Monday, October 15, 2007

Home delivery

The words 'home delivery' sound very nice don't they? Personally they make me think of steaming hot pizzas, Waitrose groceries, and moses baskets delivered to my doorstep, while I get to stay in my pajamas and not worry about my hair. And even for people who do have a shred of dignity when it comes to personal grooming and appearance, 'home delivery' generally implies a convenient worry-free arrangement.

Having moved into our new home four months ago however, these words now have a distinctly different ring to them. My experience is genuinely a 50/50 one in terms of satisfaction. Some of the time things go according to plan - you get called one hour before the chaps are due to arrive so you know to be home, and the people who deliver your things are genuinely helpful and upbeat. That other 50 percent however, involves being house bound during that five-hour delivery slot (afraid to even take a nap in case you miss the doorbell), and blood pressure escalating arguments with obtuse delivery men.

Today was another negative case in point. We ordered a chest of drawers from Heals. Upon ordering it, we were very specific about the fact that it had to be carted up to the third floor of our house, and which as it didn't formerly belong to Barbara Cartland, doesn't contain a lift. Personally I haven't encountered that many houses with lifts in them, but perhaps I'm moving in the wrong social circles.

So we waited the requisite week and a half, and this morning two friendly enough chaps arrived, friendly that is until I reminded them that the drawers had to be carried up to the third floor.

"Third floor? Oh no my dear, we only do up to the second floor. We are an external contracting company and it's not in our contract to do third floors. Health and safety you see."

I fished around for the order receipt and pointed to the printed details which specifically state: "Deliver to third floor." The chap merely shook his head and said, "Well they'd have to get a special company to do that for you, that's not us. We can carry it up to the second flood and leave it there for them, but we can't do the third floor."

At this point my blood began to boil, only because this scenario is by now so very familiar to me. I cannot count the amount of times I've stood on our doorstep in my slippers, my increasingly pregnant belly heaving with frustration, arguing with delivery people who turn up to our house claiming no knowledge of what has been arranged with the shops we purchased our goods from. Do these people not communicate with each other?

I called the shop and explained the situation and got told, very politely and sympathetically I might add, that they indeed have a contract with these chaps which states no delivery past the second floor, and that the sales girl who did the transaction should have pointed this out to us.

"Well," I said, "You also happen to have a contact with us, which is in the form of this order and the specifications that we need delivery to the third floor. It's here in black and white - proof that you were informed of it at time of purchase, and ahead of delivery. Had I known you had this policy I would not have made the purchase."

All this waiting around for delivery people over the last few months means I've had a lot of time to watch TV, specifically legal and crime shows. These have given me the confidence to use such words as, 'Black and white,' and 'you were informed at the time of purchase,' with a fairly convincing air.

She said she needed to speak to the dispatch company and would call me back in two minutes, and that the (increasingly irritated) two chaps standing outside my doorstep needed to hang on a tick. To her credit she did call me back in two minutes and asked to speak to said irritated delivery chaps. A brief exchange ensued and the phone was passed back to me. And was that a satisfied, 'I told you so!' look on his face as he did so?

Miss polite told me that having chatted with them she had established that they were indeed unable to take up the drawers to the third floor. "It's a weight thing you see, they are physically incapable of doing so." I had to bite my lip. Clearly they were physically capable of taking it up to the second floor, but some strange delivery man equivalent of kryptonite must kick in at the base of the third set of stairs, rendering them incapable to continue. I also had a strong desire to suggest that they could actually remove the drawers and take those up separately thereby dramatically reducing the weight of the whole, but it was clear the dye had been set.

I was told to wave the chaps off, who merrily left along with our chest of drawers, and that a special 4-man delivery team would be in contact with me to redeliver. "Today, if not then tomorrow," she politely assured me. That is they will contact me today if not tomorrow, not deliver. God only knows when that will happen.

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