April 25th, 2006

The Saga Of Initial City-Link

Originally published at blog.scatmania.org. Please leave any comments there.

A few weeks ago I ordered a Logitech MX1000 laser mouse. It’s a nice mouse - chunky for my big hands, laser rather than LED for significantly higher resolution, wireless because it’s fun (but using a frequency that makes it as responsive as any other USB mouse), charges in a cradle. It’s even got a couple of really cool features like a hardware battery indicator.

Plus, I needed a new mouse. My last optical mouse umm… fell apart… during a particularly aggressive Unreal Tournament 2004 deathmatch.

Because it was my first order with the company I ordered it from, they insisted it must be delivered to my registered card address. Well, that’s not a problem - it was over the Easter break and so Claire would be there to receive it. The carrier was Initial City-Link. Okay; still no problem.

And somehow, they missed us. Perhaps Claire was out (or still in bed) when they called, but in any case, the delivery was missed and a calling card was left. I was instructed to call a phone number to arrange redelivery or collection.

This was Thursday 13th April. On Sunday, we were to begin our grand tour of the UK. And it was a bank holiday weekend (for Easter). When would I get my mouse?

I called the number on the card and was greeted by an automatic voice that prompted me to enter my consignment number - found on the card - into the system. It then gave me three options:

  1. Arrange redelivery. Hmm. That’s not necessarily an option: I’d be away for a week, and the card said that they’d only hold the parcel for five working days… so… yes, redelivery would be good, but only if they’d still have the parcel when I got back, which depended entirely on which of the bank holiday weekend days they were working. I needed more information.
  2. Arrange collection. Their collection centre for this region is in Newtown: about an hour’s drive away. Collection would certainly get me my mouse quicker. Gareth would be driving down through Newtown on Friday, but again - they might be closed. And we could potentially drive through it on Sunday.
  3. Arrange a ringback. A-ha! A chance to speak to a human and have them fix the problem. Excellent. I pressed the button to arrange for them to call me back and waited.

Some hours later, they hadn’t called me back and, concerned about the fast-approaching bank holiday weekend and my subsequent absence from the delivery address, I tried to call back. This time, when I entered my consignment number into the automated service, a voice said, “You have already made a choice. Goodbye.” Great. So, what? I just have to wait?

I looked on the company’s web site and found another phone number and called it. After a bit of hassle, the woman on the other end of the phone told me I needed to call the Newtown branch to get the information I needed, and she gave me their number. For the rest of the day, at half-hour intervals, I tried to call, but it was always engaged. Eventually, I called back the woman at the head office and insisted that they held me. They told me that they were closed Sundays, Saturday afternoons, and the Friday, Monday, and Tuesday of the Easter weekend. I did the maths - that meant, they’d hold my parcel until the day after I’d return to Aber. She confirmed this. Excellent. All I had to do was to call the Newtown depot while I was in Scotland and arrange redelivery.

Needless to say, I never receieved my callback.

On Wednesday, I whipped the “we tried to deliver…” card from my wallet and phoned the number. I’d forgotten to bring with me the number for the Newtown depot - I only had the automated voice number - but I could have found internet access to get back the number had it been necessary. I was surprised, though, that when I entered my consignment number I wasn’t told “You have already made a choice. Goodbye.” Instead, I was told “We tried to redeliver, and you still weren’t there. You’ll now need to collect it yourself or have the sender pay for redelivery.”

What? Well of course I wasn’t there: I’m elsewhere. I called to tell you that the previous week, asked you to call me back - which you didn’t - called a few other numbers - most of which were perpetually engaged - and was eventually promised by somebody that it would all be fine. Now they’re saying that they won’t deliver it at all?

On Friday I was in Preston, with a stable internet connection and telephone signal, so I tired again. I called the main office number and found myself in a queue. I waited in the queue for about seven or eight minutes before it cut me off.

This was the last straw. I did a little bit of exploring of the web site to find some e-mail addresses and wrote a particularly snotty complaint, detailing all of the events above, to one. I’d try to call again on Monday, I reasoned. It turns out that saying that you intend to “make every effort to avoid using your incompetent company ever again” gets through to people.
On Monday, I actually receieved a phone call from them. They apologised profusely, and, after a bit of complaining that now it wasn’t Easter break I couldn’t so easily have somebody sign for parcels on weekdays, had them agree to redeliver on Saturday 29th. A little complaining finally gets a result.

I’ll let you know how the mouse is when I finally get it.