New Toys & Courier Problems

October 6th, 2008

Catherine has recently started her photography college course. The course is entirely black and white, no digital allowed, so I dusted off the old Zenit EM of 1980 vintage. Not convinced by “it’s the lens that matters” arguments, it was decided she should get a more modern camera. There was no point in getting another cheap SLR, as once the college course finishes, she’ll either keep using it, or I’ll get it! So 1 used EOS-3 complete with power booster was ordered from Adorama in New York. A great bargain for $360 including shipping. Even once the VAT was paid, that’s still a bargain, as the power booster still sells new for over £250.

The VAT was a bit of a surprise on a second hand item – something to do with free circulation in the EU.

However, UPS calculated the VAT on £360, rather than $360! The courier wouldn’t give us the package without handing over the cheque either, so that’s me down about £30 thanks to mistakes by UPS and lack of customer care skills by Manx Independent Carriers (Update 20/10/2008: See Below!). I’m still waiting for the cheque from UPS with the refund too – Funny how that works… Anyway, assuming I do get the money back, it’s a bargain.

I also got a battery grip for the EOS-450D after seeing how it improved the handling of the EOS-3. Price matched from Jessops it was within 10% of the cost from Amazon, and that’s within my “get it now” allowance. Now I’m all set for G-BOAC in Manchester and G-BOAE in Barbados next week, but that’s another story.

And finally, last weekend I went on the Yellow Duckmarine in Liverpool! I’m particularly happy about capturing this image on the Blackberry!

Yellow Duckmarine

Yellow Duckmarine

Update 20/10/2008

Why did I say “lack of customer care skills by Manx Independent Carriers”? Well, this morning I had a call from one of the directors of M.I.C. to ask this question, after he had found this post on the internet. The fact he called was a big plus to Manx Independent, as I don’t publish my email addess or mobile number on the site. I was actually quite pleased he’d taken the time to track me down and discuss this issue with me.

The root of the issue was the fact I was presented with a choice that, in essense was: pay up or you don’t get your parcel. For the record, I fully accept the fault originated at UPS and M.I.C. were only operating under UPS instructions. When I ordered the package, I estimated costs based on with and without VAT, but the actual cash on delivery value required was so high I was absolutely convinced there was a mistake. The problem was the driver did not have time to call UPS (or to wait for me to call UPS). In real terms the £30 difference was insignificant compared to the 40 mile round trip to pick up the parcel from the depot later, so I paid the money.

However, I was left thinking that if I was in the UK, and a UPS driver turned up at the door with exactly the same issue, he may have been able to contact UPS directly and resolve the issue there and then.

The M.I.C. director did say he would look at providing the drivers with a contact number for UPS, and hopefully this would have prevented this particular issue straight away. When I called UPS, I was speaking to their operator for about 90 seconds before the problem (VAT calculated on £360, rather than $360) was identified. Rather than simply have me write a cheque for the correct amount and keep everybody happy (well, almost. VAT on secondhand goods still seems a bit unfair!), I’ve got to wait another few weeks for UK customs and excise to return the funds to UPS, then another few weeks for them to send a cheque to me. I’m fairly sure the brokerage fee from UPS won’t cover the admin costs for this one anyway,

So what of Manx Independent Carriers. Well, they took the time to A) check on their reputation on the internet. B) track down how to contact me. C) give me a call to discuss the matter. and finally D) investigate a solution to prevent this from happening again. That actually seems like pretty good customer service after all!