Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Friday, December 28, 2018 review

Earlier this summer, I received an offer to try out the premium service of for 30 days, so I decided to take advantage of cheaper prices in the US and try it out.  If you haven’t been inundated with their ads on Google and Facebook, is a shipping service that expats can use to receive goods abroad, and I was initially drawn to it because of the simple set up and (what appeared to be) reasonable shipping prices.

With the premium service, you get 20% off shipping rates and the possibity to store ordered items for free up to 30 days, which is beneficial if you are ordering from several sites and want to group everything into one shipment.  So I was given an address in Florida, and I placed my orders and had several orders shipped there.  Once everything had arrived in my warehouse, I requested it all be shipped, and I was given an estimated charge of $35, which was a lot, but less than if I had shipped from each individual site.  The site also indicated no customs fees would be charged since the total value was under 100 euros. 

My package arrived rather quickly, but I had the unfortunate surprise of discovering that instead of being charged $35 in shipping, I was instead charged $60.44!  Apparently I had ordered two items (my favorite nail polish and a small external battery charger) which were considered hazardous items and thus required special packaging.  I was also charged extra for the « hazardous items » sticker. 🤔 I tried to call the customer service line multiple times, but no one ever picked up, so I ended up emailing and finally got an answer several days later stating that the shipping charges online are only an estimate and « that final charges may be more ».  Okay fine, but nearly double the quoted price?? Seemed fishy to me.  I went back and forth with them several times since I had carefully checked their website before this whole process began, and neither the battery nor the nail polish were listed as requiring special shipping, and after a long delay, they did end up refunding me $18. 

However two months later, I had a second surprise- a 50 euro bill from customs!  I emailed again multiple times and they could not explain why I had been charged but also refused to refund me for the customs fee.  In the end, I just ended up dropping it because I was starting my new job around that time and my brain space was elsewhere, but I was definitely frustrated to have practically paid more in shipping and customs fees than the items actually cost!  Their site might come in handy if you are trying to send a gift to a relative and you don’t have time to deal with the post office, but other than that, I would not recommend it.  Their slow customer service and lack of transparency when it comes to pricing definitely gets them two thumbs down from me.  I’d be curious to know if anyone else out there has tried them out?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A wrinkle in time

One of the reasons I decided to take the job that was in my current industry was because I was feeling nostalgic about leaving my colleagues and clients.  In the months since, I have been lucky enough to see both regularly at conferences and trade shows, but it hit me the other day that seeing them and hearing how things are going always leaves me feeling like I’ve reopened a wound.

On top of that, I’m disappointed in myself for not realizing until recently that in addition to being my colleagues, they had also become my friends.  I like my current colleagues, but my interaction with them is mainly limited to email.  For as much as I hated all the meetings I had in my former role, I realize now that it was a chance to be able to talk to them on a daily basis and hear more about their lives than what is visible on social media. I miss their opinions and advice.  I miss the fun times we had together.  The only thing I can really liken it to is a break-up, ie when you choose to break up with someone, their friends and family unfortunately also become collateral damage.

I also have to admit I have sort of a morbid curiosity about seeing how life there has moved on without me.  I can’t help myself from asking how things are going with ‘so and so’, and hearing the latest gossip, and taking satisfaction in the fact that others are unhappy with the current structure.  And on one hand, I’m happy my departure has given others to step up and take on some more responsibility, but on the other, it’s perturbing to see my projects continuing on without me.  A former colleague recently posted pictures of his trip to Kenya, which would have been my trip.  Seeing him do all the things I would have been doing was odd.  Sort of like a « Sliding doors » feeling if you will. A view into what could/would have been.

Despite all the mixed feelings, I am glad to be where I am now, and to be able to know what is beyond The Company.  I spent at least a good year feeling frustrated with my job yet scared about taking a leap into another role, so at least I am no longer stuck in the « what if » cycle.  Possibly I would have been best off taking one of the other job offers and making a clean break, but for now, it is what is.