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The Tally Ho

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Le Retour du Roi

No, I'm not talking about Elvis...I thought Steve might be a bit more at ease if I take this moment to post. For those of you who don't know, international shipments of technology goods is a bit tricky. It all began one May day in 2004...

A long time ago in a continent Americans used to know, there was a young, strikingly handsome university student facing a 1 week deadline on his undergraduate thesis that serves as a prerequisite for graduation from his French university. Sitting in the rare, second level of his dimly-lit neighborhood cafe, sipping espresso, smoking his occasional stress-relief cigarette, our main character typed furiously and feverishly the words to his thesis, "International Education in an International World: Two Continents, Two Schools, Two Programs...A Case Study." In the middle of his sip of real coffee (as European coffee doesn't compare to the feces Americans drink), our character notices that his wonderfully crafted piece-of-shit Dell laptop from the turn of the millennium (which has had every technological ailment possible) had crashed under a blue screen of death. Now, being well-read and tech savvy, our friend knew that it could very likely be the Sasser worm. So, he returned to his "L'auberge Francaise" to resolve the problem. After putting his work on hold for three days, reformatting his entire computer 5 times, and resolving every known software issue, our, now very stressed, main character concluded that it must be hardware. After a trans-Atlantic phone call to the techy at his father's company, a new laptop (4x the performance of the original) was set via FEDEX from Southern Illinois to Paris, France. Now, it wasn't carelessly sent. It was sent "International Priority" with a must delivery in 3-5 days. It arrived in Paris the next day. Our student friend was notified that his package would be delivered the next day and to remain in his apartment between 9am-noon. When the package didn't arrive, Fedex was called, but no one seemed to know where the package was. It was now labeled "regulatory agency delay" but our character was told that it would most likely arrive the next day at the same prescribed time. No package. Another phone call. Enter Sylvie. Sylvie is the wonderfully bitchy lady that works at FEDEX's customs relations desk. This fine French woman informed our friend that he must now supply a copy of his passport, proof of residence, and the original purchase receipt to prove that it was more than 6 months old and so he would not have to pay import taxes amounting to more than 300 euros. So, our character quickly gathered the requisite information and faxed his new friend Sylvie the documents. She, however, did not care to work past 445 and did not receive them from the fax machine and did not notify our main character otherwise. Another phone call to Sylive. Remember, our character is negotiating in French. Sylvie explains that she didn't receive the fax, etc and that our friend must resend the information that day otherwise the package would be shipped back to the U.S. Now, for exchange students in Paris there are two options to send a fax. 1). Ride the metro to the university (90 minutes round trip) or 2). pay 6+ euros per fax at La Poste. Flash to today. A full 14 days after shipment, 13 days after its arrival in Paris, 8 fax attempts, and hours of phone calls at his expense, the package is scheduled to arrive between 9am and noon today. It is now 12:30 Paris time. Still no word from FEDEX. FEDEX HQ can rest assured that they will hear "strongly-worded statements" in a "strongly worded letter" from our main character and that some kind of retribution is in order for a shipment that cost more than $200 to send and another $100 in phone calls and faxes, passed 4 delivery dates, etc, etc, etc. Thus ends the story of the FEDEX disaster. I guess our friend will have to wait and see if the damn thing ever shows up.

Ciao,

--Nico

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