24 February 2011

Internet Buying and Postage

Although you might think these are inter-related subjects, they are and they aren’t – let me explain.

In France, quite a lot of things are very expensive, certainly compared to the UK and so for the last few years, nearly everything we buy, apart from food and DIY stuff, is purchased on the internet.

Virtually all the kid’s clothes are bought on-line with t-shirts flying in from the far east and shoes and trousers coming from a variety of sources. I’ve given up trying to find decent and reasonably priced clothes over here and thank the day that M&S started shipping their online catalogue to Europe.

Of course, we, like virtually everybody else use Amazon but tend to find that Amazon UK is cheaper than Amazon France (for the same book), even when you include the postage costs (Amazon France is generally postage free) and you may have read on my blog that I’ve been buying tyres and other car parts on the net and quite a few of these are coming from the UK as well.

And I reckon I’ve worked out why things are cheaper to get from the UK and that’s because postage charges in France are exorbitantly expensive.

A couple of postage stories – it takes maybe ten days for my insurance company in Nice to send me a policy in the post (well they blame the post) whilst J has had rather large parcels delivered from Kenya in a couple of days which I can’t quite work out given that the parcels eventually get handled by La Poste when they reach French soil.

Secondly, I’ve just had some brake parts delivered from the UK for my BMW. Postage costs were £14.95. The company concerned take back your old parts and give you a rebate for them, which at £30 a time is not to be sneezed at. And so when I picked up my new parts the other day from La Poste, which, amazingly was open for once, I asked the girl to put the package back on the scales to see how much it would cost to send back to the UK because I reckoned I would just put the old parts back in the same box and ship it back for my rebate.

Of course, confusion reigned. ‘You’ve not even taken delivery of your parcel and you want to send it back?’ she queried.

‘No – I just want to see what it would cost to send it back to the UK’, I said.

Well, the discussion and explanation went on for a couple of minutes much to the annoyance of the usual queue in our Post Office which is a space of about 8 feet by 2 feet (I kid you not). Eventually, I managed to get Mrs La Poste to understand that it wasn’t the incoming parcel I wanted to send to the UK but one of exactly the same dimensions and weight.

She plonked it on the scales and said, ‘Cent Trente Neuf Euros.’

‘What?’ I said.

‘One hundred thirty nine’, she said in almost perfect English. ‘And that’s normal post, it’ll be more if it’s express and more if you want it signed for at the other end.’

‘One hundred and thirty nine euros – that’s about £120’, I said. ‘It only cost £15 to send them from the UK.’

She shrugged. I shrugged and in an instant worked out why French things are expensive to buy, and get delivered, on the internet.

PS – on a similar subject, we ordered a new PC battery for Guy off of eBay. It was ordered on 7th December, the money was debited via PayPal a day later and ……. yup – it never arrived.
By the time the ‘retailer’ in Hong Kong (I should have smelled somefing velly funny) had ‘investigated’ the non-delivery, it was too late to complain via eBay and now the retailer’s e-mail has ‘ceased to exist’. Beware!!

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