Ask AFS: Have Most Parcel GSRs Gone The Way Of The Dodo Bird?

Woman signing a guaranteed service refund contract

It’s almost been 3 ½ years since the national parcel carriers suspended their Guaranteed Service Refunds (GSRs). And since then, they’ve only reinstated them for next-day and other air deliveries. Any chance that’s going to change in the near future?

That’s an excellent question, especially when you consider that many of the circumstances that prompted national parcel carriers to suspend their GSRs no longer apply.
However, thus far FedEx and UPS still haven’t said when – or if – they’ll reinstate the rest of their GSRs.

What’s the hold-up?

Only UPS and FedEx can say for sure. But at the moment, neither carrier has much incentive to reinstate them. After all, suspending these guarantees has enabled each of them to save tens of millions of dollars in refunds with little to no customer pushback.

Why are GSRs important, anyway?

Simply put, they inspire better, more reliable parcel delivery service, which is hugely necessary for time-critical deliveries – and for staying in the good graces of customers who have become accustomed to getting their orders filled rapidly and reliably.

If carriers don’t have any financial consequences for delivering your premium packages late, they’re free to deliver those packages when it’s most efficient for their network and bottom line, even if that’s not necessarily as early as promised.

So, in some cases, our company could essentially be paying premium rates for economy-level reliability?

Unless you’re using one-day shipping (and you haven’t already contractually waived your right to GSRs), yes.

Is there anything we can do to shift the narrative?

Talk with your national parcel carrier reps about ground GSRs and make sure you periodically remind them that you haven’t forgotten about this accountability tool. Until then, you could definitely be missing out on thousands – if not tens of thousands – of dollars’ worth of refunds.
Look into other parcel delivery options, bearing in mind that there are many regional parcel carriers who do offer – and honor – ground delivery service guarantees. (And don’t hesitate to let the national carriers know why you’re considering making a change.)

In addition, pay close attention to every line on your parcel carrier contract, including the fine print, because in recent years UPS and FedEx have both been highly successful at inserting clauses in contracts that include fewer or lower GSRs – or that result in customers like you waiving their rights to GSRs altogether. In the long run, that’s not the kind of accountability and reliability you want to sign away.

Finally, keep AFS’s number handy (318.798.2111.) We’re here to help you with everything from parcel invoice audits to your carrier contract negotiations, and we’d be delighted to hear from you any time – guaranteed.

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