So R and I have an organic vegetable delivery service. Every few weeks, we order a box of organic veg on the information superhighway from one of the local services here in town. We have a set delivery day and, usually, the box shows up just before R goes to work .. so she can put it away and we can have nice tasty fresh organic vegetables for the whole week.
Then, a few weeks ago, something odd happened .. instead of the box being delivered to our door in the AM, when R went down to the lobby to leave for work (thinking that the delivery service was just late) she practically tripped over our box as she came off the elevator. Hmm ... unusual.
A little miffed, she went over to see J, our concierge. He said, "Yeah, the delivery guy came in, when I asked him which unit he was visiting, he dropped the box and left."
Hmm ... that's pretty odd behaviour for a delivery guy.
So R dutifully took the box upstairs, put it all away, left for work and arrived there a little late and breathless. She called me and relayed the story. I said I would call the service to discuss.
Now, I personally think that I'm a relatively pleasant person when it comes to having to discuss a poor service issue with a service-provider. I'm not rude or condescending when I speak to customer support people. And I generally look for the win/win in a given situation. So I called the organic vegetable people and got their answering machine. Fine. So I left a pleasant but clear message that there was a surprising problem with the delivery and would someone please call to discuss as soon as possible.
The service was very prompt in responding. I received a call from their owner, D. He was very pleasant on the phone. Said he had looked into the situation after he received my call and that the driver, P, indeed said that there had been an issue. P said the concierge had "confronted" him and wouldn't let him deliver the box, so he just left.
Hmm .. that didn't sound like J, but then we all have bad days. So I said, well, here's what I can do. I can speak with our Head Concierge and, any morning when we have a delivery, I will give a head's up to whomever is on duty and let them know that its fine for P to come up and drop the box. I then asked D (the owner) if he could speak to P and just "check in" with the concierge instead of walking right in...
Silence on the phone. Then, "Well, you know, delivery guys are like chefs. They have their own *routine* and if you tell them how to manage that routine then they get upset. I really don't think I can tell him that."
And I'm thinking .. "Delivery guys are like delivery guys. And when they're dealing with the public they need to be able to adapt their behaviour."
And I'm also thinking .. "D. You're the *owner*. What's the point of being the owner if you don't manage your people to protect your brand?"
But I say .. "Hmm. I understand that you don't want to see that you're 'coming down hard' on P, or that you're trying to cramp his routine. How about this .. you tell P that I've made these new arrangements with my concierge to make his job easier and if he could just 'check-in' with the concierge then it's all good."
And D says .. "Hmmm. I guess I can do that."
So, full of hope, I say thanks and good-bye to D, confident that next week's order will arrive safe and sound at the door.
Monday night, we get the call .. the box will be delivered between 11 and 1. Hmm .. *much* later than usual, but that's OK. I swing by the concierge desk on Tuesday AM. "J. They're bringing the box today between 11 and 1. Can you let the guy upstairs and he can just put it outside the door?" "No problem," says J. I leave for work confident that anything can be solved with rational communication, earnestness and good will (it's like I'm a Hallmark card.).
All day Tuesday I think about the fresh vegetables. The chard, the collard greens, the banannas. Yum! I can't wait to cook dinner tonight! Also, I ordered a package of whole-grain frozen waffles (flax and wildberry flavour). A nice treat on a cold winter morning.
On the drive home, I think "Yay! There will be fresh carrots and tomatos in my lunch tomorrow!"
I arrive home, go upstairs, kiss R and she says "The box wasn't delivered."
Hmm .. no box? But we got the call. If there was a call, there's supposed to be a box. It's happened before (once) that there was no call (some screwy internet problem) so there was no box. But that made sense. No call, no box. But there was a call, so there must be a box.
"Are you sure?"
"Well, Kate. I think I would have remembered a large green plastic box full of vegetables blocking the doorway as I opened the door. But, in case I didn't, I was also told by J when I came in tonight that the delivery didn't come."
Hmmm .. no box.
So, since no box, we were compelled to order Swiss Chalet's Festive Special (with salad), but that's a different story ...
Next morning, I make a phone call. Get the answering machine. Again, I leave a pleasant but direct message "Hi, it's Kate. Our box wasn't delivered yesterday. Am wondering if there was a problem, hope the driver is OK. Can you give me a shout back?"
D calls me about an hour later. "Are you sure you didn't get your box? The manifest shows it was delivered."
I refrain from using the sarcastic tone that R used with me when I asked her the same question the night before. "Hmmm .. yeah, pretty sure the box wasn't there. But the manifest says it was delivered? To my building? Because the concierge says that he never saw the delivery guy."
"Hmmm." D ponders. "Let me check with P and see what happened. I'll call you back"
Wait. Wait. Played Operation Atiqtaq just for fun. You should too. When you've finished this vignette of organic hilarity.
D calls back. "Yeah. I talked to P. He said he dropped the box off. Somewhere in the vicinty of the building, maybe near the glass."
I pound the receiver on the table, pick it back up and scream "What? In the *vicinity* of the building?"
OK, I don't. I say "You mean he left it *outside* the building? With my delivery slip inside the box that has my personal information on it including my credit card info?"
"Oh, yeah, but the credit card slip doesn't have your expiry date on it, so its OK."
I have stepped into Wonderland.
"Actually, D, it does have my expiry date on it."
"No, I'm sure it doesn't. Hold the phone..." (muffling sound) "Lorraine, the credit slip doesn't have the expiry on it, does it? Oh, it does, huh." (more muffling) "Yeah, I guess it does, sorry about that."
The monkeys are screaming in my head.
"But don't worry, we're not going to charge you for the box."
Oh. Good. Now the monkeys are just chattering and picking nits.
"Hmm .. well, D, there are a couple of issues here. It's great that you're not charging me for the box I didn't receive. But we now have my credit card information floating out there. It's not really the time of year where I want to be dealing with replacing my credit card. And also, does P understand that leaving the box outside of a large 18-story condominium doesn't constitute delivery?"
"Yeah, to tell you the truth, there have been some other complaints about P. Seems he doesn't ring the doorbell a lot of the time when he delivers to homes. We've had calls about people's boxes being left out overnight because they didn't know he made the delivery. You know maybe the box is still there .. did you look for it?"
I refuse to tell this guy how to manage. I refuse to tell this guy how to manage. My consulting rate at the agency was $250 an hour. I refuse to tell this guy how to manage.
20 minutes later I get off the phone. Resolved:
1. I will look around the vicinity of the building for the box
2. D will also drop buy to search for the allusive box
3. D is very sorry about all the extra work I've been put too
4. Next week he will personally deliver my box along with P so we can get this thing resolved in person
5. Next week is important because family is coming from across hill and dale and I will need the contents of the box to make Christmas dinner. Otherwise I will be showing up at D's house for Christmas.
See .. this is the crazy thing. This is a small, Canadian owned business that is doing good things for the local economy and the environment. I totally want to support them. I just want to have a better experience doing it.
Where we are today ... the box was located, untouched, behind a hedge. We salvaged some of the cold winter veg and the waffles. Next Tuesday is when D and P will (hopefully) show up with a box (and caps) in hand. Stay tuned.