Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pardon My Irritation

The whole Best Buy snafu has gotten me thinking. I must share my newly acquired wisdom to others. This wisdom may be accompanied by massive doses of cynicism.

1) Never, ever order anything online using the cheapest possible shipping method. Your most affordable choice at Best Buy Dot Com is $3.00. Your package should arrive about two weeks later. It will not. Rather, it will appear at your door roughly five weeks later, as I discovered to my horror. Your package will travel not via plane or truck, but tortoise. Yes, your book, movie, or video game will be strapped to the back of the common desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). This hearty terrapin, the successor of the horseback rider of the Old West, wanders the American southwest more or less at its leisure, stopping often to sleep, eat, and simply stop moving (it's a turtle, for Godsake). At some point, this turtle will more or less accidentally reach Washington State--a miracle, considering that Gopherus agassizii is a desert tortoise. The tortoise will then be tripped over by a United States Post Office employee, who, noticing the now-decrepid package, will pluck said parcel from the tired tortoise's shell and toss it onto a passing barge.

This barge only leaves the port twice a week (no, really). Its course takes it all over the world, including, I suspect, Antarctica. Its last destination will always be your house. Always. The package will be delivered to your house long after you've forgotten what it was you ordered, or even that you ordered anything in the first place. Thus, it's a nice surprise to see a package on your porch at all.

So fuck you, Best Buy Dot Com, for lying to me about when my package would arrive. Their estimate suggested that my package would arrive between August 12th and August 18th. That's damn good, considering I ordered the thing on the 7th. But hey--why would Best Buy Dot Com lie? If they knew it would take longer, or even if they didn't, wouldn't it be better to suggest a later date, thus ensuring a happy customer? I mean, if you think it's going to arrive in three weeks, why not say four? And besides, if you said four, I might be more inclined to pay the higher shipping fee, which brings me to point #2.

2) The United States Postal Service is inefficient and money-grubby. These are the people who require up to 48 hours to "process" anything. From what I've been told, processing amounts to slapping an address sticker on a box, then scanning that sticker's barcode into a computer. If you don't give the USPS enough money, they will strap your package to the back of a fucking tortoise. How much money will it take to upgrade that from late-surviving anapsid to actual flying vehicle? Oh, not a whole lot, just a 500% increase in shipping cost. That's right, kids: If I want my package to arrive in a timely manner, a manner which some might consider reasonable, I get to shell out $16 instead of $3. So here are my options: $3 for absolutely shit, or $16 for acceptable. And God forbid I would want my package the next day. That would cost $25. And because Best Buy lies to me, I should probably add at least a week to those approximate times. So, in all fairness:

Option One: Your package moves from one end of the United States to the other at the speed of a glacier--Three Dollars.

Option Two: Your package is tossed into the cargo bay of an airplane and probably arrives at your doorstep in about two weeks--Sixteen Dollars.

Option Three: Your package is given the direct-flight treatment, or at least as direct as you can get in the airports these days--Twenty-five Dollars.

So here's my question, USPS: In an age where we can put a man on the moon, grow genetically modified foods to end world hunger, split the atom, and cure terrible diseases, what year do YOU think it is? I guess mail trucks are great, but it's not a huge step up from those horseback riders from yonder days. How much of the process is automated? How much more automated could it stand to be? And why have my stamps risen in price so dramatically within the last few years? Between the forty-six cent stamps and the sixteen dollar shippings costs, I expect a whole lot better.

But perhaps I'm forgetting that the United States Postal Service is run by the Federal Government. There's even a "Postmaster General," a job I imagine does not require any sort of advanced degree or that much time in the office. So maybe I shouldn't be that surprised that the USPS is so inefficient and lazy--it's handled by the United States government.

Fun Fact: You know why we don't get mail on Sundays? According to Wikipedia, churches noticed a drop in Sunday mass attendance because some of their convent worked as mail carriers. And because Sunday is the Day o' Rest, that's not allowed. Our government, always happy to blur the line between church and state, buckled under the pressure as a soda can would a vehicle tire.

This is the part where I suggest that my readers abandon the USPS as much as possible. There are plenty of other mail carriers out there. UPS, FedEx, DHL to name a few. And I have consistently found that those three are far faster and more competant than the USPS. Sure, there are exceptions. It doesn't cost you an extra dime to send back a NetFlix movie or recieve a magazine in your mailbox. But if you have packages to send, just don't use the USPS.

So, to conclude, Best Buy Dot Com is run by lying liers who lie, and the USPS is a broken, worthless system. And no, I still have not recieved Soulcalibur IV. And as of tonight, at least, it has not yet reached Anchorage. But hey, who's counting?


Julia said...

Paul and I have been watching the odd episode of "Ice-Road Truckers". I think your best bet is to wait to order everything until the lakes in Canada are frozen over, then see if those guys will bring your gear in their cab with them for the price of a beer!

But seriously, I've always been appalled at the USPS (I had a lecturer who used to call the USGS the "Useless GS" - I suggest a similar moniker...). I can send a tracked package from London to Ithaca, NY. It takes two days to get to the USA. And then a week to get from (presumably) JFK or EWR to Ithaca. It takes only a day to drive to Ithaca from those places!

Jerry D. Harris said...

An old B.C. comic discussed various postal rates, from 1st to 4th class. When asked what 4th class was, the postal person responded "We toss it out there 40 or 50 feet and hope he stumbles across it."

ScottE said...

I've gotten packages from Japan (albeit not so cheaply) that came more quickly than from Best Buy.

But the lesson is more than just "Don't use USPS"; the lesson is more broad than that. Each of those services you've listed has flaws; most of them have bad events, no matter how much you pay.

Next day occasionally fails, for FedEx, UPS etc. All they can do is refund your money on the rare occasion it isn't going to make it.

And, unfortunately, Alaska is an exceptional place, especially when it comes to making the mail. (Which is why I only order from sites which have a good track record for getting things here on time, like Amazon.)