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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Talk Thursday: ...And Little Did I Know...

I wasn't gonna write this blog post. I was feeling pretty magnanimous about the whole thing, and I was just gonna let it slide under some rug somewhere. I mean, it ended happily. Even if it was one of the great debacles of all time, a customer service FAIL deserving of a place on, I didn't see how blogging about it was gonna help anything. Besides, I just finished writing a book, for Yarg's sake. I'm in a nice mellow mood about that. Yeah, I still have to edit the thing, and it could be months before it's ready to be submitted anyplace, and who knows, I might have to tear it up and start over, but still, writing a book is a Big Deal. Finishing writing a book is an even bigger deal. Trust me, I know lots of people who have started writing books and never finished them. I've got my share of Unfinished WIPs myself.

But then today's topic comes out of the topic-o-meter. "...and little did I know..." I mean, that's just perfect. It's the story of my whole week. If I'd known, lots of things would have happened differently. So here goes. My apologies in advance if you happen to work for the particular business establishment I'm going to talk about but try very hard not to name. Let's just say they run the tightest ship in the shipping business and they've been used as a prop in a major motion picture.

It all started out so innocently. Client Mr. Burns settles his case. Client Mr. Burns is owed a check. Because the check is somewhat large, it's decided not to send it to him in the mail but via this particular shipping company. So on Thursday last, I prepare an envelope according to the tightest-ship-in-the-shipping-business rules and put it in the box o' packages down in the basement. On Friday, I check the Web site, and it says the package was delivered. No reason to doubt the Web site, and besides, Mr. Burns would have called if the package hadn't shown up. So I'm not at all concerned.

On Tuesday, though, my boss asks me to please check on Mr. Burns. No particular reason, he just has a bad feeling. So I call Mr. Burns and he tells me no, he didn't get a package. This is, uh, surprising, to say the least. I mean, says right there on the Web site that said package was DELIVERED on FRIDAY, APRIL 22 at 9:43 AM. So I try to print out the CONFIRMATION OF DELIVERY promised by the Web site, and when it won't print I navigate the phone tree of the shipping company until I reach a human being.

The particular human being I reach is not all that reassuring. She reassures me that the package must have been delivered, but like the Web site, she can't prove it. I ask her about the CONFIRMATION OF DELIVERY and she tells me she can't get it to print either. Finally she figures out that the reason there's no CONFIRMATION OF DELIVERY is because the delivery driver didn't get a signature. Uh, why not, I ask. There was a cute li'l box on the shipping form that you could check if a "signature not required", but I didn't check it. That should have clued somebody in that a signature was required, no?

No. Turns out the rules had changed...and little did I know...domestic deliveries were all treated as "signature not required." Had been for the past four or five years, this person told me.

To which I said, "You have GOT to be kidding me."

She wasn't.

So we had no proof of delivery, no signature, and no package. How, exactly, did they handle it when something went awry, as, uh, was clearly the case here? Well, I could call the recipient back and make absolutely sure he didn't get it, she said. Or I could talk to a manager. I elected to do both. When I called Mr. Burns again, he stated that he knew the shipping company had been by because they'd left a sticky note on his door stating, "Sorry we missed you! We'll be back!" When I called the representative again and asked why in the world they'd leave both a "Sorry we missed you!" sticky note AND the package, she said, "Well, ma'am, I'll admit that doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

She'll admit that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Oh, that made me feel better.

At this point I had to tell my boss what was going on. There was, after all, a rather large check gone AWOL. At some point, somebody needed to decide whether or not to call the bank. So I hauled myself down the hall and popped into his office and, uh, told him what was going on.

He said, "You have GOT to be f_____ kidding me."

I avered that, regardless of my wishes to the contrary, I was f_____ kidding him not.

Back to the phone. After some wrangling I was able to raise the manager of the Garland facility. She also admitted that the situation didn't make a whole lot of sense, but thought that perhaps the best thing to do would be for her to get ahold of the delivery driver and find out if he had left the package behind a plant or under a mat or somewhere else that wasn't screamingly obvious. I agreed that this was a good idea. She asked if this was an emergency or if it could wait until the following day. I told her the dollar amount of the check. She decided it was an emergency. But, then it didn't matter anyway because it turned out the delivery driver was a substitute and she didn't have his home phone number, so she would have to wait until the following morning. She promised to call me before nine a.m.

Now, keep in mind it's Tuesday evening. We had a whole line of nasty thunderstorms roll through here Monday night. If this package has been out in the rain all that time, it's quite likely useless anyway. So the boss and the office manager jointly decide to cancel the check, only it's too late to call the bank so they send a fax.

You know where this is going, right? The sun comes up bright and early Wednesday morning, I go to work, nine a.m. comes and goes and absolutely nothing happens. So I get back on the phone roundabouts nine-twenty, and after another round of press one for English, press two for customer service, press three if you're still breathing, I find out that the person I talked to the previous evening is the night supervisor, and couldn't possibly have called me before nine in the morning because she doesn't come on duty until one in the afternoon. However, they could connect me to the day shift supervisor, only they can't do that either because the day shift supervisor is busy dealing with a big freight shipment that just came in, but she'll call me back as soon as she can.

And you probably know where this one is going too. Do I ever hear from the day shift supervisor? Do I ever hear from the night shift supervisor? Do I, in fact, ever hear from anyone ever again at the tightest ship in the shipping business? Uh, no. That'd be a negative, Roger. They did, however, send me a nice little package of new labels.

About ten o'clock that morning, Mr. Burns calls. The delivery driver just dropped off a package. He thinks there might be a check inside. Is it all right to open it?

Mad scramble ensues. Must now call bank to stop them from stopping payment on the check. Must now make sure Mr. Burns, who has a message on his answering machine that the check isn't valid, doesn't tear it up. Must also make sure the Web site still says the package was DELIVERED on FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2011 at 9:43 A.M. It does. It's now Thursday, April 27, a day which bears no resemblance to Friday, April 22, except that I'm still dealing with the same ridiculous shouldn't-have-been-a-problem. I mean, come on, people. I have things to do. People to sue. Motions to write.

But, again, it ended happily. Somehow, Mr. Burns and his (valid) check ended up in the same room together. So I should not be upset at a shipping company which has never screwed up before in living memory.

Still, you have to admit: Web site confirmation falsehoods? Customer service fails -- twice? Slightly over thirty grand missing for seventy-two hours? That is one hell of a screwup.


Cele said...

Whoa Dude, I know how much my boss would scream... because that would be the biggest disaster in the history of mankind. And 30K is a BFD. Woo, what a story.

Word verification.... sessesse

Definition: The sound of air being let out of the tightest ship in the industry's billows - er um tires.

Jen said...

Yeah, every time I pass one of their trucks on the road these days I'm tempted to do something mean in traffic. But that would not help. And I'm trying not to be the kind of person who would do things like that.

Word verification: pregroal. That's to be the kind of person who would do things like that.

Marion T. Librarian said...

Joan here. I don't really have a comment, because I got a blow-by-blow of the event as it happened. But then I saw the WV and had to post:

Bussenz: a redneck portmanteau word composed of "business" + "sense." Usage: "That there shipping company ain't got no bussenz treatin' their customers thataway."