Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Post.

Sigh, I sometimes wonder whether sending people signed copies of my books is worth the hassle. Some of you reading this may recollect my rant about the Canadian post office, with its stringent bureaucratic bullshit about how parcels should be addressed. They lost one parcel and returned another parcel to me (I did not put a senders address on the front, so some twat looked inside the parcel to find said address so as to return the parcel). But this was not the end of the matter. Sticking utterly to the letter of Canadian post office law I sent books in two parcels, because in one parcel they were nearing the weight limit and I didn’t want mistakes. These parcels were also correctly addressed and signed-for delivery.

The recipient of these parcels wasn’t in the office when they got there so one of the two parcels went to the local post office. He had to pay $8.00 in duties for for the privilege of collecting it. The second parcel, one that wasn’t even searched by Canada Customs, was decreed to be of a value in excess of $870.00 CDN. As the recipient said to me “WTF!!!! Are they on crack???” They tried to charge him almost $60.00 in duties on books whose value came $37.00 on the custom’s declaration form. “They’ve got to be on drugs!!!! And not even the good ones!!!!”

He observed:
“Neal, please don’t get me wrong because I’d never devalue your work because yes, I’m definitely a fan and I REALLY can’t wait to get those books in my hands… But, there’s no fricken’ way in hell I’m going to pay twice the amount of the declared value in duties so that some petty, self-important bureaucrat can pad his personal bonus for revenue generated!”

He disputed the duty charges and sent the package back to Canada Customs to be re-evaluated. Customs we’re then supposed to contact him so that they could have an “informed discussion” about the value of the contents.

“F*ck (again!!!)”

The final result of this was an apology from Canadian Customs. Apparently a computer glitch resulted in the books being overvalued by a factor of 10. How remiss of them.

My latest bit of fun, which prompted this bit of blogging, concerned a copy of Polity Agent sent to a guy in the USA. Despite being bubble-wrapped and placed inside a padded envelope, the book arrived with its spine damaged and dust jacket split top and bottom (see the pictures). I now must make a compensation claim (I won’t be paid the full value) and send another book from a limited supply. Be nice if the postal workers concerned treated parcels with a little respect rather than using them to practise drop goals.

Anyway, it is now an unfortunate necessity for me to send books wrapped in bubble-wrap inside corrugated cardboard boxes, which I’ll have to buy, so costs just went up.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the Canadians have a grudge against UK mail. Here in NYC, I got my copy from Amazon UK in perfect condition, and enjoyed it very much.

NovaWasp said...

This is why I try to mail as few things as possible. It's also why I don't bother with signed books. I care about the words. The fact that you're willing to sign the books means more to me than if I ever actually get a hold of a signed copy.

By the way, just finished The Voyage of the Sable Keech. The Skinner was the first book I read. I had gotten stuck in the St. Louis airport with nothing to read. The cover said, "like Dune." So, I bought it. I've digressed. I like Spatterjay, and the return was most enjoyable. I'm not sure if this next comment is a compliment or a rant, but your ability to create tension improved with each book I've read. Some would say that's exciting, but I read agonizingly slowly. So, every time I put one of your books down it's with the feeling that every one is going to die horribly on the next page.

Keep up the good work and thanks.

Pacanukeha said...

What about UPS or some such private enterprise? Too expensive?

Kirby said...

wait wait, i could be getting your books *signed?* well son of a ...

i swear i am going to pack up everything, mason's rats, fool's mate, original engineer, the parasite, runcible tales and everything else i have and ship them to you for signing here soon if i can't get my act together enough to make it to the UK in a reasonable amount of time.

blah blah, back taxes, yada yada.

Anonymous said...

Oooohhhh I would be spitting bullets if that book arrived to me in that condition.

Very annoying to be honest.

Bob Lock said...

The condition of that book looks very much like the one I had delivered from Amazon, Neal...

you been moonlighting there?


Jools said...

Ah, the postal service. Perhaps that should the be the postal unservicable.

I've lost count of the times I've opened a package from amazon and found that despite the package being unmarked, the contents look like the result grav weapon assult!

However, given that I have a copy of Prador Moon which the author saved the postal service the task of .... modifying, perhaps I should be a tad more contrite !

On the subject of said book (Prador Moon), it's another kick ass book Neal. Although at my current rate of progress I'll have it finished by the end of the weekend, despite trying to read it really slowly. It's just not easy to read your books slowly......

Looking forward to hilldiggers.

jon said...

The sad part is that I've tried to get most of Neal's books through and every copy I get from them is lunched.

I've stopped even ordering from them at this point. My experience is, oversize boxes in way to much air pillows is the way to go. I'm even willing to pay extra for shipping.

hlok said...

I have the same problem when ordering from Amazon UK to Norway. Every now and again my parcels with 6 months worth of scrumptous sci-fi are completely munched. Luckily, Amazon usually just send me new copies and some of my collagues get free (but munched) reading. :-)

In fact, one of my collagues became an Asher fan through his free munched copy of "The Skinner" so I guess it's not all bad.

Keep up the good work!

Neal Asher said...

Anon, well, the books pictured were sent to America, and I've since learnt that a second parcel to the same address received the same treatment.

Novawasp, as long as it keeps you rivetted and you close the book without disappointment.

Pacanukeha - cardboard boxes and lots of packing, enough so's even a tendency of postal workers to use them as footballs will have no effect. I've seen parcel delivery guys bringing stuff here -- seen how they just chuck everything out the way to get at the parcel to be delivered.

You didn't know that, Kirby? Well of course you can. The problem is that the postage is almost the same price as the book.

Anon, yes, I was spitting bullets.

I've got time to moonlight, Bob?

Jools, ah, but those modifications have made it a collector's item with a history. I can see one of your descendents telling the story on the 2106 Antiques Roadshow or some such.

Jon, so it will be.

Hlok, that's the kind of thing I try to keep in mind to stop me chewing on the edge of my desk. Maybe those knockered books will be passed on and I'll acquire another reader.

drxray said...

I live in the US and almost everything I order from Amazon US is damaged. Most of what I get from Amazon UK is OK.

I also buy a lot on e-Bay. Most of the sellers are wrapping the books with bubble wrap and then putting them in a cardboard box surrounded by styrofoam peanuts or newspaper. That usually does the job.