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Blog: A Contretemp

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Following on from the devastating events of last week, when London's supposed street of supposed Guitar supposed equipment totally let me down, I bought myself a new case for my guitar online. The nice people at GAK told me it was due to arrive on Monday, gave me a tracking number, and so yesterday morning I settled down to wait. Waiting in for a home delivery? Surely nothing could go wrong!

At around 12:30pm I looked at the tracking page and was surprised to find it was marked "Delivered". This was news to me, so I went downstairs to our mailbox to see if the delivery driver had left me a note - our INTERCOM has been playing up lately, so I thought maybe he'd tried to ring and failed. There was nothing there so I came back and emailed GAK to see if they knew what had happened. I also GOOGLED the FedEx customer helpline (it wasn't showing on the tracking page) and got through to a someone who looked it up and said it had been "left at the maintenance office". When I came off the phone there was an email from GAK saying exactly the same thing - excellent customer service on all counts so far, surely the day would continue in this way?

The "management office" they were talking about is a few doors down the road from us, and is the base of the people who manage all the flats here in THE OLYMPICS. They introduced a scheme last year whereby you could register to have your post left with them if there was nobody home to collect or sign for it, which seemed like a good idea until it turned out that a) they couldn't start it until every single person in all of the blocks had signed up and b) then it didn't work because they refused to tell the postman who lived there, for "data protection" reasons.

Yes. They wouldn't let the postman, who has mail with someone's address on it, leave post for someone AT that address, because admitting they lived there would be "against data protection". I wonder has any government act ever done more to provide excuses for pillocks than the Data Protection Act?

I was thus surprised that the scheme had worked, but pleased that I'd be able to just go and pick up my package. I went down the road, rung the doorbell, was let in, and then... was ignored completely by the lady on reception who'd let me in and was stood with her back to me, watching a colleague fold a bike.

After 30 seconds I said "Hello?" and she turned around. I explained the situation and she asked if I'd had an email from them. I told her no, but knew the package was here because FedEx had told me. "You need an email", she said.

This seemed odd - the package had arrived there at noon (according the FedEx) and it was now twenty to two. That seemed long enough to send an email but still, here I was so all was well. Did she have the parcel?

SOmething of a FUSS was made about having to go and look, then she noticed something under the desk. Hoorah! It was my guitar case! "Collection is from 2pm", she said.

I wasn't quite sure what she mean. "Collection is from 2pm", she repeated. It was 1:40pm now but apparently I couldn't collect my package, which she'd just picked up and was holding 2 feet from me, until 2pm. "What happens at 2pm that makes things different?" i asked. "It's collection hours", she said. "Why's that?" I asked. "It's on the email," she replied. "I didn't have an email," I reminded her.

It felt very much like I was about to say "I don't belieeeeeve it" - surely this couldn't really be happening? I calmed my inner rage/befuddlement and considered just standing there for 20 minutes until The Magical Collection Window opened, and while doing that said - Actually Quite Politely - that this was all a bit ridiculous wasn't it but I'm sure it wasn't her fault as she didn't make this ridiculous policy. To be fair to me, if I'd known there WAS a collection window I would have been a good citizen and waited, but as they'd left me sat around in my flat for ages waiting for a package that they'd already got and hadn't bothered to TELL me about it, I was feeling a little misused.

Anyway, after much tutting, eye rolling, and generally being like an actor in a low quality "That's Life" consumer re-enactment, she very very reluctantly scanned the package into her system (which took so long it nearly WAS 2pm by the time it was done) and handed it over. I smiled and said thank you very nicely but she didn't even look at me, such was her disgust. Still, I walked out of that office with my head held high and a new guitar case under my arm.

I think this may be the most rock and roll story that has ever appeared on this - or ANY OTHER - blog. Take that, THE MAN!

posted 27/1/2015 by MJ Hibbett

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