Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Thanks, DHL

on September 3, 2012

While touring Germany, one of my stories was published in an anthology by Ink Monkey Press called You Don’t Say. After carefully evaluating my options, I decided to get a few copies sent to my final known address in Germany. The shipping speed would have given me nearly a week with the books before I continued with my journey. I figured even if they were a day or two late, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Delivery day rolled around. The books did not. I went online to look at the parcel tracking, and my books appeared to be sitting in the USA. My sense of geography can sometimes be a bit delusional, but I am fairly sure that there are a few countries and an ocean between the USA and Germany. In other words, it isn’t the next town over.

Not terribly pleased about this, I contacted the manufacturer, only to be assured that my delivery had probably been delayed by customs or the local post office. I was told that parcels cannot be tracked through the global tracking system once they leave the USA. Clearly I have been overseas too long, because I must have misremembered ‘global’ as meaning ‘everywhere on earth’.

I started to become a bit obsessive about the DHL website. Three days after the books were supposed to arrive, they finally left the USA and were flown into Germany. Then they sat there, relaxing. I was not quite as chilled, especially once I found out how much it would cost me to get the books shipped to Australia after I left.

My books finally arrived in Jena on Saturday. I left Jena on Friday.

I’m irritated by this at so many levels. There is the inconvenience of being given a delivery date and then not having it met. There is the inconvenience of needing to organise additional shipping, not to mention the additional cost. But, most importantly, there is the inconvenience to my career.

I could have sold every single one of those books while I was in Germany if they had been with me. There were more requests from people to purchase a signed copy than I had ordered, so I would have run out of stock. I can assure you, having no stock because you sold it all is a much better problem to have than not having stock because it didn’t arrive and losing every single one of those sales as a result.

Even if these books now arrive in Australia without any further shipping problems, the potential profit that I could have made from them has vanished. If I keep or give away a single copy, I will make a loss. And is this the worst part for me? Not by a long shot.

I write because I love to do it, and I love it because I can communicate something to other people. One of the key components to communication is having someone to communicate with. A writer needs a readership, or she isn’t taking the process very seriously. This was a chance to build a readership, to show people the quality of my work, to keep their attention while I had it. And, thanks to the expedited shipping process that I paid a decent amount of money for, this particular opportunity is now gone.

Yes, I can make new opportunities, but they might not be with this group of people. I could complain bitterly about how angry I am, how the company should compensate me, and blah blah blah. But honestly? It just makes me sad. There are some amazing people out there that I don’t get to share this book with now, and that is the part that matters most.

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