to go: 89.31 [YTD: 1,912.69]
Wednesday morning, 9
sitting at my desk
the finishing touches on Daughter #1's birthday package -- weeping over
her Hallmark, printing out the UPS 2nd Day Air label, setting the booby
traps -- when the phone rings, and I answer it in my very
it's great to be The Dirt
Company Receptionist! voice, and
it's the Soon-To-Be-Birthday
Girl herself, calling to say hello.
you busy?" she asks
(Isn't it adorable how solicitous they become in the days
immediately preceding their birthdays ... even when they're almost 21
tell her no, actually,
I'm not busy at all: the office is
practically deserted this morning, the phones are hardly ringing, my In
Basket is momentarily empty. These are all lies, of course, but I never
want to discourage her phone calls.
just sitting here
your sea monkeys," I reply.
deliciously smug for the past few days. Not only did I manage to get
all of her birthday goodies purchased, wrapped, packaged and
practically out the door (scheduled to arrive in TicTac in plenty of
time for her Big Day on Monday), but I've
managed to knock off 89.7% of my Christmas shopping already, thanks to
the miracle of the Internet and the nice folks at VISA. I spent most of
my four-day Thanksgiving vacation last weekend glued to the computer,
pointing and clicking my way towards the ultimate goal: gift-shopping
liberation. Now I can sit back and ignore all of the annoying overblown
holiday hoopla for the next four weeks.
enough to make my
heart constrict with joy.
brag for a moment
online shopping accomplishments. Both of my parents: done. Sister:
done. Nieces and nephews: done, done, done.
to your Eighteenth Avenue address," I add as an after-thought.
has agreed to take delivery of my online purchases. (At least, she's
taking delivery of the ones that aren't for her.
Her gifts are shipping directly to my ex-husband's house.) That way, we
figure, David and I won't have to haul eleven metric tons' worth of
Christmas presents in our luggage when we fly to TicTac later this
mean my Two-Hundred-and-Eighteenth
Avenue address, don't you?" she says.
And then we both stop
breathing for one long moment as the full implication of her question
know that sick,
bottom-dropping-out-of-your-stomach feeling you get when you realize
you've done something shockingly, exquisitely stoopid? That's how I'm
feeling right at this moment. I can't breathe. I can't speak. I think I
might throw up. Basically ... I have just sent $43,897,621 worth of
books, toys, CDs, farm implements and ridiculously expensive electronic
gizmos into Shipping Limbo. Now all of this stuff is floating around
out there in the whereversphere ... headed for an address that doesn't
Jaymi whispers, shocked. "How did this happen?"
don't know," I wail
miserably. I am ordinarily sooo careful about ordering stuff online. (I
don't even give them my phone
number until I've
called myself a couple of times, just to verify that it's a working
number.) In my own defense, however, I would like to point out that
this was a new and unfamiliar address. Jaymi and Joel broke up in
September, and she moved into her new place not long afterward. I
haven't even committed the new address to ink yet in my Day-Timer. It's
not completely inconceivable that I could look at 18th Avenue and not
realize that it should be 218th Avenue.
We hang up the phone
immediately get to work, trying to undo the damage. The good news -- if
there is any good news here -- is that her birthday package still
hasn't shipped. It's sitting right here on the desk in front of me: I
have plenty of time to make the address correction and print out a new
label before the UPS Guy shows up. (Also -- more good news -- I hadn't
gotten around to ordering my son's gene splicer yet. It's still sitting
in my Amazon.com Shopping Basket, waiting for me to close my eyes and
hit "Enter." That's at least one ridiculously expensive electronic
gizmo that isn't floating around in Shipping Limbo today.) I figure
that the smart thing to do is to get on the phone and call the
Amazon.com help desk ASAP. I don't have time to dink around with
e-mail. I'm sure that if I can just bend the ear of a knowledgeable,
sympathetic Customer Service representative, they will be able to get
me out of this pickle.
that's when things
bad to worse to Just fudking delete me
you've ever tried
the Amazon.com 800 number for customer support, you probably already
know what I'm about to tell you: that there IS
800 number for customer support. Or at least, there is no 800 number
listed on the Amazon.com website.
on. Try to find it.
I dare you.)
I'm still enjoying the first blush of blind jibbering panic here, and
I'm not yet aware of this fact. I still naively believe that any online
store as fabulous and as reliable and as popular as Amazon.com is must
surely provide telephone support to their most devoted customers (i.e.,
me). And so I spend an increasingly frantic hour and a half
every frame and pixel and department of the massive Amazon.com
infrastructure, searching for the magic number that's going to fix my
problem. Ultimately, though, I'm forced to face the fact that there is
no 800 number. There are no customer service phone numbers of any
kind, as a matter of fact. Feeling disillusioned, I go to Google and
type the words "Amazon.com" and "800 number" and "whut the fudk?" into
the search engine. It immediately offers up links to half a dozen
personal homepages (as well as to a couple of articles on trade
... every one of them complaining about
Amazon's lack of published 800 number support ... and every one of them
providing the mystery number:
Keep it someplace safe. Trust me on this one.)
the time I finally
Amazon.com customer service rep on the line, more than an hour has
passed. I've had time to calm down and catch my breath and think the
situation through. I'm pretty sure I know what the rep is going to tell
me. Your order has already
shipped. There's nothing we can
do. You'll have to contact the carriers yourself.
feel obligated to at least go through the formality of reporting the
error, after all the effort I've expended trying to track down the damn
800 number in the first place. Plus this was *my* screw-up, so I make
an attempt not to sound defensive or whiney or hostile. I give him my
account information and my shipping confirmation numbers and my
mother's maiden name -- everything except my shoe size and my
ninth-grade locker combination, basically -- and after he hunts through
his electronic records for a while, he finally comes back and tells me
that the order has already shipped, that there's nothing they can do,
and that I'll have to contact the individual carriers myself.
ask him why on earth Amazon.com doesn't publish their 800 number on
their website, like any other normal, reputable online store, he says
that the number does appear on order confirmations and during the
check-out process, but that they don't post it anywhere else because
people use it for the wrong reasons.
many people were
because they couldn't figure out how to navigate the website," he
explains. "It was tying up the help lines."
think this is a pretty
crappy reason, frankly, but I'm too stressed to argue the issue
right now. Maybe after the holidays.
we hang up, I go
the Amazon.com website and print out my account information and my
order history for all of the Christmas presents I purchased over the
weekend. Naturally everything is shipping via a different carrier:
Dad's electronic banana peeler has gone out UPS ... my mother's GameBoy
and my stepmother's "Men of GQ" Calendar are shipping together via
regular mail ... my toddler nephew's cordless electric drill is being
sent Airborne Express. It will take me another two days to get the mess
sorted out -- not to mention another seven Customer Service
Representatives, four additional 800 numbers and at least half a dozen
e-mails -- but eventually I'm able to track all of the disparate
shipments and correct the shipping information and get them pointed in
the right direction with only minimal wear and tear on my nervous
in the meantime, the
Guy has come and picked up my daughter's birthday package, spiriting it
out the door and onto his truck and off into the whereversphere. You'd
better believe I'm going to be parked in front of the UPS website for
the next 48 hours, tracking that package within an inch of its little
corrugated life, until it is safely -- and correctly -- delivered to
the address on 218th Street in TicTac.
all ... sea
last very long in Shipping Limbo.