Yacht Rant: Going Postal

I don’t just work on a yacht, I live on one, and with this comes the over-complication of otherwise basic tasks.

Today I had the pleasure of calling the US Postal Service to track a package I had meant to receive two weeks ago in what is now another city in another country altogether.  If there’s anyone I love waiting on hold for the most, it’s these guys.  Only with the USPS will your combined time spent speaking with human (this is an important component) representatives equal  <1% of the total call time.

Here’s the backstory:  With E’s second birthday (now rapidly) approaching in mid September, I, being the stellar nanny that I am, ordered a present a month in advance set to arrive while we were still at a port in Alaska, because while stellar, I’m still cheap and wanted to avoid international taxes and shipping.  Anyway, the present to trump all presents was ordered to arrive within a short window of being in port.  Living on a yacht and moving constantly means that this requires surgical precision planning.  Messages in a bottle are no longer a preferred method.

With one day left in Ketchikan, I was tracking this package like the NSA on every Arab-born American.  To my horror, I see the message everyone fears: “Unable to deliver package.”  But wait, what’s this?  A new expected delivery date?  FEDEX WHY ARE YOU PLAYING WITH MY EMOTIONS?

7+ days, or never.

7+ days, or never.

After calling FedEx, Amazon’s preferred shipping partner, I was informed that “there are some places in Alaska that FedEx doesn’t ship to.”  Oh, great.  The consolation is that they transfer the packages in question over to the fine folks at the USPS.

This was all well and good but then we left port and I was without cell service for over a week as we were alternating between remote anchorages and “towns” the size of small parking lots.

I finally had reception today now that we’ve reached civilization here in Vancouver Island, Canada (on my Canadian cell- another one of my yacht life complications) and made the long awaited call to the USPS.  After a good 25 minutes on hold, which I should feel lucky about because I’ve heard of far worse, I reached a woman who obviously missed 3rd grade geography class and transferred me to the “international” department to track my package in… Alaska.  Of course.

Apparently a lot of people are confused.

Apparently a lot of people are confused.

I wasn’t really sure how to correct my ill-informed representative/friend without coming off as a pretentious douche but luckily she put me back on hold before I even had the chance.  After another 15 minutes back on hold, I was connected to someone in what I can only presume was a call center in India.  This conversation unsurprisingly went nowhere as well and after 45 long minutes on the phone, I was back at square one.

If you listen closely you can hear the "Jeopardy" jingle.

If you listen closely you can hear the “Jeopardy” jingle.

Obviously I’m not the only one who has had issues with mail, but I can tell you that in the three years since I broke into this industry, it has been exponentially more complicated and headache inducing.  I’ve had lost packages and rerouted packages, and once I even missed out on a day work opportunity while on the phone trying to track a package. Mail, I give up.


Look’s like E’s getting a macaroni necklace this year.


One response to “Yacht Rant: Going Postal

  1. Here’s the pertinent bit that really burns my butt, and that’s when the business entity that requires you wait on hold only to speak to another robo-handler doesn’t give you the courtesy of an oft announced estimated queue waiting time. At least that minor/minimal courtesy places the power of some small but oh so important knowledge in the brains of the customer/client (you know, the one whom all these mega-corporations profess to be so very concerned about as in “”your business is of the utmost importance to us”). With that small bit of information the caller has enough info to be able to abandon the call waiting ship if something else comes up that overrides the importance of waiting interminably for no clear pot of gold at the end of the travail (you know, like having to give in to the inevitable exigency of taking a crap, f’rinstance; how many times has that happened to all of us?). What drives me crazy is that this is the most basic of customer service notions that most seem to not only forget, but seemingly gleefully ignore by rubbing our faces in anonymity and powerlessness and in their face of blatant hubris. I’ve long suspected that as a species we are most of us inevitable headed toward or long having been relegated to Delta status (see Huxley’s Brave New World), with the Alphas the new Lords of all. This call waiting/robo-handling fact of our lives is only one small but irrefutable bit of evidence in that regard. This all is why, whenever I actually do get to speak to a human, I emphasize this fact and STRONGLY URGE that if customer service is ACTUALLY a goal, that an estimated queue waiting time announcement would go a long way to demonstrating that it may be true. [Also, one other bit you mentioned in a backhand manner, but I will emphasize, if the USPS, for all its frustrating mega-scope and power, were ever to be privatized — as some are calling for — many communities would be really strapped for package/mail delivery, except at a very high cost. Without the USPS, whom would FedEx hand off to? Be vary careful what you hope for.]

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