A Mischief Of Magpies

If the Sun were the size of a beach ball then Jupiter would be the size of a golf ball and a Mischief of Magpies would be as small as a pea.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The wonders of modern technology

I nearly threw my phone at a brick wall today. Not my mobile phone, you understand. My landline phone, cable, socket and all. The reason for my ire can be summed up in two words that masquerade as one: ParcelForce.

I didn't even choose to use ParcelForce, nor would I ever do so in the future. I ordered something online last week, and the foolish company in question entrusted its delivery to ParcelForce. It arrived on Thursday; I wasn't there. They tried to deliver it again on Friday; I wasn't there again. They left a card saying that the parcel in question had been returned to the depot, and that I should ring their helpline.

It was about there that the trouble started. It was an automated phone system.

"For redeliveries, press 1. For bookings and film times, press 2. For a map leading to the treasure of the Sierra Madre, press 3. For impatience counselling, press 4 exactly 297 times." And so on. I pressed the one key and hoped to speak to an actual human being, with information about where my parcel was and when I could hope to receive it.

No such luck. And it was even worse than the initial automaton. Not only did I have to listen to its hideous recorded vocalisations, I actually had to talk to it.

"Welcome to the redelivery menu. [An inauspicious start.] Have you previously asked for this item to be redelivered? Answer 'yes' or 'no'."


"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Please answer 'yes' or 'no'."


"Thank you. Now please tell me the postcode on the address of the parcel."

"WA8 7AQ."

"W. H. Eight. Seven. A. U. Is that right?"

"No, it's not even fucking close, you stupid fucking machine."

"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Please answer 'yes' or 'no'."

And so it continued, hearing "Sefton Lane" as "Sextant Way", and "11th March" as "7th March", until I may well have had steam coming out of my ears. What seemed like three hours later, I got to the crunch, and asked for it to be redelivered on the Saturday morning.

"You have selected Saturday. Eleventh. March. Is that right?"


"Be advised that Saturday redeliveries incur a charge of eleven pounds, payable on receipt of the item. Is that alright?"

"What the fuck? No it's not fucking alright, you greedy bastards! I've already paid £55 for the parcel and a fiver for P&P, and now you want another ELEVEN for the privilege of being able to receive it?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Please answer 'yes' or 'no'."

It was at this point that the phone nearly hit the wall. Instead I furiously hung up. Which, in retrospect, was probably a mistake as it meant when I rang back to arrange the redelivery to another address so I'd actually be able to receive it, I had to go through the whole rigmarole of misheard postcodes and addresses again. And then that was a waste of time, as changing addresses on the parcel apparently incurs a charge of six pounds, which I wasn't prepared to pay.

In the end, I've had it delivered to a post office, for a less exorbitant but still frankly cheeky charge of fifty pence. ParcelForce are nothing but a bunch of greedy robbing bastards. All I can say is, the parcel had better be worth it.