One of the things Kyle and I have noticed is a growing low-level incompetence of people in their paying jobs. I’ll let him explain that more at length if he feels like it, since he’s better at articulating what we mean. Today’s blog entry is about another data point in that body of evidence.

A couple of weeks back, I ordered a wall calendar from an online office supply company (which I won’t name). Nothing fancy, just paper with a cardboard backing that I can hang on the wall. I needed one now because I’m going to start the academic school year soon and I keep track of things better if they’re on the wall in front of my face instead of in a day planner. So the calendar I ordered is a 2007 calendar:

Problems begin when the thing arrives. Below is a photo of the calendar itself. On top of it is the box it came in:

Notice the disjunct between the size and shape of the box, and the calendar (also note, just for amusement’s sake, how badly damaged the box is. UPS delivered it like that). You may be wondering how they made it fit.

Yep. They folded it. Twice. I’ll remind you that the calendar has a cardboard (read: rigid) backing.

Okay. I’m less annoyed by the condition of the calendar than I am by the sheer ineptitude, or perhaps laziness, that caused whoever packed this item to think this was acceptable. So I sent email to the company that boiled down to “I can still use this calendar but c’mon guys, what the hell? You might want to talk to your drop-ship company about this.”

So a few days later I get a voicemail from someone at the company. She gives me her name and her direct phone number, and apologizes. She says she takes full responsibility and that she will 1) mail me a new one, flat this time, and 2) send me a UPS return shipping label so I can return the damaged one without paying shipping.

I’m pretty impressed by this, since it’s rare for a company to respond so promptly and thoroughly to a customer complaint, much less for someone to take ownership of the remedy. So I wait a few days. Then, the new one arrives:

Looks good so far. It arrived flat (note the simple solution: a regular box, unfolded flat and then taped). I’m pleased. Then after I take the new calendar out, I notice something:

Notice any difference between the two? My original damaged one is on the left. New one is on the right. Need a hint? Okay:

Yeah. They sent me a 2008 calendar for a replacement, rather than the 2007 I needed.

At this point I actually feel kind of sorry for the woman who took charge of fixing this problem for me. I’ve been in her position (making a retarded mistake and then making another retarded mistake in trying to rectify it), and it’s utterly humiliating. When she calls back to follow-up (which she said she would), I’m not going to be mean about it. But I will suggest that I just keep both and we’ll call it even.

My primary concern was making the company aware of the fact that their packing employees may require some re-training. I can use the 2007 calendar. It’s just bent a little. But damn…folding something rigid to make it fit in a box is right up there with sawing a ladder in half to make it fit sideways through a doorway.

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