Thursday, 26 June 2014

Lesson in stoicism learned from post office failure

“You can tell the greatness of a man by what makes him angry”- Abraham Lincoln
I learned a lesson this week about how far I have come in absorbing the lessons of the great stoics, in particular Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. The source of the lesson was the Post Office.
     I had bought tickets in January for a concert by former Led Zeppelin lead singer, Robert Plant, and his band the Sensational Space Shifters to be held at a venue in Cork this week 120 miles (200 km) from my home. This week I had car trouble, a series of appointments and am preparing to go on vacation next week. I decided to give the concert a miss and posted the tickets for sale on donedeal for half price.
     I sold them with no difficulty. However the main issue on Monday evening was how to deliver the tickets to a customer in Cork and get paid in time for the concert on Wednesday evening. The Post Office delivers practically all post next business day so I was confident this would work. I agreed that the buyer could pay me by check when he received them – after all I had his name, address and phone number! I posted the tickets on Tuesday. To make sure I paid extra to send it Express Post which provided a tracking number. I didn’t bother paying 2 euro more for signature service.
     The buyer phoned me around midday on Wednesday to say it was after his post delivery time and there was no sign of tickets. I checked the tracking number on line and there was no mention of the letter after 21:43 on Tuesday at the National Sorting centre. I made a few calls to no avail. I read the terms and now realised that my decision not to pay 2 euro more for signature also meant I had no insurance cover and would only be due a refund of my postage for failure to deliver the next day!
     Even up until relatively recently I would have become quite incensed about such an incident. I was justified to become angry with the Post Office for failing to deliver next day as promised. I could become angry with myself for not asking about insurance when paying for postage. I could be angry at the postmaster for not telling me about insurance. But for what benefit? I was out of pocket anyway for tickets since January. I did not have the pay the additional expense of travelling to Cork. The only new loss was that I will not receive 60 euro payment for the tickets.

     But I am healthy. I am only out a relatively small amount of money. I have learned important lessons. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Ask about insurance when posting something valuable. And don’t rely on the Post Office if you really need to guarantee next day delivery.

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