Tuesday, September 6, 2011
“Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. " ---The Unofficial Postal Worker’s Motto
A while back I purchased a bundle of beautiful coordinating fabrics. I didn’t have a particular project in mind but I knew from the moment that I laid eyes on the eye-catching stack there was a quilt hiding inside begging to be discovered. Unfortunately, I just haven’t had a free minute over the last 6 months to even think about making a quilt for myself – so the fabrics just sat on my cutting table….waiting.
At the end of August my final deadline for a two-year long project was approaching and I decided to celebrate by making this special quilt. We were going to be spending the Labor Day holiday at our cabin in the Northwoods so I packed up the fabric and planned my project on the way. Of course, when I arrived at the cabin and did the final calculations – I didn’t have enough fabric to complete the quilt pattern I chose. Since the fabric was purchased a year ago, it was no longer available in the local quilt shop. Due to the magic of technology and the internet, I found the pieces I needed at a shop in New England. Getting this fabric from them to me should have been an easy process.
Here’s what happened beginning with some background information...
1. We do not have a USPS mailbox or USPS mail delivered to our cabin. It’s in a remote area and since we are only here occasionally we decided that if we need anything delivered we would use UPS or FedEx.
2. When I placed my fabric order the order form gave me the choice of USPS or UPS delivery. I chose UPS 2nd day delivery and specifically stated in my instructions that we were vacationing and if they were unable to ship the fabric to our cabin with arrival within the next week to please contact me and I would give them my home address.
3. The following day after placing my order I received a copy of my order and shipping confirmation. The fabric had been shipped out USPS (United States Postal Service) Priority Mail (not UPS 2nd Day Air). Knowing that the box would be returned to sender, I was hoping this was a mistake so I contacted the shop.
Here’s an entertaining synopsis of our e-mail exchanges:
My order instructions:
Shipping Method: UPS 2nd Day Air
Special Instructions: I am on vacation and will only be at this address until 9-7-11. If it is not possible to ship this and receive my order by that date please let me know via e-mail. Thank you!
From Fabric Shop:
Shipping confirmation via USPS (United States Postal Service) Priority Mail with Priority Mail Tracking Number
I'm concerned about my order - I paid for UPS 2nd day air (see UPS confirmation below) and received notification and a tracking number for USPS. We cannot receive United States Postal Service mail at this address - everything must be sent UPS - which is why I paid for UPS 2nd Day Air shipping. I hope this notice to track via USPS was sent in error.
From the Fabric Shop:
The package was sent out Priority and the USPS said three days max. to deliver. I only did that because I know when I send to my daughter in Va. I send Priority and she gets it in two days for the most part, and once in a great while if weather is bad.....three. I was just trying to get it to you within the time frame but at a savings to you in postage. Sorry to have caused undue stress. Praying the USPS is good for the date they told me!
I appreciate that you were trying to save me money on the delivery, but the problem is that we do not have US mail delivery here at this address - it is a vacation home and we did not set up mail delivery. We had the choice of whether or not we wanted a box set up for mail delivery and since it's very remote and we are not here very often, we decided not to have USPS delivery. This is why I asked that it be sent UPS - not USPS when given the choice on your mail order form. Unless the Postal Carrier decides to bring the package to us - which we were told they would not - the package will be returned to you.
I'm not sure what to do...
From Fabric Shop:
Note: It was driving me crazy to think that I may not be getting my fabric. I decided to personally visit the Post Office to check on my options and here's what happened:
Connie - I just spoke with the post office and they said they will not deliver the package to our cabin since we do not have regular mail delivery here. The postal worker said that it will be returned to you. I even explained that it would be a package that would be too large to put in a standard mail box but she said no - they still will not deliver it (since we do not have a mailbox and are not on a regular mail route). This is very upsetting as it was for a quilt I wanted to finish this week and I was so happy that you had the fabric I needed to finish it. I will not be able to complete it in time with the package being returned to you. Please credit my credit card when you receive the package back.
From Fabric Shop:
In reviewing the emails this am. it appears that we have not responded to your email from August 31st. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding. We do not like to leave open-ended issues laying dormant, however I understand the store has been busy with long-weekend visitors and I expect no one had a chance to check for internets/emails in the last 48 hours.
In reviewing your series of emails with Connie, I'm sorry that we did not get your fabric to you with an appropriate delivery method that ensured it arrived safely to you for your project deadline. The owner of the store has been in the process of training some new staff and unfortunately some of the detailed nuances of internet orders can be tricky. In your case, Connie was focusing on delivery time and dollars. These are typically our prime focus areas, however when we think it makes sense to change a delivery method, we typically communicate with the customer first to ensure that there is no conflict in our thinking - in this case, our thinking would have been flawed and had we called you or emailed you back, you would have been able to tell us about the delivery flaw and we would have honored the UPS request. Unfortunately, Connie did not know this extra step in our process as these situations are rare.
We are sorry that we caused disappointment. Please know that we will modify our processes internally to ensure this does not happen in the future.
We will credit your card immediately.
Thank you so much for your note and your explanation. I just couldn't stand the thought of not getting the fabric and finishing the quilt - so here's what we did. My husband and I visited the Post Office in town and the supervisor said they would not deliver the package to our cabin without a mailbox at the end of the road (about 1/4 mile from our cabin). This is a remote area and the mailboxes are all lined up on a particular corner near a main road. He told us to find one that looked abandoned and label it with our house number and street name. The other problem was that Connie labeled the box "Bologna" and my name is "Balagna" - so it was entered into the US Post Office computer incorrectly. The supervisor said he would watch for the box and tell the postal carrier that the name was incorrect and that we did have a mailbox and to make the delivery. So - on Friday, we bought some letters & numbers from Wal-Mart and put them on an old rusty abandoned mailbox (that we pried open) that was sitting in a bucket of cement amidst all the other mailboxes. On Saturday there was a knock on the door from the local postal worker and she personally delivered the package and welcomed us to the route! Woo Hoo!
I am very glad to have the package - although, as you said - if it would have been sent UPS it would have arrived at my door on Friday and not taken up so much of our time trying to make our home "US Post Office accessible". But, that being said - the fabric is here - it's beautiful - and I'm working on the quilt - so all is well. Please do not credit my card as I have received my order.
Thank you so much,
From the Fabric Shop:
Well thank you for making me smile this morning. Don't get me wrong, I realize that you have really gone out of your way to make this fabric order happen as a result of judgment and process errors on our end. I'm smiling from the perspective that I don't think I've ever heard of anyone being so creative to get fabric!
Thank you for telling me the end of the story. I want to make sure that my colleagues understand the degree of effort you had to put into this situation to make it happen! My hope is all employees will remember this file and your creativity and take the extra step to ensure that we never cause this type of creativity again! We want to put our creative juices into color design and beautiful projects.
Thank you for your patience with us on this one!
I did credit your card on Saturday. So when your credit card invoice looks a little wacky this month, you'll know why. I'll put through the charge today.
Enjoy your quilt and have a great extended summer!
So – all’s well that ends well! I have my fabric and I’m working on my quilt AND we have a rusty old mailbox with our name in beautiful gold letters that we can now call our own! :-)
As I read the quote at the beginning of this entry - it reminds me of our Project Linus chapter coordinators and blanketeers across the country. “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these volunteers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds of making and delivering blankets to seriously ill and traumatized children." Although we DO have a Project Linus mission statement - we DON'T have an official motto. I think I like this one!
Posted by Mary C. Balagna at 3:27 PM