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Post delivery stress disorder

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

A woman in the south of England reported this week that she had bought an iPhone from an eBay seller for £200 (around P3000) + ₤5 (P75) postage.  The phone was sent via Royal Mail’s signed-for service and was duly received, and a signature given. 

Unfortunately, the signer was not the purchaser who checked in vain with her neighbours.  Royal Mail quizzed their delivery driver who had worked for RM for some time and was considered above suspicion, but the phone was never found.  Under eBay’s secure purchase scheme, the seller of the phone was ordered to refund the customer, leaving him angry and out of pocket.  

This story has a happy ending in that the purchaser had insured the item through Royal Mail but only for a quarter of its value which RM paid.  But when contacted by a consumer affairs journalist, the company decided to refund the additional value as a seasonal gesture of goodwill, at the same time making a plea to other users of their service to ensure that high-value items are insured to their full value.

In another recent related incident, SKY News was this week given footage of the blatant theft of another delivered item captured on CCTV whereby a van drove up to a house, a woman got out, walked to the front door where a parcel was sitting on the doorstep, tucked under a doormat, casually picked it up, returned to the van and drove off.

The victim, who didn't want to be named, said he'd only had the camera system installed a few days before. He was at work when he got an alert on his phone that there was activity at his front door and couldn't believe what had been recorded.” Since the package was half-hidden, it clearly begs the question as to how the woman knew it was there for the taking and the most obvious explanation is prior knowledge from the person who delivered it in the first place; in other words, an inside job.

Now of course such thefts would be unlikely to take place locally as in the main we do not have door-to-door delivery of parcels, though some courier companies do offer such a service.  However, local social media sites are reporting an alarming increase of missing packages, many of which have been ordered from eBay, Amazon and South African catalogue company, Home Choice.   In most incidents it is almost impossible to tell where the package went astray or to put a trace on an item that went by regular mail. 

The South African postal service was exposed in a sting operation on the Carte Blanche television show only a few years back for a massive number of thefts by dishonest staff so that’s one obvious possibility but there are of course numerous points along the journey of an overseas package where it could be stolen or lost, including after arrival in this country.  In short, there is absolutely zero chance of ever tracing where the loss occurred or when and either the buyer or the seller or both will be left out of pocket.

Theft in the workplace is nothing new.  In retail operations it is known as ‘shrinkage’, though the same term is also used for loss by shoplifting but the recent global phenomenon of loss in transit is.  A few years back, when almost all packages were handled by parastatal bodies such as Royal Mail or the US Postal Service, such theft was almost unheard of.  Employees’ backgrounds were carefully scrutinised in a rigorous vetting to ensure that only candidates with a clean record and of good character would be taken on. 
 

However, with the growth over the past 2 decades of online shopping and the subsequent demand for more local and long-haul courier companies, the numbers of people employed in the delivery business has grown exponentially and the practicality of checking such large staff numbers has meant checks have become more cursory, replaced by heavier insurance premiums.  However, that is scant comfort to the customer who has made a special purchase presumably because they desired the item, not because they wanted to waste their time waiting for that something, only for it never to arrive, regardless of whether they are ultimately reimbursed.

According to Amazon their ‘undelivered’ rate stands at 1%, though they maintain that the majority of these are items which could not be delivered and are returned to base.  Royal Mail’s track record of lost items is much less, only 0.1%, though it is not specified whether this figure is in the UK alone or includes packages shipped from Britain overseas; and remember they are one of the world’s most scrupulous and respectable postal services!  By the law of averages, then, many of you will also have either been victims of such postal ‘shrinkage’ in the recent past or are just about to in the run-up to Christmas as you wait for precious gifts and much-wanted purchases.  

Of course, some items to our little corner of the world do take a bit longer than the estimated delivery time because of the distance involved, hold-ups along the way and general inefficiency but if you delay in making a missing package report on sites like eBay you may miss your window of opportunity for making a claim – just like some crimes, there is a statute of limitations!

And some lost mail sometimes does appear, when all hope should surely be lost, as this touching story tells.  In 2009 a letter sent by a British soldier during World War II arrived at its destination over 64 years late, after it was delivered by Royal Mail to an RAF base.  The letter, hand-written on American Red Cross paper, was posted by Serviceman Charles Fleming to a woman identified only as 'my dearest', on March 20 1945. It was found by staff at the RAF Lakenheath near Brandon, in Suffolk inside a new envelope, after the original was damaged and lost, along with a note from Royal Mail with the words 'found loose in post please direct if possible.' 

The two-page letter, signed 'Charles', described life in a military camp, or possibly a hospital, in Italy. In the letter Fleming offered to buy his 'dearest' a pair of glasses to help her with her 'night work', and revealed how he had lost weight, topping the scales at nine stone.  He added that he was writing the letter on ARC paper because he had left his usual writing material at another base. RAF Commander at Lakenheath, Jerry Neild said “It's a really lovely letter representative of the age. We believe it came from a British serviceman, but it is a complete mystery as to who he was.” Now that really is a late delivery!

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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