American Girl, FedEx SmartPost and USPS, Star in a Tale of Bait & Switch; Today on Mommy Ramblings!!!

I consider myself a pretty savvy business person. I mean, I work for major companies, I receive packages with review products delivered daily by UPS and FedEx, FedEx twice a day.  So when I ordered an American Girl doll last weekend for a special little girl in North Carolina, I chose ground shipping, there was nothing saying that it was not the normal ground carriers and I know that from WI to NC with FedEx or UPS she would have it by Friday.  Well, today I called as I had not been sent a tracking number and this is when I learned about how a sneaky little bait and switch game is played on customers without them knowing.

Now if you are not familiar with American Girl, let me fill you in a little bit.  I used to be a regular customer when they were the original Pleasant Company, and my daughter was very into collecting the dolls.  I will tell you everything was sent to me in 3 days or less through ground shipping.  Now Mattel owns American Girl, and I have not placed an order in the recent past, because I have all boys except for my daughter who is now past that stage.  Anyway, some of the things that irk me a bit about the company are that there was no free shipping option, even though any doll and just the basic accessories are going to cost well over $100 and upwards of $200 without adding very much.  Also, for every little item you add, such as the hairbrush the shipping increases by a significant amount.  Now, most companies offer free shipping on amounts over $50, not American Girl, they offer free shipping once a year in November and if you missed it, well they think there is always next year.  I guess American Girl feels if you can afford their products, you can afford the shipping.  So, I accepted it for what it was, and placed my order.  Told a very excited little girl that her doll would be there this week.  Today, I decided to check and I was given a FedEx tracking number, that I was not emailed as I should have been according to their website.  When I called FedEx, I spoke to a very nice representative who explained to me what FedEx Smart Post was.

FedEx SmartPost is when your package starts out FedEx but is shipped to the post office to then be delivered by the US Postal Service.  She also explained that it is well within the Post Office’s discretion to hold the package for up to 3 days before attempting delivery.  So now this doll which could have been shipped Priority Mail in 3 days or less for what I paid or sent UPS or FedEx in that time frame as well can end up in transit for 12 days or more.  Wow, you would think I paid some economy shipping rate for times like that?  What is even more aggravating to me is I see nothing about the details of the “ground carrier” shipping they offer.  If they think this is such a great service why not put down in print what it actually is.  Even going to the FedEx site I cannot find much at all on it.  The FedEx rep even shared with me how many companies are doing this without informing the customers of the shipping process.  She also told me UPS has a similar service.  Well, to say I was upset did not even begin to cover it.  I had an excited little girl  messaging me while I was on the phone, to see if the doll was coming today or tomorrow. Now, I was left to burst her bubble and let her know, it could be Monday if the Post Office doesn’t exercise its right to take 3 days before delivering the package.

I called American Girl after the FedEx rep told me that there is a way they could reroute the package.  I was first given a standard rep who could provide me very little and then I was transferred to a more seasoned rep but she could also not offer anything for me.  When I asked to speak to someone else I was put on hold for a long time and then told there was nothing else they could do.  She told me I was the first one that ever complained about FedEx SmartPost and that she would note my comments.  I highly doubt I am the first to call with a complaint about SmartPost and I asked her right out why it was not on the website?  She had no answer, except to say it says ground shipping and the time frame.  When I explained to her that I was a seasoned member of the media and when I see ground shipping from WI to NC I do not think 10-12 days.  I also do not think ground shipping is some snail mail version of FedEx especially when I am paying enough that the package could have been shipped Priority Mail or FedEx Ground to begin with and arrived in 3 days or less.  She did not have much to say about that either and hastily told me there was not much that could be done and goodbye.  I fired off some strongly worded emails to AG Public Relations and Mattel Corporate.

Well, a half hour later the same woman who I spoke to called me back.  This time she had a little more empathy with my situation and she offered that I could buy the doll and all the accessories again and pay rush shipping and then do a call tag on the original doll.  It was then, that in my mind the voice of Dana Carvey as the church lady came through loud and clear, “Isn’t that special?”  Was she kidding? This is what she offered me!  When I asked her about contacting FedEx and getting the package sent by FedEx all the way to its destination (I cannot believe I even have to say that.) she replied, that was not possible.  Nor was any other solution except me buying everything over and this time paying rush shipping charges for FedEx real ground delivery.  As I was on the phone with her I had posted a tad about this on my personal FB page and in minutes my friends were telling me similar stories and how they got the old bait and switch from other companies.  Then I thought, if someone had alerted me, I would have made sure that I was getting “real” ground service or “real” priority mail.  So, I kindly told her that I planned to take this to my blog and let other people learn from this, so that there does not need to be disappointed girls, boys, or anyone who is used to dealing with one shipping service and is aware of their delivery times.  She also told me that shipping rates were going to go up in 2012 and went on and on about the fuel costs and when I explained to her that the amount to ship the package priority in the first place was much cheaper than what I paid, she once again showed empathy for my situation.

FedEx and UPS had their share of bad press over the holidays by hurling packages over gates and flipping off security cameras and while I love my delivery guys this is just another slap in the face.  However, this time, I think it is the companies using these SmartPost services that need to step up and take their licks.  Come on American Girl, stop the craziness, if you are going to ship our package through two different carriers so that a package that could be delivered in 3 days now takes 12, how about letting us know?  Maybe put something like:  Times are tough, we can’t lower prices or cut shipping rates, but we can keep our shipping rates high and cut the services.  We are now shipping FedEx SmartPost when it says Ground and that is not FedEx Ground.  Try and scour up some information of the service on Google and then if I were you I would probably upgrade to rush shipping which is the old FedEx Ground.


So this is my rant.  My rant on companies that don’t really care about customer service anymore, companies that really don’t care if you buy from them or not.  Companies that think it is fine to keep customers in the dark about shipping services and companies that just don’t get it.  I just want to do my part to educate my readers that there is some shady stuff going on in shipping and I wish I had known prior to placing my order.  Hopefully my words will enlighten others and one less little girl will go to bed in tears.  Thanks American Girl!!!

Oh and just to let you know the little girl I purchased this for, has never had an American Girl doll, she is not a spoiled brat with 12 dolls on the shelf, stamping her foot for another.  She was over the moon when I told her I was getting this doll for her and has had her share of  hard times so this was something very special to her.


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11 Responses to American Girl, FedEx SmartPost and USPS, Star in a Tale of Bait & Switch; Today on Mommy Ramblings!!!

  1. Desiree Gutierrez

    wow, that is outrageous! I do think it sounds like a scam to me and that they are trying to keep money that you paid for shipping costs. As it is the doll and accessories are overpriced, you would think they would value the customers. Is American girl made in america anymore, I know Mattel makes their products overseas, I wonder how much actual profit they are making. I didn’t know too, that they charge separate shipping for each individual item that seems a little excessive especially when most shipping costs are either flat rate or by weight. American girl does have a tracking link on their page so they should be able to track where ever it goes for their customer. It should be processed and kept track of more efficiently. I would be very upset and the shipping policy is not informed properly on their website either. I am glad you spoke up at least to complain and I hope the little girl who you got the doll for enjoys it very much. It is a special gift and should be treated as such. I will tweet this post as well so maybe it will be known to more people about this practice.

  2. Lisa

    I am glad I have boys who are not interested in American Dolls, over xmas my personal and business FB page (s) we full of disappointment over their products and service. Bummed to hear another little girl is going to be bummed over this. As an after thought why would a compant choose to have their product transfer through two different shipping companies. Its silly and really cant save them that much money. They should charge a processing fee and then a shipping fee if they need to cover costs. I ship a ton of stuff and its really not that much. Boo on them!

  3. jennifer cashin

    My daughter got the American Girl doll last year and everything was ok but my niece got it this year and it was a real close call….although she didn’t know it was coming her mother was waiting everyday to get the package and hide it for christmas…it took two weeks. Now I know why. I won’t buy American Girl anymore and not only becasue of this but because it is way over priced~ I buy the off brand accessories and even consignment clothes- got a beautiful dress and shoes- American Girl that would have been $30 for $4.00 and in excellant condition. In theses times we need to be smart consumers and American Girl seems to think we are all stupid.

  4. If you just do a search on FedEx SmartPost Complaints on Google, you will see so many complaints and people stating they will not buy from companies that use this service. It just does not make sense.

  5. Kimberly

    While attempting to track my doll I found this post. I kept wondering why it was taking so long, after doing a little research I found out why. While I realize this is from last year I would like to add my experience for those who will be buying from American Girl in the future and are trying to avoid this chaos!
    I called American Girl this morning after trying and failing to find shipping options listed on their site. They must have received enough complaints to make a change. When I explained to the rep I wanted to avoid Smartpost in the future she told me I could have my account set up to ship FedEx Ground only at no extra charge. This is not the rush service option either just the basic shipping. Now, I wasn’t asking her to change my current order (if I had I might have had a lot more problems!) I just asked how the shipping worked and if there was a minimum order price that set whether the item was shipped ground or Smartpost. (I had noticed that Smartpost liability covers $100 and below.) That’s when she told me they could set up my account to run that way. They were very nice about it. But I have no doubt that I am benefitting from lots of disappointed customers calling to complain when their doll took WAY TOO LONG to arrive. In the meantime I will sit back and wait for my current order and hope it gets here…. before my daughter is too old to play with it.

  6. Kate

    YEP! I am going through this same situation right now. Not only that, it has been kicked back 3 more days, so a full 15 days that my daughter has been waiting ( her 5th birthday was a week ago). From the start, the customer service was horrible; they had not sent a confirmation number for two days and when I wrote to complain, they assured me they did…HA! When they finally did send it to me, it was the wrong damn one. Did they flinch when I called to complain about the customer service? No….
    I was GROSSLY overcharged for shipping and it seems as if they could care less if I receive the package. Hell, they got their money already, why should they care? Well, AG will never see one red cent from this consumer ever again. I am going to sign on to Angie’s List right now to see if I can slam them there. too. Yes, I know this is unprofessional. I am hoping that with enough bad press, they will wake up and realize this is no way to do business.

  7. Lori Feinsilber

    I placed an order for Molly and Emily 254 and another Emily for 129 and now they can’t find my order and there are all sold out. How funny is that? So now my little girl and niece are going to be upset. Thanks a lot American Girl

  8. Tess

    I had purchased American Girl dolls and accessories for my daughter back in the 90s and shipping-customer service was outstanding. I purchased an American Girl doll for the first time in over 14 years and what a difference!! Doll was ordered on Dec 10th and was told it would arrive by 18th, so no need to expedite shipping. Well, here it is..Dec 27th and still no doll.
    Calls to customer service are useless..they could really care less. The lady I spoke to had the attitude of oh well, guess you should have paid for faster shipping (remember I was told it would arrive before Dec 18th when I placed the order), and then was told “if you no longer want the doll, you can always refuse delivery”. What the hell??
    I would take the advise of the customer service rep and refuse delivery if it were not for the little girl who was disappointed to not get the only thing she asked Santa for this year.
    Lessons learned: always pay for faster shipping and never again buy American Girl products.
    Oh yea…one last thing before I end my rant…I also got the shipping bait and switch…

  9. Sumner

    I found this post because the same thing happened to me… seems like not much has changed since 2012… and it’s 2018 now! I ordered two weeks ago and called just now and was told it was delivered last Thursday by US postal even though we never got it. They were nice enough to send it again via real Fedex this time(I’m sure this is due to the fact that many people called to complain about their order missing via SmartPost).. when I asked if this was even an option during the order process I was told I’ll have to call in an order in order to avoid SmartPost. This is my first time ordering from AG and I have to say it’s been a very disappointing experience. I won’t be ordering anything from them again anytime soon.

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