Amazon lifts ban on FedEx Ground for third-party Prime shipments

The move ends a standoff between Amazon and onetime shipping partner FedEx

Amazon.com Inc.’s clampdown on FedEx Corp. is over.

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The online retailer on Tuesday notified its third-party merchants that they could once again use FedEx’s Ground network to ship orders placed under Amazon’s Prime membership program, nearly a month after imposing a ban on the service.

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The move ends a standoff between Amazon and onetime shipping partner FedEx, whose lower-priced Ground network was blocked for the final rush before Christmas and several weeks thereafter.

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An Amazon spokesman said FedEx Ground and Home have been reinstated for Prime shipments fulfilled by third-party sellers now that the services are consistently meeting the company’s on-time delivery requirements.

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Amazon said in mid-December the ban was due to slipping on-time marks for Prime orders, which generally are guaranteed to arrive in one or two days.

Missing the delivery window sparks complaints to Amazon, which sometimes extends a Prime member’s subscription as compensation for late deliveries. Amazon has monitored FedEx’s performance since then and only recently deemed it acceptable.

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One reason for the delay in restoration was that Amazon tracks FedEx’s performance over a seven-day rolling window and FedEx experienced some temporary disruptions at the beginning of January during a busy time for returns, said a person familiar with the matter.

“This is good news for our mutual customers who have come to rely on the FedEx Ground offering,” a FedEx spokeswoman said. Overall, she said the Ground network performed well during the peak shipping season, with average transit times of 2.4 days and around 18 percent of packages delivered early.