one reason I've avoided looking at the fashion scene lately...

Bad weather, strained tendon/sore ankle, and general fogginess combined to make me think that internet shopping was the best way to deal with presents for Christmas 2014. I didn't realize that the Great Christmas Shopping Disaster of Doom had happened until I belatedly checked my shipping notices to make sure things were arriving on time.

Sure, I got a phone call from the internet retailer with which I'd placed orders for many  most of the presents, taking grand advantage of a 30% + 10% + free shipping no minimum event that happened on a day when I was skiving off work and chores keeping the ankle iced and elevated. I even sent trinkets and stocking stuffers to little kids I'd already gifted.

Anyway, this charming person was calling to alert me that one (JUST ONE!) of my gifts might not arrive before Christmas. The company would honor its promise to get all orders placed by some date or other, delivered by Christmas, and would therefore overnight a replacement, at no charge to me.

I smelled trouble. Yes, I did. I told her not to bother. This was not a gift that the little 8-year-old recipient had requested, it was a last-minute impulse, and here was fate telling me that she wouldn't like it anyway. Cancel it, or let her mother hide it for next year.


The caller insisted.

I begged her to refrain.

She insisted.

I asked about all the Other Stuff I'd ordered the same day (which by the end of that day had also included some pretty good grabs for me). The carriers had reported no problems, she told me, so I didn't need to worry about the Other Stuff.

I yielded.

Early on Christmas Eve (not a creature was stirring except Ms. Kinnaus - rest of verse to be saved for another occasion), I hobbled over to the computer and checked the shipping confirmations. Every single item ordered after the tiny trinket was on its way across the country to the soon-to-be puzzled 8-year-old. This is kind of like the time a just-engaged cousin (age 45) opened the wrong package - hand-knit knee warmers for dear arthritic Nana! - and held a grudge forever after. We won't go there.

As best I could tell, when the helpful V. Personal Shopper  Stylist  Dingbat shipped out the little trinket, she left the lucky kid's address as the default shipping address. In my medicated bleariness I hadn't noticed when I'd first glanced at the shipping confirms (many orders, many more packages...).

A few phone calls later, I learned:
               >  if a package is going ordinary UPS, it may be possible to intercept and redirect it.
               >  however, only the actual shipper can "initiate a redirect," not the shipper's customer.
               >   if a package is passing through a Post Office, interception will not be possible.
               >   it is counter-productive to let terms like "search and destroy" pass one's lips.

I spoke with the 8-year-old's grandma, who was visiting them for Christmas. When she stopped laughing, she agreed that she would open all packages from the Retail Merchant of Despair, slip the little trinket into the kid's stocking, and email me a list of the rest of the loot. I in turn suggested that she keep anything she could use, pass on the camis, pajamas, clutches, etc., to other female relatives as they showed up on Christmas, and we'd call it An Experience. She just laughed some more. I warned her that even though there had been only a handful of orders, we had to allow for the possibility that there could be an infinite number of packages, given that many orders come from random stores. She continued laughing. A few delivery hours remained, thanks to the East/West time difference.
The RMOD emailed me free return labels, which I forwarded to Helpful Grandma. Another helpful person called to reassure me that interception/redirect orders had been placed. People were astoundingly sympathetic to the cause of Not Letting the Rest of the Family Know How Much Fred Can Spend If She Tries, although I must point out that there's a big difference between Sympathetic and Effective.

As it turned out, NOTHING HAD ARRIVED ANYWHERE IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS INCLUDING BOTH THE ORIGINAL AND THE REPLACEMENT TRINKETS THAT WERE THE CAUSE OF ALL THIS UPROAR.

Twelfth Night came. Twelfth Night went. Helpful Grandma went home. January dreared on. The RMOD's first two attempts at intercepting merch in the hands of UPS had no discernible effect, other than that UPS had been notified and some of the merch had stopped moving. Apparently the "redirect" part of the task had caused confusion. A few more calls got a few things moving again.

I'd ordered a few goofy things for myself - out of curiosity - free shipping, no final sale, and all that. The Goofy Things were untraceable. By early February it was clear that they would remain so. More phone calls. I negotiated refunds, promising faithfully that if the stuff ever showed up, I'd alert them.

And last week came a call from a Pacific Coast relative, to let me know that a hand-addressed envelope from the RMOD had arrived - personally addressed to me but at their address. Feeling I'd earned a gift card, I asked him to open and read the missive. No gift card.

It was a sweet little note from the first VP Dingbat, thanking me for letting her assist me with my Christmas shopping.

20 comments:

  1. I shouldn't laugh at your misfortune but you do tell such a good tale that it's hard not to.

    I would start shopping for Christmas 2015 now, just to be on the safe side.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Trish, thanks! I think I've already decided that everyone will get either a gift card to Amazon or an acknowledgement of a (ahem, minimum) donation to Heifer International.

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  2. I giggled. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."- Thomas Edison. I am guilty , as well.

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    Replies
    1. Well, I have no plans to repeat this adventure!

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  3. How awful for you (and a very entertaining read for me this morning with my coffee).

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    Replies
    1. I'm sure I'll reach the point where "funny" will outweigh "annoyed." Really I am.

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  4. Isn't internet shopping fun! I now check to make sure what I've ordered isn't coming from China, I've sadly learned that may take a year and a day.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, an inadvertent trip across North America, and back again, and back out again - enough.

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  5. Hello,

    Oh dear, such an apocalyptic shopping tale, surely guaranteed to keep you away from online shopping for a considerable time. Well, today at least!

    We must confess to have laughed out loud at your tale of woe.....well, better than your finding out by some other devious means.....but our laughter must have been in nervousness as we can empathise with everything you write here. There must be a training school somewhere, possibly in deepest Malaysia, in the art of persuasiveness even in the face of adversity, for Internet salespeople since they all, to a man and a woman, never give up.......or deliver!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, there are training schools. I've learned the hard way to distinguish among the voice of someone reading a script, someone completely fuddled, and someone who would really like to help but can't find the script and/or directions for doing so.

      Thank you for "apocalyptic," I love it!

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  6. Oh my goodness. The best part is the note you received, but what a giant headache! I'm guessing no online ordering this Christmas? ;)

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Dani, the misdirected note was indeed the cherry on top of the cupcake. I left out the part where - as a safeguard - I removed all addresses from the "address book" on the account, and I did that two weeks before the date on the note.

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  7. That is definitely a tale of woe. I guess the only thing that could have been more torturous would have been if each and every item had arrived individually, day after day. When I place an order, I try to guesstimate what will actually be sent from the warehouse in one package to decide if I really want to order it. As it is I hide from the UPS man when I hear his truck in the driveway!

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Teacups, I didn't detail the series of arrivals and calls/emails, but there was some of that, too.

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  8. Replies
    1. I'm waiting for the time when I remember it as funny.

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  9. Omg, what a saga! I had something similar happen to me with my PBTeen order, not shipped first, then replacement only received end of Jan, then wrong address used to ship other stuff and all they offered me as apology was an expedited shipping on my next order. So I know it is not funny when it happens but the way you tell it it made me laugh regardless and both your story and mine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Escaped furniture at large? It probably had help from the intrepid dishwasher that Best Buy sent to 3 different warehouses in 3 different states. They couldn't deliver to "the city," and I couldn't get the order cancelled. Hubs sat on the couch making "oh kill me now" faces and noises while I worked the phone.

      Delete
  10. How can you not laugh at something so ridiculous but so true. I received the camera I ordered, with credit card points, in November for Em's Christmas gift. It came last week. I also dread ordering multiple items from a single retailer just to have them arrive one at a time, day after day.

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    Replies
    1. Where do we think all tihs stuff hides?

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