The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, October 07, 2002

You know those FedEx drop-boxes that are strategically situated throughout the urban landscape (including in most post offices)? You may have noticed that they have a little indicator window on them that tells you whether or not the day's final pick-up has been made--something like "Today's pick-up has (or has not) been made". That's a good idea, right? If you're running out of work at the end of a day, it's good to know if you should bother dropping that important package into the box around the corner, or, if that box has already been emptied, then going on to find another.

Well, a colleague of mine recently made an interesting discovery: Those little indicator windows are time-activated, with the delivery/pick-up guys having no control over them. That means that the message they display automatically goes to the "Today's pick-up has been made" at the end of the day, whether or not the FedEx guy gets there on time or not. In other words, that indicator window is completely useless.

Does this seem like a stupid idea to anyone else? I mean, if you're running out the door right at the delivery time, the box will tell you that the pick-up has already been made--even if the pick-up guy is running five minutes late. Conversely, if the guy is a few minutes early, you could drop your package in the box thinking you made it in time, when in fact your parcel will stay in there for a whole day.

I just don't understand the rationale. If you're going to have those things on the box, then make them accurate. They need to be changed by the pick-up guy, only.