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Animal Anatomy for Artists by Eliot Goldfinger

Animal Anatomy for Artists by Eliot Goldfinger

Haven’t a good shipping tale to tell in a few months, but here’s another one. Sometimes I think all this tracking information we receive is just designed to drive us crazy. Ordered an animal anatomy book for Christiana to take back for her final (woo hoo!) semester—she’s into doing animal art but never had a reference from her studies. Classes started today so I was excited to see that the book had arrived in our town.

Except it hadn’t—it arrived in the metro Denver area but not at our post office, according to the tracking records. Thought that was strange but figured it would take another day to get to our house because of that.

But, no, that’s not what the tracking information said. Instead, I noticed that tracking said it was undeliverable and that I should contact the sender. Unless the address label didn’t match the shipping records on file with the sender or had been damaged on its short trip across the Midwest, then the package simply ended up at a post office 10 miles or so away from the intended destination.

Once again, didn’t seem fair that the company sending me the package had to send me a new one because the shipper didn’t get the process right. Yet that’s how things go these days.

I tried to call the post office that had rejected my package—in hopes that my package had yet to leave the building. Was not a good sign when I looked up the location online and instant bad reviews for the office popped up with statements such as “they never answer phones” or “worst customer service ever” and that sort of thing. At my local office, there may be lines at the counter due to not having enough workers but I recognize all the clerks by face—they are pleasant and competent, plus I’ve seen them answer phones and spend time resolving problems.

I spent about 10 minutes on hold as the auto-answering system tried to find me an available clerk or a clerk’s voice mail that wasn’t full. I was just in a loop going from full mail box to full mail box. Kind of ironic, right?

After a brief conversation with my local office where the clerk was flabbergasted but had no answers for me since that office did not have the package—or it would have been delivered to me and none of this would have happened—I called back to Barnes & Noble, whose first customer support person had pretty much told me—between the lines—not to expect any results once my package was marked undeliverable. I know, I know, but I still wanted to think I could just talk to someone who could locate the package that had just received its red letter mark a few hours ago and then I could drive over to pick it up myself since it had come so close to me after leaving Illinois.

What did I expect? Do I think I’m living in TV’s “The Andy Griffith Show” and its town of Mayberry, circa 1965?

Ah no, but I’d like to think what we have lost in personal connection we have gained in efficiency—instead it seems we’re less efficient. My B&N support people were nice enough, even if I don’t know them. And though I never got to talk to anyone at that other post office, I did get to talk with the local clerk whose voice I do recognize.

We’ve got all these fancy computer scanners and distribution systems but we don’t tend to support the clerk who would say, “Well, this here package says 80110. What’s it doing in 80130? Let’s get it on over to the other side of town. Shoot, this doesn’t have to go back to the sender.” I know Barney Fife wasn’t a mail clerk, but those of you who know who Barney Fife was in that fictional Mayberry, can’t you imagine him saying that in his twangy voice? In fact, my own grandfather was a rural mail carrier (no twang) and I can’t imagine him just sending something back. No, these days we want our clerks to follow the system, even when they can see what the problem is and how easy it would be to fix. Just send it back—it keeps general production moving along.

Since the tracking said my package was undeliverable, B&N was sending another copy by express delivery—no charge to me, of course. Only now they are sending it my daughter at school in Fort Collins—let’s hope the package goes straight to the 80521 office because I don’t even want to get started about the six weeks 80525 dithered before sending an 80526 package back as undeliverable. Never mind that an 80525 apartment complex and 80526 condo complex shared the same street address—not good planning, but I’m guessing it leads to common problems—but maybe no common solutions.

But, guess what? Tracking information I received the day after the undeliverable notice arrived said 80130 had sent the package on to 80110 after all—and then our local carrier delivered the book before noon on Saturday. The book turned out to be so fantastic that we’ll pay B&N twice after all and sell the second copy to another animal artist in my daughter’s class.

Tracking and shipping news—it just keeps coming these days—more often than what’s being shipped. With any luck, the (second) book will arrive on my daughter’s doorstep before she graduates in May.

P.S. The second book did arrive as planned and we did pay to keep it. Thanks to shipping snafus, the author (and B&N) made two sales, so I guess some good came out of what seemed like extra costs to B&N.

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