One FedEx Account Rep’s lame-ass $500k ‘joke’

As any business that relies on shipping knows, December 17th was the last day of the Christmas shipping season for 2013. It probably wasn’t the best day to play a stupid joke on a startup owner who is burdened with high shipping costs.

Frankly, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a good day to mess with said small business owner.

See if you agree:

Let’s pretend that one year ago, you launched a service that ships birthday and holiday gifts to kids on behalf of busy aunts, uncles, godparents, all over the country etc.

Next, pretend a significant portion of your profits are being consumed by shipping costs. You NEED to negotiate better rates to succeed.

Got it? Great! Now, here’s a transcript of an exchange with a FedEx Account Rep yesterday:

(Phone rings)

Me: “Hello, this is Cristina”
FedEx Account Rep: “Hi Cristina – this is ‘John’. Hey, before we start talking about rates, I wanted to share some good news. You  won a big award from FedEx!”
Me: “Oh – really?” scans brain trying to understand – this has been a really busy gift season which probably made me more susceptible to the nonsense that follows.
FedEx: “Yes! Your name was chosen randomly and you are the big winner: you won $500,000 of shipping with FedEx!”
Me: “Um, WHAT did you say?”
FedEx: “I said you’ve won $500k of FedEx shipping services. Congratulations! Don’t you remember hearing about this?”
Me: “No…are you kidding?” (I’m a bit of a sceptic but I didn’t want to get my hopes up – this would be a lifesaver).
FedEx: “You can see I’m calling from a FedEx number, right?”

After 5 minutes of back and forth, I stupidly say, “Wow, thank you – you have no idea what this means to me.” (a LOT – as in the success of my business.)

FedEx: “Ha. I got you. I’m just kidding. No, I’m calling to talk about your rates. Sorry!”

Me: “Actually, I know I reached out to you indicating this would be a good time to talk but can we talk in a few hours? Thank you so much.” Hangs up in shock.

I plan to call FedEx Account Services to hear what they think about this “joke”. To begin with, I won’t be dealing with this Account Representative again.

What would you ask for / demand?

Stay tuned!

Cristina Sierra_14

Weapons of Mass Distraction

Stay Focused

I’m trying to cut out distractions that prevent me from getting stuff done. You know, the digital catnip that pulls you from that looming work deadline, upcoming bill or anything else that needs to get done ASAP but doesn’t, because, well…I’m not quite sure what happens if I miss a detail of Jennifer Aniston’s wedding (is that still happening, btw?)

I sat down the other day to identify and knock out the biggest offenders –  headlines, compelling stories, images, or products that masterfully lure me from the task at hand. My plan: to figure out what disables me (much like kryptonite acts on Superman) so I can avoid it in the hopes of becoming even an eency bit more productive.

With that, I’ve identified the top 5 distractions that get me every time. Any of these lure you in recently?

1. Any article that boasts a picture of Kim & Kanye. Look, I’ve made peace that I engage in activities that kill a few brain cells every now and then. But the amount I have learned about these two since they gave birth simply defies logic. I resolve to know 100% less about them starting NOW.

George2. Links to articles with the word Photoshop + any of the following: “controversy”, “before and after” , “celebrity”. When this combination of words appears I cannot click fast enough.

Think you’re above all? Let’s see if you’re tempted to click this link of  before and after Photoshop shots of Jennifer Lawrence, Katy Perry, George Clooney, etc? Yeah, may the odds be ever in your favor. They aren’t in mine, that’s for damned sure.


3. Any email touting a beauty product that acts as a “Primer” – this is grade A catnip for the over 35 set – because what does a primer do? It makes things adhere better. Once upon a time I used a primer to prep walls before slapping on a coat of paint –  now, why not apply that same principal to my body? Who can’t see the benefit of an “eye lid primer”, or a “facial primer”? Is it any wonder recently shelled out $20, for a “hair primer”????

Total waste, by the way. Save your money.

boho4. Any email that references a particular style, whether it’s “Bohemian”, “Classic”, “Preppy”, “Edgy” – even if it doesn’t appeal to me, I’m in. I just have to see what the Bohemian, Classic, Preppy, Edgy crowd is wearing and where they are theoretically hanging out. How else will I be able to recognize them? Shopbop and Piperlime, you bitches have my number.



Majestic Pet Bed

5. A flash sale touting a pet bed (I have dogs who deserve only the best – provided it’s on massive sale). I’ll purchase it 10% faster if it includes the words “comfort” or “majestic” – case in point – Groupon’s recent “majestic pet bed”. This time the word “bagel” was thrown in for good measure. Not sure if that helped or hindered but let’s just say, it’s ordered and should arrive shortly.



What’s your catnip? Tell me, please!




Cristina Sierra_14

“My Niece’s Birthday Gift Didn’t Suck This Year”

The story of Sue – a busy lady who discovered the joy (and relief) of sending a great gift.






The accidental gift giver

Sue and I met in the fall of 2012. I hired her firm to take on development of NeverMissGift, a site that finds and delivers gifts for kids on their birthdays and holidays. She was the Product Manager assigned to work with me. Sue was a gift-giving skeptic. She told me she liked the concept of my site for others but didn’t see a using it, despite her gift giving challenges.

What challenges you ask? Sue described herself as “that family member who makes all the kids roll their eyes during the gift exchange at Christmas.” She would always show up with gifts that missed the mark (see the part about the eye rolls) but she figured, oh well; kids are just hard to shop for.

If I had to offer a diagnosis, I’d say it was a classic case of “swankyurbanitis”. I’ve seen it before; it hits busy professionals in fabulous cities with too many distractions. How can one possibly put in the time to buy gifts when there is a French cooking class or Singaporean / Latin American taco stand to hit or that funky Swedish / Korean neighborhood that has that awesome bar (yes these are real places)? Never mind the wrapping and delivery of the gifts.

But seriously, the focus was making sure she understood the site not resolving Sue’s gift giving woes so like any good PM, she decided to see how it worked first hand.

She clicked through the site, registered her niece, set up a birthday gift event with an elaborate gift message and went about her merry way getting the “iteration” launched. After work slowed down for a period with NMG, she was pulled onto another project.

And that’s when March hit and her niece’s birthday rolled around.

Three weeks before the date, Sue received the standard notification email from NeverMissGift that arrives a few weeks before a holiday or birthday. In this case the email (1) reminded her about the birthday and (2) offered three custom-selected gifts based on her niece’s age, personality profile and Sue’s desired price range. The email also chose a“top pick”, which would ship unless Sue selected an alternate gift or cancelled by a certain date.

Sue saw the email and made a note to clear out her credit card information. But like so many to-dos in life, this one got away from her.

Uh oh, what happened next?

Fast forward a few weeks and I receive an email from Sue  that her cc bill was charged by NeverMissGift. She was kind enough to acknowledge that she registered her niece’s birthday (with a thoughtful gift message!), had seen the gift notification email and knew how long she had to take action. The issue was that she had fudged her niece’s age (she put 10) and she was worried that it wouldn’t be appropriate for an 11 year old.

She was obviously annoyed she failed to stop the transaction and signed off saying she hoped it would be “well received”.

But I knew something Sue didn’t: that gift would be more than just “well received.”

Why? Because finding the perfect gift is not generally easy for those that dwell in swanky urban areas. It takes perseverance (ask me how many toy fairs I’ve been to), knowing what toys are good for certain personalities, and   experience to know that the toy will be enjoyed for YEARS. I knew the gift for Sue’s niece was a winner. I found it at NY Toy Fair, at the time I cross checked the quality with specialty toy store owners, and spent hours playing with it (I also watched kids play with it too). Even though Sue’s niece was turning 10, the gift was targeted for girls from 8-14.

But judge for yourself: this is the gift I selected for an 11 year old “Action Junkie”. Mind you, it can be used indoors or out. Even if the girl hasn’t expressed a desire for a cross bow, it will also make an awesome Halloween accessory for anyone who is into The Hunger Games – i.e. virtually the entire US population under 16. And bonus - Catching Fire comes out in November.

If nothing else, it can be used to keep pesky brothers at bay.








The icing on the cake was the impact of sending a beautifully wrapped gift to a tween girl in time for her birthday with a thoughtful gift message. Talk about elevating Sue’s status.

A few weeks later this is what I found in my email in-box:


Date: March 25, 2013 6:03:36 PM CDT

To: Cristina Sierra <> 

Just got an email from my niece.  Thank you Cristina!  Can’t wait to get the other 3 kids into the system.  


I will say the subject line alone made my day.  Sue’s niece was happy which is GREAT. But even better, Sue looked good and got to experience the satisfaction of sending a great gift.

And I gained something too: in Sue’s words: a “loyal fan” – yay!!

Have you recently had an unexpected moment of joy either directly or through your customers? If so – kudos!