Well it’s been another short break from the blogging. We’ve been away in Italy to collect the olive harvest with our great friends L and S helping us pick the fruit. I can’t believe yet another year has rolled by. Was this our fourth or fifth harvest? Either way we had a lovely week there and did really well with the crop. Thanks to L and S we collected all the fruit in just over two days – 92+ kilos in total, more than 200 lbs. Not our best harvest but bloody good considering I’ve not had chance to prune the trees that well in the last 12 months. I’ve got some serious supplies to get out to my olive tree adoptors now. If you’re following the postings get in touch folks!
The second main reason for us heading out last week was to ensure we were there to receive our new pool cover sourced from a really good pool company over here called Aspect Pools. They had it created by one of their suppliers in record time and got it shipped out by DHL, letting us have a tracking code to follow its progress. We arrived last week-end and having got online checked the logistics to discover that the consignment had left the suppliers in the UK, got loaded on a plane at Gatwick, transferred to Milan, got unloaded and re-flown on to our local Italian airport in Ancona where it had been unloaded all by last Monday. Given that we were at our home there till Sunday morning that almost a week to get the cover delivered and installed even though we had at least one day’s work to slot in with Matt, our great local construction guy, preparing the in-ground fixings etc.
On the Tuesday we noted from the online checking that the consignment had been ‘processed’ at Ancona. We were busy picking olives that day but assumed that processing meant that the package was now en route to us for delivery by van. Well it never turned up that day, nor the next. So Thursday morning dawned and with the olives picked, some time on our hands and several willing hands available to help with the installation we checked the online tracking again. It was still showing ‘processed’. Ummm. So we tried to uncover a tel no at Ancona airport for DHL that we could call up to find out what was happening. Our friends were scheduled to fly home the following day, Friday, so Thursday was the day to get things sorted.
However the only number we could find was a 199 199 xxxx facility – a bit like a DHL world-wide contact line – which unfortunately cannot be called from a UK mobile phone overseas. And we didn’t have access to a local fixed line. So we waited in all day Thursday hoping for the DHL delivery van to arrive, but it never did. Bloody DHL. It’s world-wide nickname is Definitely an Hour Late. An hour! I would’ve given my kingdom, or at least 20 €, to secure that delivery that day. Alas, the red lorry/yellow lorry didn’t make it.
So on Friday morning I headed off with L and S to take them back to Ancona airport for their flight home. They’d been a great help and fun company and we were more than a little sad to see them off. I left them at mid-day and headed to the DHL cargo office at the airport to finally discover where my pool cover was. Well I stormed up to the DHL office door only to find it locked. Sigh. There was a notice on there saying that it wouldn’t re-open until 4.30pm, sigh, this is one of the endearing features of bureacratic Italy. I wasn’t going to wait that long (for all I knew the damn thing could have been being unloaded at my home as I stood there ). A single glimmer of hope was that the notice also contained the advice that, whilst the airport office was closed, further help could be obtained from the DHL office in Falconara, a few miles away. I found out the address from a helpful and v attractive young woman in a competitor’s open (!) office and headed off to hunt down Via dell Stadio – Stadium Road. Find the footie ground and the DHL office would be nearby.
Half an hour later I’d found the place down some nondescript back street. Ah ha! it was just 1pm. I toddled up to the door and was greeted by a uniformed DHL guy who told me I’d have to wait until 2pm before he could deal with my query. But, but, but….. I’d forgotten that this was Italian lunch time which is of course sacrosanct time. So I sat in the car in the car park for 59 minutes and 45 seconds more before knocking on his office door again. I explained the situation in my best pidgin Italian and thrust the tracking number on his desk. Between them he and his assistant spent the next 10 minutes clicking their desk-top computers only to inform me that my pool cover wasn’t with them nor at the airport.
‘Well that’s fine’ I responded in my very best indignant Italglish ‘but where the f*** is it?’ It doesn’t take me long to resort to good old-fashioned Anglo Saxon when the hackles levels within me rise to the ‘aw for f***’s sake’ threshold. It doesn’t take much to kick in and faced with disinterested ineptitude from bored minions faffing about with a computer is one of the auto trigger conditions I’m afraid. Several people were piling into the office all with clearly easier tasks to resolve but I wasn’t going to let it lie. I just kept on at them to find me the consignment and eventually one of their computers delivered the startling news that the package had been transferred to the DHL Civittanova office some 30 kms away, sigh, and was probably in a delivery van as we spoke. Yeh right. It took me a further 15 minutes of negotiations to get an address from them for their sister office. Or something approximate to an address. Bloody Italian inefficiency.
I didn’t thank them generously and off I toddled in the car down the autostrada. All I knew was that the office was located in the Zona Industriale or business park in a pretty large town. Long story short I found the industrial estate and an office with a huge DHL sign on the outside and started to explain my predicament to a cluster of desk-bound employees, none of whom seemed at all interested in helping me until I got my indignant face on again. Being shaven-headed and thugish looking has its upsides at times. Then I was informed that I needed to go to the DHL Express office – how could I have made such an elementary error? – over the other side of the estate. Sigh. It was around 3.30pm by now and I was getting hungry, thirsty and pretty frigging fed up having left the house around 10.30am that morning. I was still cover-less too of course.
I found the second DHL office in Civittanova, you know the Express one (ha!), and explained my situation yet again. A quite helpful guy actually apologised for all the problems and told me that the consignment was actually on the back of one of their delivery vans en route to our home. Molto bene! He even called the driver to check and after a rather protracted and animated conversation with him he offered me the driver’s name, Alberto, and his mobile number just in case ‘there was a problem’. ‘Was this likely?’ I asked with a degree of trepidation. ‘Non, non, non Paulo’ he replied as I thanked him and set off on the return journey home. It was approaching 4.45pm and dusk was approaching.
I called C to explain what was happening and enquire if the cover had been delivered. Of course it hadn’t. Ah well, I thought, it would probably be there before I was. I got home an hour later only to find that I’d made it though the DHL guy hadn’t. Sigh. I called Alberto on his mobile. He didn’t speak much English but I could undertand that a) he couldn’t find our house b) because he had no helpful details to go by c) he was heading back to the depot and d) they didn’t deliver the following day , Saturday but that e) I could collect the package back at the Civittanova depot if I wanted it before the next available delivery day on the coming Monday (ie once we were home in London) if I could get there before 8pm.
Ah, so I’d paid for my pool cover to be delivered but they’d failed to do that within 4 days of it having arrived at Ancona about 1 hour 30 minutes from our home – a place we’d managed to find from an AA Atlas as have all our friends and guests over the last 5 years but a local delivery company couldn’t find it. And all because there was in sufficient delivery information on the box apparently. I had no choice, we only had one day left to try and get the thing installed and I hadn’t yet called Matt to see if he was free the next day.
I toddled off back up the autostrada, got to the DHL office where I’d been two and a half hours earlier, spoke to the apologetic office guy again and picked up my parcel from the despatcher. Hoorah. It was large box (it’s a big pool) but I could just get it in the hire car. There, prominently displayed, were two A4 notices with our full address details on there, plus both my and C’s name and both of our mobile numbers. But the driver had insufficient details to make the delivery. You could say I was just a little indignant. I got home at nearly 9pm and found out the next morning that Matt just couldn’t come and help us that last day as he was busy on other projects.
So we had to leave the pool uncovered and the box in our house unpacked and the pool getting slightly more stale as the days pass. It’s possible that Matt may be able to get it installed without my help but if not I’ll have to head out there again and soon before the pool water gets away from us…again. Sigh.
I’m pursuing the issue with DHL as you can imagine, trying to keep the Anglo Saxon in check and will keep you informed on developments. As I write this I’m watching a fine documentary on Keith Richard and I can tell you if I can’t get no satisfaction then I’ll tell you and the world what I deeply think of DHL’s pledge to deliver expressly. This could be the (first and) last time I use them and I shalln’t be afraid to paint it very black if I don’t get some appropriate compensation.