So I ordered this beautiful bastard for myself last Thursday. I have been saying “I’ll order a telescope next summer” for at least two or three years now and the combination of the end of the school year, my upcoming birthday, and (at the time) the approach of Father’s Day meant that I finally cracked.
I am an Amazon Prime member, which means that I get everything shipped two-day priority. I ordered my telescope along with a few other telescope-related items on Thursday. It was to arrive on Saturday.
I spent all day Saturday staying in the house and waiting. I had a bunch of things to do that day but it seemed like poor decision-making to allow the post office to leave a $500 telescope plus another $100 or so in other miscellaneous items on my doorstep, so I stayed home until it arrived. I happened to be looking out my front window at the exact right second (okay, fine, I’d been pacing in front of it for hours) when I saw the mailman struggling to carry a package up my driveway. I raced out there to take it from him, both from impatience and compassion, as he was old and seemed to be having a hard time with it.
I was halfway back to my house before I realized that while, yes, the package I’d been handed by the postman was large and heavy, it wasn’t nearly large and heavy enough. Somehow, though, by the time I turned around– which didn’t take that long– the postman who had been old and decrepit a second ago was fucking Usain Bolt all the sudden and dude was gone.
They’d just shipped me the base. Or at least I’d just received the base. I’d only gotten one tracking number. So… did the scope itself never ship? Or was that just still in transit?
I place my first call to Amazon customer service, after finding their number online. A very helpful man named Jin answers. Jin instructs me to wait until Monday afternoon and see if the scope is just delayed. If it hasn’t shown up by Monday, he says, he’ll call me and we can send another scope.
‘Kay. This is disappointing, but I can deal.
On Sunday, I take another look at the box and note that it says “1 of 1” on it in very small print on the shipping label. I email customer service and point this out and suggest that this means that the scope never shipped. On Sunday, I receive the rest of my order, but not the scope itself. I am frustrated, but I follow instructions.
On Monday I talk to Jin again. Jin agrees to ship me a second entire telescope. It is to arrive on Wednesday. On Thursday, I am to take the box with the superfluous base in it and place it on my front porch for UPS to collect and return on Amazon’s dime.
I spend all day Monday and Tuesday looking at the tracking information for the new box and noting that it is not updating. At all. On my way home from work today I basically follow the postman to my driveway as I’m getting home (right behind the driver, I swear) and am not startled to discover that he has no box for me.
Okay. Now I’m mad. Amazon says the box is still in someplace called Lebanon, Tennessee, where I have never been but I uncharitably assume is a hellhole where they don’t like science and so they’re not shipping my telescopes.
But okay. It’s just late. It’ll be here tomorrow, right?
Waiting on my porch.
While I’m at work.
Where UPS is expecting to find a package to pick up and send back to Amazon.
I place my second call to Amazon customer service. I speak to Dee Dee. I explain to Dee Dee that I need the UPS pickup cancelled. Dee Dee isn’t quite as on the ball as Jin was, and doesn’t quite understand why, and I have to go through the whole thing with her again, and I have to explain to her that I don’t want UPS to take the telescope that Amazon just sent me and send it right back to them, and since no one will be home and no one ever reads notes I really don’t trust UPS to just figure this out.
She eventually figures it out and cancels the pickup and sends me a prepaid label. I have to mail the box back myself now, but that will be fine.
I look again at the tracking information. Can she explain to me what’s going on here? This has been the sole tracking information for something like 40 hours at this point:
“Call USPS,” she tells me. “We sent it. It’s their problem now.”
At this point things begin to go wrong.
Go ahead. Google the phrase “real person USPS customer service.” Their fucking robot is horrible, refusing to connect you to a real person ever, helpfully reading information back to you that is already on the computer screen in front of you, and generally inspiring hate-filled, frothing rage. My normal trick whenever faced with voice-recognition customer service robots is to begin spewing racial epithets and profanity into the phone. Believe it or not, this frequently actually works. You just have to make absolutely sure you’ve turned off the spigot before the person picks up, or they will be quite upset with you and for good reason.
This method does not work. I call this computer everything but a child of God– and I am a very creative cusser-outer– and it gets me nowhere. Actually, it gets me hung up on.
Long story short, the solution is to mash 0 over and over again, regardless of how much the computer complains at you. Just keep hitting 0 until she shuts up and you’re clearly on hold. Which will take 25 minutes. Oh! I almost forgot. While all this is going on, I’m attempting to create a myUSPS account, because their website suggests that doing that will provide you with additional tracking information about your packages. In order to do this, you have to answer several multiple-choice challenge questions about, like, your fucking life. Things like which of these streets have you lived on? and, alarmingly, which of these five companies holds your mortgage?
How the bloody blazing fuck does the USPS website have access to this shit? Are you fucking kidding me?
This does not help my mood. At this point my head is full of fuck and my brain is full of murder.
Enter Cece. Yes, I just went from Deedee to Cece. Cece, who may very well spend all day every day dealing with angry psychotics who have been driven insane by the USPS’ horrible phone service, is incredibly good at her job.
She also cannot help me. But she’s got me apologizing to her by the end of the conversation, and I wasn’t even mean.
Here’s the deal: Amazon uses– wait for it– UPS to deliver packages from their warehouses to the USPS. Those packages don’t get UPS tracking numbers. UPS just picks them up from the Amazon warehouse and drops them off at whatever post office they drop them off at. That tracking status I’ve been looking at means that USPS was told a package was coming and it never arrived. This is still Amazon’s fault. Well, technically, it’s UPS’ fault.
“You tell me. Who should I call next?” I ask.
“Try UPS,” she says. “But don’t expect much.”
UPS has an online live chat system, which I use so I don’t have to listen to hold music or talk to a computer. I get Justin. I begin the conversation by asking Justin what the main ingredient is in tomato soup. He gets it right, proving himself to my satisfaction to be a person and not a chatbot.
Justin cannot help me. He refers me back to Amazon. This is disappointing but not surprising. I can imagine a world where a dedicated customer service person with access to a lot of information might be able to help me out here but I doubt he has the access. At this point, I’m pretty sure the telescope has fallen off the truck and I basically just want someone to tell me what the procedure is when your shit has been stolen.
(A pause for an important note: I have placed 23 orders with Amazon in 2015 alone. Nothing like this has ever happened before, and I do a lot of business online. Just for the record.)
I take a few deep breaths. And I call Amazon for the third time. I get Karen. Hi, Karen!
I explain everything to Karen. I tell her that at this point it has been over 40 hours since someone called the post office and said “Hey, we’re bringing this over” and that I just want to know what to do to convince Amazon that 1) No, I’m not a thief (because I know that not getting two $500 items in two days is kinda suspicious) and 2) that this thing is gone and that they need to send me another one, and this one bloody fucking well better be overnighted.
“It’s in Kenosha,” she says.
“The fuck you mean it’s in Kenosha?” I ask, the profanity slipping out without me meaning to, and luckily she laughs.
“The tracking update came through thirty seconds ago,” she said. “It’s in Kenosha.”
I find myself in the distinctly odd position of being pissed that my shit isn’t lost.
So… UPS’ job is to get it from Amazon’s warehouse into the post office’s hands… and they took it from Tennessee to Wisconsin?
Because, note, it’s still not with the post office. Arrived “at Amazon facility.”
“Okay,” I tell her. “I give up. I’m going to assume it’ll be here tomorrow. Thank you for not being mad when I cussed at you.”
“It’s all right,” she says. “Happens all the time.”
And I hang up.
And then it hits me. This thing was supposed to cross through Illinois into Wisconsin yesterday, from Tennessee?
The weather was hell yesterday across most of the midwest. Tornadoes and derechos and all sorts of nasty shit. Illinois in particular got hammered. I don’t know if it got shipped via ground to Kenosha or flown, but either way wasn’t nobody going nowhere yesterday safely.
So, 1750 words later: Amazon! You can’t email a motherfucker and say sorry, the weather sucks and it’s gonna make your shit late? Because that woulda been okay. And it ain’t like you didn’t know.
Damn thing best show up tomorrow or we gonna have a misunderstanding, though.