Thursday, 16 April 2009

Your Shipment Of Fail



I fully understand the stress and pain caused by the failure of things to be where they should be and when they should be, I really do. Despite my wizard-like skills of moving your shit across my global playing-board, I do still suffer like any other person when my USB-plasma-ball from the US arrives broken. But a few pointers, which if you take them onboard, shall assist you.

1. It’s almost certainly not the drivers fault that your shit is late/damaged/just plain wrong.

This is key. Your goods may have travelled from a nearby city, or they may have travelled from the opposite end of the planet, but this much remains constant : The guy bringing these items to your door lifted them from the depot earlier that same day. He knows little and cares less for the fact that your new wooden flooring is two weeks late; he is just a driver. Don’t shout at him. Don’t even bother mentioning it to him. For starters, all you will achieve is wasting some of his time and possibly just maybe making him miss some other delivery later that day. Your complaints will go clean over his head, and even if he does return to the depot and start bawling into the office about how upset you were, the folks in the office will similarly completely ignore him, since anyone who thinks results are gotten by complaining to short-run delivery-drivers is plainly a fool to be ignored. Pissing off the driver leads to more things being late, the driver being annoyed, the driver annoying me, me annoying someone else – just don’t do it.

2. If you need special treatment, specify it up front.

If you have ordered a tonne of marble tiles, it would be wise to consider how the hell you’re going to get them off the delivery van. We are busy people. If you need two people and a ramp and a forklift to get these goods off a van – either call us and tell us (and expect to be charged for it) or have the necessary facilities to deal with it. Do not phone me when it arrives at your house and ask me how you're supposed to get it in your door, I not only don't give a shit but I will charge you extra.

3. If In Doubt

Writing “unchecked” or similar on a delivery note is legally worthless. If it’s something fragile, open it right there in front of the driver, and if it’s damaged, write DAMAGED on the delivery note. Fail to do this, and you have no hope. If you think it’s likely – take the insurance. This may seem obvious but just to be 100% clear – Without The Insurance, You Are Not Insured.

4. Honey Not Vinegar

Working in shipping involves dealing with a lot of angry, stressed out people. Everything relies on stuff being there in time. Your new bathtub being a week late with a hole in the side just isn't that big a deal to us. We have people on hold on line 2 threatening to take us to court because we’ve caused an oil-well in Nairobi to shut down for two weeks at a cost of £400,000 an hour. I know you think your problem is serious but it really isn’t. Your average shipping-monkey responds well to people being nice, reasonable and not shouting. If you nicely ask if I could possibly help, there is a strong chance I’ll act like a human being just for you, since if I’m helping out Someone Nice it keeps me away from being on the line with Mr. Angry Legal Action in Kenya, ok?

5. Get a Name.

Get my name, at the start of the conversation, and write it down. When someone shouts out “Was anybody talking to a really angry man about the turds all over his new sofa?”, how many people do you think put their hands up in the office and go “ME ME ME ME ME!”?

6. Get a Tracking Number.

Where tracking numbers are in use, get it, and get it early, from the people you ordered the stuff from. Do not phone me, or any other shipping-monkey, and ask us to trawl through a database designed in 1982 to try and manually find stuff that sure as shit was probably ordered under your wife's name or something.

7. “The Problem Is Out of My Hands”

The ship sank, the truck exploded, war broke out, an earthquake affected the region – take it, suck it up, and fuck off. If it’s true, it means I have real serious problems right now and don’t give a shit about your issues. If it’s a lie, it means I have other serious problems bad enough to warrant me lying and therefore I still don’t give a shit about your issues. If you’re pleasant to me about the whole thing, the guilt will get to me quite soon and I’ll fix your problem.

8. Taxes Are Not Optional

Import duty, VAT, your local equivalent – they are not optional, they are not decided by us, and there is no legal way around them. If you have a problem with the fact the cheap stuff you bought from Tunisia turns out to be taxed to all hell upon arrival, phone the government and tell them. Such taxes are in place to protect your local economies and stop the third-world being bled dry for a pittance wherever possible. Deal with it.

9. I Want To Talk To A Manager

Well here’s news. Most of us want to talk to one too, but the chances are they’re either busy dealing with something important, or busy playing golf, or just busy being a fuckwad. Managers are not any more capable than the basic ground-level operator of bending the laws of spacetime to get your shit there more quickly and in all likelihood won’t take your call, so all you’ll achieve is getting me to put you sub-basement on my ladder of “shit I might actually sort out”.

10. Don’t Haggle

When I give you the price, that’s the price. Don’t ask me for “my best price”. Don’t tell me you can get it cheaper elsewhere because I frankly don’t give a shit; if you can get it cheaper elsewhere, go and do so. Don’t habitually ask me to reduce any given price by X amount or else I get into the habit of adding X amount onto “my best price” just so I can give you a reduction to bring it back down to what I wanted to charge you anyway. Give it up.

11. Shit Happens

In every city in every country in the whole world there are warehouses staffed by people working for very low wages, and they are all dirty, smelly and full of badly-labelled boxes of all shapes and sizes, some of which may have been there since the 1800's. Your goods are less than a drop in the ocean. The will pass through several or many such places, be handled by hordes of the great unwashed, to then be loaded into a variety of dirty, dusty vehicles of all kinds – shit happens. The whole procedure of things getting from A to B relies entirely on human beings and is a reasonably hit and miss kind of affair. Stuff gets lost, stuff gets broken. Deal with it, stay calm, take insurance, and ask nicely.

You have not been charged for this service.


  1. this should be printed, posted and delivered to the entire country

  2. I would, but it would probably just get lost en-route.

  3. #9. Let me guess, if you did put them through to your manager she'd be having a lucid day.

  4. So few people realize how invaluable simply being polite to whatever poor phonemonkey you're talking to really is. The simple fact is, be kind and reasonable to the person on the other end of the line, and you will almost always get what you need, and sometimes even get what you want.

  5. Ahh, nostalgically re-reading the archives in case it's all about to disappear.

    When I emigrated I had 9kg of excess baggage warranting a GBP 306 charge.

    This was after the frantic, hysterical re-packing:
    Me (talking quickly and giggling): WhatshallwetakeoutI'vegotashoehowaboutthisshoe?
    My sis (calmly): How about taking out both shoes or neither?
    Me: Or wineI'vegotwinewecoulddrinkthewinenow?
    Sis: I don't think you need to start necking wine in the check-in queue, why don't I take it home with me.

    Anyway, the nice lady at the counter said we were so polite and tried so hard to comply that she waived our fine. Apparently people usually just scream at her when she says their bags are too heavy.

    I took her name and sent a letter to the airline's headoffice, telling them she was ace. Still waiting for the karma to materialise in free upgrades...