Friday, December 4, 2009

Shipping Anomalies

This is a movie-related digression, one that the Cap'n is only bringing up because he knows a bit about the subject, and it's just a smidge irksome to me. Allow me to give you some brief context in order to make my point clear.

Last week, I ordered Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XVI from Amazon. It's pretty much a given that I'll pick up any MST3K boxed set, but this one was of particular interest. Volume XVI has two of the Five MST3K episodes I consider all-time favorites: Santa Claus and Warrior of the Lost World. I have very nearly worn out my VHS copy of Warrior (which also has Laserblast and Joel Hodgson's TV Wheel) and since the dvds started rolling out I've been waiting patiently for some Robert Ginty / Fred Williamson / Donald Pleasance /Persis Khambata action. Santa Claus, as previously mentioned, is a deliriously bizarre movie in its own right, so it's nice to add with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Since I have class until 3:15 on Tuesdays, and considering the odd purchasing habits of Greensboro citizens (who tend to gobble up any release with moderate geek buzz), it seemed like a safe bet that Volume XVI would be sold out, particularly the "Limited Edition" set with a Tom Servo to compliment the Crow from the 20th Anniversary set. Ordering the set from Amazon was not only slightly cheaper, but insured I would get a copy, and this week.

Or so I thought. Without bothering to knock or ring the doorbell, my mail carrier left a 3849 (the beige slip of paper) indicating that my package could not be delivered due to a "Delivery Confirmation" signature required. Now I have to wait until Monday morning to pick up the set.

There are two problems with this, even if I put aside the fact that I was home and he made no effort to actually deliver the package. I've worked for the Postal Service, and I know the circumstances surrounding a 3849, and my package did not meet either of them:

1. The package was shipped Standard, not One Day or Two Day delivery, so signature isn't required. I've had larger packages left at my door from Amazon with no problems from the mail carrier, so it's not even a size issue. There's no reason to take the box back to the post office, but to be clear, let me illuminate the "Delivery Confirmation" conundrum.

2. Amazon frequently prints a "Delivery Confirmation Scan" barcode as part of their shipping label. This is so you can track the package, but does not require a signature. I know, because I've delivered them. Delivery Confirmation labels on packages or envelopes which require a signature come with a bright green border and their own 3849 attached to the parcel. Again, I know because I delivered to a number of businesses which frequently required Signature Confirmation for letters and packages. Because of the volume of packages from Amazon, it would be ridiculous to demand signatures from everyone who ordered dvds bundled together, as that's a huge waste of time on the part of the carrier.

The mail carrier, in this instance, made a snap judgment that it was easier to assume I wasn't home and not deliver a package, leaving the onus on my part to pick up something rather than simply deliver the parcel. How do I know this? Because I had to do the same thing earlier this week and when I arrived at the Post Office, NO SIGNATURE WAS REQUIRED for my package. Same situation. Same 3849. Same handwriting. Same mail carrier. I could pretend that they didn't know better, but I know mail carriers. They know protocol backwards and forwards, especially city carriers, so I'm not sure what to make of this.

From here on out, is everything I order going to be withheld from me until I pick it up on their schedule? Because that's not how I was taught to do the job. You delivered to the very best of your ability, even if someone's dog tore up your jeans or a wasp's nest was in the mailbox. Cutting corners meant being chewed out, and you'd better not waste a 3849 when the package didn't call for it.

This is a long, slightly grumpy way of saying I couldn't write up the new MST3K box for you folks tonight, which is what I wanted to do. It probably sounds like sour grapes, or even whining, but the fact is that I know that there's no good reason to avoid delivering the box. I know the protocol, and I know what you can and can't do when delivering packages with "Delivery Confirmation" labels. So yeah, I'm a little grouchy.

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