Book Exchange

Chris in Calgary emailed me with a picture of what she called a little free library. Well, the same idea has caught on in Corbigny and there is a larger version in the shopping mall at Avallon. In the lockdown, with socialising so restricted, free libraries like this are a godsend.Mind you, I have been finding treasures in our own library: visitors have left books behind, and John suspects that his copy of Clochemerle has gone walkabout. I recently galloped through Seabiscuit, the story of an American racehorse, and I am currently enjoying Frank Muir’s autobiography, A Kentish Lad, which I had never clapped eyes on before. I ought to create a library catalogue, but in the meantime serendipity rules OK.

Coughs and Sneezes

After months of socialising in the garden, heavy rain drove us indoors with a visitor. She had the sniffles and passed them on to me. I had not had a cold for many years and had forgotten the misery and frustration. The lockdown is called confinement here, which conveys the concept of incarceration with the suggestion of giving birth. Anxious friends wondered if I had caught the dreaded virus: ought I to have the test just in case? Well, I know a common cold when I see one. John, who was and is cold-free, did the shopping to protect the public from contagion, and I was scrupulous about tissue disposal and handwashing.

Gone Missing

We put together a colissimo, a big box provided by La Poste, complete with detailed customs declaration, in good time for the birthday of our granddaughter in California.

Compared with the plight of the Uighurs, a missing parcel is nothing, but I mourn for the contents, especially the embroidered t-shirts. A $100 gift token was a poor substitute. Well, I blame the Chinese pestilence and President Trump after receiving this email in reply to my enquiry.

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Rosy and John:

I just spoke with our mail carrier and here is what I have learned:
a) There is a new postmaster for the entire U.S. This postmaster has come in and completely turned everything upside down.
b) Thus, they are extremely backed up and packages that should have been delivered are now sitting "somewhere".
c) They are also running VERY short staffed as there are people out with COVID-19 and/or other related illnesses. They are currently working a minimum of 14 hours per day to try and stay ahead.
d) Our mail carrier let me know that he would personally go to the back of their mail station and see if there was any package that had been scanned in but then put to the back of the building and not delivered EVEN though the system states that it "was delivered and a note was left at the destination address" which has NOT EVER occurred. Even our mail carrier agreed with me about this and that the system was wrong.
e) Our mail carrier asked if you have any type of tracking number that he could then go into the system and try to locate it for us. If you do, could you please pass it along to me?
So, I have made every effort to try and locate your package but apparently our mail system, based upon COVID-19 and a new postmaster, has gone to hell in a hand basket, as they say.
If I learn of anything else I will most certainly let you know.

John obtained a tracking number and filled in a claim form at La Poste, and we live in hopes.

Up the Creek?

I am old enough to remember the days when I could pick up the telephone and speak to a sensible human being. Well, I paid Amazon $100 for a gift token. The recipient thanked me for the kind thought, but was unable to spend the token because Amazon had blocked his account. I am sharing the correspondence; note that the gift card link did not work and the telephone number they supplied was unobtainable.

Hello,

I'm sorry to hear that the gift card was locked.
I see that the card was locked as the recipient's account is on hold.

I relayed your information to the team trained to handle this scenario. You should hear back from them in the next 1-2 business days.

We, at Amazon Support, work round the clock to take care and always strive to do our best to help you with your concerns. However, there might be times when we are unable to resolve your concerns because we have to abide by the Amazon.com policies. We sincerely apologize for such situations and request your understanding in such matters.

In the days when I wrote law books for non-lawyers I would have taken issue with that paragraph, but never mind.

Many of your inquiries can be self-served through the following links:
Where's My Stuff: http://www.amazon.com/help/wheres-my-stuff
Canceling or Changing Orders: http://www.amazon.com/o/tg/browse/-/595034/
Problem with an Item: http://www.amazon.com/o/tg/browse/-/557204/
Marketplace Order Problems: http://www.amazon.com/o/tg/browse/-/537868/
Gift Certificates: http://www.amazon.com/o/tg/browse/-/518226
Returns & Refunds: http://www.amazon.com/returns

We apologize for the inconvenience. Just in case, there is anything else that we can help you with. Please feel free to contact us and we would be more than happy to assist you further.

I am attaching our contact details for your convenience.

Most questions are answered in Your Account (www.amazon.com/your-account) or in our Help pages (www.amazon.com/help). If you do need to contact us in the future, here's a link to our Contact Us page:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us/general-questions.html

We're also happy to help you over the phone. Visit our Help pages (http://www.amazon.com/help), click the "Contact Us" button, enter your phone number through the Phone tab, and we'll call you. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you have any further questions, please contact us using the link:https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/contact-us

Here are our customer service phone numbers:-
-U.S. and Canad a: 1-866-216-1072
-International: 1-206-266-2992

We hope to see you again soon. Thank you and we wish you all the best in all of your future online sales. Have a great rest of your day!

We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,

I emailed back

Dear Sir or Madam

Please see your email of 18 July, below. Today is 22 July and I have not yet heard from the team trained to address my concerns. I would like to say how unsatisfactory your customer relations are. I am old enough to remember what it was like to pick up a telephone, speak to a sensible human being and resolve my problem.

It seems to me that you have two options.

1 You unlock the recipient's account within 7 days, to enable him to use the token I sent for his birthday, and let me know when you have done so.
2 You refund my money within 7 days.

I look forward to a positive response to option 1 or 2, failing which I will take whatever steps are necessary to unsubscribe.

This latest contretemps has caused me great anxiety. I write a monthly blog for Expat Focus. See https://www.expatfocus.com/columnists/rosemary-border-rabson
I intend to tell the story of my struggle with Amazon in my August piece.

Yours faithfully

Today, 28 July, I am still awaiting an acknowledgement, so here goes.

I am glad Jeff Bezos has done so well for himself. I just wish his customer relations team would give me my money back.

Good news from the taxman?

John and I pay our taxes online, but a recent government initiative enables people to do this in person at a bureau de tabac.

Thereby hangs a tale. Tobacco is a state monopoly in France. Bureaux de Tabac (the C is silent; tabac rhymes with Abba) sell stamps, lottery tickets and newspapers as well as tobacco.

Digression: Nicotine is named after Jean Nicot, a 16th century French ambassador to Portugal who brought tobacco leaves to Europe from the New World.

Nowadays people are smoking less, which means straitened circumstances for tobacconists. But now people can pay their taxes at their local tabac, who will presumably enjoy a rakeoff from Le Fisc.

As lifelong non-smokers John and I are content to pay our taxes online. Le Fisc is a lot easier to deal with than the Revenue in the UK.

Rosemary Border Rabson

In 2005 Rosemary Border Rabson and husband John Rabson emigrated to the Morvan in rural Burgundy, where few other Brits have ventured. Their chief preoccupation is Charity Cottage, a holiday home-from-home in their garden at Maré le Bas which they run in aid of Combat Stress (money donations) and Help for Heroes (free accommodation). Since 2012, when Charity Cottage won the Daily Telegraph’s Best British Charity award, the total amount raised for Combat Stress, comprising UK royalties and donations from visitors to Charity Cottage, is nudging £10,000.


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