Don’t Panic…

…I tell myself.  I recently ordered a number of items from retailers on Ebay, all small, couple of pound items some from the UK some from China.  I haven’t ordered anything from Amazon though – this is important.  I received confirmation emails, then despatch confirmations for all items, from Ebay.

Then I received an email from Amazon saying my order had been despatched.  WHAT ORDER!

Before opening the email I googled the company listed in the email header, it was real, a well-known marketplace seller.  I tentatively opened the email, knowing that in spam or phishing emails the “from” address (amazon.co.uk) can be spoofed.  It was a normal Amazon despatch message containing my home address and sent to my usual email address.  The thing was that there was no products listed at all but there was a link to parcel tracking that I didn’t click of course.

When I eventually checked my real-world mailbox this morning I found a large flat cardboard envelope with Amazon.co.uk emblazoned across it.  Uh, huh?

I opened it and immediately understood.  Inside was a despatch note from the company listed in the email, on Amazon stationery so to speak, and the item I’d ordered from the UK Ebay seller.  I finally realised – the email had said it was from the Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) section – I’d bought from a seller under one name on Ebay but the item was despatched from their stock held in Amazon’s warehouse under a different name.  I hadn’t realised that FBA extended beyond purchases from Amazon Marketplace to Ebay and elsewhere too.

If the product had been listed on the emailI would have realised sooner but as it was I spent yesterday morning changing my Ebay, Paypal and Amazon log-ins and passwords to be on the safe side.

The strange, confusing world of online shopping logistics.

Small World, Big Planet

Antarctica - Gerlache strait

Antarctica – Gerlache strait (Photo credit: Rita Willaert)

This site’s tagline refers to the old saying that keeps getting reused that ships, then aircraft and now the internet are “shrinking the world” but although Humans have visited every continent there’s still vast areas of emptiness, much unexplored, and as for the oceans, well we’ve barely dipped a toe in the water and shivered at how cold it is so far.

To show this Gizmodo recently showcased some of the most remote research stations on the planet and even a couple of homes for those who really want to get away from it all.

And Now a Travelling Keyboard

Option key on a third-party keyboard (Logitech...

Option key on a third-party keyboard (Logitech) designed for use with Apple computers. 22x20px|border Deutsch: Wahltaste auf einer für Apple-Computer konzipierten Dritthersteller-Tastatur (Logitech). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I promise that this won’t become a blog about parcels, but here’s one more post.  Ba dum tish!

I’m typing this entry using its subject.  Last week I wanted a new keyboard as the one I was using kept missing large chunks of what I was typing and for some reason I’ve never been able to type properly with it anyway so I went to my local Currys (the UK equivalent of Best Buy) to buy a good, low-cost Logitech wired keyboard…

I had looked on the websites of a couple of local retailers, they were the cheapest, they appeared to have it in stock so I visited on my way home from work.  I couldn’t see any of the basic Logitech keyboards only the more expensive ones so I had to ask someone.  It turned out that it wasn’t “reserve and collect” that was available but “pay and collect” which means ordering it for delivery to my local store.  So I went home, got out the credit card and ordered it.  The confirmation email said it would be three to five working days, definitely available by 29th January.  My fingers would soon no longer be numbed by a lousy keyboard, it was worth the wait.

Three days passed, on the fourth day I checked my emails – no notification that it was ready to collect.  Fifth day, five PM, still nothing so I went to the store again on the way home – it was actually there but they’d had computer problems, I was told, so I hadn’t been sent an email.  So all was okay, I had my keyboard.

This wouldn’t seem preposterous if it wasn’t for where I live.  You see on the outskirts of this town is one of the largest distribution warehouses in the country, in Europe in fact.  It was built a few years back in two parts and belongs to DSG – the parent company of the Currys store I ordered the keyboard from.  Knowing that it would have come from that warehouse and being naturally inquisitive (read cynical) I looked up the package’s tracking number on the courier’s website and found the full details of its travels.

It left Newark, went to the courier’s hub in Birmingham before coming back to Newark.  Using normal roads between the warehouse and the store (it’s effectively a straight line, along the ancient Fosse Way) it’s 1.5 miles, taking about five minutes.  The parcel travelled around 163 miles over about 3 hours total on the road.

In the old days they’d order one in from the warehouse, it would be allocated to the store, as it’s just literally minutes down the road a local van could have brought it down but it seems that in these days of complicated “logistics” that’s perhaps just too easy.

Parcel Farce

PACKAGES

PACKAGES (Photo credit: marc falardeau)

This week has been one of problems with parcels.  Firstly a delivery driver who couldn’t grasp why I was asking how big and what type of parcel he was delivering – he hadn’t brought it into the building – and after asking what company we were every time I said, “yes, that’s us, what type of delivery is it?”  he said it was a sheet of plastic so I sent him to the back door of the factory where sheet plastic goes.  It turned out to be a small package that he could have carried in the front door in the first place.

Then I get home on Tuesday and find a parcel outside my front door (but inside the enclosed hallway, not in public view).  Trouble was there should have been two.  Worse still when I checked on Amazon both parcels were shown as being delivered at exactly the same time.  I have no way of proving that they weren’t both there at some point before I got home.  Thankfully the parcel I did get contained the Christmas presents I’d ordered for family.

I contacted the carrier by email, they mailed back saying they’d investigate at the depot.  Today (Saturday) I received the missing parcel through the letterbox where it could have been put on Monday when they’d first tried to deliver it.  Lucky I didn’t need it in a hurry.