Here’s a sad story about how hard it is to receive a parcel in Dublin these days. It’s not a ringing endorsement of An Post, our national postal service, rather the opposite.
In early November I ordered some books from Amazon UK, and rather than using Parcel Motel, as is my norm, I decided ‘Hey, this is simple. I’ll just get them delivered to my door by An Post.’ BIG mistake.
Sunday November 11 – as I am watching the ceremonies to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, I get a text from An Post. Basically it says ‘your parcel is ready for delivery – so click this link to select delivery options. Netting it down, I was offered a number of choices to follow ‘if I was not at home when the delivery arrived’. So I entered an instruction along the lines of – ‘if no-one is home, leave the parcel in the porch’. Easy, joined-up thinking, I liked it. Except that’s not how it worked out, not even close.
Monday 12th came, and went. Tuesday 13th came. Still no parcel. I began to wonder if it had been stolen out of our porch by unscrupulous book thieves. Unlikely, but hey, your mind starts to wonder/wander.
On Tuesday night I decided to log onto An Post’s ‘parcel tracking service’ and lo and behold, when I typed in my 13 digit code I saw that it had actually ‘been assigned a delivery route’ the previous day, ie Monday. Which could only mean that, as it had not yet come, it’d be surely be delivered the next day, Wednesday 14th. And if no-one was home, my helpful instruction regarding the porch could/would be followed. Well, no. Wednesday came and went. No delivery.
So in the absence of any other ideas I phoned An Post’s ‘Customer Service Number’ on Thursday 15 November 2018. After speaking my tracking number into the phone the voice (you know the one) said ‘this service is unavailable’ so ‘please wait for the next available operator’. I did. After about 10 minutes of ‘we are experiencing high levels of calls’ and ‘you have been waiting for a very long period of time (I knew this) but your call is important to us’ I finally got to speak to a human.
He was relatively understanding and said that since the system did not give him the information he needed, he’d have to phone my local parcel depot where the delivery would/should/might emanate from. He came back after a few minutes to say that ‘no one was picking up’ so he’d try the manager. Then the manager didn’t pick up either, so the human on the helpdesk wrote an e-mail to the manager and talked me through the text, which basically said ‘where is this customer’s parcel’? Then sent it. I asked if it’d help if I called to the parcel depot. The man said that I’d probably be wasting my time because the parcel could be out for delivery.
However, I decided that since I was probably going to have to work from home that afternoon (on the off chance that the parcel might arrive), and as the Parcel office was more or less en route, I’d call in anyway. Another dead end. The man behind the bulletproof glass went and checked and said ‘it’s not here’. And so it’s ‘probably out for delivery’. I suggested that four days (now my best possible outcome) to deliver a parcel 2km away was ‘not great’. He told me – despite my incredulity – that ‘if a parcel from Amazon was taken to a house and could not be delivered, ‘they didn’t leave any note to say ‘we missed you’ but just brought the parcel back about three times’. By now – my mistake – my blood pressure was so high that I forgot to mention my own instruction (remember that, where my woes started?) to ‘leave the package in the porch’. I doubt it would have changed anything anyway. But my 90 seconds with the man behind the bulletproof glass was up, so I trudged home, hopefully. Possibly it was actually sitting in my porch already?
It wasn’t. But before I made it home, I saw an An Post van delivering parcels about 500m from my house. Losing all inhibitions, I pulled in in front of him and gently asked the driver, who was a bit taken aback (lest I be some kind of crazy guy), if he might perchance have a package for my house number. I waved the tracking number hopefully in front of him. Sadly, he indicated that he ‘only delivered big parcels’. Then, in fairness, seeing my glum face, he suggested I visit the Delivery Office as ‘they should know who has it’. I grimaced and said that I had just come from there. But – I said – ‘who knows, it may be waiting for me down the road’. But, as you already know, it wasn’t.
So at this juncture, late on Thursday 15 November 2018, my parcel has been ‘lost in space’ for about four days, between my house and a parcel depot about 2km way. I’m afraid to leave the house in case someone does actually try to deliver. On the positive side, it’ll be the weekend before I run out of milk. If I try to phone the parcel office, I’ll be diverted to a queue at the call centre. The current status of my package on the An Post ‘track and trace’ website is (since Monday) ‘assigned delivery route’. And I don’t know what to do next. I did find – and Tweet at – an An Post twitter handle who suggested I log a call with their Customer Service desk (see above). Then silence.
I do however know one thing for sure. Next time I’ll be using Parcel Motel.