Bureaucracy Brain

Having been academically trained in both sociology and psychology, I don’t know who to be angry with when venting my frustrations: myself or the bureaucratic systems with which I interact.  May I start with the postal and delivery bureaucracy?

Our business, my husband and mine, uses some digital delivery but we have and do rely on traditional package delivery for the bulk of our product delivery.  Ninety nine percent of the time this goes without a hitch, thank you.

However, a certain delivery company has befuddled me off and on for about a year.  I’ve rarely had to use them but on occasion a customer requests them.  Thrice now, we’ve had problems with what appears on the surface like it should be a fluid process of online shipping.  Appearances deceive.

I admit that I have made mistakes in the past with their online forms.  I input an incorrect customer billing account number.  I paid, specifically eighteen dollars, for that mistake.  They were going to charge me thirty-six dollars but forgave me eighteen, one time and one time only, after I pitched a fit.

I vowed I’d never make that mistake again.  But I am a smidge leery now when completing those online forms.  Having made that unnecessarily costly mistake, I’m very careful now.

So, I went into a royal tizzy when the delivery driver one day shortly after the holidays, handed me a package that I had diligently sent, nearly a week prior.  I momentarily expected him to hand me a gift or something nice that I had ordered.  But this can’t be!

Why was it returned?  Stamped all over my original label was something like, “incorrect street address, undeliverable.”  I feared déjà vu, and panicked a little; had I made another mistake?

I spent the rest of my day making phone call after call, trying to sort this out between my customer, and the delivery company.  I minutely observed the company’s webpage containing details of my shipment, double checking account numbers and alternate addresses.  All day, mind you.

I’m like a dog with a bone when there’s a problem to be dealt with.  Until it’s solved, I’m on the job.

With that particular problem, it was the company bureaucracy gone awry.  Plain and simple.  They claimed the address on our label was incorrect.  But my customer confirmed it was indeed their correct address and they receive deliveries all the time at that address.

So, at their behest, we switched out labels and sent the package again, with an apology and a “we’ll delete that first label and bill.”  The package was delivered a few days hence without further incident.

You understand my trepidation when yet another customer asks us to use that delivery company.  It was too soon, after the first trauma, ha-ha.

But I carefully and diligently packaged the product, presented it at the front door, alongside packages for two other delivery companies, and carried on with my day.  Don’t you know that package laid there overnight and was never picked up.

Oh, my heavenly goodness, geez and golly!  I can think of no more, even half-way civil ways to express my dismay.  Un-believable.

I knew it wasn’t a good idea to start my morning with a phone call to that company, but everything I could do online was exhausted.   I started the call armed with pickup and tracking confirmation numbers on my computer screen, and the best and most hopeful and positive attitude I could muster.

I kind of held my breath and dialed.  Here goes.

I hung up and started over a few times because I got stuck when guessing which number to push, in the automated system.  This time, right away I demanded a representative or agent or whatever they call a human being.

Not sure I was happy with the person I got, I really tried to stay positive and calm.  I remember making myself speak slowly, softly and stick to the facts.

After supplying those numbers on my screen along with confirming the addressee’s details – don’t ask me what that had to do with not picking up the package – she came back with, “I can’t confirm that pickup.  Our system doesn’t recognize those numbers.  If you can find a driver or deliver it to a pickup site you can send it that way.”

I could feel my blood pressure rising and I automatically deep breathed.  I said quite factually, “your system generated those numbers, how can your system not recognize the numbers it generated?”  I then suggested, I thought quite reasonably, that she cancels their bogus pickup and unrecognizable numbers and generate a brand-new pickup for this package.  She said, “well that will be another $10.49.”

I truly couldn’t believe what was happening in that moment.  I felt myself losing, my now fragile mental health.

I started to raise my voice.  You know how you do that because something inside you thinks they surely didn’t understand or hear you during the last fifteen minutes.  So, you get louder in hopes that they will get it through a bolder delivery method.

“Are you kidding me,” I shrieked.  “Your company shows on my history page on your website, a pickup number which your company now says it doesn’t recognize and you want me to pay you more money to correct your error in giving me a bogus pickup number, to give me a viable pickup umber?  I think I need to speak to a supervisor.”

She said the only thing anyone could do there is suggest that we find a driver or delivery store nearby.  Hang up.

Later in the day, we found a driver in the parking lot next door.  Can you say, never again!

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