Postal and delivery services in the country

If you live over 50 miles from the nearest serious stores, inevitably you buy more on the internet. I am guilty of buying clothes, kitchen equipment, electronic gadgets, bed linen … … and that is just my list from the last few months. (I often buy from the UK, mainly John Lewis, as even with postage things are often cheaper than here).

Deliveries are a problem, as I have no neighbours who can take in parcels if I am out. One gets to know the timetable of the main services: UPS, for example, invariably reaches me just before midday. The DPD guy is erratic, but since he lives quite locally, he invariably tries again in the evening.

I’m beginning to favour Colissimo and Chronopost, both vague offshoots of La Poste. They used to be a problem, but I have just acquired a delightful new postman, Cédric. For years I was on the circuit for Denis, who knew if I wasn’t in or was on holiday, to take the parcel round to my friend, Margaret. Then, after years of delivering here, Denis was moved elsewhere, and the post was delivered by a series of young people on short-term contracts. Then, two days ago, Cédric appeared, remarked that I was often out (I explained about my busy rééducation schedule) and asked what I would like him to do with parcels. We agreed he should leave them on the terrace (not seen from the road) and then he added that if ever I needed anything, such as stamps, just to let him know, as he lives in the next village, Mars. I shook his hand, thanked him, and said how nice it was to have a regular postman again. We parted good new friends.

Actually La Poste has one very good requirement: unless you live in an ancient house which cannot be messed about, you are required to install a large, locked postbox. The postmen can open these and small parcels as well as the mail are left inside.

My only bad internet shopping experience happened this month, and I am embarassed to admit it, as it was my fault. I bought something from a site without checking things like its address. Apart from an email from another body saying the money had been transferred, I got no emails at all from the company. Luckily it was not a huge amount of money, but I am not optimistic about recuperating it. However, I am on the warpath. I have reported the firm to the CAB, who are passing on information to Trading Standards. I tracked down the person registered as the owner of the domain name to an address in Shrewsbury and have sent a registered letter demanding repayment as they are in breach of contract. I talked to the bank and I cannot get my money back from the bank, as I used a debit card, so I am now going to order a credit card, simply for internet purchases.

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