Monday, August 18, 2008

Alaska: The Eighth Continent

Listen, dear readers, to my tale of woe:

So, on the 7th, I ordered the special edition of Soulcalibur IV from Best Buy online. I did this because (1) I'm a sucker for anything that says "special edition;" and (2) nobody in town had the special edition in stock. In fact, to this day, it's difficult to find the standard edition in Anchorage. At any rate, I paid the $2.99 shipping charge because it was that or a $16 shipping charge. My choices were a bit constrained. This is something I will never, ever do again.

My order confirmation suggests that my package will arrive between the 12th and the 18th, which I, perhaps stupidly, believe. Thus the days ramble on with no Soulcalibur in sight, and eventually I come to accept that my game will not arrive until the days leading up to the 18th. Note that it's the 18th today. At any rate, I take to perpetually checking the status of the package's journey online. This epic trek began somewhere in Ohio, where the game was moved from Best Buy's warehouse to Cincinnati, and on the 9th, it was "processed."

And there it stayed, as "processed," for the next nine days. I was ready to call and yell at somebody this morning when I noted with glee that, as of today, it had been processed and shipped from Washington state. But I could get no further information from the tracking website, and I could reach no human voice on the phone. So I ran to the post office today in hopes of finding more information.

They were able to tell me that the package was shipped by boat, not plane, and the trip from Washington to Alaska could take as long as a week. And I imagine, as I am now extremely cynical, that the trip from the Anchorage harbor to my mailbox could take another week. Hell, maybe they'll dock in Seward, then drive it up to Anchorage. There's gotta be a slower way. Maybe toss my package on a canoe and let the mailman explore the streams and rivers between Seward and Anchorage, stopping every so often to rest, eat, sleep, and hike between the waterways. I have resigned to the idea that I will not be playing Soulcalibur IV until I return from PAX. In September. Thus, by casting my expectation that far forward, I will not be disappointed but pleasently surprised to find the package on my front porch before that date.

A similar problem has held up my fossil cat book. Of the three books ordered last week (longer?), one of them was on backorder, but rather than send that book separately, Barnes & Nobel wisely held on to both of the other books, choosing instead to send all three at the same time. This package will not be sent out until August 26th, eight days from now, and two days before PAX. I was hoping to take this book with me on the plane!

So I'm now torn about ordering ANYTHING online. The company can be extremely slow to ship the order out, and when it IS shipped out, the United States Postal Service is extremely slow to deliver it. Haven't we gotten the point in our development as a society that we can move a package from one end of the country to the other in less than three to five weeks? We can put a man on the moon, but a cheap, reliable mail delivery system is beyond our grasp.

But here's the real icing on the cake: Mike Gamin, one of my NWR colleagues, shipped me a DS game to review called Izuna 2 (it's not that great). Mike lives in New York, which is seemingly farther toward the opposite end of the country than Ohio. Mike sent this game after I'd ordered Soulcalibur, and Izuna 2 arrived last Thursday. I don't think he spent more than $5 on the shipping costs. Does two freaking dollars make that much of a difference? And is there really no other alternative than "slow as a one-legged dog" shipping ($3) and "we'll get it to you within the week" ($16) shipping?

So yeah, frustration is setting in. My expectation is not being met. It's not like I don't have any games to play during the waiting period (actually, I've got quite the backlog), but worrying about it isn't doing me any favors, either. I don't even care about the game anymore. I care more about getting the damn thing and putting it out of my mind, if that makes sense.

Backlog: Call of Duty 4 (PS3), MGS4 (PS3), Odin Sphere (PS2), Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly (PS2), Fatal Frame 3: The Tormented (PS2), Super Mario Galaxy (Wii), Virtually all of my Virtual Console games (Wii), Professor Layton & the Curious Village (DS), Space Invaders Extreme (DS).

1 comment:

Mad Marley Grey said...

I've noticed it's started taking a week - or more - for mail I send out to arrive anywhere. I was particularly amused when a pair of packages going to Missouri and Canada showed up at their destinations on the same day.

Of course, my 'favourite' incident happened last year, when I ordered a fairly expensive item from China. I expected that it would take several weeks, as it had to be custom-made, and the last time I'd made such a purchase - albeit from Korea - it had taken six on the dot for it to be shipped out (but coming by EMS, it showed up within a few days).

That last time, the company had screwed up my tracking number, so I never knew where it was, but at least the US Postal Service left a notice in my box when it arrived and I wasn't home. This most recent time, though - the Chinese company bit off more than they could chew and were backlogged forever, and the orders weren't being shipped in the order they were placed. It got to coming up on three months, and I finally emailed - more than once - and said, "Look, what's going on, here? The person with the number immediately before mine has had hers for weeks. Can I get a status report, an update on my order, something?"

I never got a reply. Then one day, I walked outside to do...something or another, and there's the damn box, lying on the steps of my porch. It came by an alternate delivery service, so I'm not even sure if my door was knocked on or not (sometimes it's hard to hear in the back of the house). Frankly, when I've paid that much for something coming from overseas, I want A) my tracking number, and B) for it not to be dumped on my doorsteps where it could be damaged or stolen.