I do almost all my shopping online. For various reasons – it is cheaper, it is more convenient, there is a larger selection and it is (usually) less stressful. I work long hours so I can leisurely browse online after hours and buy any time I want.
The purchase is almost instantaneous. Ah, the joy! The anticipation!
Then come the shipping headaches. Which sometimes last for weeks and weeks on end.
- Will I be overcharged on shipping? (selling an item cheaply and bumping up the shipping cost to compensate is not on)
- Will I have to deal with the nightmare that is Global Shipping?
- Will the company send a shipping notification?
- Will it include a tracking number?
- Will it actually be trackable?
- Will there be customs charges?
- Will it be delivered to my door or the local depot (no way of telling. Different parcels from the same company are often treated differently. Some delivered, some not)?
- How long will it take?
- Will I have to play tag with a courier and ‘not at home’ notices?
- Will it be well packaged?
- Will the packaging be damaged?
Lately the the local delivery service has been giving me giant headaches. There are probably larger infrastructural problems in that Sweden has started to privatise many of the previously state-owned companies (the postal service is one of them) and this always means that profit becomes king.
Another problem could be that the postal service was pruned when the explosion of the internet meant that less and less was posted via snail mail. But this never took into account that the explosion of the internet also meant increased numbers of parcels and packages moving globally.
I work mostly in the field – I am in a different place every one or two hours and seldom at my office (which is often unmanned due to all of us at my company working under the same conditions as I do). This means that parcels cannot be delivered to my work.
I am also able to work at home, at my desk by a window overlooking the street. If I calculate that a parcel is due to be delivered by courier (I do this by tracking the parcel on the internet), I can either request that it go to the depot where I will pick it up after work, or arrange to work at home the day it will arrive.
So what do I see? I see it all. Fedex/UPS/DHL couriers driving up to my door, sitting outside a few minutes and then driving off, or jumping out to post a ‘not at home’ notice in the foyer of my building and then driving off.
When I phone about it – if I can even find a human to deal with – I am told either a) you were not at home (I was) or b )there was a code on the door (there isn’t).
Lately even the normal postal service has been giving me headaches. Three times in the last month I have not received parcel slips to tell me that parcels are waiting for me, and they have been returned to sender. These ones I have been unable to track as they were not posted with tracking numbers. Having phoned the post office, fingers are pointed. The postal service blames the local depot, the depot blames the letter carrier and the letter carriers say they couldn’t get into the building to deliver the slip. Strange however that they can get into the building to deliver everything else…
Even worse is when the parcel is tracked. Because then I can internet-track it arriving, being driven to me and then driving off, so to speak. It goes back to the depot where it sits. I receive no parcel slip, no notification. If I phone, no one knows where it is, despite the fact that the computer shows it is there. Same story – postal service blames the depot, depot blames the letter carrier and the letter carrier says I was not at home, there was a door code, the door was locked. The end result is the same – package returned to sender.
The worst part is that the companies tend to bear the brunt of the ill-will and discontent, despite the fact that they have no control over the shipping process after it leaves their premises. I do have gripes about paying high prices for shipping and then having the company skimping on the option they choose, leading to something I paid huge shipping costs for taking a month to arrive.
I know I am not alone in this. So why is it happening more and more? Cutbacks on company infrastructure? Bad training of staff? Staff who hate their jobs? Too much pressure on the couriers to reach impossible delivery targets? Bad communications?
And just to make me smile again, here are some memes to show I am not alone