Mary Ormston didn't want her daughter to miss out on the comforts of home at Christmas, just because U.S. Air Force Airman Jessica Ormston was serving in Saudi Arabia. So the Coon Rapids mother paid $171 to FedEx to ship homemade sugar cookies, venison jerky and popcorn balls across the globe to an APO address.
The package got as far as Saudi Arabia, but its whereabouts since are unknown.
Ormston said she couldn't get a clear explanation from FedEx about why the package didn't make it to her daughter. At one point, FedEx sent her a letter saying that the package would be returned at Ormston's expense.
It wasn't until she sent a second package via the U.S. Postal Service that she learned what the problem was -- FedEx doesn't ship to APO addresses used to get mail to military members overseas.
"Not one of you could say 'Oops, we shouldn't have accepted your shipment,'" Ormston wrote to FedEx in January. "I demand a full refund. I was deceived by FedEx."
No one responded to that letter. She had almost given up on getting her money back until her neighbor contacted Whistleblower last week. FedEx spokeswoman Sally Davenport apologized for the screw-up and said Ormston would get her refund.
"It truly shouldn't have happened," Davenport said. "We're not in the business of denying Christmas packages to our military personnel ."
Davenport said she's not sure why the employee at the FedEx store in Blaine accepted the package, but it may have stemmed from confusion about the services provided by FedEx Express and FedEx Ground, two separate companies. FedEx Ground can send packages to some APO addresses in conjunction with the USPS. But Ormston's care package had been sent via FedEx Express. Davenport said FedEx Office, which manages the retail locations, will conduct training on the issue.
Marty Horn and his wife started a Maryland-based organization called AnySoldier in 2003 after their son, who had parachuted into Iraq, asked them to send packages to his fellow soldiers. Now, AnySoldier helps civilians send packages to military members who don't regularly receive them.
Horn said he's heard of situations similar to Ormston's. Many people sending packages to service members overseas for the first time don't know how the process works, he said.
"The easy answer for FedEx should be 'Oops, we goofed,'" Horn said. "They don't go to where they get shot at, and I don't blame them."