Thursday, December 03, 2009

Fun with Parcels

On tuesday a DHL man tried to deliver our new broadband router. Unsurprisingly, I wasn't in, on account of me having a job. Things went downhill from there. I was left a note expressing their surprise and sadness at the fact that I wasn't there to say hi. I was given two options, either have it delivered again (on a weekday) or go and collect it from my "local DHL office [Map on reverse]".

I looked at the map on reverse. I laughed. Local? It's in an industrial estate next to the battersea power station, who the fuck is that local to? The only people it's local to, now I think about it, are the people in the various other parcel distribution warehouses in that area. Other than the royal mail vans and UPS trucks it's a godforsaken wasteland of abandoned railway sidings, four-lane roads, and unlit, barriered-and-concierged office complexes. Oh, and the battersea dog's home. Nonetheless, I call their hotline and select "collect from office" because that option would still be quicker than getting them to continually redeliver the parcel until one day a delivery happened to coincide with me or kristen calling in sick.

The next day I decide to go there after work. It takes about half an hour's tube ride to get to Vauxhall station from my office. From there it's a fifteen minute walk through a biblical deluge, being continually soaked all the way by the lorries roaring past on the dual carriageway. Once I arrive at DHL's office I find it has all the charm of a prison. I'm buzzed through the main gate and have to walk down a path to the "customer reception" surrounded by razorwire-topped metal fences.

"hi, I'm here to collect a package that was sent out for delivery yesterday"
I give him the number on the slip I was given, he types it into the system.
"I'm sorry sir, but that package is not here"
"what do you mean? where is it?"
"it has been sent out for delivery"
"I phoned your call-center last night and said I'd come and pick it up here today"
"it has been sent out for delivery, look"
At this point he turns his monitor round and jabs his biro at a line of text that says SENT OUT FOR DELIVERY 07:38
"That's nice, but I'm not questioning whether it has been sent out or not, I'm asking you why."
He holds up the slip left by the driver
"packages are sent out for delivery three times, if they are not received by then, they remain at the depot for collection"
To help me understand, he jabs his biro at the relevant line on the slip.
"I know, I can read. What I want to know is why it was sent out for delivery when I asked you not to do so"
"did you call the number on the slip?"
"was it an automated service?"
"I'm sorry, the automated service is unreliable, we do not always recieve notifications"
At this point he scribbles a phone number down on the slip
"this is the number for this branch"
"why don't you just put this number on the card in the first place?"
"We have asked management, but they have not printed new cards"
"It would have been useful to know all this before I came all the fucking way out here in the pouring rain"
"I'm sorry sir, call during business hours tomorrow and you can arrange collection"
"Can't I just arrange collection now?"
"no sir. "
"Why not"
"I do not have access to the necessary systems"

There is a pause while I count to ten in my head.

"The vans leave before business hours, yes?"
"yes sir, they leave before 8"
"so if I call you tomorrow, it will be too late to stop you sending it out again"
"yes sir"
"so even if I call you tomorrow the earliest I'll be able to pick it up is friday?"
"yes sir"
"That's not fucking acceptable, how many times does this happen each week?"
"I don't know"
"Is there no-one here who can stop this being sent out tomorrow?"
"not at this time sir"

exasperated pause

"ok, fine."

I give up, pick up my slip, and stomp back to the station, shaking with rage. Despite running at every interchange, I still miss every connection home. This makes me angrier. When I finally get home, just before 8pm, I stamp around the empty house shouting at the air and struggling to resist the urge to smash something. I pick up the pile of mail on the doormat and notice that this time the DHL guy didn't even bother to leave a slip. I go to the kitchen, take a beer out of the fridge and turn on the radio.

The doorbell rings. I see the yellow and red of a DHL uniform through the glass. Iopen the door and sign for my package.

He must have been running late.

I have internet, and I'm glad I won't have to go back to Battersea. But I'm still annoyed with DHL.