The (In)convenience of Online Shopping

The first time I shopped online sometime in the late 90’s, it was for one reason: I’d received a coupon in my email (and this was in the days when a coupon for $10 off was exactly that, before marketers realized “$10 off with purchase of $30 or more” worked better).  The coupon was from drugstore.com and I ended up buying shampoo and conditioner that I couldn’t find locally.  The package delivered right to my door within a week or so, and I decided that had to be about the most convenient thing I’d ever seen.

Flash forward a decade, and I find myself living in an apartment with “secure” entry.  In the case of my specific building, this means that the front entry is locked and the only ways to get in are with a key or having someone else open the door.  This means that anything ordered online which is shipped via any means other than the postal service requires a trip downtown to pick up the package.  I recognize that this is not the fault of the carriers, however it still means that I try to avoid ordering anything online if there’s the remotest possibility that I can get it locally, unless it’s being shipped via the post office, since they do have a key.

Or, rather, that was the case for some time.  Which brings us to today and the fact that I got up three hours early to sit and wait for the mail carrier so I wouldn’t miss a delivery I’ve been waiting for.  The problem?  My specific mail carrier is kind of hit and miss on whether or not he actually delivers packages.  Every now and then, I do get a knock on my door around 10:30am and open it to have a package shoved into my hands.  But more often than not, I sit and wait just to receive an attempted delivery notice in my mailbox downstairs that informs me that my package can be picked up at the post office after 9am the next day.  This confuses me.  The fact that the slip of paper is called an “attempted delivery notice” would seem to imply that a delivery was attempted, which is slightly inaccurate, as I’m reasonably certain that such would require someone to walk up the stairs and knock on my door, and my door is rather unknocked-upon.  And if this is the standard practice of my local post office, then why is it that I need to pick up my package on the next day?  One would think that the reason for the lack of an actual delivery attempt is the result of the mail carrier not physically having the package.  If the mail carrier does not have it, would it not make more sense to be able to pick up the notice left at 10:30am and drive straight to the post office?  Which, of course, brings us back to the question of why I would choose to buy online, when it’s actually more convenient for me to drive to a local store to make a purchase than it is to have anything shipped.  The post office as an entity claims that it’s losing money because of the internet, and yet, here’s an opportunity for them to make money, and they actively chase it away.

And all of this is really just a long-winded rant to say that we really need the transporter beams and replicators that Star Trek promised us.  Get on that already, science!

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