The Adventures of a Parcel

It turned out to be a scam.

But let me start from the beginning. My finger was hurting from all the swiping it had been doing since I downloaded the Pinterest app on a spur of a moment decision. 

Working from home, I’d had plenty of time to stare at my living room, its blank walls, and the grey winter right outside the windows. It was time to do something about this, I thought. 

With traveling off the calendar, decorating entered my life. I started browsing at green interiors. The green interiors got even greener, larger, more extravagant, the more I scrolled. They became jungles lit with starlike strings of light, and I was caught in the magic of these images. What if… what if I transformed my home into a magical green jungle, too?

My swiping finger worked hard and then I saw them. Cushions with a tropical print. I clicked and found they were from an online shop. They probably don’t ship over here, I figured, so it’s safe to have a look. 

Before long, I’d found the cushion cases on the web store. There were a dozen of them to choose from, all beautiful. Green leaves on a white background. I carefully selected four of my favourites, because they were very cheap for Finnish standards.

The shop was in the USA but, miraculously, they promised to ship anywhere. Anywhere meant they even delivered to my far corner of the world. 

Back when I’d had pen pals in the 90’s from all over the world, I’d never given much thought to whether or not it was eco-friendly to have our mundane exchanges transported around the world. But ordering these cushions, I did. I abandoned my shopping cart. Don’t be silly, you don’t need these cushions. Anyway, they are too similar to the banana leaf picture you already have on the wall.

But a few days later I was back. The cushions had been playing on my mind relentlessly. It was like they already owned me. Before I knew it, I had purchased them. 

Be warned, the website said. Delivery might be delayed due to Covid. 

Fine, I thought. I’m in no hurry. Let the tropical cushions come to me when the time is right. 

I went on with my life… and then it dawned on me: customs!! The last time I’d made an order from an online shop in the US, it had not been a success. The customs fee had turned out to be larger than the items were worth (not literally). How had I forgotten that?

Shocked, heart beating fast, I googled it. Luckily, the local customs office had provided a helpful calculator to calculate the taxes. Do this before purchase, it said. I swallowed hard. 

The taxes were… 8.50€, it said. Phew! That’s not too bad. Dodged a bullet there!

One could argue there were a few warning signs, but I was feeling positive about it all. Soon enough, I would have a magical tropical home and everything would be alright. It would solve all my problems.

Days passed, uneventful. 

And some more days. I was barely surviving.

Bling! An email arrived with a link to follow the adventures of my parcel.

This was the start of a new pastime, an unplanned and unwanted hobby, if you will: following my parcel through its tracking link.

I followed the parcel while it was packed, transported, and shipped. I imagined someone packing the parcel with care, lovingly even, and a cute red van with flowers painted on the side transporting it through country roads, up and down rolling hills, the parcel bouncing gently amongst its peers. Then it would arrive at the docks and be carried into a large ship for a moderate amount of incredible marine adventures. Through storm and calm, sunset and sunrise, the missing ingredients of my jungle would make their way towards my northern country.

But… then the app seemed to freeze. Was it not working? What was this, no action? For days which turned into weeks, nothing happened. The parcel had arrived at an unpronounceable destination in China and apparently that’s where it got stuck. 

It was there for weeks. Weeks!! What were they doing? Was this the Covid delay the website had mentioned?

Life went on, and I did quite fine without my tropical cushions, even if my eyes sought them out – in vain – during my work day. Imagining locating and relocating them in different corners of the living room – or maybe my bed? – or perhaps on the balcony. I kept checking the tracking link, but nothing changed. 

Then one day, the parcel was on the move and, eventually, the tracking page announced that it had arrived at the local post office. How exciting! 

I picked it up and brought it home. Lovingly and with great care, I opened the parcel… and… ahem. What was this? These were not the cushions I had ordered!! Disappointed, I left them unpacked in a corner.

The next day, I went back to have a second look. Yep, still not the same as on the website. I even looked up the original ones online and confirmed they were not similar. Jute, not white, and the prints looked like pixelated photocopies of the originals.

Hang on… when I picked them up at the post office, there had been no customs fee and I had inquired about it. The girl working there had said there was no fee since the package was from China, not the US. And it was true, the sender’s labels had displayed a Chinese address. Hmm… how odd that I didn’t have to pay customs after all.

I let it dwell for another few days (all in all, this was a slow process, as you can see. But in the tropics, people don’t hurry, so I tried to be chill about it).

Eventually, I sent the original web store some feedback, and they responded immediately. We chatted, and they asked for photos, which I provided after a week’s delay, keeping in theme. (I was starting to enjoy the relaxed progress of things, as it let things sink in and mull). I got my money back.

Something had happened while the parcel was in China. Whatever it was, we’ll never know for sure, but I have my doubts.

43 responses to “The Adventures of a Parcel

  1. Ahh! I can just imagine your disappointment. At least you got your money back. My like is for your photos that are better than anything they could put on the cushions. You know that you can put your own designs on them, right? I suggest the first and the last photo in this post. Perfect! I did it for my parents’ anniversary and my friends’ birthdays and they came out well. But maybe this is possible only in Italy… I’d love to see your products as you finally received them. Or did you throw them away?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A lively and animated read! I enjoyed it.

    I had a similar experience but from the opposite side. It was a month before Christmas & as a treat to myself, I ordered a special lame (knife) from a Swedish company. They told me there might be delays but I should expect a 2-3 week delivery. Just in time for Christmas! Well, Christmas came & went with no lame. Then NYE came & went. Valentines Day too. It was coming on April’s Fools Day when I said Enough, I want my money back. To their credit, they did. .. and 2 weeks later the lame arrived 😉

    Liked by 2 people

      • Mine was an original, purchased from the brand but shipped out of China. I think they had fulfillment issues but didn’t want to admit it. With postcards I’m always amazed when they make it .. normally they arrive long after I’ve returned from the trip 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Ha! Great story! I bet in China someone is now very happy with lush tropical cushions. 🙂 The way you describe the process makes me want to order cushions too. Not that I need or even especially like cushions, but I want to imagine the trip they make, like you did. I say trip, but of course it is an epic journey trough storms, deserts, polar regions, across mountains and empty plains. I want to make that journey myself! I want to be, ultimately, a cushion. Thank you for this mental representation. You made me laugh and dream at the same time. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • “I want to be, ultimately, a cushion” ❤️ Hahah, what a great line, Peter and hey, don’t we all! Cuddly and pretty, who wouldn’t want to lounge about on a sofa all day?! I’d like to be an outdoors cushion myself, on one of those poolside lounging armchairs 😉 And what an epic journey indeed, all those cute little parcels traveling like they are on an adventure holiday. The recipients have no idea of what kind of noodles someone ate next to them or about the time a snake hide under the truck they were transported in… oh, what a life!! I hope my Chinese counterpart enjoys their beautiful tropical home decor now! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A fun read of your not so fun experience. I reached the point that I rarely buy anything on line if it is coming from China, India, or Pakistan. Too many troubles with quality and/or service.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here and I really don’t know what happened to me. I was bewitched by Pinterest, I think. I usually opt for quality, even if it costs a bit more, and brands I’ve tried and liked. I don’t even buy at H&M because it feels and smells like it was made in a cheap factory (possible by children)…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. thank heavens you got your money back. a few years ago i bought an item from an online shop in the US. it never arrived! i was back and forth with them on email for months and months. And different people kept emailing me; never the same one. I then reported them to the california justice dept. and our consumer affairs dept. here in australia. finally i got most of my money back! they had kept a few $ – heaven knows why!! such a saga and my hubby kept telling me not to worry but i was determined to get my money back!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh gosh, all that trouble you had to go to! But it’s good that you did, so they know they can’t get away with just anything. I suspect most people just let it slide, like your hubby. All in all, I feel lucky it was such an innocent scam and no one took my credit card details, for example!! I actually think the online shop was scammed, too, and they seemed genuinely shocked. I didn’t even have to negotiate for a refund. Maybe I did them a favour by telling them, who knows.

      Like

  6. Pixelated photocopies! Bah. What rubbish. I never buy anything from Wish.com as this is what happens with any of their products. I have the same problem as you with shipping to Australia. Some don’t do it or it is ridiculously expensive. I use Paypal though as it is easy to get a refund if unsatisfied.
    Picking up on Manja’s suggestion, you could design your own and print via Spoonflower or Redbubble. I have my own shop on there and can vouch for the quality. I even have a tropical fabric yhat you could buy made into a cushion cover, I designed recently that will be available shortly. Like anything though, you get what you pay for. Cheap price=cheap product.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah, the joys of online shopping. I can’t think of a single good reason why anyone would ship from the U.S.A. to Finland via China. I can think of a few dubious reasons. Still, you got your money back so you got a free vicarious experience complete with highs and lows, so that’s not too bad. Let me know if there’s anything you want from Hawaii (within reason!) and I’ll see what I can do!
    We got some tropical slip covers for our somewhat beat-up couch and they’ve been a huge success.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A tropical couch, now that’s a step up from mere cushions! 🙂 (Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to send me a couch!) But thanks for your kind offer! I’ve been stocking up on tropical goods – I didn’t plan it, it just happened. I have a few tea cups/nice mugs in tropical print, beach towels, cosmetic bags, etc… cushion covers would’ve been a nice final touch! 😀

      I was surprised about the package going to China, too, but then thought oh well, maybe all cargo goes through China or some other large cargo hub at some point. Or maybe their storage was located there and not in the US. A bit risky, though, especially during Covid when the business owner can’t travel over there and do an inspection.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Online shopping is strange in a lot of ways. One never knows why anything goes where it does. Still, in the years I’ve been doing it I’ve only been scammed once by someone offering a product they never shipped. Even then, because it was through Amazon, I got my money back.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Honestly, I only bought paints and painting supplies online from a trusted online shop. I am not a fan of doing online shopping either because I really wanted to see it for myself first. I guess you just not have the luck with it, but some people are really notorious with it.
    I was entertained by the photos… looks so inviting and that beach photos is to die for.I love the mood.
    Thanks for brightening my day with this story!Kudos!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was wonderfully amused at the story of the parcel’s journey and actually pleasantly surprised at the outcome! I was anticipating lost money, huge customs fees, and ongoing charges at questionable businesses with your credit card info!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah! I was a bit anxious about my credit card, too, but so far so good! The site was protected with the lock icon, so at least there was an attempt to be safe, and it seems like the entrepreneur was scammed too and the scam happened in a warehouse somewhere in China…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great story! Pinterest is dangerous, I stay well away! It just makes me envious of other people’s perfect, colour-matched interiors anyway. But I do like a nice cushion cover and can understand your decision. I reuse old fabrics I like and take them to the local sewing lady, who makes cushion covers for me out of them (I have also tried hand-sewing them at home which is easy but a bit more time-consuming) – so don’t throw away that old Hawaii print shirt and you’ll get your tropical print cushion covers!

    Liked by 1 person

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