Another book…

I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at five this morning. It was okay that the package came at around noon because I had to finish re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (early senility).

I’m actually a rather slow reader, it’s just that I don’t stop. Besides, I had to finish it because Caitlin was hot on my tail (and she was re-reading the entire series, not just the last book).

I should exact revenge all all you blogger idiots who spoiled the ending of Book 5 before I had a chance to finish it two years ago…

…but I won’t.

It’s my fault for not swearing off the internet until Caitlin had finished reading Book 5 and could mail it to me. I knew there are idiots like you who can’t give spoiler alerts. Didn’t I live through the great AOL Usenet migration of ’93?1

What really disappoints me is, because the combination of ordering through Amazon2 and the necessary re-read of Book 5 before Caitlin caught up, I forgot to go to the bookstore and take snappies yesterday at 12AM of all the people dressed-up and buying the book. It’s sort of like going to the post office just before midnight on Tax Day—a circus you want to see, but can never really have the willpower to do.

A little bit about Amazon.

Amazon had this deal where they guaranteed delivery by July 16. If it didn’t come in time, then they would refund the cost of the book (but not the shipping). It arrived on the expected day, but I wonder how hard it would have been to get that refund.

The box was a custom job with the printing “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling”3 on it. I wonder if it is cost effective given the run that Amazon has. If you order it as part of a larger order to get free shipping, do they ship this box separately?

It also had “PLEASE DO NOT DELIVER BEFORE JULY 16!” plastered all over it. I remember Caitlin mentioning this two years ago for the last Harry Potter book.

From the shipping label, it appears that Amazon has some sort of strange distribution deal going on. The package was shipped on the 14th via UPS to the US. Post Office on La Avenida Street—right next to Microsoft’s offices, which I bicycle by on my way to work. Then it is delivered by regular Saturday post. It appears that all the packages are collected and held by UPS in Sunnyvale and then forwarded to USPS the morning of.

Good thing they didn’t have UPS Sunnyvale deliver directly to my door. Half of my UPS parcels arrive a day after they are scheduled to. The excuses vary:

  1. Delivery attempt made. Receiver was not available. (In most instances, the receiver was available and no attempt notice was left on the door.)
  2. The package was missed, no attempt was made to deliver as scheduled. (That day, Caitlin called for a same-day,will-call and UPS refused saying that she would have to wait for a delivery attempt which will happen. You have to do a same-day,will-call by 7PM and this appeared in the computer system at 7:40PM. How convenient of them.)
  3. Package was held at station on suspicion of a bomb. (My personal favorite. The funny thing was it was on the truck, and then an hour later that “disappeared” from the progress history and this replaced with this.)

When I called to complain, the first excuse stopped and the more creative later excuses started coming. When I called to complain I was told that “this almost never happens.” Yeah right! I guess my route is at just the point in the route when the UPS driver has his daily toke.

(I noticed Costco was selling the book $1 cheaper than Amazon was. When I got back I received an e-mail from Amazon: “We’re writing to confirm that we have processed your refund for $1.00 for the above-referenced order.” Nice!)

1 September did eventually end. 🙂
2 Thank you Ken and Mia for the gift certificate.
3 It also had printed: “Who is the Half—Blood Prince?” (yawn)

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