Special Delivery! A Tale of Great/Awful Customer Service, aided by Gifs from Tumblr.

Before I get on to the Birchbox unboxing, I need to explain why this post has come so late. What follows in a tale of great customer service on the part of Birchbox, and frankly shocking customer service on the part of a shoddy courier company who shall remain nameless *cough* YODEL *cough*. Ehem. Who’m I kidding? I tell it like it is here at SWB. And I’ve peppered this post with my favourite feels gifs, because otherwise this post will just make me angry and stressed again in remembering-…. Let’s do this.

I signed up for Birchbox again (see my post about my previous experience with them) in late-ish April, certainly well past their ‘usual’ shipping window, but still within time to get their April box. It shipped right at the end of the month (the 30th) and their email said to ‘Please allow 5 working days for your box to arrive’. Since this 5 days fell over a bank holiday weekend, I was patient. I listened for the post every day (I’m at home a lot at the moment), and it wasn’t until the 7th when I started to worry. Birchbox had provided me with the shipping number for tracking purposes, so I clicked the link to track the parcel. It took me through to a website for a company called Citipost, with a logo for a company called 13-Ten. I popped in the code, and lo and behold, my parcel had apparently been delivered on the first of May. To ‘Brown’.

Hmm.

I checked around my door, under my cats etc, and there was no card regarding this delivery. No hint as to who Brown was, or where said Brown lived. I found Citipost’s number (turns out they are a warehousing company), and they put me through to 13-Ten, a ‘Delivery Service’. 13-Ten informed me my package had been delivered almost a week ago. Great, I said, but who to? I have no card through my door to say where the parcel is, and the only information on the tracking link is the name ‘Brown’.

It turned out that this was all the information they had too. Because 13-Ten aren’t couriers. They are middle men, and they had handed off the parcel to Yodel to be delivered. They were able to give me another tracking number for Yodel’s system, and they washed their hands of me. Great.

tumblr_m3xwdxw0lT1r9kuv0So now I popped that number into Yodel’s tracking service. The information was the same. ‘Brown’ supposedly had my package. By this point, I was getting annoyed. I rang up Yodel’s customer service line. The person on the end of the line sounded sort of apologetic, and said they’d investigate, but  that perhaps I should ask my neighbours…

… Excuse me? So I’m supposed to waste mine and my neighbour’s time because your people can’t do their job properly and document where they left their delivery?!

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Of course, numpty that I am, I asked everyone on my street, and some people round the corner. And course, there was no Brown, and no parcel to be found. The plot thickened.

Stressed and annoyed already, I got another email from Birchbox- my May box was on the way! Oh no, I thought, looking at the email. They’d sent it through the same service as before. Still, I thought, this kind of ridiculousness can’t happen again… can it?

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All day on the 8th I tracked the parcel, following its progress from warehouse to dispatch service, to courier. Just in case, I stayed in the front of my house (so, my bedroom or dining room) so that I couldn’t possibly miss the door. I kept my window open, and leapt up at every car, just in case, so I couldn’t possibly have to go through this ridiculousness again. I know that this behaviour is a little nuts in retrospect, trust me, but I’m a paranoid, nervous wreck sometimes, and this situation had triggered my anxious side and then some.

I knew from my discussions with customer service the day before that the latest Yodel delivered was supposedly 5.30pm, so from 4.45, with my phone  browser tracking my packing, I sat down by the front door, and waited. And waited.

At 5.20, I refreshed the browser, and then had a meltdown. Because apparently my parcel had been delivered at 5.11pm. To ‘Klus’. WHICH WAS A LIE. YOU KNOW HOW I KNOW IT WAS A LIE, BESIDE THE FACT THAT I AM THE ONLY NATASHA KLUS IN THE UK? BECAUSE I WAS SITTING BY THE BLOODY DOOR AT 5.11PM AND NOTHING HAPPENED.

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I completely fell apart. I broke out in hives, went full panic mode. Someone was stealing from me, and all this bullshit was happening again, despite me being so on the ball.

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I called 13-Ten (at this time I didn’t have the yodel number for the second parcel) and was hung up on when the system shut down at 5.30pm. I ran to my nearest neighbours, bless them, in a state, asking after the parcel, just in case one of them had taken it in under my name. Of course they hadn’t. There had been no delivery; pure lies on the paperwork.

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I tried to cool off from my panic attack (hah. Not likely), and at around 6pm, desperate, I called Birchbox. I got through to someone in moments. I explained my story and obvious state of despair, and two minutes later, a humble apology in hand, my Birchboxes were being reshipped via Royal Mail, my future Birchboxes and purchases would be shipped by the same, and I had 50 birch box points (so, £5) added to my account as some recompense for my trouble. The April Box arrived

In conclusion, AVOID Yodel and 13-Ten always go straight to the company you ordered from if your parcel vanishes. Going round the houses is bloody useless and a waste of your time. And Birchbox customer service are on the ball and super nice. Snaps for them.

tumblr_m82dunxYKn1qjdrplSo yeah. I hope you enjoyed the Gifsplosion. They cheered me up when remembering an infuriating time. And no, I never did get an answer from the courier following their ‘investigation’. Hmph.

Unboxing soon, so later days!

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BEDA 3: What’s going on?

You may have noticed, if you are a frequent follower of SWB, that there have been several long blips where I  have simply vanished over the last couple of years. These almost exclusively match up with periods of ill mental health for me, and mirror the rather pathetic picture of what the past few years have been like for me.

I don’t like to harp on about my anxiety and depression- not because I’m trying to hush it up, but because I write because I enjoy writing, and because I want this blog to be the sunshiny place it should be, considering it is so full of cake. But, I have anxiety and depression, that is the truth of it. And my job was making me a lot worse.

I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of each miserable detail of my descent into woe, nor each nail splitting, heart wrenching step back up, nor knock back down I’ve suffered. But looking back, a frightening number of blips match up to times I had to be signed off work, or times I tried to fight my way back there.

The job I did was an good job- well paid with a reputable firm, several benefits… it was also in London, and pretty dull. It was waaaaay outside my field of interest, being that is was a financial firm, and there wasn’t even a hint of creativity or do-gooding to the work. The deadlines were pressured, the work load high, and the payoff not grand. Such as are a great deal of jobs I have done. Such as are most jobs. However, this, combined with some shakeups in my personal life (including my father leaving and being made homeless), combined with some real ‘characters’ in the office one by one snapped whatever cords were keeping me balanced, and I fell. And looking back over the past couple of years, I never really made it back up.

In March this year, after another six months off sick and several botched attempts to return, I bit the bullet. I quit. It took three days of panic attacks to do, and the final day in April took another three days of doom to face, but I did it. I left. I never need go up to London again, except for pleasure. I also don’t have a job.

But you know what? Financially, currently, I’m not any worse off. After a time, sick pay withers away, after all. Obviously I need to find employment, but for now, nothing has changed. Except the two ton weight I’ve flung off my shoulders and into the abyss, that is. Within days of quitting, people noticed a difference in me. I noticed it too. I could smile again. And laugh. I didn’t sit locked and tense, eyes darting all the time. I relaxed. I slumped. My confidence started to return, smidgen by smidgen. I went on a date. I started going out more, and feeling able to cope with that. The shrivelled little version of me left crumpled on the floor began to pick it self up again.

I’m not saying I’m fixed, cause I’m not, but I am better. My creativity is back. My energy is better. I want to do things again. I feel stronger, and prettier and more powerful than I have in years. It’s like my doctor said; it’s amazing what the wrong job can do to a person.

So…. what have I learned? Well, I’ve learned that a pay check and healthcare is not the be all and end all in life. Yes, I need to pay my mortgage, but wanting to not wake up in the morning in the darkest way is NOT the way to do it. I have to be true to myself.

Currently I am job hunting, and adapting what I’m looking for. I instantly signed up with agencies looking for a carbon copy of the job I just left. Which is really fucking stupid, excuse my french. I’m nearly 27- I need to fall into my career now, and stop dicking about putting things off just so my bank balance will look ok. Look how much good it has done me thus far.

Current plans include pushing my arts and crafts ‘business’, which I have been doing for years and happily earns me a bit of pocket money. In terms of bill paying work, unless the former suddenly leaps ahead, I’m going to canvas bakeries and cafes with my wares, and ‘worst comes to worst’, take part time work, so long as what I’m doing isn’t completely soulless.

So yeah. I did promise you’d get wet with my thoughts this month.

I hope today finds you bright and sunny, despite the weather. I’m off to find some brunch, then pack for a trip to Brighton. Whee!

 

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The long and winding tale of a recovered nail biter.

Nail biting isn’t good for you.

Ok, it’s unlikely to kill you, but it’s not the grandest of things. It’s a ‘bad’ habit; socially dubious and probably likely to put someone off in an interview. Whatever is on, under or… around your nail ends up in your mouth and sometimes down your throat, including potentially parasites and germs. It leaves unsightly hands behind- flaky or torn or bitten cuticles which are more prone to skin infections than unbitten nails and their cuticles are. It also results in jagged stumpy nails that snag hose and, more importantly your skin, imbedding whatever is on your nails (afore mentioned bugs and whatnot) in a fresh scratch, ready to cause havoc.

Or at least that’s the way I’ve always seen it. I still did it- I started in primary school when I saw other children doing it and was desperate to fit in. As a person with a somewhat nervous disposition, it stuck, and became not only a nasty habit, but later an obvious tic when I was stressed, down, or out of mind with anxiety. The same is true for many people.

Last year, I had what people certainly used to refer to as ‘a nervous breakdown’. The doctors called in Generalised Anxiety and Depression, and PTSD. I fell apart. I couldn’t work, I could barely get up. As time went on, with hard work, help both medically and therapeutically, and from the friends and family who gathered around me, I began to improve. I still savaged my nails to cope- to take out my nerves and stress in a mildly self destructive way.

When, in autumn, I decided it was high time to face some demons and start seeing people I had to see again, I looked in the mirror and despaired. I thought of all those handshakes, and my blunt and bitten fingers trembled. I had to do something to face, in this case, my cousin’s birthday party.

I picked up my chaperone (phase 1) and we started on the road down the coast to the seat of my family. I swung in to a supermarket, and bought a set of false french manicured nails. We sat in the carpark for 5 minutes while I glued them on, and I drove, spread handed for a few miles, as they dried.

At the party, even if I felt like my insides were swelling up, and my skin was crawling, I looked at my hands, and they were… pretty. Neat. Acceptable. No longer a source of personal shame; evidence of my miserable state of mind. I could fit in with the ‘norms’. A lot of people talk about ‘putting your warpaint on’ to face the day. Well, for me, I sharpened my claws.

I kept gluing the things back on every time they pinged off until there was really no point- they were so glue covered and done.  I was left with my own nails, a tad longer than normal for the exercise, but soon to be savaged by another deep bout of anxiety.

The lead up to Christmas is a busy time for my family, and, having dipped my toes once into that particular social pool, I felt obliged to do it again. I was terrified, but determined. The memory of my talons stuck with me- how much stronger I felt with those ten tiny crutches holding the shreds of my self esteem up. However, I knew I didn’t have the willpower to go cold turkey. I knew the bitter tasting biting stopping potions they sell spoil everything they (or rather, your fingers, touch) including delicious sandwiches and what not, and weren’t a strong enough deterrent for me. I needed to physically NOT be able to bite my nails. At all. So found a local salon (The Nail Boutique– they are truly lovely, barmy ladies), and had acrylics put on.

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Naturally, my nails looked great, and however much I put them in my gob, I didn’t want to bite them, couldn’t really. I felt better- in control of something for once, and a worry was lifted off me. No one could judge me (if they even would) about my hands. My nails were neat and tidy, and they made my short little fingers look longer. For two months I kept getting refills, every 2-3 weeks. I even got them ‘did’ for Christmas.

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When my nails had grown out under the acrylic to the same length as the acrylic, I had them soaked off, and immediately had shellac put on. I had heard about how long it lasted, but also how it added a little strength to the nail too. I have to say, even though I tried the product a few times, it wasn’t me. It never lasted more than a few days- I’d always have to go back and get repairs done, wasting both mine and the salon’s time. I had one set that was discoloured by a mystery substance- no idea what. My nails weren’t strong, and it didn’t really help, and in retrospect- the same colour for 2-3 weeks? I’d get seriously bored.

So I did a bad thing, which made me feel bad- I got rid of the shellac pretty badly, damaging my nails in the process. They were already damaged by the acrylic, so I didn’t care. I was disheartened. But, I realised, my nails were longer than they had been in years. And I wasn’t biting them. Not even a bit. Yes, I’d destroyed the polish (and I was very stressed at the time), but the nails had, pretty much, survived.

I filed them a little bit the improve the shape, and shortened them up when they broke. I oiled them, moisturised them and pampered myself to keep the drive going. Every week they got stronger, broke less. I looked up nail polish brands, told my friends and family what I had achieved (and it WAS an achievement), and found they cheered me on. I bought some lacquer, and then some more (oops), and then found care packages were arriving for my claws and me:

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I was going through a really tough time then- reintegrating back into the work place, still plagued by my illness. Looking after my nails became part of my cooldown. It didn’t matter how bad I felt, I had to do my nails. I had to make sure they looked good, because then I would feel good. And nothing could hurt me then.

Of course, that isn’t true really, but that kind of positive thinking and behaviour is part of building up your self esteem, part of fighting to get better. And some days yes, I do chew off my polish. And yes, when stressed or sad I have bitten at my nails in the past month or so, but only broken ones, and you know, it doesn’t make me happy or calm anymore. They don’t taste the same. Because it isn’t my crutch any more.

I am not suggesting that you need to tumble into a pit of misery and despair in order to claw back out with fabulous nails. In fact, I really, really hope that is not what you need to do it. But if, and only if, you really want to stop biting, this is my advice.

  • Find something to take your mind of biting: Drive that potentially nervous energy into something else, whether it be a hobby (crochet or knitting are good, as they occupy your hands) or even taking care of your nails.
  • Use a deterrent: ‘No more biting’ solutions are to nail biting what squirty bottles are to bad dogs. However, as afore mentioned, they are evil and want to stop you from interacting manually with tasty things. For me, the deterrent was a barrier. A bad dog can’t steal a biscuit if they’re locked away. You can’t bite your nails through falsies. And you’ll get that instant ego boost too.
  • Get support: Tell your friends and family. If they know this is a thing for you (and if you don’t, explain it), they will care, because they love you. Giving up anything addictive is helped by encouragement more than it is by suffering in silence, or chiding. Hate yourself a little less, welcome in love some more. I can’t guarantee they’ll send you insane care packs like my aunt (because, DAMN), but I found that every person who said ‘let me see your nails then… good for you!’ helped just a little more. In fact, I have a friend who complains they are too long now!
  • Be patient: It takes approximately 6 months for the average human nail to grow from the cuticle to the the tip of the finger. If you have little fingers, and/or if your hair grows fast, you might see them grow faster. Likewise, if your hair doesn’t grow fast, or you have larger fingers, you might have to wait longer. But your nails ARE growing all the time, especially when they aren’t being bitten. The more you lavish care on them (nail strengtheners like Nail Envy by OPI, or cuticle oils like Solar Oil by CND), the better they will be when they get there, and on the journey.
  • And finally, if they break, don’t give up!: Filing your nails short is NOT a bad thing. Shorter, broader nails are stronger, and the more weaker, older nail you have filed away, the more cared for, new nail remains. The nail remaining will grow through stronger, and you WILL see a difference the next time they grow out.

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So that’s the story of how I beat my bad habit. I hope my story might help if you’re thinking of quitting. And I apologise that I am not wearing make up in any of the pictures :s.

Good luck, and later days!

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