Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Murder of Customer Service

Some days I feel like Customer Service is dying a slow and painful death. Other days (like today), I think there are a lot of folks trying to help it along.

I was at the Post Office today (the one on Wynn Drive in Huntsville). After exchanging e-mails with Yvonne Navarro (writer of the Ultraviolet novelization) while trying to find out whether or not the movie was based on a comic book, I decided to get a copy and ask her to autograph it. She'll autograph books if you send them to her with a postage-paid envelope to send them back to you.

Anyway, I was at the Post Office today trying to send the package. First I had to weigh the book in the envelope I wanted her to send it back to me in, so that I could put postage on it. Then I had to slide the whole thing in the package I prepared to send to her. Well, everything was complete - I had postage on the envelope to be returned to me, and I had it slid inside the package I was sending out. All I needed was to put the postage on that package, tape it up, and I'd be done. Well, when I asked for some tape (to tape the end of the package down), the guy behind the counter said he didn't have any tape except for Priority Mail tape, which I couldn't use unless I wanted to send it Priority Mail (which would cost twice as much). Well, the package was completely taped up with packing tape - I just need to tape one end (kind of like that last part of wrapping a gift, where you've just got that open end left to tape up). I saw the big roll of scotch tape behind him and asked if I could use that. Apparently it's against the law or something to put scotch tape on a package you're going to mail, so he wouldn't let me use it. I was just going to tape the end down - I didn't want to tape the whole thing with it; but I guess that doesn't matter

At this point I was looking forward to the fact that it was going to take 2 trips to the Post Office to send this thing (no wait, that would be 3, since I already went to the Florence Post Office this weekend and they were completely out of all sizes of envelopes, so I couldn't send it then). So I asked if I could just get the postage put on it and then maybe I could bring it back after I taped it. I don't know what I thought - it's not like it was going to fit into the mail slot, and I'd probably have stand in line again anyway. But at that point, he seemed to be confused by the fact that I wanted to get postage on it, and still take it with me. By now, I figured I didn't have any choice, considering the Post Office doesn't keep tape on hand for wrapping packages, so I put in my last-ditch effort, hoping against hope I wouldn't have to make another trip. Having seen that huge roll of brown tape at the Florence Post Office (you know, that 2-inch wide tape you have to wet first), I asked him if they still had that kind of tape (I know I had never seen it in Huntsville, but I was desperate). He stood there for a moment as if he was processing my request. Then (and I swore he let out a sigh), he reached underneath the counter in front of him, pulled out a roll of that brown tape, and said, "I guess we can use this."

I was a bit dumbfounded at that point. Was I taking his secret tape stash? Was there acid on the back of it that he was saving for later? Why, when I asked for tape in the first place, did he not immediately produce this massive roll? It was almost as if in training he was told, "Never, never, bring out the big brown roll of tape, except as a last resort." Maybe I'm just tenacious, and he figured it would get rid of me.

The world may never know.

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