Dear editor, 

I recently had two very different experiences with deliveries. One was terrible due to poor customer service from Amazon, Fedex, and a California importer—somewhat countered by a great bailout from my condo's building management company. The other experience was completely great, and involved a neighborhood independent business, and its professional, caring staff.

My disastrous Amazon order began with FedEx dumping a huge, heavy box in my lobby and leaving before I could get downstairs, despite my telling him I was coming down when he rang my bell. After Amazon refused to talk to FedEx on my behalf, or to give me the phone number for their vendor, the shipper, I got help from professional delivery men while they were in my building.

To be fair, Amazon's website has lots of info to help customers provide their own customer service support; customers can communicate with Amazon vendors via the Amazon system—and “wait for 48 hours" for response. I spent hours doing Amazon's customer service, after having paid for the privilege. Next, I called FedEx about the rest of the shipment.

FedEx customer service assured me FedEx delivery driver(s) would bring the rest of the boxes upstairs to my 2nd floor apartment. When I tracked the boxes on FedEx’s website, all three were marked "delivery exception." “I’m good,” I thought.

The next day, three young men arrived with three even bigger, heavier boxes and refused to bring them upstairs. I had one of them call their supervisor to tell him of the promise FedEx had made to me. The manager explained that his company was an independent contractor and set their own policies because employees had been lured into an apartment and assaulted/robbed. "I'm a seventy-year-old woman—I think three men are safe from me." No use. The three young men left.

Fortunately, when I spoke to my condo's representative at our building management to ask for a contractor, he offered to come by after work, with a friend, and see what they could do. The two gentlemen brought the boxes to my apartment for me that evening. I had ordered a sectional sofa, and it still needs assembly. The plan was to use Amazon Home Services, but I think I'll find an alternative. The sofa may be the last item bigger than a shoebox that I will buy from Amazon.

Now for the unalloyed good news: my favorite neighborhood grocery store, Hyde Park Produce (HPP), delivers produce and grocery orders. Customers can phone in their orders or email them, and HPP's delivery fee is just $3.00. Unfortunately for non-Hyde Park/Kenwood residents, HPP only delivers in the neighborhood. I didn't yet know about the email option, so I wrote out my order by hand, with very specific instructions, and phoned the store. The sales clerk/customer service rep, Samantha, read my order back to me as I asked. She even checked my order after one of her co-workers filled it. I had ordered several low-sodium items, so when she saw that my tomato paste had salt added, she called me back to make sure it was okay for me. The delivery driver, an HPP employee, came bounding up the flights of stairs to the second floor, without my having to ask. I tipped the driver and gave him a thank you card with a tip for Samantha.

I worked in customer service for 31 years, including training and supervising customer service staff. I would have been proud to work with the staff of Hyde Park Produce.

Muriel Balla

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