Thursday, June 02, 2005

Parcel Farce

I needed to order some new oxygen sensors for my rebreather.

They are cheaper in the US than in the UK, plus you can sometimes avoid paying VAT if you import them. Typical thing, you pay $50 each in the US or £50 each in the UK.

I need them for my next dive trip which is just over a week away, but that should be enough time. I order them online and cross my fingers. I order 3 for myself and 3 for Gordy.

The day before I am due to depart, I find a letter from Parcel Force, the parcel handling branch of the Post Office. The letter is to tell me that my parcel has arrived and I have £50 to pay in VAT and handling fees.

Hmm, a letter? Why have they not just delivered it?

There is a phone number to ring to arrange payment and subsequent delivery from their depot 6 miles away. Umm, why is it not at my local sorting office as normal for this kind of thing, it is only half a mile away.

I try and try and try the phone number. Never any answer.

I have to get off work early to go to collect the parcel the next day. It takes nearly 2 hours to drive to the depot in heavy traffic. At the depot is a large queue of people waiting to pick up parcels. The phone is ringing the whole time. I eventually ask one of the staff if that is the same number that they say you can phone to arrange delivery. Er, yes, he says, but we are too busy to answer it, tell my boss, we are sick of hearing this. Everyone in the queue goes apeshit.

To add insult to injury, the £50 fee includes a £13 "handling fee" from Parcel Force, which under the circumstances I would say was a bleeding liberty! Especially ironic was the wording of the letter from them saying they had my parcel, where they stated that they were "holding the parcel for my convenience" instead of actually delivering it to my door and then asking me to write a cheque on the spot.

Yes, thanks, that was indeed extremely convenient.