The other day, Fritz had an interesting conversation with the shipping employee who delivers packages to his office. She told him that if he's planning to order his Christmas gifts via the mail to order early. Why? She said improved economic conditions (translating into more purchasing), shipping employees who are already working as many hours a week as possible, and a very short holiday season are going to combine to result in late deliveries and lost packages.
And, she told him, if something is guaranteed delivery, and it doesn't arrive, don't expect to see it for a loooong time. Shipping companies are required to reimburse the shipping cost of a package the minute that it doesn't arrive on time. After they've already lost the money because the package is delayed, they no longer have any incentive to deliver the package quickly; it's better to focus on the other packages with guaranteed delivery dates.
This perfectly illustrates a theory I've recently dubbed, The Dropped Ball falls in a Hole. It seems especially apt in the world of customer service. Whenever a service is delayed or disrupted, expect further complication. The airline traveler whose flight is canceled is more likely to bumped from a rebooking. The diner who sends back her flawed meal watches three more parties arrive and be served before her meal returns. In our school district, a child who is denied his first choice school ends up in his fourth choice.
This week, my car is still not completed by the autobody shop; and it will be another TEN days. If you're wondering, I thought you said last Friday, how can a it suddenly take another TEN days to finish a car? Well, we're wondering, too. I think it's partially the theory: we're already late, we might as well be later! Actually, I'm being antagonistic here. It might feel personal, but it's not. The economic strategy is: better to consolidate your losses to one customer, rather than allowing them to snowball onto many customers.