Monday, February 16, 2009

Off to Texas, protected by Angel Gabriel

My camera - body only
Today I sent my camera off to the service centre in Texas, using DHL. As I was filling out the relevant forms in the DHL office, two men in the lobby were on about DHL's service. They were dissatisfied.

"DHL has become Trinidadianised!" one man, clearly upset, was saying. "They not doing things properly like they used to!"

I finished filling my forms and was ready for my baby to be packaged carefully. The DHL man gave me one of those regular envelopes with one layer of bubble wrap to put the camera in for shipping. I looked at him like he couldn't be serious.

"What? This has to be wrapped in at least 2 - 3 inches of protective material and then put in a sturdy box!" I said, quoting the exact recommendation on the Sony repair form.

"It will be okay. It will be in this envelope and then in a box." He showed me a flimsy box. I didn't know if to feel angry, upset or if to burst into tears. Is this the way a courier service handles a fragile and valuable item? I felt like I was watching myself or a loved one going in for an operation, into the hands of a doctor who had never studied medicine.

"You don't have proper packaging?!" I asked in alarm. I had thought that they would package items in a professional way. At least that's what a friend (who had once shipped his camera out for repairs) had told me would happen.

"No,well, you have to provide packaging for it if you want more protection," the DHL man said.

"Well where can I get bubble wrap around here?" I was starting to get frustrated ... the opposite reaction to the thorough service I had received over the phone yesterday from Sony USA.

"I don't know where you can get packaging," he said.

The man who was saying DHL is now Trinidadianised started going on about the envelope the man wanted to put my camera in. "You mean that is what they will put an expensive piece of equipment in?! You ever see how those men fling boxes?! Whatever you do, you make sure you see how they package your thing! And make sure they write FRAGILE on the package! If that breaks, they're not liable!"

What a feeling ... sending my camera off into the wilderness with people who didn't seem to care.

The guard whispered to the DHL man that I could get packaging at a place around the corner ... so I went. When I got there (a dark warehouse filled with large wooden crates and cardboard boxes), a polite gentleman came out to deal with me. "All the packaging men are out," he said. "But I'll see ... maybe I can find one."

He came back shortly with a slim, older Oriental man who, upon seeing the camera and hearing I was sending it via DHL, immediately started giving me a whole set of advice. "Make sure this ... make sure that ... Make sure they do a,b,c,d,e, etc etc etc." He then got bubble wrap and wrapped the camera body so carefully and securely that I felt my concerns fall away. He then put it into the box the DHL man had given me and taped the bottom and sides securely, leaving the top open for DHL to inspect, etc.

"Make sure you see them tape it up properly," he said. "And make sure you sign up your customs form stating REPAIRS so you don't have to pay when the camera comes back. Otherwise they will kill you with that price, like bringing in a new camera!"

I left, feeling a lot more secure about the safety of my camera on its journey.

"What's your name?" I asked the slim Oriental man as I was leaving.

"Gabriel," he responded.

My previously concerned face broke into a smile. It felt like Angel Gabriel had been sent to protect my camera on its journey (literally ... with both bubble wrap and angelic vibes).


WOW ... I just looked up Angel Gabriel ... and check this out ... S/he is patron saint of (among other things) postal workers!! (DHL can fall into that category) ...

Some people believe that Gabriel is a female spirit; others hold that angels have no gender.

Because of Gabriel's role as a communicator and mediator between Heaven and Earth, Catholics hold the Archangel to be a Patron Saint of broadcasters, telecommunications workers, diplomats, messengers, postal workers, and stamp collectors. Because Gabriel helped the prophet Daniel interpret his dreams, those seeking similar aid with their own dream work may petition the Archangel for help ...

Interesting indeed! And ... this is this and this are the other things that popped into my mind when Gabriel said his name. An interesting coincidence that would take a whole other post to explain ...


Anonymous said...

i is a fedex girl.

meadysmusings said...

Tringourmet while reading her story I was just about to say...I'd have just walked out and gone to FedEX instead! And yep I'd have gone to them in the first place...althoguh I've never sent more than paper with them but never had any worries...

But yep Elspeth for sure it is a sign! :) So I'm sure your camera will be fine! :)

Elspeth said...

I was going to go to Fedex (whom I normally use for documents - Ive never sent anything else) ... but was advised not to by my sister, whose office has had bad experiences with them ... as in important documents being lost, wrong packages being sent, etc. They have had good experiences with DHL, which is why she advised them to me. The thing is, everyone will have their story. Some may find DHL is the best, some may swear by Fedex ... etc. The thing is, given all these 'Trinidadianisms' wherever you turn, there's not much choice. At one point I did feel to walk out of DHL (when he showed me the envelope) ... but walk out and go where? Out of the frying pan into the fire? You do the best with what you have, do the best you can for your package and then you have no choice but to leave it in the hands of strangers. At the end of the day, I'm happy with how Gabriel packed my camera ... and I just have to let it go and trust that what is to happen will happen.

Anonymous said...

i always use fedex to ship avon items to a customer who moved to guadeloupe but still buys stuff. never had any problems and stuff usually arrives ahead of schedule. tried dhl and tnt in the past and found them lacking. especially tnt.. one time the item ended up in malaysia before being rerouted. i've never once felt the need to walk out since making the switch.

Elspeth said...

Well, like I said, everyone has their story. We never know what works for us (or not) until we experience it. I guess even with the best of services or products there will be someone(s) to get the unfortunate bad apple ... resulting in a poor review of the service or product.

Anonymous said...

DHL offers consistently poor service. On the last occasion I used them for a camera repair (and never again), they lost the stamped customs declaration of items shipped abroad. The result? I had to pay customs duty on the same camera twice, and that was a $4000. USD camera. Finally sorted it out with customs, but only because I found someone nice enough to help.

Elspeth said...

Aaargh. Everyone has their horror stories or happy endings ... so who to go with?