Don’t Order Things on April 1st

Posted By on 2nd June 2021

Modern technology is in most cases a wonderful thing. I don’t pretend to understand a lot of it, but occasionally I have a little breakthrough. Like the other day when I stumbled upon how to play YouTube on my ‘smart’ TV, (which up to that point had resisted doing anything ‘smart’) by controlling it from my phone. I’m not blaming my TV for this situation, it’s undoubtedly a lot smarter than I am.

However, there are times when you just want to speak to a human being, because the various online ‘assistants’ and telephone push button ‘menus’ which are designed to help the customer, don’t seem to quite cover your particular problem.

Let me explain.

On April 1st I ordered a housewarming gift for my friends. It was to come from Ukraine. I received an acknowledgement and a timeline of when to expect delivery. May 11th at the latest.

I was still waiting on the 17th, so followed the link on the tracking number which showed that my parcel had arrived in the UK on April 29th and had spent every day since then being scanned at Castle Donnington airport. I could just imagine it going round and round on some huge carousel of parcels. Hadn’t someone noticed this? Why had I not been contacted if there was a problem?

I started by contacting UPS who were the carriers. A simple task you might think, but trying to find someone to talk to was a nightmare. When I finally did she sounded like she was down a deep hole, but I learned my parcel was being held by customs who required an invoice.

I didn’t have one, so contacted the seller who sent me one immediately which I attached to an email to UPS. Now all that sounds very straightforward, but the hoops I had to jump through to get to that point were immense.

I received a reply quite quickly telling me I’d sent the wrong kind of invoice and that they needed a ‘commercial’ one. I responded by pointing out I am not a commercial enterprise and the seller, who presumably is, had sent me what he could. I received no further reply. Meanwhile, my parcel was still at Castle Donnington getting scanned daily.

Next, I tried sending Etsy, the website I’d bought the gift through, an email. That proved harder than you’d think and I ended up doing it through a third party site called ‘Resolver’ which seems to be affiliated with Martin Lewis’s ‘MoneySavingExpert’.

No reply.

I then decided to try contacting Castle Donnington airport directly. I went first to UPS based there. The Google reviews on their website were scathing, so I decided to try Customs and Excise there instead. I sent an email and soon received a reply giving me the phone number of someone who could help. But not until Monday morning. I prayed it wasn’t going to be UPS.

So on Monday morning I was relieved, and a little confused, to hear the words ‘Parcel Force’ when my call was answered. It had certainly been easier to get through to a person, though I had to be a bit ‘imaginative’ with some of the ‘menu’ questions to get me there.

A very helpful lady said although she couldn’t help me herself she could give me an email address of someone who could. Sadly my email was down so I had to wait another 24 hours before I could send it. Meanwhile my parcel continued to be scanned daily.

I composed a carefully worded email and sent it off, but it kept coming back undelivered. Had I written the address down wrong? Had she given it me wrong? So I rang again to find out.

This time I spoke to another lady. She didn’t know why my email was being rejected, but equally she didn’t know why I’d been given the address in the first place, as it wasn’t a Parcel Force parcel. It was UPS. My heart sank.

So once again I tried ringing UPS, but this time it was worse than before. The entire thing was automated, nothing I said gave me access to a human being and when I provided the tracking number this robotic voice just told me my parcel was in transit and would be with me soon.

I knew it was still on the carousel where it had been for over 2 weeks now, but you can’t explain that to a machine, so I have to admit I lost it, shouted and swore a lot. Not that it did any good, save preventing me from having a stroke!!

Having calmed down a bit I tried another email to UPS, written entirely in capitals.

This time I got a sensible reply and an apology of sorts. The invoice I had provided originally was ‘commercial’ after all and this information had now been passed to the appropriate department.

It’s now a week later and my parcel is still rotating around Castle Donnington customs hub. I have no words.

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