I recently had to buy a specialist item that just wasn’t available from mainstream online retailers like amazon or ebay, but I managed to find a website selling these niche items. Although always a fath setting up an account and their unique shopping-cart process for just the one item, it was worth it to get the thing delivered. Not a big item so it should infact fit through the letter box, under £5 to buy, and although a classic delivery charge was added at the end it wasn’t the end of the world.

Where things went wrong was the delivery. The amount of time and energy wasted on trying to sort out a £5 item just wasn’t worth it - it would have been worth driving around Birmingham for a good old fashioned bricks-and-mortar supplier. In particular, here are the 5 stages of the delivery mess:

1. I received 5 text messages from the website all about the delivery – that it was to be dispatched, then what actual day it was coming, and then when it wasn’t successfully delivered. Text updates may be trendy, but they’re a pain when there’s lots and you’re dealing with a £5 item, just let things naturally happen.

2. There were two slips through the door saying they couldn’t be delivered. Firstly, the item was small enough to fit through the letter box. Secondly, it wasn’t clear what item this was with no ID on the forms – if you buy lots of things online you have to sit and think what this could be, and with two of them you have to assume it means the same item rather than two separate ones. Thirdly, it wasn’t clear what the next stage was, hopefully you don’t have to do anything and it stays at the depost for you to collect at the weekend.

3. I had to call them to see what they were and how to get hold of them. Goodness knows what the call cost was (a 0845 number), and then I’m left hanging trying to decide if an attempted re-delivery is possible the same day but they can’t confirm when, or whether I collect from them the next day.

4. I did collect the following day a Saturday, to firstly find that I only need one piece of ID (they said on the call the previous that two were needed so I’m wading through bills the night before dragging out a mobile phone bill, making sure in was the last 3 months of course). Also, there was a limited time frame of collection on Saturday between 8 and 10 am, even more frustrating by the fact that this area of town around 5 miles from my house I was in any way around lunch, but I had to make a special trip at 9 am to collect.

5. Emails were sent all about deliveries, then non-deliveries. Again, not clear, and only frustrating the situation. Ironically the last one of these asked for feedback on the purchase and process which I couldn’t help but reply to (even then it wasn’t clear, as a ‘review’ on the website made it sound like it would be for everyone to see so I just replied to the info@ email to save the embarrassment for them).

In all fairness though, there was a quick reply back saying the majority of these issues had already been identified and were being looked at. About time.