Not quite in the spirit of the Camino, which I am about to embark on in two days' time, but then, neither is shoddy customer care and unreliability, nor a mammoth international company breaking a promise and hiding behind the incompetence of one inefficient employee.
What is this about?
In two days I am starting the Camino de Santiago, walking the 800 kilometres pilgrimage from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela in the north-western corner of Spain -- once the furthest known spot on the earth.
The pilgrimage itself I dedicated to the inspiring courage and positive strength of a friend who is fighting for her life in a battle against cancer -- and all and any proceeds that come from the book that I am writing on the experience as well as the motivational speaking I will do world-wide after the event, will go to a cancer research foundation that my friend has nominated.
And so, as I walk she will be there in thought and spirit, by my side, to encourage, support and urge on.
And -- each of my closest friends and family have contributed something towards the walk -- each one of them will also 'walk with me' as I journey on the long solitary path.
One of the most important items -- in fact, after the shoes, the most important item, is the backpack. In it will be everything I will need along the way and during the 50 days that I will be walking. It has to be as light as possible so as not to add to the weight on my back, but also contain all the necessary and needed little pockets, compartments and features that will make the use of the pack a pleasure and not a burden. The only person who could possibly help me choose and buy the backpack was Nici -- pragmatic, fun and innovative and above all, super-practical. She insisted that she buys the pack in Sydney, Australia, where she is studying, because she knew that is where she could get exactly what we had decided I need.
Great excitement -- On Sunday night after midnight, the call from Nici -- from where she was standing in the shop with the perfect backpack in her hands -- right weight, right compartments, right features -- it could have been custom made for me. All I had to decide was the colour -- and I chose the burnt orange and charcoal one -- I thought a good colour to have with me as I go through an often grey and misty landscape.
We agreed that the only way to be sure that the backpack will reach me by the end of this week -- tomorrow -- Friday -- on the eve of my departure -- would be to sacrifice the prohibitive sum of money they charge, but ask the "internationally known-to-be-the-one-way-to-send-something-in-a-hurry" FedEx. Done -- Nici went off to their Headquarters in Sydney -- not even trusting a smaller closer agency -- and did everything she was required to do in order to have the backpack delivered to me before or by Friday.
This morning, at 5am my time, my phone rings. Nici is in an agitated state. She has had a call from FedEx who apologise that the employee who had taken charge of the mailing of my backpack on Monday, had forgotten to give her one important form to sign and they now discover that the backpack is still in Sydney.
Need I say more?
Even if the parcel is on a plane tonight -- out of Australia, it will only arrive in France -- who knows where? tomorrow and -----wait for it-----FedEx do not work on Saturdays, so even if they could have gotten it to me before 10am on Saturday, they will not deliver it.
I am leaving on Saturday on a pilgrimage -- a life long goal, something I have prepared for months -- in fact, for years.
And FedEx? They say "Sorry! -- we will refund you but there is nothing we can do about it."
Is it possible that they can hide behind the incompetence of an employee who did not do what she was supposed to do and then did not immediately rectify it?
Is it possible that when they make the promise of quick, assured and certain delivery in the minimum amount of time to their customers, that they leave it that and not check and double check and triple check that the promise is kept?
Is it possible that they care so little that they do not feel it necessary now to, other than offer the refund, make the super-human effort and still get the parcel to its destination?
The backpack is important to me. Very important. Without it I am going to have to borrow one from a friend -- NOT something one wants to do --- and it will be a backpack designed for a man 20kg heavier than myself who is a seasoned hiker. I will have to halve the items I take -- essential things that I will need on the way where there are, often for a couple of days, no amenities to buy anything that one might need in an emergency. But -- as important as the backpack is to me and to my already challenging and tough journey over the next two months --- one cannot help but wonder --- what if --- what if this parcel was a life-giving item that could mean that a life is saved or lost? What if it was a gift for a person who has a few days to live and then passes away before the parcel arrives? What if, FedEx? What would you do then?
I have never done this -- to name and shame someone -- but I have no qualms in doing so now. And in my book I will do so again. And on my other blogs I will do so again. And I shall continue to do so wherever I can. I do not tolerate lies, broken promises and a careless approach to anyone -- not even the faceless customer who lines the pockets of the suits who sit in the board rooms of these huge companies.
Shame on you, FedEx.