Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Holy Shipping Nightmares, Batman!!

Today was one of those days when I needed a knight in shining armor to ride to my rescue... and Nick did just that when he came home... but let me back up a bit.

We spent most of the Mother’s Day weekend packaging up this huge order to go out to one of our US distributors that deals with chain stores. Since I was dealing with a larger volume than usual this time, I had asked Purolator about shipping one palette instead of many, many boxes. “No problem!” they replied. “Just sending your dimensions of the skid once it is ready so that we can arrange everything.” So Monday, I hired the daughter of our LNS owner who is home from University and not yet employed for the summer to help batch the last of the chartpacks. Another friend helped me get half of the shipment over to our printer, who had kindly volunteered the use of their loading dock, a palette and to shrink-wrap all the boxes on it for us. When Nick got home, we took the last half over, called in all of the dimensions to Purolator and were told that I’d be contacted the next day (today) to arrange the last details.

By 2pm, when I still hadn’t heard anything, I called them back to check the status. Their computers had been down the day before, so they reentered the information and put URGENT on the file. “You’ll get a call before 3pm!!” I was told.

At 3:10 pm, I picked up the phone and went through some managers this time, thanks to a very nice Purolator person (who sounded like she was a stitcher because she knew who I was!) When I started to discuss the arrangements with the Logistics person, it quickly became apparent that I was... how shall we say it... in deep doo-doo. The only way they could guarantee delivery by the date I needed was to send it AIR, since they hadn’t contacted me that morning to arrange pickup today! This is when I discovered that the “special shipment” department isn’t really Purolator either...

I then called my printer and told them to stop shrink-wrapping the palette because I was coming down to pick up all the boxes again!! Nick loaded the girls back into the van and we drove across town to pick them all up. We then made a pit stop at Staples to pick up some photocopy paper boxes to help hold all these individual cardboard boxes that get split up for the chain store shipments. Nick backed the van into the driveway and I began to pack them into the bigger boxes while he cooked supper for the girls and made sure that Erin got into her brownie uniform. Luckily it wasn’t our turn to car pool tonight.

Once the boxes were packed up and I had all the dimensions, I fired up the computer to do a multiple shipment which the last Purolator person I had talked to insisted I could to on-line. After 40 minutes of entering all the information, the program refused to go any further due to memory errors!!

Off we went to the airport terminal after another phone call to Purolator assured me that I could get a manifest form there to do all the boxes on ONE waybill.... but once we arrived there, it turned out that was only for Canada!! Bethany sat down in one corner with my gameboy while Nick and I commandeered the photocopier and main room breaking the shipment back down for 3 waybills, even though all my customs documentation was written up for one shipment... and everything made it out on the plane to Toronto by the 8 o’clock deadline. We also made it home about 10 minutes before Erin was driven home from Brownies!!

Now, having relaxed a bit while watching American Idol, I am more philosophical about the whole thing. I have learned that it really is more affordable to do things the more difficult way sometimes (many shipments instead of one) and that when you are working for yourself, you will do those crazy things that are above and beyond... I feel like I have run a Marathon or taken part in some extreme sport where I had to push myself to the limit today and not freak out under pressure.

I am also so lucky to have a true partner that will put up with this kind of chaos and unpredictability. He jokes that this falls under the “for Worse” part of the wedding vows... and I am not sure he isn’t right. It is truly one of the more challenging parts about being the whole company and why I get so angry when people scan my stuff.

The highlight of the day was finding out that my brother’s contact was able to get all of our designs removed from the site! I’ve also been getting a bit of information on some of the offenders, so perhaps I’ll be able to track down a real person this time and take some legal action!

I sure hope tomorrow is calmer!! Boring is so HIGHLY UNDERRATED!!

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