Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I sputter into the phone like it's a bowl of Rice Krispies, "Customer service, please."

A pleasant lady voice says, "Customer service, this is Mary, how may I help you?"

"Mary, my order confirmation number is 4839485." My next sentence is a rat-tat-machine-gun mowing her down. "You sent my package of vitamins to the billing address, not my home address!"

Even as I'm roaring, I'm thinking -- it's not her fault -- it's no one's fault -- it's the online computer that'll only accept a standard address four-line address.

Damn, double-damn, I'm hissing at myself -- it's your own fault -- you should have put your name and the floor number on the first line -- you've had this problem before.

... "checking-out the cart" is always a drag, but buying a six-month supply of vitamins online is easier, better, faster, less expensive than trudging a few blocks to Duane Reade, hunting for brands they've discontinued, standing in line at the cashier, then heading for Walgreens, sometimes a third, even a fourth store ...

Nevertheless ... Snap Crackle Pop, I blare, "I checked and double-checked! You had the my home address as the shipping address."

My tone is nasty. Her tone is politely apologetic. She asks for my invoice number.

"I don't have an invoice. This is ridiculous! You charged me, I don't know how much -- you charged me a fee for ground delivery ten days ago, and I still don't have the vitamins."

The clock next to my phone tells me you are wasting time as the phone lady repeats her apology.

Addressing Mary in my usual calm, understanding, communicative, friendly tone, I explain that it's two-hundred-and-fifty dollars worth of vitamins. A large package. I can't go and pick up. The secretary at my billing address will have to re-address the package, give it to the postman who will take it to the post office, and it will be delivered to my home address maybe in a few days (depending on how many more postmen have been laid off).

"Mary," I say, in my best down-to-earth, practical tone, "I am paying twice to have the package delivered. I'm a good customer. Your company should refund the shipping cost!'

My friend Mary agrees. She suggests that when the package arrives, inside there will be an invoice that will indicate the shipping charge. If I fax the invoice, along with a copy of what the re-delivery postage will cost ...

I interrupt. I'm boiling over. "A copy of what the postage cost?"

... The secretary at my billing address has a postage meter -- she'll put the cost on our monthly charge for "office expenses." Mile-a-minute I'm calculating, the secretary's time, my own time -- picturing myself typing up a cover page, faxing the invoice, faxing a postage receipt for something around five bucks ...

"Okay. I'll do it, Mary." I thank her tonelessly, somewhat tiredly, and end the conversation.

Hanging up the phone I'm already in the limbo land of imaginary conversations with a supervisor, with my credit card company telling them do not pay the bill ... incapable of doing anything except heaving a sigh, telling myself I'll think about tomorrow, ala Scarlett O'Hara looking at the ruins of Tara at the end of the film.


I phone my guy. And ask JC to pick up the box on his way home from rehearsal.

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