Buying Online for old men.

A week or so ago I wanted to send Ida May the gift of a small book. I went online and found a  bookshop in Hobart. I went to their website and was happy to read In-store shopping·In-store pick-up·Delivery. I found a book and contacted the staff and organised for them to send it to Ida May’s address. Before I pressed the OK button I was given the choice of having the book Posted or Couriered. I chose the latter. The distance from shop to destination is about 3 kilometres. The order was placed on Saturday and the delivery happened on the Monday. I was Happy and Ida May was happy.

I thought about it for a few days and smiled inwardly concerning the convenience of the internet.

Ah Ha I thought as aew idea just wobbled its way through my jumbled synapses. I can do the same thing but this time have a book sent to a little boy in Jersey. Jersey is a small island in the English Channel. I am in Australia. The internet can help.

Day One. I went online and found a bookshop in St Helier. I went to their website and found the book I wanted. I paid via the magic of the internet and organised to have the book posted. This time I did not choose a courier service because it was not offered. But never mind the distance from the bookshop in St Helier to the little boy wasn’t much further than Ida May’s house had been.

Yippee I exclaimed inwardly.

But here the two circumstances change.

Day Two.  I received an email from Waterstones addressed to the little boy and stating that:-

The item(s) below has now been dispatched and should be with you soon.

The fact that I was now being addressed as the little boy didn’t worry me too much and I was delighted at the rapid process.

Day ThreeI received an email from Royal Mail (with the Queen’s crest);  Hi JOE  Your Royal Mail parcel from The Book Hub is on its way.

Included in the email was a Tracking number. I know about that; we have tracking numbers down here in Australia. So I clicked the tracking number. I was told that the parcel had been received, by the Royal Mail, from The Book Hub and was in the Yorkshire DC. I started investigating. Yorkshire DC is short for Yorkshire Distribution Centre and The Book Hub is just like Amazon. I don’t like it. I thought, me being a simple soul and believing what I read, that when I went online to Waterstones in Jersey at 16 Queen Street, St Helier, JE2 4WD I was dealing with a shop in Jersey. 

Now it looked as though the parcel might not get to Joe on time for his birthday. I must admit that I was a tiny weeny bit miffed. So I wrote to the shop in St Helier. Do you want to know what I said? 

Dear Jersey staff,

The other day I ordered two books for a young boy for his birthday. I chose this way of doing things because sending a parcel from Australia is quite difficult these days. I was obviously not anticipating much of a problem; the distance from your shop to the little boy’s house is only 9.7 kilometres and I really thought that a courier service would make things easy. Now I am told that the parcel is in the Yorkshire Distribution Centre which is quite a long way north and may take a week although with the problems of Covid it could actually get stuck.

Is there a simple way for me to send birthday and Christmas presents or should I try some other shop? It is a bit difficult living so far away.

Yours sincerely John Ballarat Victoria Australia The Dark Side of The Moon.

I don’t think I was too harsh. But certainly I was pleasantly surprised at the rapid response from some person called Chris.

Hi John

Thank you for getting in contact with us, we appreciate your support in these hard times.

If you order from the Waterstones website then that order gets picked up in our UK distribution centre, to then send the book to where you requested.

If the person lives locally, then you are welcome to order the book into the Jersey shop ready for them to pick up at their convenience.

Depending on where they live, we can send parcels from the Jersey shop to other Channel Islands or to the UK.

I hope this helps.

Kind Regards


What did I think? First of all didn’t intend my letter to be one of support in these hard times. Next, the bit about the UK distribution centre is something of which I was now aware. Third, I do not live locally and anyway I didn’t want to ask Joe to go into the bookshop. No I wanted it to arrive on the doorstep as a surprise. Finally I didn’t want to have a parcel sent from the shop in Jersey to Guernsey or Sark or to the very north of Scotland. No, I wanted it sent NINE Kilometres around the island from St Helier.

So what do you think I did? I wrote back to my new friend Chris. I haven’t shown you all I said but enough.

Dear Chris,

I received your response.

I’m sorry I wasn’t clear enough for you. I do not live locally – I live in Australia which is not in the UK –  and I therefore cannot pick up from the store at my convenience.  If you are able to send it from the shop in Jersey to Guernsey I can not see why you can not send it within Jersey. So seeing that you did not understand any of my problems, could you at least tell me if there is another shop in Jersey where I could buy a book and have it sent to someone on Jersey in time for a birthday. 

Sincerely John

You can reply anytime. I will stay up late in anticipation.

Did Chris reply? Yes. But not satisfactorily. I won’t tell you what he said but it was long and said a lot of silly things. But in the end he did say that if it was a time issue he would see if they had a copy in the shop and they would send it off. I replied that as it was already in the process that would seem a bit silly.

I just checked on Tracker, and it is still in the Yorkshire DC.





15 thoughts on “Buying Online for old men.

  1. When I first started reading I thought, yaaay for you, you’re using a local shop instead of Book Depository or Fishpond or one of those conglomerates (which usually do supply quickly by the way). But yep, Waterstones. Well, they’d keep the bulk of their stock in a central place and despatch from there as you’ve discovered. When my book was published I discovered that shops have the right to return for credit if they have not sold it in six months and the author gets the royalty deducted and can’t have the book. So if it’s any consolation, perhaps the author has been spared that humiliation if the Jersey shop is hanging on to any stray copies they don’t seem to have the smarts to sell.
    Might be time to re-read Helene Hanff’s “84, Charing Cross Road”.
    Joe will be thrilled … whenever.


  2. They say if you send a parcel by FedEx from a building in NewYork to another building across the road, it has to go all the way to Atlanta in the southern state of Georgia and then come back to be delivered. Apparently it does get delivered. Not like your case.
    Besides, hiring people who are incompetent, or who are paid to pretend to be incompetent in understanding customer issues seems to be the magic discovered by big business to keep pesky, read reasonable and rational, customers away.


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