Being an avid boardgamer, I buy a lot of my games at online stores. The prices are usually great (especially on sale) and they just show up on your doorstep one day! Without you even having to put your clothes on!
How easy is that?
Most of the time, it’s very easy.
For the first time that I can remember in my boardgaming career, that feeling came to a screeching halt almost two weeks ago.
And in two weeks of dealing with Canada Post, this is a great video metaphor for the entire process of dealing with them.
Here is my story.
First, let me say that nothing I put in quotes below is an actual quote unless it’s from an email. It’s just to give you a feel of the dialogue.
Secondly, strong kudos to Meeplemart employee Alrik, who went above and beyond trying to get this sorted for me. He could have easily said “Canada Post said no. You’re out of luck. Pay us or cancel your order.” But he didn’t. I really appreciate that.
Anyway, on to the story.
I order two games and an expansion from MeepleMart. They had their Summer sale going on, and they have $8.95 flat rate shipping! None of this “spend $100 for free shipping, but if you don’t reach that level, shipping’s going to be outrageous” stuff that some companies do.
The tracking number I’m sent indicates that it will arrive on Friday, June 2, but I’m out of town. That’s ok, somebody’s here to pick it up.
While I’m gone, I kind of forget about it, but on the weekend when I’m home, I’m reminded that it didn’t actually show up. I check the tracking. It says this:
Major Problem #1: This does not indicate that Canada Post is expecting the receiver to contact them at all. To the uninformed, it just looks like Canada Post is doing a bit of checking for some reason.
Ok, the issue was that one (yes, only one) letter was left off of the end of the street name. However, the postal code was on there and I received a parcel from Meeplemart a year ago with no issue and the same missing letter.
The postal code literally covers one building in Vancouver (maybe two) and definitely is only on the correct street name. So anybody just taking the box and punching in the postal code would be able to see what the issue was.
I call on Monday, June 5, to ask what this means. I’m told the above, and that customers have 48 hours (business days, so weekend doesn’t count) to call in to verify an address. Otherwise, it’s returned to the sender. (Note again, there is nothing on the tracking notice that says this).
The guy says that since it hasn’t been 48 hours and there hasn’t been a “return to sender” notice set up yet, he’ll just email the depot with the address change. They’ll deliver the parcel to the correct address.
“It should be fine.”
It isn’t fine.
I check the tracking the next morning, expecting to see that it’s out for delivery.
But instead, I see this.
I hurriedly call Canada Post
Tangent #1: Speaking of, it’s very nearly impossible to actually find a phone number to call on Canada Post’s web site, though after this experience I almost have it memorized.
I’m told that they can “attempt” to have a parcel redirected, but if the depot doesn’t catch it, then unfortunately it does get sent back. There’s no guarantee that a redirect will work.
The call was made Monday afternoon. The “return to sender” was done Tuesday morning.
Nobody at the depot decided to check the email in the morning? Really?
Also, I’m told that the 48 hour window for verifying addresses also includes the time it takes for the depot people to actually read the email.
So does that mean if the depot person doesn’t bother to check his/her email until that afternoon, too bad? It’s after 48 hours?
What the f*(#@?
So I email Meeplemart and let them know that the parcel is coming back. They say they’ll try and have it redirected.
I get an email from them stating that they have contacted Canada Post and received the following.
Everything should be good! It’s fixed! It’s being sent back to me! There was much rejoicing!
And then there wasn’t.
Seems that didn’t work either.
I call Canada Post again on Thursday, with Meeplemarket’s ticket number, and am told “It looks like the trap didn’t work.”
Also in this phone call (and in many others) are many exclamations of “I’m not sure why this happened. It should have worked.”
So I’m told that Meeplemart can request a refund of the shipping once they have the parcel back.
Meeplemart has said that they can just ship it right back to me if they get a refund from Canada Post. If they don’t, I could either cancel the order for a refund (minus shipping) or pay shipping to have it re-sent to me.
The parcel takes a few days to get back to them, arriving on the 12th.
On the 13th, Meeplemart emails me to tell me that, during a very frustrating call, Canada Post, has refused to refund the shipping cost, “as the return was initiated after 48 hours.”
Major Problem #2: If receivers have 48 hours to verify the address before it gets sent back, then all automatic return to senders will be “initiated after 48 hours”!!!!!
I hop on the phone (this is really getting comical) and immediately ask to speak to a manager. I still have to explain a little bit to the customer service rep, but I’m not bothering to actually discuss it with her.
Tangent #2: In my calls, I usually got connected really quickly. But for some reason, when you ask for a supervisor, you’re put on hold so that they can get it “approved” and then, when it’s finally approved, you’re put on hold again while you’re connected. I waited a total of 10 minutes for this. Shouldn’t it all be one process?
I get a very nice supervisor, very helpful, very understanding. She is completely mind-boggled that this has happened.
I tell her that the best option would be for Meeplemart to be refunded their shipping cost. They will then reship it to me.
For some reason, she doesn’t want to do that. Maybe because I’m not Meeplemart? I’m not sure.
She asks how much I paid for shipping, and how much I’ll have to pay if they reship it. I said $8.95. She said “how about I have a cheque cut for you for $8.95 and then they can just reship it to you?”
I try again to just have Meeplemart refunded, but she won’t do it. So I agree to the cheque. She gives me a ticket number and says it should reach me in 1-2 weeks. She apologizes profusely for this happening.
I notify Meeplemart of this and ask that they just reship it, charging me again since I’m being reimbursed.
They tell me that actually it’s much more than $8.95 that they get charged. Plus Canada Post charged them for the return. I would have to actually pay $34.16 to have it shipped back to me ($17.06 both ways)
Tangent #3: I had no idea that stores who have flat-rate shipping actually pay much more than they are actually charging you to ship your stuff. I assume it’s factored into the business model, but yikes! Maybe it’s a volume thing?
Finally, on June 14 (the next day after receiving Meeplemart’s email), I call Canada Post once again to see if the amount of the cheque can be changed to $34.16.
I speak to Susan (the only Canada Post employee I’m going to name, because she was super helpful, wonderfully nice and understanding, explaining everything clearly, and actually the only employee I talked to who told me stuff that actually turned out to be correct).
The first thing she tells me is that the receiver cannot get a refund. It’s only the sender who can. In fact, the ticket created by the supervisor the previous day was closed and no action was taken because they cannot send money to the receiver.
Major Problem #3: They cancelled this ticket with no notification. So when the cheque didn’t arrive in two weeks, I would have had to call AGAIN and find out that no cheque was ever cut.
The second thing she tells me is that Meeplemart is entitled to a refund and that she has no idea why they would have been told otherwise. I tell her that unfortunately, they were told that. She has no clue why they would be told that.
We go back and forth with me explaining the situation, as well as her looking at the notes already on the file, and she tells me that Meeplemart would have to call again to request a refund.
However, she guaranteed that they would not be told no. If for some reason they were, they should talk to a supervisor. She left copious notes on the ticket number from the previous day explaining our conversation, and she told me to give Meeplemart that ticket number as a reference to use so that the Canada Post employee can see her notes if needed.
She once again said she wasn’t sure how any of this had happened. And she couldn’t believe that a manager had said they would cut me a cheque. That just doesn’t happen. Receivers do not get refunds from Canada Post.
And she laughed when I said that it would have been an interesting phone call in 2 weeks when I called back to find out why I had no cheque.
Yesterday, I received the news from Alrik that he had just gotten off the phone with Canada Post. They have agreed to the refund, so my package will be going out today. I should have it in a week or so.
That will be 3 weeks after it was first “delivered.”
So what have I learned?
Lesson #1: Always check your address when having something shipped online. Even when you have ordered with them before. I had ordered from Meeplemart before with this same address issue and received the parcel with no problems.
Also, technical issues can always arise.
When I tried to change my address on my Meeplemart account, it kept displaying the wrong address even though when I went to “edit,” it showed the correct one. I emailed Meeplemart and they said that it was showing correctly on their end.
The next day, it was showing correctly for me too. Not sure if that was their doing or what.
Lesson #2: Persistence pays off. It will be solved eventually. However, in the meantime, experiencing that kind of incompetence is extremely painful.
Literally everything I was told in all of my phone calls with Canada Post, until I talked to Susan, was either wrong or incomplete. And I am astonished that a supervisor would do something like that regarding the cheque.
Lesson #3: If I were to extrapolate from my experience to include all of Canada Post, I would have to say that 80-90% of their employees are idiots.
Yes, I know that’s not true, but to bring the percentage down to what it probably is would require almost every other employee to be extremely wonderful.
Because everybody involved with the issue of my parcel, except for Susan, does not reflect well on Canada Post. This includes the depot employees who can’t seem to punch in a postal code or read their email.
Thankfully, the good result of all this is I’ll have some new games to talk about in the near future!
Hopefully that will remove the bitter taste from my mouth.
6/22/17 Edit: The parcel arrived yesterday intact. Even though the tracking on the reshipment never actually said it was going anywhere (just “item processed”) and gave an expected delivery date of June 28.
You know what also arrived yesterday?
A cheque for $8.95.
What a fucked up system.