikes, civil commotions, or acts or omissions of public authorities (including customs and health officials) with actual or apparent authority.”
That term “including but not limited to” isn’t very helpful for businesses because FedEx doesn’t expand on it to define what the limits are. This effectively allows them a loophole to set their own limits on what constitutes a delay, leaving shippers in what looks like a no-win situation.
Mechanical delays could be things like flat tires or engine trouble that cause a courier to deliver a package late. It could be successfully argued that diligent care for delivery vehicles and attentiveness to the road would prevent that kind of thing (especially when the legal definition exempts a delay from being an Act of God if it could have been prevented by reasonable skill or watchfulness).
Yes, mechanical delays can still happen, even with the best care, but consider the logic FedEx is using: “We couldn’t see it coming, so why should we have to pay for it by refunding your shipping?”
Those are our sentiments exactly at 71lbs when it comes to pursuing late-delivery refunds for our customers. They didn’t see the FedEx delays coming, so why should they be denied a refund? If this line of reasoning works for FedEx, it works both ways.
Prepared for bad weather yet caught by surprise? FedEx should pick one
Vague phrasing like “... other uncontrollable events” and “including, but not limited to ...” exist outside of clearly defined and forgivable occurrences. As best, these vagaries are subjective and debatable (and we’re happy to debate them on your behalf). At worst, they’re a way for FedEx to blame delays on events that could have been prevented with a little extra forethought or enterprise.
Shippers using FedEx air freight have a strong recourse toward pursuing their refund. FedEx has had its own in-house meteorological team since 1986. Their job? To keep an eye on global weather systems and data from 200 countries to make sure their delivery flights get there on time. This team can forecast weather conditions up to 15 days in advance.
From there, the FedEx Met team relays weather information to dispatchers so they work around weather issues. So how is bad weather an excuse when they have that kind of insight to work with?
The short answer is that, aside from Acts of God, FedEx made an agreement with you to get your package delivered on time. At 71lbs we specialize in pursuing refunds for our customers. We do the research. We spend the time. If there’s a delay refund that’s rightfully yours, we’ll get 100 percent of your shipping costs credited back to your account.
At 71lbs, we uncomplicate the shipping process for our customers, making it easier and faster for them to access refunds and reduce their expenses. Our automated platform gathers all your shipping information into one easy-to-use custom analytics dashboard. Drop by the contact page to get in touch.