Saturday, April 29, 2006

The worst delivery company?

My new Dell laptop finally shipped!

I got notice of this in the form of a slip from the delivery company Seino saying that they tried to deliver a package from Dell but that I wasn't home.

The next day at work (Friday) I called them to arrange an alternate delivery day. It took a loooong time to get through, the woman I spoke to spoke extremely fast Japanese, in general not a pleasant experience. But I was able to arrage delivery for the following morning.

Anywhoo, Saturday morning segued into noon and the damn thing still hadn't arrived. That is when I began the ordeal of trying to phone them. Man, they must be unbelievably understaffed. I kept trying to phone again and again. This went on for several hours. All the while I tried to keep myself gainfully employed doing other stuff, with limited success.

Finally, I was able to get through! The guy was friendly enough, but wasn't able to accurately promise a delivery time. Now this is pretty rare in Japan, I had a funny feeling of getting into weirdness zone. I then offered to go pick it up myself. He said yes, that is an option.

I am not going to get into a lecture about Japanese addresses here, but suffice it to say that the warehouse address provided on the slip was a little bit weird. I asked the guy if they had a map on their website. He said no, but that I can find it in Yahoo! Maps via the address.

So after hanging up (something that was very painful to do after having worked so hard to connect, weird how the mind works) I checked on Yahoo! Maps and sure enough it was not found. Jaw drops... but part of me wasn't surprised.

I was now in a position where I had no choice but to figure out how to get there. After all I had instructed them NOT to deliver the laptop to my house. So this time Kasumi went through the rigamarole of calling them again and again... she was getting irritated by the inability to connect so I resumed the job of constantly hitting redial. Eventually it connected and I shoved the phone at her. She is better at discussing complicated directions here, truly a Tokyo driving whiz.

I could tell the conversation wasn't going well. At one point she snapped at the other person saying "The delivery didn't come, the phone doesn't connect, your address is unlocateable... what in the world are we supposed to do!".

She got the detailed directions eventually, and we set off to go to the warehouse. On the way we made a stop at Sai Market for a late lunch. After the lunch we drove on, in our quest for that elusive Dell notebook PC. Eventually we found that we were getting seriously off track even though we were scrupulously following the directions given over the phone. We became very suspicious that the directions were full of mistakes.

After much checking against the map we were able to figure out the holes and inconsistencies in the directions provided. On two occasions we were led on a wild goose chase. But we had it figured out and eventually found the God-forsaken warehouse.

It was a huge foreboding place. Even though there was an area to receive customers it was poorly lit and there was nobody around to greet you. The phones were ringing off the hook and guys were just milling around not picking them up. I couldn't help but to feel for the poor souls on the other side of the telephone line: There but for the grace of God go I. Wait a minute, a few hours ago that had been I!

We were able to get the attention of one guy who seemed fairly nice, if not quite a gazelle mentally. He went out back and came back with my computer in a Dell box. I was so happy!

Then Kasumi ripped into him. She recounted what an awful day it had been and how this matter had consumed a good part of it. She pointed at the phones ringing off the hook and how nobody was picking them up. The guy kept nodding and apologizing. As if he even gave a shit.

I wasn't interesting in prolonging the discussion and we got the hell out of the place. On the way home we became a bit paranoid - what if the PC was damaged, or something. In the end it wasn't, it works beautifully, but we walked out of that experience feeling that we can't depend on anything.