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When I arrived home this evening, somewhat later than usual thanks to a conference call, I discovered an Amazon package leaning against my front door, made slightly damp by the inclement weather and not carried off by thieves and brigands only because my front door is down a flight of steps (although a similar basement next door was broken into a few years back). This is what we laughingly refer to as postal "service" in Ireland. Bizarrely, there was also a "we were unable to deliver..." notice for something I'll have to collect from the local sorting office; why they didn't just bundle them both together I have no idea.

No, I have not opened the package. I am presuming it to be a Christmas gift from one of my siblings and thus off-limits for another two weeks.

update: Apparently the notice was for the package which had been "delivered" against my front door. Go figure.
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Received in the mail today: a Goats signed print. This was dispatched by US Mail on January 26. A related packaged shipped from the same location on January 22 arrived within a week. The print was in a large, stiff cardboard envelope stamped with a large, red "DO NOT BEND" in two places, but was distinctly S-shaped by the time it showed up on my desk. Thank you, the postal services, for this token of your surly and abusive service.

(the print was largely unharmed; nothing a bit of pressing under some heavy books won't fix.)
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My TV license is due for renewal. On the form they posted me, it says, "...form available at http://www.anpost.ie/tvlicense". Yes, indeed. That would be Form 404, eh? (for good measure, the mistaken URL is repeated in the Irish Language rendition of the same text)
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While looking for details of An Post's operations in Belfast, I came across a story about bullets being delivered to Sinn Féin members by post. If someone for whatever reason tried to do that to me, the package would probably wind up either lost or at my neighbour's place.

opportunism

Nov. 7th, 2005 09:55 pm
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During today's postal strike, which was called off but happened anyway due to postal workers having already arranged to take the day off the "Disputes Committee" not having met until the afternoon: Oranmore Post Office raided. (RTÉ not only gives their news away for free, they've actually got a pretty slick XSL-styled RSS feed so the feed URL reads like a regular web page)
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So when I said, regarding striking season, that we need[ed] a postal strike to make it official, I was joking, ok? (even the student nurses are getting involved)
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response to "my latest DVD hasn't turned up" email:
Hi Ronan,

Sorry for the lateness....again. We dispatched another dvd to you today. An Post are either lulling you into a false sense of security or they have realised the errors of their ways and reformed. Until they prove otherwise we should all embrace the notion that the glass is half full. Our support department have a naughty list and a nice list. We are pleased to inform you that you are at the very top of the nice list. If An Post cause you anymore problems don't hesitate to let us know.

Best Regards

Support @ Screenclick.com





(An Post is our national postal "service")
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Since I haven't ranted about it near enough lately:
  • My mobile phone provider has been dealing with a query related to my camera phone since mid-November. By "dealing with" I mean "mostly ignoring". The last proactive comment I got from them was that my query had been passed to technical support. Today they asked me a question which would pretty much prevent this passing off from having happened.
  • My new credit card arrived. After spending ten minutes on hold trying to get someone to activate it, I gave up and tried again today. The guy who handled the call today tried twice to offer me one of the pre-scripted services. When I went to add the card to my online registered cards, the site said they didn't have enough information on me and could I maybe call customer support?
  • I phoned the sorting office for office mail on Friday to find out what they'd done with our two missing issues of Linux Magazine and subsequent resend of same. The guy told me he'd talk to the postman for the area and get back to me before lunch. He called today after lunch to tell me that the postman only recently found out we were in the office ([a] we've been there since the company's inception in 1999, [b] other stuff gets delivered there on a regular basis, [c] the address clearly states "Alphyra House, Heather Road" which uniquely identifies the building, regardless of the fact that our company name does not appear on the outside of the premises), that he had no idea what became of the magazines, and that he couldn't confirm that they were returned to the sender address since he handles so many return-to-sender items on a weekly basis.
I think that should keep my customer service irritation level high for the next month or so.
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Finding out about An Post's Personal Services has never been so simple! It's easy with An Post services portal! (link)
See if you can find a customer service number I can ring to locate my local sorting office.
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It must be Christmas, the Post Office is on strike.

Yes, really.
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Screenclick, neé DVD Rentals, are indeed teh r0xx0r despite the best efforts of the Irish postal system to fuck them over.
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My latest DVDRentals (sorry, ScreenClick.com) offering arrived today. It's cracked. Unwatchably so. That makes for three of the last seven discs unwatchable, which means this past month I payed €20 for four discs. Which in turn means it'd have been cheaper to walk to the rental store in Dalkey and rent the damn things, even if I would have had to badger the listless youth behind the counter into searching for my choice of movies. I am charitably assuming that ScreenClick do at least a cursory visual inspection of discs before sending them out, and that this damage is being done by the Post Office as they force the envelope through my letterbox. An Post, of course, would deny this and further state that hey, if it's valuable, insure it before you post it or something. Whoops, dropped your priceless china, hope it's well packed.
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The postal dispute appears to be over. Yay!
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I finally found a newspaper article which explained, more or less, why the current dispute occurred. In essence: the union promised some things to management in exchange for some extra pay. One of the things promised was a cut in overtime. As soon as the extra pay had been handed over/agreed upon/whatever, the union reneged on its side of the deal. Things kinda proceeded from there. This comes back to something I've always felt about the unions in this country; they're a necessary evil, like many other parts of working life, but because the country is so small, a single twitch by any given union can bring useful services to a halt, and that's something that they seem quite willing to abuse. Through the overtime system currently in place with An Post, it's possible for a postal worker to do a morning delivery shift, finish early because hey, there's not much to deliver, then come in and do an afternoon shift and get payed the overtime rate for that. Now, it may well be that the pay is crap, and that this is a necessary ploy to get a living wage, but seriously. I have no doubt that management would rather trade the overtime culture for a properly structured wage system that can at least be properly budgetted for. Apparently the union doesn't want that.
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The postal dispute is still ongoing, but I did get mail this morning.

Spanish Lottery scam mail.

BAH.
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What's really bothering me about the current postal service ruckus is that it's been going on since the weekend and I still have no idea what started it, beyond the fact that the management claims it's something that was already paid for, and something the staff were already doing anyway, and the union claims that the management was being reckless.
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The Communications Workers' Union says the drivers were suspended after refusing to deliver mail sorted by senior managers.
Initially I thought, having misread, that this was the original reason for the dispute, but now I guess the drivers were Standing In Solidarity With Their Fellow Union Members or some such. I'm having a hard time feeling sympathy here. Postal service has recently gotten worse; it used be the case that a letter posted on Monday would show up, almost without exception, in Tuesday's post. Now I'm finding that, for example, my DVDRentals returns go in the postbox on Monday morning and don't show up at their destination until Wednesday more often than not. This completely screws up DVDRentals' business model. Is it too much to ask that we have a reliable postal service? Apparently so:
In advertisements taken out in today's national newspapers, the company has requested customers "not to post any mail until further notice in Dublin City and County".

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