I am writing this whole pathetic, ridiculous story out in an effort to purge my overwhelming frustration. I am aware that in the grand scheme of things, this is not a real problem, but…UGH!
Here is the story, in mind-blowing detail. This year, my family and I started to really get into board games. Not dice-rolling, luck games like Monopoly or Life, but more strategic cooperative games like Pandemic Legacy and eurogames like Carcassonne. The kids love them, the adults love them: everyone is happy.
In May 2017, I saw a kickstarter for a huge game called Gloomhaven and because it looked amazing, I decided to order it, in spite of the hefty price tag. It had a scheduled delivery date of August 2017. When it came time to select a shipping address, I hesitated. I have a mail forwarding address in the US that I use for my internet purchases, but the problem was that Gloomhaven is a beast of a game. The box weighs 20 pounds. My forwarding service would charge me an arm and a leg for shipping. Meanwhile, the vendor was offering shipping directly to Colombia for USD35. I worried it might get lost in the mail, but in the end decided to take a change as I had received several packages successfully in recent months. Such a mistake.
The creator of Gloomhaven stayed in very close contact once the Kickstarter campaign finished. He gave backers prompt information on the various delays he was experiencing and asked people for their patience. Finally, in December 2017 he sent a message saying that backers in my region should have at least received tracking information for their game. Since I hadn´t received anything, I got in touch. A few days later I receive a link to DHL’s tracking, which showed that my game had arrived in Colombia in November and was being held pending payment of import duties.
The company that had my game was 4-72, a private company that has been given the concession for Colombia’s postal system (Go, privatization!). I called to get more information and in the course of the conversation realized the name of the package recipient was listed as Amanda Vere. Since I have yet to receive the game, I don’t know if the mistake occurred when the package was mailed or if 4-72 entered the information incorrectly into their system. In any case, I now had to prove that I, Anamaria Vere, was the correct recipient of the package. I emailed my copy of the invoice, but my request was denied because the invoice didn’t have both the tracking number and my correct name on it. Remember, the invoice was created in May but the package didn’t ship until months later.
“Not to worry,” the customer service agent said. I just needed to send some additional documents to prove my name and address. I sent another message with the email the vendor had sent me with tracking info, a phone bill with my full name and address on it, and a copy of the DHL Tracking information. Each of these submissions had processing times of 3-5 working days and action seemed to occur only after repeated calls on my part. My frustration and incredulity were mounting. And then my request for a name change was denied again. Right around then the customer service agent asked me if I knew Amanda Vere; perhaps she could help. “There is no Amanda Vere!!!”
I was then told I would receive Form CN17. I had to fill out the top portion then send it to the post office that had sent the package (in GERMAMY!), where they would certify that the package was really for Anamaria, not Amanda (not sure how the German post office would know that), and then return the form by certified mail. I asked for the millionth time if someone could check the box itself to see if it said Anamaria or Amanda, but apparently this was impossible. Sigh.
In the face of my reluctance to send a certified letter to Germany, which would cost about USD50, I was told my only other recourse was to initiate a legal proceeding called “derecho de petición”, in which I would make my case and the company would be obligated respond in writing within 15 working days. On 28 December I filed a “derecho de petición” requesting a name change for my package, and asking again if someone could look at the package to check the name. I re-sent all my documents in support of my petition. Meanwhile, I contacted the vendor again and explained my problem. He kindly provided me with an invoice which included the shipping number, and which I forwarded to 4-72 on 4 January 2018.
While all this was going on, the deadline for paying the import duty on the game was drawing near. If I missed it, the amount would increase and after another deadline, the package would be considered abandoned. In spite of not having received the game, and not feeling any certainty that I ever would, I paid the import duty before the first deadline.
All throughout this, I was repeatedly denied the possibility to speak to a manager or to any of the departments directly involved in my situation. I was told that the only person I could speak to was a customer service agent, whose only possible action was to move information from one entity to another. A few customer service agents took pity and gave me extensions to get in touch with other persons, but in spite of repeated calls, no one ever answered at any of those other extensions.
On 22 January, exactly 15 business days later, I received my official response. The letter stated that in response to my petition requesting information on the status of my package (wait, what?!), 4-72 wished to inform me that my package was being held pending payment of import duties and if these were not paid in ten days, the package would be considered abandoned. [Insert all possible frustration and anger feels here.] I called immediately to say that the letter had not responded to the subject of my petition, and in fact did not even mention it. Also, I had already paid the import duties. I was told the case had been closed, since an official reply had been provided. The fact that the reply did not match the question asked did not seem to matter.
Today I called again, feeling pretty hopeless about the whole thing. I prepared myself speak to yet another customer agent and recount my story from the beginning, for the umpteenth time. The customer service agent answered and I started my tale of woe. “Wait,” he said. “You’re the lady with the package from Germany with the wrong name, right? I was going to call you this afternoon.” Holy smokes! He asked me if I had an invoice I could send him, and I responded “Yes, of course.” I refrained from adding, “The same one I’ve already sent!!!” I sent it right away, he confirmed receipt, and told me the name change was approved. Then I fell over dead. Then I came back to life and listened as he explained I should call on Thursday to see if the name change had been completed and then I could pick up my package.
We also had this whole funny discussion where I expressed concern that my import duties payment hadn’t been received and that the package would be considered abandoned while the name change was being carried out, and he said “No, no that would only happen if the package was in the warehouse more than three months”, and I was all like “The package has been in the warehouse more than three months”, and he was all like “Don’t worry, everything will be fine”, and I was all like “You’re right, why would I worry?”.
So Thursday morning I’ll call back to see if I’m still Amanda or not. Wish me luck.