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13 Things FedEx Drivers Won’t Tell You

Updated: Mar. 18, 2024

Warning: FedEx drivers can choose to skip your house.

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New York Continues To Struggle With Coronavirus Spread As Parts Of U.S. Look To Reopen
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Things to know

Note: The statements below reflect individual opinions expressed at the time of writing and are not representative of any group or organization.

FedEx’s fleet of well-organized drivers transport our online orders, urgent mailings, and business correspondence in record time. But just like any other job, this one has its own secrets. Did you know FedEx drivers can choose to skip your house? Read on to see what really goes on behind those deliveries. Note that a lot has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it’s important to stay up to date on what FedEx and other mail carriers are doing. Here’s what could happen if the U.S. Postal Service stopped delivering mail.

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Seattle, WA, USA - November 19, 2017: A stack of various FedEx Federal Express shipping boxes in different sizes

FedEx may not ship your stuff

You may think you can ship anything that fits in a box, but there are no-nos to be aware of. Besides anything illegal in the sender’s or receiver’s state, other items may require asking your local FedEx office for approval. “We cannot ship animals of any kind, though some reptiles and fish are okay,” says John, a FedEx driver in New York who wanted to use only his first name. Dry ice is okay, as is some radioactive material, as long as you’ve cleared it with the FedEx Dangerous Goods hotline first. Certain explosives cannot be shipped, and alcohol requires a special shipping agreement. Before you try skirting a rule, ask first. Waiting for dinner to be delivered? Here are just a few things your pizza delivery guy won’t tell you.

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CHIANGMAI, THAILAND -JANUARY 29 2015: Fedex logistic van. Photo at road no 1001 about 8 km from downtown Chiangmai, thailand.

They will send your box back, if you’re not paying attention

Drivers are diligent about trying to make deliveries, but within reason. “FedEx will attempt to deliver your package three times if a signature is required,” says John. “After the third attempt, they call you to come pick it up. If they don’t have a number on file, they will contact the shipper or send it back to them.” So if you come home to one of those pesky delivery notifications, don’t ignore it. You can reschedule a delivery by going to FedEx.com, an easy way to make sure you don’t miss out on something important. Find out the secret message behind FedEx’s logo.

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Delivery: Anonymous Delivery woman With Package

You can save time and money by prepaying

Shipping costs can be pricey, but there are ways to save, such as with prepaid shipping. This option includes a discount rate of up to 20 percent, according to an article published by Entrepreneur. Try buying a quantity of shipping labels upfront to use on packages as you need them instead of paying for each package at the time of shipping. If you know you’ll be shipping items with the same weight a number of times, the prepaid option can work wonders for your wallet—and save you time. Here are 23 things your mail carrier won’t tell you.

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March 19, 2018 Los Angeles / CA / USA - FedEx Ground truck driving on the highway
Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

They may choose to skip your home

If a delivery address is located in a neighborhood that feels a little dicey, many times drivers will make a decision on whether or not to leave the package for the recipient if they aren’t home, John says. When shipping or receiving a package, consider whether or not you want it delivered to a home address or if another location is preferable to avoid any missed deliveries. Check out the craziest items people have ever tried to send.

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Women hands receiving package from delivery man.

They don’t have to come inside

Drivers don’t have to carry boxes into your home, particularly if they don’t feel comfortable doing so. “We had a female driver bring back a heavy box one time because the customer asked her to bring it into his house for him,” says John. “She refused and he asked her to deliver it another time. The box ended up opening and inside was a real sex doll. They called the customer and told him he had to come to the station and pick it up.”

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Federal Express (FedEx) truck out on delivery in Rockville, Maryland on May 22 2018
David Maman/Shutterstock

They might disappear for a while

If you’ve become used to seeing the same FedEx delivery person in your neighborhood for years, chances are they might become scarce during the summer, with a newer face filling in. This is because there’s seniority involved when it comes to taking vacation time, and the summer season gets snapped up by the old-timers right away. But have no fear; they’ll return after a much-needed break.

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stack up of cardboard boxes for background

They’re not a fan of recycled boxes

You might think you’re helping the environment or being thrifty, but re-using boxes can be a giant headache for delivery folks. One employee told Mental Floss that with the second-hand cardboard weaker than it was originally, it may not protect your items sufficiently, and FedEx is forced to label it damaged. Occasionally, they’ll repackage the item, but they never want to drop something off in a damaged state.

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Female Boxer dog is stuck inside, staring out the sliding glass door, wishing she could go outside.
Lori Jaeski/Shutterstock

They don’t love your dog

For the love of everything, if you have an anxious dog or one who isn’t particularly fond of strangers, please keep it at bay when expecting a delivery. “I was trying to deliver a package to the home right as it was getting dark,” FedEx driver Randy Inman told AOL. “The dog was frantic and I could see he was scared of me as he ran and hid in the garage. While trying to ease the package to a spot near the garage but out of the path of any cars, the homeowner suddenly came out. As soon as he spoke to me, the dog attacked me and bit me three or four times in the same spot on my leg.”

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Close up barcode scanner with scanning on package box.

They track in real time

Those little scanners carried by delivery people are pretty nifty devices. “When I release (or ‘scan out’) a package from my scanner, it relays that info back to FedEx, and presumably it updates to the customer interface pretty quickly,” said a driver in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). “Every stop I make is logged and updated throughout the day, and locations are even tracked with the GPS function in the scanners.”

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Close-up Of Two Delivery Men Holding The Cardboard Boxes

They’re actually pretty strong

FedEx drivers may sometimes appear skinny or even weak, but they need to be pretty strong in order to land the job. According to Thrillist, the company mandates drivers have the ability to pick up at least 75 pounds on their own. Not only must they have the strength to unload and deliver packages all day, but they typically have to load their trucks in the morning as well (and assist others). The company even refers to their team as “industrial athletes.”

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POZNAN, POL - APR 26, 2018: Envelopes and parcels of FedEx, an American multinational courier delivery services company headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.

They won’t give your package to just anyone

Drivers want to deliver packages as much as you want to receive them, but there are some instances where they simply cannot leave a box behind. “If a package requires a signature of someone 21 or older and the person cannot supply proper ID, I can’t leave it,” says John. “If I am bringing it to a door and a person randomly walks up to me and says they will sign for the person and can’t show me ID, I also can’t hand it over to them.” That sounds like a smart rule to us! We’ve come a long way in mail delivery. Here’s what mail delivery looked like 100 years ago.

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Delivery man with cap and cardboard in hands, talking at cellphone having his van behind
All kind of people/Shutterstock

They can yammer on their phones

If you see your FedEx driver chatting away on his cell phone, he’s not breaking any rules. Despite rumors to the contrary, John says drivers are allowed to have their mobile phones alongside them in their delivery trucks. There’s just one very important rule to follow in regards to them: “We can have our phones on us, just don’t get caught on it while driving.” Really, that’s a rule that we should all follow while driving (not to mention the law in many states).

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delivered stacking packages put in front of the door

They’re not waiting around for you

If it feels like you can’t get to the door fast enough when a delivery person knocks, you might be right. Drivers have a certain number of deliveries to achieve in a single day and it doesn’t leave much time to wait for a recipient to answer. “The vast majority of the time, I don’t wait,” says the Reddit user who offered an AMA on FedEx drivers. “If there is no signature required and I judge the location to be safe/dry/discreet (which is 99 percent of all suburban front porches in the area I work in), I leave it at the door, hit the bell, throw a knock, and walk (actually I sprint) back to my truck. Ain’t nobody got time for waitin’ around, sadly.”