Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Love the US Postal Service!

I have a long history of screwing up online purchases. I'll order the wrong thing, the wrong size or send it to the wrong address about a third of the time.  Which I is why I suppose most companies ask you to kindly review your "basket" and purchase details before pressing "submit." I've already spent about 20 minutes too long by that point so I usually bypass this crucial step.  

So, anyway, the other day I open up a much anticipated box from Amazon containing a bunch of books and see there are two of Dr. Oz's "You: Staying Young." I assure you I am working on a project for which I need this -- I am not reading this of my own free will.  I was very upset because: 1) Amazon charged me for the extra book; and 2) I sort of expected this book to come with a shriveled up liver or similar.  So I am damning Amazon to high heaven, hoping they didn't charge me for their screw up.  Yes, this did, and according to the invoice, they are under the asinine assumption I ordered two of these things.  I didn't even really want ONE, I fumed to myself. How dare they charge me an extra $17.99 plus tax for a duplicate book?  It then occurs to me that perhaps I look at my e-mail confirmation order, and lo and behold, I had accidentally ordered two.

Normally, I would just keep it -- mailing things has never been my strong suit. But we are on somewhat of a budget these days, and hey, $17.99 is two coffees at Starbucks.  Amazon actually makes the return very easy, providing the mailing label and everything. So I pack up whatever Dr. Oz is peddling back into its box and head to the post office because it's cheaper than UPS. Albeit not nearly as friendly as I am about to find out.

So (have I mentioned how proud I am of myself at this point?), there I am, waiting in line at the post office pleased as punch with how quickly and efficiently I am taking care of my little mistake.  It's finally my turn and I cheerfully greet the clerk and explain I need to ship this box and that it is pre-paid by Amazon (they take shipping out of the amount they refund to you) and she looks at the box and says, "Well, it's not taped up."  We didn't have any packing tape at home but I figured the post office would have some.  And I was right. Sitting right next to her was a big roll of packing tape ready for use.

"Ummm, can't I just use that?" and I point to the tape.

"Nope, that's just for priority mail and this mailing slip is for regular shipping."

"So I can't use a piece of that packing tape sitting right there on your counter is what you're telling me?"

"That's correct."

Silence. More silence. We stand there staring at each other. I learned as a PR professional not to be afraid of a little silence in a conversation. It was a battle of wills and I was not going to speak first.  

She then says, just as I was about to break because I was never all that good at PR anyway: "We sell packing tape for $3.35 right over there" and points to a display of various merchandise.  I laugh because I realize SHE REALLY ISN'T GOING TO LET ME USE HER TAPE.

I stuff my metaphoric tail between my metaphoric legs and go over to the display. Nobody said this was going to be easy and I wasn't going to let this lady ruin my (very rare) good mood.  The spot reserved for packing tape is empty. I look over at the counter and now a humongous line has formed because it's lunch time. I take my (untaped) box back out to my car and head to Target, where I had to go anyway because I'm really livin' the dream here in Chicago.  So I buy some packing tape at Target (for less than $3.00 might I add) and head back to the post office. I get a metered parking spot right in front and proceed to tape up my box.  I get out and look at the parking meter and it says "Failed" on it.  Chicago recently leased all of its parking meters to some outside company and now you need about 40 quarters for each hour you are parked and the meters are getting jammed with quarters because  this company can't unload the quarters fast enough. 

So, with my now taped up box and quarter in hand that I cannot place into the meter (and I think you know where this is going) I march into the post office, hoping I get the same lady (which I don't), and mail my box. About 40 seconds later I emerge victoriously from said post office to see a ticket for $50 on my window.  So instead of being stuck with a book I could probably hawk as a gift, I'm now out about $55 if you include the shipping that Amazon will deduct from my refund.

Which goes to show you: Trying to do the prudent thing is a waste of time and money. That, or don't park at a meter that reads "Failed" if you're ever in Chicago.


  1. A few comments:

    1. It is my understanding that Amazon does not charge for tax and that has become an issue at the federal level.

    2. If the packing tape at the PO said priority on it then it could not be used. If it did not then you got an asshole of a person behind the counter.

    3. Contest the ticket. If the machine is broken, it is broken.

  2. Talking about pouring salt in the wound! Why can't they just charge you 50 cents or a $1 for a little tape. Then all would have been good. No loosing your place in line and no getting a ticket. Sometimes I don't understand why some people can't just be cool and make a life a little easier for someone and just hand over a little tape.

  3. I would have lost it and gone postal. I would have tossed the box in the air. Cry about my latest fight with hubby and how he thinks I need a job. Tell everyone my kid peed all over the floor last night and I had to clean it up, kicking the dog away from licking it. The dog hair, dust bunnies and crumbs are everywhere, and I dropped the vacuum on my big toe and I just got a pedicure. Can you give me some dang tape? Don't you care about anything? I would also make sure I grabbed that tape behind the counter as the police hauled me out. Take care.

  4. That is a perfect story about why I simply never try anymore. Fortunately I would be able to use that one for months, to explain to my husband why he shouldn't expect me to do things like go to the post office, because "look at what happened the last time!"

    And I've never been more grateful to live in a little suburb with a post office with a parking lot.

  5. Thanks for visiting my blog. I enjoyed your comment and laughed out loud as well. I can always count on your writing to snap me out of a bad mood. Take care and I will take your vacation advice under advisement. You made some relevant points.

  6. I'm not kidding about this:

    My mom (she turned 67 last week) actually did go postal at a Chicago PO not too long ago. They stalled her and then, after a few minutes, she felt a presence behind her. She slowly turned to see a police officer who had been called to "diffuse the situation". LOL she went ballistic!

  7. Wow.. Just wow. That is a screwed up day. Next time, just keep the dang book!

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  9. This is why I I avoid both the post office and parking meters in Chicago at all costs. Great post! Made my boring work day more fun.

  10. I know this comment is SO late but I just recently found your blog and was clicking through the archives and I just need to put my two cents in.

    First, I still cant believe she wouldnt give you any tape.

    Second, let me get this straight, the people who own the parking meters are making money faster than they can remove and count it, and you STILL got a $50 parking ticket?

    All I can say is, bravo.