Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Waiting patiently

There’s been a lot in the news lately about the huge backlog NZ Post has in delivering packages due to a massive jump in online purchasing because of Covid lockdowns, and how that’s meant huge delays in deliveries. There really are big delays, like, for example, that vintage Mac keyboard I bought on Trade Me took nearly a week to get here from Auckland’s North Shore, somewhere I could drive to in a couple hours or so, depending on traffic (and without lockdowns, obviously).

But now it seems the very space/time continuum has been ruptured.

Last week I ordered something from a major retailer (because it wasn’t available at any of their stores within an 8 hour drive). It arrived at the NZ Post depot in Hamilton early Saturday morning, where it’s been ever since. When I got up yesterday, Tuesday, I thought it might be delivered that day (since it was already in Hamilton). That didn’t happen, but we did enter The Twilight Zone.

When I checked the tracking today (image at right), nothing about its status had changed, except it said, “Estimated delivery: Yesterday”. I’m expecting to suddenly remember it arriving yesterday as I look at the package on the table where I put it, yesterday, though it’s not there right now, of course. This led me to a question: What day will my reality be altered to accommodate a delivery of an item in the past? And will it hurt when the space/time continuum burps?

Those sarcastic questions popped into my head today, but the bigger thing is how noticeable it is that things have fallen apart for NZ Post, so much so that they’re not even trying to keep the estimated delivery date remotely accurate (assuming, of course, that they really can’t travel back in the past to deliver a package…). This same thing is happening to a lot of people I know.

There’s actually a part of me that wonders why NZ Post was caught so ill-prepared for the surge in online orders. They’ve talked repeatedly about how package delivery has become the biggest part of their business, and they even re-branded to promote their new reality. This doesn’t seem to bode well for the Christmas shopping season. Still, this is also a global problem, so I don’t want to be too hard on NZ Post (yet…).

Today I also checked on the delivery status of those Torx screwdrivers I ordered from Amazon for Ye Olde Macintosh Project. They were due to arrive “about October 6”, but today their website said, “Unfortunately, your delivery is running behind schedule,” and then added that the delivery company was “working to make sure the delay doesn’t affect your final delivery time. Your package can still arrive by October 11,” which is nice, but that’s actually five days later than they originally said, and while I’m sure their wording was meant to be positive, I couldn’t help noticing they’d moved the goalposts.

I don’t know what the specific problem was, though the details on the order said it was “Carrier Delay – Operational/Capacity Related”. I have no idea what that actually means, but in general terms it’s happening absolutely everywhere.

After all of New Zealand (apart from Auckland) moved to Alert Level 3 Lockdown, construction could resume, and within a week or two that led to warnings that builders would be running out of various materials because the factories in Auckland were closed due to their Level 4 Lockdown. The industry has had trouble getting foreign-made supplies for months, and, in fact, pretty much any person or business ordering stuff from overseas has probably seen delays, sometimes massive ones. As the world begins to accept that Covid has become endemic, shipping will begin to return to normal, but what about next time? There will be another pandemic and we should take the lessons from this one to better prepare us so that next time we don’t start seeing shortages of stuff and/or massive price hikes.

Before all this happened, I was looking at some specialist New Zealand food suppliers, small businesses supplying NZ-made products that aren’t sold in supermarkets. I seriously considered placing orders to try their products, but I’m now glad that I didn’t: Wouldn’t want food products sitting in a depot for several days.

I was just being silly when I talked about my package’s delay—my life will not be diminished by it taking a long time to get here, apart from the fact that I don’t want to leave the house in case the package is dispatched and their system doesn’t alert me like it usually does. Same with those screwdrivers: If I’ve gone this long without being able to tell if that Mac Classic is repairable or not, then an extra five days (or whatever it ends up being) won’t make any difference.

But it would do a world of good for people’s sense of well-being if deliveries could get back to being a little more, well, normal. We’re waiting patiently for that, too.

Update – September 30, 2021: The package was delivered around Noon today.

Update 2 – October 5, 2021: The Torx screwdrivers were delivered early this afternoon—and a day earlier than originally promised. Um, good?

This is based on something I posted on my personal Facebook earlier today, but that was just my starting point for this post.


Roger Owen Green said...

Obviously, NZ Post knows you're a timeless classic.

Arthur Schenck said...

Well, yes. I mean, obviously!