Murphy's Law applied to two-day shipping

Pretty sure Mom cleaned out her stamp collection sending us this box.

The Friday before our big trip to Colorado and Kansas for graduations, a red permanent marker exploded on Ian at work, splattering his favorite pair of jeans. Frustrating, but manageable. My mom had removed a similar stain from one of his dress shirts over the holidays, using time, muscle, and liquid glycerin. All I needed was glycerin. I tried three stores. All three only had it in a solid suppository form (funny but unhelpful). I decided to order some online.

I received an email confirming our order was scheduled for delivery Monday, giving me enough time to remove the stain, then wash the pants so he could pack them before our departure Wednesday evening. No problem.

Monday, the international shipping company* used for said products decided to not leave the delivery at our apartment (because apparently the driver thought a box labeled SOAP.com would be a target for the roving bands of thieves common in our neighborhood). I got an email notification that because we weren't home, they would attempt redelivery the following day. Our previous order a month or so back was left on our doorstep with no concerns.

I checked the shipping company's web site and managed to schedule a same-day pickup to not throw off my clean-then-pack plan. This would be after hours at a different location. Our window was 7:30-8:30pm, confirmed by a phone call from someone at the location.

With trip preparations underway, dinner to make, and Ian needing to stay later at work, I headed home while he planned to pick up the package in the confirmed time window.

When I arrived at home, it appeared the driver hadn't even left a door tag (found it the next day in the shrubbery). Which wasn't a problem, since Ian was picking it up in an hour anyway. I checked the mail, then popped in a replacement Blu-ray disc of District 9 we received from Sony Home Entertainment, because our previous copy wouldn't play. The new one didn't work either. With an already elevated frustration level thanks to the earlier shipping issue, I decided I would fix this problem. I wanted to at least accomplish something while I waited.

A quick online search showed our Blu-ray player has an issue with two movies: Avatar and District 9, but the manufacturer provides a firmware update to solve the problem. I just had to save the files onto a freshly formatted SD memory card, pop it in, select the right menu option, and presto, movie working.

I stalled out at presto with an error message. After a little troubleshooting with the owner's manual, I called the support number in the online instructions. I followed the menu options all the way to Blu-ray support and the automated system hung up on me. Twice. Irritated, I pushed the menu option for TV support. I got through to a person, but the call dropped a minute in. I dialed yet again, not even waiting for the automated voice to explain menu options: I had the numbers memorized. After confirming with the new tech that yes, they were aware of the phone system issue, and yes, he could assist me, I described my problem. Apparently the player doesn't get along with Apple formatted SD cards, so he asked me to format and save the file on a PC before they actually mailed me something that would fix it. This meant waiting until work the next day. Of course.

A few minutes later, Ian called. He was having trouble locating the address the woman gave me over the phone. After some searching however, he found an unmarked address people were leaving with packages. I provided the tracking number, because the staff kept insisting we needed to call in for a late pickup. He assured her that I did. She finally tracked down our package, which was located in the van of the only driver still out in Boston, who had 15 more packages to deliver but was only blocks away from our apartment. They told Ian the driver couldn't go back to our apartment even though I was now home, but if Ian wanted to, he could attempt to catch the driver along his route (what?!), or wait 20 minutes (translation: another hour) while paying another ZipCar hour, until the driver returned. He negotiated a third option: rerouting the package to our office for Tuesday delivery, with the $5 address change fee waived.

The next morning. I checked the tracking page online, just to make sure they got the address right. To my surprise there were four new entries between 5:30 and 6 a.m. "The package was damaged in transit. Will notify the sender with details. / The package was damaged in transit. Will notify the sender with the details. All merchandise is being returned. Will notify the sender with details of the damage. / Damage reported. Damage claim under investigation. / Service disruption occurred. Returned to shipper."

I called SOAP.com, who generously gave us a $15 credit on our order and immediately resent the order (to the office). It arrived Wednesday morning.

This made a good story for our families while we were visiting, but when we got back to Boston, we realized it wasn't over quite yet. Somehow, when SOAP.com's system logged the damaged return, it missed the replacement package they already processed, and sent the replacement order to our apartment again. I called them to report the error. I was advised to just ignore the notices, and after the third attempt, it would get returned to sender. I could do that. And I did. But on the third attempt, the driver left the box at our building. (Really?) One more call to SOAP.com to arrange a pickup on Monday, and we're (hopefully) done.

What are the odds?

*I'm lodging a complaint with the unnamed shipping company, (which is not USPS as you might infer based on the image above—I just couldn't bring myself to post that much text without a photo), and in the future, will NEVER have them deliver to our home address, but don't feel right bashing them online. However, the story was just too crazy not to share.

**I was able to fix the Blu-ray player Tuesday night after creating the SD card update at work, and the spots are almost gone on Ian's pants. Just a little more effort, and they'll have disappeared.