When I brought the boxes inside, I was a bit puzzled as to why they might be different sizes but then, as one does in the absence of facts, I made up the story that they had likely put the shades in one box and the two bases in the other. My success with making up my own facts worked about as well for me as it does for anyone.
When we opened the larger box, expecting to find the bases, we found instead, four boxes each containing a two-drawer wire mesh storage unit. Four of them! I was baffled and wondered if I had perhaps ordered them in error. I couldn’t imagine how I had done this since I hadn’t even browsed past these in my search for lamps. When we opened the second box, we found one of the chosen lamps. Unfortunately, it had a damaged lamp shade. In addition, when we took it into the living room, the base was much greener than the advertised grey. Disappointed, we got to work repackaging everything to send back.
I’ve only ever had to return one item that I had previously ordered. It was an office chair that just didn’t fit me well, and in that case, I was emailed a return label to affix to the package, and my money was returned to the credit card I had used. I assumed this would be the case with the lamp and non-lamp.
I went online to my original order and was relieved to see that at least the ordering had been correct on my end. I had, in fact, ordered two identical lamps. I clicked through the process to return the items and realized I’d need to do the process twice, since I wasn’t really returning two lamps. I started with the wire drawer boxes, clicked on ‘wrong item sent’ and then followed the prompt. I got an immediate response saying my money had been refunded, but to a card I did not recognize! In addition, there was no label sent to return these drawers.
Undaunted, I tried to return the second item. This time the clicking was easy but there was no money refunded nor was there a return shipping label.
I looked up the contact number and gave it a try, fully expecting to get a message telling me to call back during business hours and was delighted when a pleasant-sounding woman answered. She thoughtfully listened, then looked up my order. She could see one lamp was still en route but could not explain the mystery storage-drawer boxes. I told her the refund for it had been put on a credit card I don’t own and that I didn’t have a refund label. I know the refund couldn’t have gone to the person who really did order it because there was no product number on the box that I could use to help her identify the order. At any rate, at this point I simply wanted to return the items, one that I had not paid for and was not mine, and the other the damaged lamp.
She dealt with the drawers first and told me in cases like this they don’t want the customer to return the items. She asked me to ‘please dispose of them’. I had her repeat this several times. Please dispose of them? Yes, that was the policy.
Continuing to the lamp, she asked for a picture of the damaged shade. We re-opened our nicely taped up box, removed the shade, took a picture, and sent it to her. She could easily see the problem and said the money would be refunded. I asked if she would send a label so we could return the lamp which, other than the shade, was in perfect condition. Again, she asked us to ‘please dispose of it’.
I then asked if we could stop the other lamp from arriving since we now knew the colour was wrong and we would just have to send it back. Unfortunately, she said, it had already been processed so it could not be stopped. It will be delivered in about ten days. I’m just hoping it too is not damaged or we will be instructed, yet again, to ‘please dispose of it.’
I’m trying to think like this big corporation. I’m picturing it takes a lot of effort to have an item returned, check it to verify it’s in good condition, and restock in one of many huge warehouses. I can only guess they don’t think it’s worth the effort. Literally throwing things away is more efficient. Try as I might, I can’t square this one with how I operate. It seems so wrong.
As the week went on, I pondered this, thinking of what else we squander without a thought. I wasn’t thinking of ‘things’ so much as relationships and opportunities and talents and moments. We all, every one of us, has passed by the chance to make someone’s day a bit brighter. I think I’d be right to say many of us have taken at least one relationship for granted and disposed of opportunities to strengthen it. Each of us has been satisfied with good enough, when in fact we had the capacity for excellence. I’ll bet almost every one of us has a talent we simply take for granted. And all of us have likely disposed of a chance to make a memory.
The cost of the things I have been asked to dispose of by this large company is close to $800. Eight hundred dollars. Each of those little drawer thingies cost $109. We looked them up. I never ever paid for them, nor did I want them. I’m completely shocked at this. It feels wrong to be so dismissive.
While I know the price of those material goods, I cannot for the life of me put any price on those other things I’ve been thinking about, the relationships, the talents, the opportunities, and the moments. I do know three truthful things about them. First, I have squandered each of them at some time in my life. Second, no one asked me to dispose of them or squander them. I did it by myself. And third, these things are far, far more valuable than any lamp or drawer could ever be. It’s worth some thought.
May we each enter this next month appreciating the value of the priceless parts of our lives. And may I find a good home for these unneeded items. I do have a plan.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What do I value?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations and for conducting leadership reviews. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to live your values.