I am boiling mad, because some people I’ve never met didn’t get to have the cup of tea I wanted them to have on the other side of the globe. And I feel I’ve let them down.
I’ve just looked back over the tweets where I’ve got stuck into any organisation for a lack of service. And whilst not a big percentage of my 23,000 tweets (on 6 accounts) fall into that category – less than 10 in fact – half of them are about Australia Post.
Australia Post grew out of the old Post Master General office in Australia. It used to be a government department, formed in 1809 on the basis that it handled parcels and mail. It took on responsibility for telegraphy and telephony as they arose and continued to innovate with many world firsts. In 1975 the PMG was broken up and the bit that was responsible for letters and parcels was the Australian Postal Commission, corporatised in the 80′s and rebranded Australia Post.
I remember Post Offices as a child in the 1970′s, and they were fusty mementoes of a bygone era. The staff were very proper and seemed to take pride in the uniform.
Over my lifetime, Australia Post has evolved. At some point, they decided that they needed to become a stationary shop, and so stuffed the Post Offices with pens, paper, accounts books and the lot. They then decided to add souvenirs, toys, DVDs. Want a cheap CD of the BeeGees greatest hits or a Frankie Avalon retrospective? Your search is over!
Then they invented BillPay. Before the Internet had really taken hold, they decided to become the place where you could pay all your bills. And even though that is an outdated idea, it persists to this day.
It became obvious perhaps 15-20 years ago that they had morphed into just another shop, except with very little customer service; where, if you went and lined up behind 30 people buying stationary and /or paying bills, you could post a letter or parcel.
I can’t count the number of times they have let me down. I recently ordered two DVD’s via eBay on the same day. They were both despatched the next day. The one from London (free delivery, I might add) via courier took 4 days. The one from Brisbane did not appear until Day 12, two days after I started posting on twitter about how annoyed I was. Australia Post helpfully informed me that this was “within their terms of service”, which makes me want to send them a dictionary with the word “service” highlighted.
So, back to this tea, and these people.
Ken told me 6 weeks ago that the meeting was to happen, and I decided to send some tea for them to share. It was the closest I could come to being there.
What to send?
Firstly, some Daintree. Flying the Aussie flag and all that. I was really excited when, a week after I’d sent it, Jackie told me during the on-line tea party how much she wanted to try it. I gave nothing away.
Secondly, I wanted something unique.
I steep my black teas several times. I’ve had various conversations with Jackie and Ken about whether this was possible or even preferable.
I’d been experimentating with a quick-steep infusion using two different, reasonable quality CTC teas. But the quality I wanted wasn’t there. So I added a few other, better quality, longer steeping teas.
What I found was that I has a tea with a robust and hearty first steep, with a more refined second steep. Two really different cups.
By the time I got to that point in my experimenting I had a small pile left, and I’d completely lost track of what proportions I had put in.
So I decided to send that to the forthcoming tea event. I made up label, called it “International Friendship Tea” as I was feeling particularly corny and posted the tea to Ken in Germany about four weeks ago.
It has not arrived so far. Who knows if it ever will?
Like Canada Posts’s documented recent troubles, postal services around the world are struggling in a new world. When Canada post workers demonstrated how little they care for their customers, it started a chain of events that will see many of them lose their jobs.
Last week I received a parcel of tea from a town in rural India in four days via FedEx. AND I got pleasant and freindly service on top.
The value of the tea is in cents. The value of these particular online friendships are immeasurable.
And now I’ve let down those friends, by trusting a service that I know to be antiquated in its thinking and incompetent in its delivery.
Like low grade tea, the bitterness of this experience will remain with me for a long time to come.