This Sort of Thing Wouldn’t Happen If I Was Paid $15 an Hour; or, I Suck at Titles

I have a long and checkered past with eBay and various delivery services, but things have been going deceptively smoothly for awhile now.  Therefore I suppose I’m overdue for a saga.

I use a VGA computer monitor to play Wii games, which needs a converter box to make RCA and VGA play nice.  The one I had been using up and died on me recently, so obviously I needed another (I know, first world problems).  Fortunately the same company is still in business (they sell it the most cheaply), and I found the newest, latest model on eBay for $28 shipped.  Having just accomplished our refinance, that seemed like pocket change and I placed the order.

It was sent FedEx, which didn’t please me.  FedEx is only slightly better than DHL, and far worse than UPS and USPS, in my opinion.  I’ve had them leave packages that required a signature on my doorstep with nary a knock, and don’t ask me how THAT’S kosher.  Or, even worse, they get the item most of the way and then pawn it off on the Post Office, to avoid costly traipsing up and down residential streets searching for the recipient.  I’ve been assured this is a mutually beneficial arrangement, but I don’t care:  I doubt they would last long if they advertised their service truthfully as “we care about you only enough to get your package 90% of the way.”

So, FedEx started the package in LA and got it to Denver a few days later.  Then it arrived in the Denver FedEx location November 4, where it took another two days to work through the system and get sent out for delivery to me (my biggest problem with FedEx is that they have the nerve to use “Express” in their name).  Whatever.

I didn’t become terribly concerned until I noticed the tracking page marked the item as “delivered,” when there was no sign of it in my box or doorstep.  Odd.  I thought maybe it was a mistake or premature, and it would come the next day.  It didn’t, and now I was on high alert.

I called FedEx first (even though I was fully aware that they had handed it off to the Post Office).  As I predicted, it was not their problem. The woman called up the tracking page and said, “Well, according to our records, it was delivered November 6 at 3:04 p.m…”  Yes, well, if the internet says it it must be true, and I have nothing better to do than prank call FedEx.  She started in on more meaningless platitudes and apologies which I knew, nevertheless, would end in essentially “it’s not our problem,” so I hung up on her.  Which was the preferable reaction to the string of expletives I wanted to respond with.

I tracked down the Post Office phone number (no easy task — the site lists the same useless automated 1-800 number for all their locations that never actually gets you to a human being).  I explained my dilemma to the woman there.  Her first response was “well, the site says it was delivered Wednesday…”  I gritted my teeth and calmly said, “Yes, that’s when I became alarmed, because I honestly don’t have it.”

What she asked next absolutely floored me.  “Did you check your mailbox?”  I was literally gobsmacked for a solid five seconds.  Then I very slowly, my voice dripping with every ounce of sarcasm I could infuse into it, ground out, “Ummmm, yyyyyessssss.”  I know people are stupid, but has this question EVER found someone who hadn’t just come directly from their empty mailbox to call and ask where their package was?  I texted my friend Nicole, “Can they ask a more insulting question?” to which she replied, “Ooh, this sounds like a fun game.  ‘Are you sure you’re at the right mailbox?'”  WINNER.

She said there had been a problem on my route and the substitute carrier had been out until 9 p.m. that night.  She took my info and promised to get back to me the next day.  I unfortunately was flying back to New England the next day, so would most likely miss that call.

Next I emailed the seller to explain the situation and ask what happened next if it were lost.  His response was “But it says it was delivered!  (author’s note: If it’s on the internet, it must be true) Can you double check your house or ask family members if they got it for you?”  My first reaction was of course umbrage (because this is ALWAYS my first reaction) to the immediate assumption that I was wrong/lying about not receiving it.  My second was to send back a note that I live in a one-bedroom condo and it’s not that easy to lose my mail, but I was flying home for a funeral over the weekend so couldn’t deal with this right now.

Two things:  There’s a lot of power to be had in the words “I’m flying home for a funeral.”  People can’t be dicks to you if you’re leaving for a funeral.  (Also, this statement was technically true — Tery’s father died this week and the funeral just happened to fall on a weekend I was already flying home to visit my sister)  Second, and more worrying:  The internet (or more specifically, the dumbass mail carrier) had really cooked my goose, since as long as the page claimed it was delivered, I only had my word that it wasn’t.  And just like I couldn’t reassure the mortgage company that I paid all my bills on time come hell or high water, I couldn’t insist to the seller that I was the most honest person he was ever likely to meet so please believe me when I say I didn’t receive the item.

As I packed for my trip, it gnawed away at me that I would have to wait four more days to do anything about this.  Remember me, the control freak, who couldn’t leave my fate to be decided elsewhere?  So I made up some posters in case one of my neighbors received it by mistake and was debating returning it or not, and plastered the mailbox area with them.

I went to New England for the weekend and, for the most part, didn’t worry much more about it, since it was totally out of my hands.  I did try to prepare myself for the eventuality that it was lost, that the seller would refuse a refund (because, all together now, the internet says it was delivered!), and that I would have to buy it again elsewhere.  $28 is pocket change, but this thing isn’t worth TWICE that.

Home again on Tuesday, having heard nothing — no response to my posters, and no phone message from Mrs. Post Office who was supposed to call me on Friday.  Next step:  Drove down to the Post Office my own damn self.  I was hooked up with a supervisory type woman, who I started to suspect was the original Mrs. Post Office as we talked.  This was confirmed when she asked again, to my face, “Did you check your mailbox?”  Really, woman?  I should have told her at this point that she needed to remove that question from her repertoire, because seriously….still unbelievably insulting.  I responded with the same “yes,” perhaps slightly less sarcastic than before because I just wanted this resolved.

She said the regular carrier was back but had already gone out to start the day’s deliveries, so she’d leave a note so he could look into it tomorrow.  Because apparently the Post Office doesn’t have the latest mobile communication technology?  I don’t know.  I was so tired of these people.  Her theory was it was sitting in the oversized package mailbox at the end of the street and I just never got the key (which is how they handle package deliveries for all the condo units in our neighborhood).  I’m not at all sure why it took me stomping angrily into the office in person for them to remember there was a problem and to start working on a solution.

The thing is, my regular carrier is pretty awesome.  He always brings packages right to my door even though they should go in the package box.  If he had been on last week when my item came, we absolutely wouldn’t be in this pickle.  So I again decided to take matters into my hands.  I wrote him a very nice note explaining what was going on (though it seems to me he had to have noticed the posters covering the mailboxes), and asking him to please check the package boxes.

I’m happy to say third (or fourth?) time’s a charm.  I went for a bike ride and by the time I got home, my package was sitting under my door mat with a note “I found your package!  But please keep an eye out for the key?”  Yeah, sure thing, but my hopes aren’t high if it’s been lost all this time.  Why don’t you check your substitute carrier’s pockets?

I’m trying to be patient and understanding, but the thing is, Post Office work doesn’t seem all that complicated.  It’s not brain surgery, and on top of things they get paid pretty damn well, so it isn’t like some minimum wage worker who doesn’t think they get paid enough to put any effort into it.  I’ve heard arguments for privatizing the postal service, and on one hand, yeah, it’s not like I can refuse to use them ever again.  They kind of have a monopoly on mail delivery, which normally I’d be against.


Sorry, still think this is mostly a bad idea

On the other, as some comedian points out, who else is going to carry your letter clear across the country for 44 cents?  That’s a hell of a deal.  How much cheaper do you want it to be?  For the sake of the incompetent fill-in, I wish it were privatized so he’d be out of a job (maybe he will be anyway.  I made my opinion pretty clear to Mrs. Post Office).  But for the sake of my super-fantastic regular carrier, I want things to stay exactly as they are.

Now there’s the matter of this eBay seller who was so quick to assume I was trying to scam him (UMBRAGE).  I still haven’t updated him on the happy ending, and want to wait to see if he cares enough to follow up or offer to lift a finger to resolve my problem (that no longer exists).  Is that unusually cruel of me?  I feel like I’m in a Shakespeare play, or a rom-com.

The punchline to this story is, once I got the new box up and running, for the heck of it I tried the new AC power plug with the old converter box.  Still works fine, so the problem was the plug all along.  Oh well, guess I have an extra now.  You can never have too many RCA to VGA converter boxes, my mom always used to say.


2 thoughts on “This Sort of Thing Wouldn’t Happen If I Was Paid $15 an Hour; or, I Suck at Titles

  1. What to take away from this post:
    1. That Nicole is a winner.
    2. You didn’t check your mailbox after all, hmm? YOU WEREN’T AT THE RIGHT MAILBOX OH MY GOD I AM A PSYCHIC.
    3. Your regular carrier is awesome. Do you tip him at Christmas? Is that a thing people still do?
    4. I hope you mean you are using the new converter and keeping the old as back-up, because you paid for that new shiny in dollars and half a panic attack.

  2. 1. Yes, yes you are.
    2. Umm, no idea how you got this. I thought my appalled, sarcastic reaction implied heavily that I was insulted at the assumption that I jumped to Defcon 1 without even checking my box.
    3. He IS awesome. A real easygoing hippy dude who nonetheless is excellent as his job. I don’t know if it is, but now you’ve got me considering it. Of course, we run the risk of tipping an inferior substitute since I don’t know how often he takes off.
    4. Hmmm, I had switched back to the old. This reminds me of the question — you make backups of your DVDs. Which do you watch (and wear out) first, the backup or the original? Probably six of one, half dozen of another.

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