For my research, I am always purchasing second-hand books on the internet. As reports had indicated that the service at the Post Office had improved, I took a chance. Instead of paying a courier R100 for a delivery within two days, I would save some money and pay R55 for the Post Office. I might have to wait a few extra days but that was not the end of the world.
Or so I incorrectly thought.
Main picture: Post Office International Mail
In this case, I purchased the book from a seller in Cape Town. I was advised on Tuesday 30th July that the book had been shipped and informed what the waybill number was. At first the parcel seemed to be progressing well because by Thursday it was at the Cape Hub. There it lingered. Possibly taking a holiday as it girded its loins for the long journey up to Gauteng.
After a week of inaction, I phoned the seller in Cape Town to “lean” on the Cape Hub and expedite the parcel. Then came a surprising answer. The scanners at the Krugersdorp Hub, its destination, were not working so they had to assume that the parcel was there already.
Another week passed. Any emails to customer service merely stated that it was still in Cape Town. Even after I explained that surely the parcel could no longer be in Cape Town elicited no response. No offers to check or follow up. Nothing. I could read the status be the online track-and trace. What I expected was somebody to get off their butts and check what was wrong. But that must have been too much to ask for.
Then the Krugersdorp Hub suggested that I visit my local Post Office because it must have been delivered to them by now.
Again I was stymied. The counter stated that as the track-and-trace system stated that the parcel was still in Cape Town, it had to be in Cape Town. I could not convince him to check amongst the old uncollected parcels . No sir. The system, she is correct.
Now I was up the creek without a paddle. I visited the Post office again on two separate occasions. The same response. Was I surprised? No. Was I cross, annoyed, seething? Yes. But he just sat on the chair and would not move his butt to check.
Another week passed. No change of the parcel’s status on the track-and-trace.
In the forlorn hope of a miracle, I emailed the Post Office once again explaining my plight.
Wonders of wonders. A reply appeared within an hour. The parcel was lying at the Post Office.
Within two minutes, I was en route to the Post Office and the elusive book. But that was too easy. The same indolent clerk was there in attendance. “I cannot assist you because the computer is broken”. “But just check in the back”, I replied in exasperation. “But how do I know that it is at the back? But who told you?” I explain that it was customer service who had emailed me. “OK. I will phone them”. The thought of actual checking for a parcel was too outrageous for this man. I knew what would happen when he phoned customer service. And he knew too. For as he finished dialling, he put the receiver down next to the phone. “Sorry, but we are experiencing high call volumes …………..” After the tenth repeat of the message, I could have slammed somebody’s face into the wall.
We both knew that I would not budge. He blinked first and went to the back, coming back with all of that day’s parcels and mail. Even after telling him that it was book, he still opted to check the names on all of the letters. “See not here!” “But those are today’s”. “It probably was received yesterday or the day before”. I then googled the Post Office Track-and-Trace on my cell phone. There it was now for the first time stating that it actually been delivered to the Post Office on the 6th August i.e. two weeks prior.
“Didn’t you receive a notification?”.
“Let me check” as he sauntered off to get the Notifications Book.
“See. Even the Final Notification has been sent to you.”
“Definitely not. I have received nothing”.
“Fetch the Book.”
“I would never have checked there because it is so old”.