Surely the Pony Express was more efficient than this…

Last week, when I was chatting with E and F about life, they made a confession of tragic proportions. Apparently, back in February, they sent me a birthday present by way of USPS. Unfortunately, two months passed, my birthday came and went, and no package arrived. I checked with the friendly Scottish man who trades in parcels at my apartment complex, but he had no trace of it either.

A birthday present lost in the post would be merely sad and unfortunate. What elevates this particular parcel to tragic new heights is the contents therein. F and E had been shopping together and spotted a pair of Frye riding boots in a lovely shade of cognac. Not only were The Boots in my size, but they were massively on sale owing to F’s convenient superpower of finding designer things at heavily discounted prices. The reason for the sale, however, was an ink stain, and they regretfully put The Boots back and went home.
Upon returning to E’s and having a sad about The Boots, they got in the car and drove back to the store in their pajamas in order to purchase The Boots. They managed to polish the stain away and packed The Boots into a flat-rate shipping box with some masa and agave for all my Tex-Mex needs.

And then the box never arrived.

To understand the gravity of the situation, here are some screen shots I took of women’s riding boots from Frye’s website:


Suddenly, this feels rather dramatically like the worst thing that has ever happened to me. 
But here’s where my sadness turns to rage. Today, when I was going through my “files” to find some information that would allow me to access my online bank account so I can do trivial things like pay my tuition, I found another long-forgotten piece of mail. This letter arrived sometime in mid-to-late March after being hilariously misdirected for several weeks. The address written on the envelope is not even close to being my own; I honestly have no idea how it even got here. Inside was this:


Time for a pop quiz! You receive a letter in the mail from a company called “Parcelforce Worldwide,” which Google tells you is legitimate but you have never heard of yourself. The letter, which is only kind of addressed to you, asks you to go online and pay £85 bail to get a mysterious package out of customs jail. You have no idea who sent this package, which is only identified as being from the United States, or what it could possibly contain that would be worth £85 in import duties. You also do not have £85 because you’re in graduate school and all your money is imaginary. Also also, you have no time to deal with these shenanigans because it’s right before spring break and ALL the assignments are due. Do you:
A. Pay the £85. Hey, it’s only (imaginary) money! And you’re really curious and nothing about this situation seems shady in any way.
B. Don’t pay the £85 until you can figure out who to contact to determine what this company is, who sent this package, why it’s worth £85 of your imaginary money, and if this package is even for you.
C. Do nothing! You’re poor and ain’t nobody got time for this shit.
If you answered C, congratulations! You’re probably an impoverished graduate student! Which is why, like me, you would have put the letter back with your pile of unopened bank statements and promptly forgotten about it, until you find it two months later and start to put the pieces together.
Here is what I suspect happened: the Royal Mail, being an even bigger piece of shit than USPS, imports parcels through a subsidiary called Parcelforce. This company receives my birthday present from America. Unfortunately, it decides to inspect said parcel and determines that its contents are not in fact worth whatever E and F declared them as on the customs form, but instead demands £85 in import fees. I would really like to see the process by which they determined this. Do they have a boot appraiser on staff? Because I guarantee you that F and E did not send me anything worth £85 in taxes. According to the UK customs site, customs duty, of which The Boots are apparently worth £20.70, is only applicable to gifts worth more than £135. If E and F had that kind of money, they could FLY TO SCOTLAND and hand-deliver my birthday present.After Parcelforce arbitrarily assigns import taxes to my birthday present, they copy down my address incorrectly and send me the most half-assed form letter ever written. In it, they demand £85 without providing any useful information as to why I should pay, such as a sender’s address or an actual rationale for the fees owed. When I don’t pay my customs fees within the 20 day deadline (which, it should be noted, I probably wouldn’t have made anyway because of the misdirection of my letter), they put my package back on the slow boat to America, where HOPEFULLY it will arrive at some point. I put the tracking number into Parcelforce’s website, I got this:


Forwarded for export? What does that even mean? Is it just sitting in a warehouse in the UK somewhere, hoping to fall onto a cargo ship accidentally and maybe, someday, if I’m lucky, end up back in USPS’s hands? What is the world coming to when I have a higher level of trust in USPS than in another shipping company?
I’m not going to try to place all the blame on Parceforce here. I could have taken the time to investigate this mysterious form letter when it arrived in March. E and F probably shouldn’t have put the masa in with The Boots, because even though you can totally buy masa in this country for like £1,538 so it really shouldn’t be illegal to ship to me, it also probably looked like I was smuggling coke into the country. But really, if Parcelforce’s job is to monitor and deliver packages imported into the UK, then they are really bad at their job. First, they have arbitrarily misappraised The Boots. Second, they sent me the world’s least informative letter asking me for money without really explaining why. Third, the shittiness of this letter combined with the complete inability to transcribe my address properly does not exactly make me willing to pay. Fourth, what have they been doing with my package since March 20, when it was supposed to start its return journey to the states? And fifth, who the hell would try to smuggle coke in a pair of leather boots?!
So when all that is accounted for, we’re still looking at like 90-95% of the blame on Parcelforce. I received an email from aunt last week saying that her Christmas present to me had been returned, broken, four months after she sent it. Presumably it got caught up in these same shenanigans, so I’m looking at The Boots returning to sender by mid-June, probably in pieces.
If the boots do not turn up on E’s doorstep in prime condition, I will not be a happy camper. Nobody comes between me and my footwear.

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