We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another lesson in patience

Being an expat has many joys, but also many, many frustrations. On a good day, there is bound to be something that just throws you for a loop, something you never expected you'd have to deal with, but you must. Something small, something so ordinary you just can't believe it you are going to have to spend time figuring out how to cope.  We've gotten used to these little blips on the radar. At first, any one of these little inconveniences would give us quite a bit of heartburn. We'd manage to get through them all fortunately. None of them has sent us screaming back to the USA, but still they are the little things that make you learn what you are made of!  Yesterday's little incident showed us that we certainly have come a long way, and have learned a great deal of patience.

The postal system in general in Italy is an enigma to us. Basically, we've learned to avoid it.  Packages almost never get to us, you can pretty much kiss them good bye. Or, if you are lucky enough to receive them, it may be months after you expected them when they arrive.  The cost of postage for us to ship a package to the USA is always much more money than the item we were trying to send cost to begin with.  That being the case, we've stopped sending gifts home for birthdays or Christmas.  So here it is Christmas and Mike and I need to get a few gifts to our families. This year, instead of the shopping, wrapping and mailing packages, we decided to  rely on the internet for our shopping. Seems like the perfect solution. Well, so we thought.

Yesterday Mike shopped on line for our holiday gift for his parents. When he found just the perfect gift, he proceeded to place his order.  Mike went through all the steps to complete his purchase, but when he got to the screen where he was to enter his billing address, he noticed there was no option to enter an address anywhere other than one of the states in the U.S. We don't have a US billing address.  We have a US credit card, but an Italian billing address.  He tried everything he could think of, but no luck.  The realization that we may not be able to make a purchase because we don't have a US billing address was so frustrating! Really wanting to make this purchase for his parents, he resorted to phoning the company's customer service department.  And things got a bit worse from there.

The first customer service agent put him on hold, which shortly afterwards disconnected.  He made the call again.  This time, the agent had no clue how to help him, but promised to find someone who could.  The person who was supposed to be able to help him directed Mike to call yet another number.  Mike asked him to please just try to figure it out.  Thirty minutes later, after a conversation that I could not believe had transpired between my husband and this customer service agent, the transaction was completed.

I know my husband well. I was convinced if we actually had a phone you could slam the receiver down with, that it would have been slammed about 2 minutes into the call. There were no cuss words muttered or screamed even. I'm frankly surprised his parents are actually going to be receiving anything after the ordeal this purchase was turning into. Instead, Mike perservered. This was  the most incredible display of  patience (of which he has nearly none of)  I've ever experienced in our time together!

One gift down, 5 more to go!

Note: the photo has nothing to do with this post in particular. It's one of the Christmas ornament booths at the Christmas market in Vienna. Just wanted to share a little holiday spirit.  Next time I'll pass the eggnog!


Andrew said...

For what it's worth Karen, we use Amazon.com (the U.S. based one) to send gifts to our son in Brooklyn, postage included. So far no probs with that. Postage from the UK is prohibitive. $100 to send him a quilt a few years ago!

Rob C said...

Andrew beat me to it! We do the same with the Oz version of Amazon to supply the in-laws.


karen said...

Thanks! Mike wanted to send a ham to his parents, so we didn't think Amazon would be the place to shop.

Michelle said...

Living in Venice must mellow even the most impatient person.
I doubt that I (who am a very patient person) would have stayed on the line for 30 minutes with "customer service".

Dianne said...

Karen, I noticed this problem with a couple of internet sites when we lived in Luxembourg. They aren't all like that but it is frustrating when you get through everything and then can't complete your purchase. Just another example of how USA centric we Americans (in general) are. A lot of people just can't conceive that there is any other way to do things or any other place to be than in their own little corner of the world. Oh well -- Hope you have a Merry Christmas in Venezia!

Michelle said...

You would be very, very surpised what you can get at Amazon.com. Among other things I fell in love with a silly candy bar in Venice...the Kinder Bueno. I googled it and lo and behold...I could buy them through Amazon. Bet they sell hams too!

karen said...

Michelle- the KinderBueno!!! The same company makes a slew of other candy bars and snack treats that kids love. Easter time they have big eggs with surprises inside them too!

karen said...

Dianne, Buon Natale!!!!