As Ian Fleming almost said, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence and three times is rank incompetence.
Speaking of rank incompetence, as we were yesterday morning, let me give you the performance of NZ Post. I don’t mean their performance in “returning a dividend” to the government, or in administering the Anderton Bank—I mean in doing the core job of a postal system: delivering the mail.
Here’s the story of three parcels.
About this time last year, I bought several books from overseas, of which one never arrived (William Hutt’s Rehabilitation of Say’s Law, now you ask). I only realised months later it was missing, because in the meantime I’d been enjoying the Kindle version, but when I did realise and chased it up with NZ Post (they have a nifty tracking page on their website so you can see where they think all your stuff went to) they had no idea where it had gone. Their “records” showed no record of non-delivery; my bookshelf begged to differ. I flagged it away as bad luck, and continued to enjoy reading the e-book.
Then in April another parcel of books went missing. But it wasn’t lost, said NZ Post, they just didn’t know where it was. Records showed it arrived in the country in good order, then disappeared. After a fortnight of phone calls, it finally turned up somewhere I could collect it—turned out it had the package’s wrapping and address label had been damaged somewhere in the NZ Post system and then somehow been put outside in the rain—whereupon some kind soul had wrapped the whole package in plastic to produce the perfect moist, humid environment in which you can be sure mould will flourish. I’m sure they wouldn’t have been disappointed with the final result: my copy of How the Far East Was Lost now boasts an irreplaceable patina that will ensure my copy will never be confused for another.
Undeterred, I am now expecting yet another package. I have been expecting it for a month. But I haven’t got it, and neither it seems do NZ Post. At least, they don’t know if they’ve got it. They don’t know very much at all. They do know a driver did take it to my address, and upon finding no-one home he did take it away again.* Nice. No card, no note, no communication—which is supposedly the reason to register on NZ Post’s bloody website. Nothing. And assuredly, no parcel. And once again, I’m told by NZ Post it is not lost—they just don’t know where it is. Not exactly. It could be in Auckland; it could have been sent back to its overseas source; it could be sitting in a cage out at the airport containing sundry other similarly undelivered parcels; it could even, conceivably, have been sent as a care package to Kabul to help English-reading Afghanis through the inevitable transition to Taleban rule in twelve months time.*** But until this cage has been sorted through, which must be a very large cage since it seems to take several days to rummage through, no more news about my parcel is apparently available.
Until then, I wait for a phone call.
As Ian Fleming almost said, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence and three times in twelve months must surely be rank incompetence.**
But I’m also waiting for a fourth parcel. A certain Kickstarter package containing two long-playing vinyl discs. A package that should have been here and on my turntable around a fortnight ago. But that package hasn’t even appeared on NZ Post’s tracking page.
I can feel already it’s not going to end well.
And I wonder what Ian Fleming would say about a fourth?
PS: Anyone else have similar problems to report?
UPDATE: I have had a phone call! The parcel, I was told, is still in the hands of and yet to be returned by CourierPost, the non-deliverers of the parcel, who are due to return it sometime today, tomorrow or next week to “the cage” so that it can be reassigned for re-delivery by … Courier Post.
I asked to go in and pick it up myself when or if it is ever actually sighted.
* * * * *
* Which begs the question, do we now, as they used to in the Soviet Union, need to stay home peering through our curtains on days NZ Post might deliver, ready at a moment’s notice to leap forth and wrestle our parcels bodily from their delivery persons?)
** Only three? I’ve occasionally been told by friends that things have been sent to me that have never arrived,
*** While they would certainly benefit from a thorough reading of Omnipotent Government, I wonder how they’ll enjoy my copy of The Turgot Collection: Pocket Edition, and The Socialist Tradition, from Moses to Lenin?