back to article Can you download it to me – in an envelope with a stamp?

I was only trying to collect a package from the counter. No, officer, I don't know why the post office is littered with broken glass. And teeth. Yes, officer, it might help if I start from the beginning. Let's have a look back on how it all started... … a look back… look back… back… [SFX: rippling video, sweeping of harp …

  1. cookieMonster
    Pint

    Moved to France

    About 15 yrs ago, and yep, that's exactly what it's like here.

    There's no use fighting it (believe me I've tried).

    Still, I'd never move back.

    Have a beer (no wine icon).

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Moved to France

      It's not just France...

      I lived in Belgium, admittedly a long time ago now. You needed to have an address before you could apply for a residence permit. Application meant queuing early at your local Commune as once the shutters opened they would remain open for precisely 3 hours after which they slammed shut until the next day. Once your permit was granted, some days or possibly weeks later, your permit would be posted through the door of the address given, to ensure you were living where you said. However, you couldn't get services connected to the place you were supposed to be living until you could produce a residence permit. No electricity, no gas and certainly no telephone.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Moved to France

        Warm Braw,

        Brussels Central commune was the most expensive in the country. 6% income tax for your local taxes. When I started the process to get my residence permit they had a window especially for foreigners - staffed by a nice lady who spoke english, dutch, french, german, spanish... They moved her to a different window soon after, and had a french-only speaker on the international one after that. Which is a bit bloody rude to the flemish speakers!

        I wasn't allowed to go to the rubbish/recycling window for my rubbishy needs - I had to go to etrangers for everything - as once you've got your ID card with foreigner stamped across your face, that's your lot in life.

        Oh, and be preparered to sit and wait for your dinner or even your beer. Service isn't quick - even in most of the good places. Great food and beer though, so definitely worth waiting for. I didn't mind that whole slower pace of life thing - but I did object to some of the supermarkets where I literally had to take a book to read - as the queue for the checkouts was 20 minutes. Again, partly my fault for choosing to live in the centre, rather than nearer the office.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Moved to France

          Makes you think that some of the EU countries haven't quite grasped what "EU freedom of movement" means.

          1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

            Re: Moved to France

            "Makes you think that some of the EU countries haven't quite grasped what "EU freedom of movement" means."

            Makes me think you don't understand freedom of movement, or how immigration is in fact still in control of the UK.

            Freedom of movement means the same rules apply to locals as to other EU citizens. In many EU countries (France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium) you have to register with your local municipality. So you can get the exact same catch-22 for a local as well as an immigrant. The UK doesn't do this for the locals, so can't do it to the EU immigrants.

            For the Netherlands it goes like this:

            In order to have health insurance, you have register at an address

            In order to get a job, you need health insurance

            In order to rent a place, you need a job

            So unless you can plonk down 7 months rent (and fuck yourself out of any rent review) plus deposit, buy a house, or have a place to permanently live (ie you have to be evicted if you don't choose to leave) you're kinda fucked. If you can get a job, the company will usually sort everything for you.

        2. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: Moved to France

          It's not just the foreigners who suffered - I was in the queue with a hapless Belgian lady who lived in another part of the country but who was obliged to return to the commune of her birth in order to get some official document stamped.

          On the other hand, you could walk into a bank lobby in the middle of the night (this was before the Internet) and make an electronic transfer using your bank card...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

            This sort of thing was even happening slightly less than two thousand and nineteen years ago :-)

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

              This sort of thing was even happening slightly less than two thousand and nineteen years ago :-)

              If you are referring to the events preceding the birth of that legendary Judaic terrorist/freedom fighter and name giver of a popular religion, that was a bit more than 2019 years ago as he was actually born in 4 BC.

              1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                Paris Hilton

                Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                Pre-concieved notion?

                PH because she was a virgin once & knows about stopping conception.

              2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

                Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                This has always had me a bit confused.

                Joseph and Mary travel because of the census of Quirinius then Herod the Great allegedly orders mass infanticide in an effort to kill Jesus. Herod the Great died in 4BCE. Judea was then divided into four parts each with a different king. Herod Archelaus gets banished in 6AD and power in his quarter is given to Quirinius - the legate of Syria - to include that province in a census.

                Was Jesus born 9 years before the census or did Herod the Great order mass infanticide nine years after his own death?

                1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                  Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                  The story was made up written down at least 60 years after the events it describes, in an era not noted for either mass literacy or public records. It is vanishingly unlikely that the author(s) actually had anyone to speak to who was not guessing or reporting third-hand memories.

                  Also, accurate sources were not a priority since it could be safely assumed the the original prophecies (that were being fulfilled) were correct. :)

                  1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

                    Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                    According to numerous "Pastors" here in the USA, every single word in the Bible is the literal word of God.

                    Apparently, He's not that good with details, which, when you think a bit, explains quite a lot.

                    // KJV in the pocket...

                    // did you know they're free at every hotel?

                    1. Glen 1 Bronze badge

                      Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                      'According to numerous "Pastors" here in the USA, every single word in the Bible is the literal word of God.'

                      It always makes me laugh, then sigh, that people believe that.

                      I remember a documentary where Historians compared versions of the bible. They could date particular details/stories because *THEY WERE NOT IN THE EARLIER VERSIONS* .

                      *sigh*

                    2. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                      did you know they're free at every hotel?

                      I used to have a colleague with the surname Gideon who at some part in his consulting career decided to start signing every hotel Bible he came across when travelling for work, vowing to only stop when he came across his signature again. As far as I know he's still at it :).

                      I've also been in two hotels of late who no longer provide a Bible by default. I found that interesting, because one was in a place where they literally have more churches than days in the year despite it's small size: Malta..

                      1. Insert sadsack pun here

                        Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                        IIRC (no promises) you don't get a lot of Gideon's Bibles in Catholic countries because the distributing charity are a bunch of American prods.

                  2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
                    Coat

                    Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                    Well, the only metadata that can be checked is the percentage of Carbon-14, I suppose..

                  3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                    "Also, accurate sources were not a priority since it could be safely assumed the the original prophecies (that were being fulfilled) were correct. :)"

                    (yes, I do note the smiley there)

                    It's always easier to write down the stories and predictions after they happened. It proves the predictions were true!

                2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                  Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                  Quite easy, you got the wrong census.

                  1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

                    Re: Who got the wrong census?

                    Not just me. Luke did too.

                    1. Keven E

                      Re: Who got the wrong census?

                      "24 - And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."

                      Pigeons had thier chance.

                    2. Eltonga
                      Coat

                      Re: Who got the wrong census?

                      Not just me. Luke did too.

                      He also got his right hand removed by his own father with a Jedi light saber...

                      Unless you are referring to another Luke...

              3. Glen 1 Bronze badge

                Re: obliged to return to the commune of her birth

                Splitters!

          2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Moved to France

            And in those bank lobbies, you got a cash machine with a seat, and a full qwerty (sorry azerty) keyboard. Very good for sorting out your online bill payments.

            It's only moving one letter, but it took me ages to get used to those bloody keyboards in the office. Also annoying not to have a £ symbol for dealing with the UK office, and because the Euro only took over for all transactions in 2001 our keyboards that year also didn't have the Euro symbol. I wouldn't have minded so much if I hadn't been in the bloody finance department and dealing with a budget in the UK and another in Germany...

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: Moved to France

              Also annoying not to have a £ symbol for dealing with the UK office, and because the Euro only took over for all transactions in 2001 our keyboards that year also didn't have the Euro symbol.

              The correct way to handle that, is and has been for the last 41 years to use the standard currency codes instead of those symbols, which may be shared by multiple currencies anyway. It admittedly is a bit more typing, but it avoids the fruitless hunting for missing symbols. See also this link.

              1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                Re: Moved to France

                use the standard currency codes instead of those symbols

                Shirley the correct method is to trawl through Character Map until you find the symbol you want, then copy & paste it into your document.

                Or memorise the ASCII table for all the fonts you use, of course:

                £ <-- that's alt+0163, that is - no pound signs on Aussie keyboards..

                1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

                  Re: Moved to France

                  Then what do you do when you come up to a currency that does not has such symbol, or that symbol is not in the ACSII table? Standard currency code is safer and some what easier to remember (because made of the initial of the country and currency name).

                  1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                    Re: what do you do when you come up to a currency that does not has such symbol

                    Well, if it's not in the ASCII table, I'd be hesitant to accept it. Hard cash guy, me!

                2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                  Re: Moved to France

                  DiVidDeD,

                  That's more-or-less what I did. ALT+0128 for the € - which I just typed without having to look it up. It's also useful to be able to type E=MC² or 32°C - ALT+0178 and °=ALT+0176 respectively.

                3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                  Re: Moved to France

                  Shirley the correct method is to trawl through Character Map until you find the symbol you want, then copy & paste it into your document.

                  Works for some currencies and symbols, but what about $? That can be AUD, CAD, HKD, MXN, NZD, SGD & USD. And I am pretty sure that list (in alphabetic order before I get complaints the USD is last) isn't anywhere near complete.

          3. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: Moved to France

            When we left NZ in '93 the ATM machines would let you transfer funds from say your savings account to your current account and pay your credit card bill if you had that card as well. EFTPOS was PIN mediated.

            We moved to the UK and had to sign for card transactions again. The ATM's were dumb.

            Oh yes, in NZ you can rock up to a fuelling station in your jalopy slap the fuel nozzle in your tank, dial up however much petrol you wanted, clip the handle in the off position and it would stop when it reached that amount. Also back in '93.

            The UK was in the stone ages in these things. You still can't dial up how much fuel you want despite the pumps having keypads on them now. Why? because they must make a packet for every £40.03 charged. The tech to get rid of that has existed since the early '90s.

            1. Glen 1 Bronze badge

              Re: Moved to France

              The point of the nice round number is to not have a shedload of change. If you're paying by card, what does it matter?

              I don't think the extra 0.075% revenue will have made much difference.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Moved to France

                "The point of the nice round number is to not have a shedload of change. If you're paying by card, what does it matter?"

                Not sure how common they were, but I remember putting fuel in cars 30 or so years ago here in the UK by feeding £1 and £5 notes into the pump. It might even have taken a tenner! The garages which had these pay-at-the-pump models generally only had two of them and for some reason only enabled them after they closed for the night.

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Moved to France

              You still can't dial up how much fuel you want despite the pumps having keypads on them now

              "The fuel consumption of my car? Why would that matter, I always get ten quid worth of petrol."

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Moved to France

              Oh yes, in NZ you can rock up to a fuelling station in your jalopy slap the fuel nozzle in your tank, dial up however much petrol you wanted, clip the handle in the off position and it would stop when it reached that amount. Also back in '93.

              Whereas here, any unmanned petrol station first slaps a €150 hold on your card before you can refuel, and that hold will persist for a good 24..48h, even after they've taken the payment for the fuel. That's how you get punished for using a debit card because you don't want to offer a credit card company the opportunity to get you in debt (especially not when some online idiot then leaks your number).

            4. mr_souter_Working
              Coat

              Re: Moved to France

              "You still can't dial up how much fuel you want despite the pumps having keypads on them now"

              my local Tesco petrol station certainly does - choose an amount in either litres or pounds, and it stops when you get there.

              although, I do live in a nice country (Scotland) - maybe our pumps are better than those in Englandshire.....

              :P

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Moved to France

            On the other hand, you could walk into a bank lobby in the middle of the night (this was before the Internet) and make an electronic transfer using your bank card...

            Interesting, I'm near the border close to Maastricht, and we can use the Belgian E-ID on the municipal website to order all manner of documents without having to come in. Of course, that means then risking it to postal delivery, but that seems to have upped its game since it got competition from across the border. PostNL (Dutch) seems to be even quicker than bpost (Belgian) when it comes to parcel delivery.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Moved to France

          They moved her to a different window soon after, and had a french-only speaker on the international one after that. Which is a bit bloody rude to the flemish speakers!

          Not only rude, also illegal. You could do it nicely and ask for someone else, or you could go evil by recording the conversation including your attempts to get a Flemish answer and then send it to someone in "Vlaams Blok" who will happily kick an absolute stink about it (they're IMHO far too radical, but useful in situations like this).

          The dual language nature of Belgium means that laws were put in place, and (if I'm not mistaken) Brussels has a dual language statute.

          Not that the French have given up: the Brussels dual language examination for civil servants gives access to more pay for people who speak both national languages. However, Flemish speakers must speak perfect French to pass, whereas French speakers get away with exceptionally poor Flemish..

          Anon for obvious reasons..

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Moved to France

            Belgium has three official languages, there is also German in a couple of cantons (six if I remember correctly, but I am not Belgian) near the German border. And Brussels was originally a pure Flemish city and is completely surrounded by Flanders.

            "Vlaanderen de leeuw".

            "Wat Waals is vals is. Sla dood! Sla dood!"

        4. roytrubshaw
          Thumb Up

          Re: Moved to France

          You need to move. :)

          I lived in Woluwe St. Lambert for three years. Lovely area, lovely landlady, and only a 15 minute bus-ride on the number 20 to the office (just down the road from the Berlaymont).

          The only fly in the ointment was the annual wait in line to renew your "temporary" ID and residence permit.

      2. MiguelC Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Moved to France

        Try start working in the UK.

        To cash your paycheck you need a bank account. To open a bank account you need a UK address. To rent a place you need to pay a deposit. To pay the deposit you need a bank account. To open a bank account....

        1. Rohime

          Re: Moved to France

          yeah - i tried to open a UK bank account (business - for contracting) once. Had to get a referral from an accountant first to tell them i was a good person.

          1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Moved to France

            In Japan, I was told that as I was not a citizen I could not have a bank account, but because I was a foreigner it would have been rude to tell me that, so...

            That was many, many moons ago, I suspect things have changed.

            1. Richard Jones 1
              Happy

              Re: Moved to France

              I was in Japan in 1988 ~ 1992 and had no problem at all opening a bank account or a store credit account. Because we were living in Yokohama and using the bank safe deposit box, they asked us to move our account to Yokohama and gave us a gift for agreeing. The Sanwa Bank Snoopy cards had automatic access to our safe deposit box using our bank card to enter. The box was automatically brought to the viewing room. Bank cash machines appeared to belonged to a very strong union. They were not allowed to work nights and remained shut from about 22:00 hours until maybe 06:00 in the morning.

              1. aks Bronze badge

                Re: Moved to France

                While in Japan in that period I was told the cash machine hours were regulated so that the smaller banks did not have to compete with the larger ones.

          2. the Jim bloke Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Moved to France

            Had to get a referral from an accountant first to tell them i was a good person.

            .. but how would an accountant know what a good person looked like ?

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Moved to France

              how would an accountant know what a good person looked like

              Depends which definition of "good" you are using.. The accountant value of "good" means someone who pays them regularly regardless of anything else they do..

        2. low_resolution_foxxes

          Re: Moved to France

          Revolut? Pretty easy to set up a bank account on there

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Moved to France

            .. except when you want to use the business accounts. Now they have enough customers the charges have arrived, and they're comparable with "traditional" banks, but without the benefit of a branch network where you can pay in.

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Moved to France

          Revolut is the answer to that problem. You can open it with a non-UK address. Then get a proper bank account when everything is sorted out.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Moved to France

          I used to have a spectacularly good relationship with the Barclays bank next to my work some 30 years ago, which meant, of course, that that branch had to close. Now I'm back in the UK and I may have to set up a business here (waiting for this Brexit crap to finish so I can assess if that's still viable), and I must say, I have not met a more snooty, self important entitled bunch of w*nkers then what I met at Barclays HQ, and I deal with UHNW families.

          So, still assessing which bank we'll use. The Highly Suspect Banking Crooks are also out so maybe we'll look for a more modern bank that doesn't try to strip you for using oxygen. Revolut Business used to be OK, but now they have enough customers they have introduced tariffs that make then pretty much as expensive as ordinary banks, but without the benefit of having a facility to pay in cash.

          Sigh.

          1. H in The Hague

            Re: Moved to France

            "So, still assessing which bank we'll use. "

            Have you tried www.handelsbanken.co.uk? I get the impression they handle a more personal service. Branch staff have more options to get stuff done than with the major banks, or so I'm told, and they're building up a reasonable branch network in the UK. Not sure what part of the market they're aiming for. Not currently a customer as here in NL they're only expanding v slowly and currently not taking on new customers. (Wanted to open an account with them in NL so that in future it would be easier to get a UK account with them if I need that.)

            Sorry to hear B....t affecting your business plans. Also has an impact on my friends with UK businesses, and myself.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Moved to France

          ...and that's the same for expats moving back after a long period abroad too. I curse every time I hear someone mention "we must protect the single European market". It just doesn't exist for so many things, and it's nothing to do with the B-word.

      3. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Moved to France

        Try arranging things here in Blighty having arrived from overseas where you have been since emigrating aged 6. We couldn't get a phone until I got a bankcard and because I had no credit history here I had to give BT £50 in security deposit. This was in 1993 too.

        There were other problems as well like being refused a credit card at first time of asking (no credit history). I had to pay a couple of month's rent to get enough credit history.

        I was 27 and in possession of a shiny new PhD and only had a bank account because the director of the Institute had an arrangement with the manager of the local Barclays so I had a bank account pretty quickly. Or rather I had an account number, no card, no cheques. But I needed the account so my salary, in ECU's could be transferred into it.

        I remember taking the train fairly close to Brent Cross and walking down darkening alleys with several hundred quid stuffed in my wallet to pay for Ikea furniture. No card, no cheques you see.

        Back in NZ all you needed to open a bank account was $10 to put in it. Barclays didn't require funds to be in the account even.

        1. swampdog

          Re: Moved to France

          You should have moved here earlier when apartheid was about to fail. All the other students went to the trendy banks. I walked up to Barclays, got an immediate credit card and a huge loan.

          The other student's called me a c*unt. I replied. "Do you you think I'm going to pay them back?" Eventually I did but only the original amount. I once got stranded across country in a strange turn of events involving three library books and a boat whereupon I strolled into the original branch and promised the manager I'd make it my life's work to never pay them back again .. unless cash. I walked out with cash. You couldn't do that nowadays.

    2. big_D Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Moved to France

      Makes me glad I live in Germany. The officals are oddly efficient.

      Although DHL are just as bad as in France. I had a couple of packages delivered while I was out. In the section "left with neighbour" was the handwritten notice "carport"... Now, 3 of my neighbours have carports, great! I went to the first one, no, they hadn't accepted a package, they checked in their carport, nothing.

      Same for the second neighbour.

      Same for the third neighbour.

      I went back and, on my drive, hidden behind a conifer, was a package under the 20cm overhang in front of the garage! A 20cm overhang isn't a carport, even for a fragging Smart! And my drive most certainly isn't on my neighbours property!

      Have a glass of home made Mirabelle liqueur.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Moved to France

        Service in France isn't universally bad. I remember rocking up to a cafe in Calais very early in the morning (about 6 AM). It clearly wasn't quite open yet, but we asked and the Mssr said oui, so we sat down and ordered some coffee, hot chocolate and asked if he had some baguette and jam. He said "mais oui, bien sur", and went back inside. Shortly, a jeune fille comes bolting out the door, sprinting down the street, and comes back 5 minutes later with a handful of warm baguettes. Tres bien.

        Try that in London - "Piss off, we ain't open yet, come back at 8".

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Moved to France

          I was on holiday in Provence and we (10 bikers) at a little café in a village.

          Sorry, we're closed, you are too late for lunch. Then bike 11 turned up, with a French woman on board. She spoke with the café owner for 30 seconds and she ran upstairs, raided her personal fridge and came back down with a couple of loaves of bread and 3 Tupper containers full with cheese, ham and salami.

          1. Alien8n Silver badge

            Re: Moved to France

            Many years ago on a coach trip to Spain we came back up the motorway through France and stopped at the services. Turns out the services were being rebuilt so all they had were some very badly made sandwiches which even the most desperate Brits wouldn't touch, so back onto the coach and a trip to the next services. I managed to be the first in so I'm perusing the available delicacies when the owner overhears the next bunch of coach passengers walking in. His response?

            "Vite, les Anglais, pomme frites!" (I clearly remember "Anglias" and "pomme frites", the rest may just be my poor French and misremembered past)

        2. Glen 1 Bronze badge

          Re: Moved to France

          That would be the difference between an independent cafe where it's the owner serving you vs a overworked (hungover?) student part timer who is in the middle of taking a delivery and hasn't had chance to put the tills on yet. (Think Costa/Nero/Greggs employee).

          Sometimes I think it should be legally mandated that people work retail/kitchen/bar for at least a year of their life. Would probably be better for their worldview than National Service.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Moved to France

            legally mandated that people work retail/kitchen/bar for at least a year of their life

            Likewise mandated that people who want to drive a car need to have ridden a scooter/small motorbike for at least a year. It'll teach them that they are not invulnerable.

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Moved to France

          Service in France isn't universally bad

          One time in central France we (4 bikers - two British, two Dutch) decided to stop off at a little restaurant in the middle of grape-picking country and have lunch..

          They clearly were not used to tourists but adapted quickly - the chef came out to shake us all by the hand and cooked us their special while only charging us for the 19-franc[1] standard..

          The biggest issue was trying to persuade them that no, we didn't need 1/2-litre of wine each since wine+fast riding on twisty roads[2] are really, really not a good combination..

          [1] It was a fair while ago. The meal was pretty damn fantastic - a pork, garlic and mushroom thingly. Ver' ver' nice. And I speak as someone that doesn't particularly like garlic[3]

          [2] Especially given their habit of scattering a deep bed of gravel over recently-resurfaced roads..

          [3] Except in Chinese or Indian cooking where it's not the major flavour (unless you cook garlic chicken..)

      2. elgarak1

        Re: Moved to France

        Even here in Germany some last-mile-people are getting bad. I remember having ordered something from Mr. Bezo's outfit, due to be delivered by one of lesser known delivery services. Nothing important, so I forgot about it until I sifted through my email, and found the confirmation that it should have been delivered ten days ago. Going over to the delivery service's web page, I found its whole tracking history, including three failed attempts to deliver to me, so it went back to sender. I looked at the dates and times of the supposed delivery attempts. i KNOW I've been there. I have a very regular day schedule, I ate my lunch at those times, and there's just one door to the street where the guy must have been knocking or ringing, with me sitting three meters away! There never was a knock or ring. (I left rather angry complaints everywhere. Don't know if it helped – so far, I never happened again.)

        1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
          FAIL

          Re: Moved to France

          I ordered some clock parts from a firm in London, to be delivered to my home in Oswestry. I received an email from Yodel saying that my parcel had been delivered. Strange, I've been sitting here all morning pounding the keyboard, right next to the window that overlooks my drive, and I haven't seen a Yodel van or a delivery person, so I went outside to look for the parcel. No parcel in sight anywhere on my property, so I went to the Yodel Tracking site, and discovered that my parcel had been delivered to an address in Cornwall!. I phoned Yodel, but they insisted that it had been delivered to the correct address on the parcel, from their Newton Abbot depot. I said that I very much doubted that a parcel for Oswestry would be delivered from Newton Abbot depot, as it is over 250 miles, and a 5 hour drive each way. The parcel turned up two days later, delivered by Parcel Force. Never did reach the bottom of that conundrum.

        2. DanceMan
          Thumb Down

          Re: last-mile-people are getting bad

          Here in Vancouver and the neighbouring Burnaby the north-south streets begin numbering at the north end. but there are a couple of bubbles further north of the zero start cross street, so those addresses are 123 XXX Avenue North (Canada Post mandated order). When I began getting Newegg deliveries by Purolater, the tracking would show "querying address" several times then back to the depot, where I would have to pick it up. The inexperienced driver was seaching for 123 XXX Avenue a block away, unaware of the north-south divide. I had to change my address with Newegg to 123 North XXX Avenue to solve the issue.

          That issue solved, even with a notice taped to the door saying "I'm home, okay to drop, but please ring the bell," the bell is never rung.

      3. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Moved to France

        Here in the UK parcelforce of late has taken to take parcels while I'm out and plonk them in a post office miles away instead of our local one and use a name for it on the card which is not on the database. You need local knowledge. I knew there was a PO there but not by that name.

        At one point I had to speak to an actual human to arrange my parcel delivery to me, the online system failed since I couldn't put in the name of the relevant PO . . . The guy agreed it was silly taking it there.

        It is not on a bus route from here and I don't currently have a car and my knees won't let me cycle.

        Don't think this just applies to foreign places. Mind you this is Scotland (No not Highlands and Islands) and I expect that matters.

        I should have had something delivered yesterday, no card through the door . . .

        1. swampdog

          Re: Moved to France

          It annoys me parcelforce (a) knock for 5 seconds then leg it (b) dumpt back at a depot where they ask for id. You we're going to stick it through the letterbox ffs!

          What really annoys me though, is parcels from outside the EU. Company X has shipped it from the USA and I have to pay VAT on shipping. Que?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Moved to France

            "(b) dumpt back at a depot where they ask for id. You we're going to stick it through the letterbox ffs!"

            The customer is the sender, not the receiver. Whatever you may have paid the sender for the parcel contents and the P&P bears no relationship at all with the senders contact with Parcelforce. If they use the cheapest option, Parcelforce, like all couriers will only make one single attempt to deliver then give up. It's up to the sender to pay for multiple deliver attempts and permission to use the depot as a storage warehouse (although even the cheapest option will always allow the parcel to be held for up to a week.) As for the ID, the ID is the address on the parcel. If they can't leave at the address then of course you have to prove that you are from that address.

            1. jmch Silver badge

              Re: Moved to France

              "As for the ID, the ID is the address on the parcel. If they can't leave at the address then of course you have to prove that you are from that address"

              I've found when collecting a parcel that my driver's license is accepted as proof of ID. It doesn't have my address on it, it only acts as proof that I am the recipient. Proof of address is provided by me providing the piece of paper that they posted in my letterbox.

              Incidentally nowadays here in Switzerland, I have an online account with the Swiss Post office that links to my address, so when anyone posts a package to me, I get an email notification as soon as it is picked up by them. I then have the option to schedule a delivery, or to authorise them to leave the package with a neighbour / in my front porch etc. Works very well and saves the hassle of a post office visit every time there's a package.

          2. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
            FAIL

            Re: Moved to France

            Even worse, bought something off Amazon, the price was £16. At checkout, they added £8 post and packing, which was not mentioned on the salespitch page, and then all we got was a card through the door telling us we had to pay £12 import duty, as it was coming from the US. The total cost was therefor £36, and I later found out I could have bought the same thing on eBay for about £20. When I queried why the card through the door and not knock and deliver, I was told that the PO do not send the parcel out in the van until the duty is paid, and the delivery drivers are not allowed to carry money, so cannot collect the duty, it has to be paid on-line and they then redeliver, or you have to go to the parcels office, pay up, and then collect your goods. Bad one Amazon, bad one GPO.

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Moved to France

            from the USA and I have to pay VAT on shipping. Que?

            If it's not clearly marked as a gift (or regular clothing) then it'll attract import tax. I've ordered NFL clothing from the US that, because it's labelled as "sports wear" means I have to pay 20% VAT before I can collect it since it's counted as promotional material rather than regular clothing.

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Moved to France

      Spain in my case, I at least now have a Partido de Correos (post box in the post office 16 Km away) This week has been the first time in over 16 years that DHL or any courier has delivered to my address and that was twice for my new passport and the old one that they send separately.

      DPD in the UK is SEUR in Spain and I think Geo post in France, they have a functional tracking system that shows your package sitting in various warehouses including a local one from which they will take the package, drive it past your house and then return it to the sender.

      When enquiring about the nondelivery they will accuse you of not being in/not replying to the notification they didn't send you/ packet was wrongly addressed/the moon was in the wrong phase, or all of the above.

      Last time I looked online SEUR had over a thousand reviews, 98% of them had one star out of a possible five, because you can't give a zero star review.

      If you depend on any part of that group for deliveries, buy a bicycle, no matter where in the world you live cycling to the sender to collect your packet will be quicker.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Moved to France

        My first full time "proper job" was in a call centre. Deep joy! We worked on contract for other companies. One of which campaigns was Parcelforce - doing a customer satisfaction survey for them.

        I don't know why they asked us to do it. It didn't make any appreciable difference. But at least senior management learned, from some of my transcribed conversations with their customers, that they are known almost universally as Parcelfarce. I decided not to type "those bastards", which was another alternative.

        But then I've also done a summer job working for a couriers. So I know what goes on the other side of the hill. We once tried to unload a 1/2 tonne pallet of ceramic tiles - only to find that they'd "secured" the tiles to the pallet merely with a few layers of shrink wrap - no clips, no plastic ties, not even string. Apparently we got the contract because all their other couriers kept smashing the tiles. Well I wonder why that fucking was?

    4. H in The Hague
      Pint

      Re: Moved to France

      "Have a beer (no wine icon)."

      Shall we start a petition to get a wine icon?

      Have a good weekend.

      1. cookieMonster
        Thumb Up

        Re: Moved to France

        Oui, merci

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Moved to France

        "Shall we start a petition to get a wine icon?"

        To be fair, the beer is just a typically British representation to the underlying text info "I'll drink to that" and so, by definition includes wine, Perrier or whatever else might float your boat in that situation :-)

  2. OssianScotland Silver badge
    Pint

    This has brightened up an otherwise dull Friday morning - many thanks!

    1. Ripper38
      Flame

      brightened up an otherwise dull Monday

      Just helping Dabbsy get 200 comments, oh and yes. Lived in France, Germany and now the Netherlands... Dutch DHL are cool plus they speak English too. German DPD tend not to ring and only speak Czech or is it Romanian... can't remember for French couriers, selective memory I suppose... Do remember the French Lettres Recommandées.. shudder to think at some I received! needed sunglasses to read the Bold Red 12pt type they used (icon because explosive)

  3. GlenP Silver badge

    Not so many years ago...

    Someone sent a film on a USB stick by carrier pigeon from London to Nottingham (IIRC) in less time than it took to stream the same film over a typical broadband connection in the area.

    Suggestion for the future? get some pigeons and start training them!

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Not so many years ago...

      You might find there's a waiting time for such a request.

      I'm sure my ISP has purchased most of them and is using them in my so-called fast fibre connection at random times...

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Not so many years ago...

        I'm sure my ISP has purchased most of them and is using them in my so-called fast fibre connection at random times...

        How about using two swallows? Just stick the payload in a coconut, and there you go.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Not so many years ago...

          African or European?

          [Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll get my coat.]

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Not so many years ago...

            "African or European?"

            Both. African is used to send data to the customer, European for sending data to the ISP. This does result in some latency as the swallows have to be couriered back to the origin point and for various obvious courier-related reasons don't always arrive on time (or at all). There is, of course, a standards committee currently working on a specification for a hybrid Africa/European swallow which will full-duplex, but as you can imagine, creating a new standard is fraught with difficulties and complications, such as which tropical beach front hotel to hold the next committee meeting at.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
              Happy

              Re: Not so many years ago...

              So, you're saying that ADSL2 stands for Asymetric Dongle Swallow Lifting in 2s?

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Not so many years ago...

              tropical beach front hotel to hold the next committee meeting at

              Clacton?

              Oh - you said tropical - well wait for a few years and it'll get there..

    2. Adam Foxton

      Re: Not so many years ago...

      Pigeons? No way is that a good idea, there's be far too many connection droppings!

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Not so many years ago...

        Or in the case of the ones around here random crashes.

        We had a pigeon attempt suicide by flying into the closed window of the office. It left an imprint, including a perfect impression of it's wings, against the glass.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Not so many years ago...

          We had the same with a seagull at Somerset County Council, giving us our very own representation of the SHIELD logo on the window of the IT Center Hut in the car park.

          It was still visible even after I had left the country & popped back in again after 3 years for a beer with my former colleagues (Hence icon).

        2. Benson's Cycle

          Re: Not so many years ago...

          Random crashes? We have buzzards. We'd need a fighter escort for the pigeon post.

    3. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Not so many years ago...

      As the saying goes, if you're transferring large amounts of data "never underestimate the bandwidth of tape"

      1. Psmo Bronze badge

        Re: Not so many years ago...

        Or a truck-full of HDDs.

        1. Mr Humbug

          Randall Munroe recommends we use migrating butterflies

          https://blog.xkcd.com/2019/08/26/how-to-send-a-file/

    4. A K Stiles
      Joke

      Re: Not so many years ago...

      What about a gallon of micro-SD cards? Though you still face the delivery issue and a pigeon isn't going to be able to carry that gallon jug... Maybe two of them, though how they'd both hold it securely...

      1. collinsl

        Re: Not so many years ago...

        They could grip it by the husk!

      2. jmch Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Not so many years ago...

        "a pigeon isn't going to be able to carry that gallon jug... Maybe two of them, though how they'd both hold it securely..."

        If pigeons won't work, maybe swallows will do better. Although I'm not sure how the airspeed of laden swallows* compares to that of laden pigeons.

        *of any variety

        1. Spamfast Bronze badge

          Re: Not so many years ago...

          If pigeons won't work, maybe swallows will do better. Although I'm not sure how the airspeed of laden swallows* compares to that of laden pigeons.

          Now we just need an efficient way of encoding data in coconut milk.

          1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
            Pint

            If you have an unladen swallow..

            ..then you just need to take a bigger sip of your beer next time.

      3. Psmo Bronze badge
        Windows

        Re: Not so many years ago...

        What about a gallon of micro-SD cards?

        I reckon the latency of having to swap all of the cards into readers would drop expected performance off a cliff.

        And give the team of a dozen people RSI by the end of the afternoon.

    5. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Not so many years ago...

      Ah, good old RFC 1149 / 2549! But with jumbo packets!

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Not so many years ago...

        But with jumbo packets!

        Ah, you mean that you stuff the coconut up an elephant's trunk, aim it in the right direction and them make the pachyderm sneeze?

        (the one with the pepper mill in the pocket, please)

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not so many years ago...

      Even in the late 90's the budget used to be put on a CD and bike couriered up to Pipex/UUNet where it was uploaded to the website - was a lot faster than data transfer.

    8. Anthidote

      Re: Not so many years ago...

      RFC 1149 - IP over avian carrie

      Submitted to the IETF in 1990

      If you attempt this please follow the industry standard :D

  4. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Linux.

    Sorry but there were a million better ways to move files safely on low speed connections pretty much from day 1 of you had a Linux. With 9600 baud you could rule the world!

    Post is only for powders.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Linux.

      Whaaat? In 1994? Downvote deserved. If you would have suggested "split in small chunks and include a .BAT file which does copy /b part1+part2+part3 fullfile" okay, but just throwing "Linux" in the room in 1994 is nonsense. Look at that time graph, it wasn't even at kernel 1.2 back then... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_kernel#Releases_before_2.6.0

      EDIT: Even worse: It was 1993 (my bad), and Linux Kernel wasn't even at Version 1.0 yet...

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Linux.

        > Even worse: It was 1993 (my bad), and Linux Kernel wasn't even at Version 1.0 yet...

        IIRC my start with Linux was at some 0.9x version of the kernel. Worked well enough, you just needed to avoid some non-supported hardware.

        Anyway, beer for Dabbsy. Welcome back!

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Linux.

          "Anyway, beer for Dabbsy. Welcome back!"

          He's been back for months. But it took this long for the courier to turn up with the article on floppy disk from the sticks.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Linux.

        Even Grandfather Unix had split-file stuff before 1993. I remember emails with that would start with lines something like cat >filename <<'+E+O+F'

      3. englishr
        Go

        Re: Linux.

        I remember downloading Slackware 1.0 (kernel 0.98) in August 1993, packaged as 24 x 1.44mb floppy disk images, using a 2400 baud modem. Once I had it installed, and with a custom compiled kernel (took 6 hours to compile!) it was absolutely brilliant :-)

      4. harmjschoonhoven
        Thumb Up

        Re: Linux.

        In 1991 I had to transfer text and binary files over an (fast) ASCII-only connection to IBM AIX for the development of the https://9292.nl/ service which was launched in 1992. I converted the files to hex, 32 byte/line, but left the printable characters (except space) unchanged preceded by a minussign. That way the converted file was still kind of readable.

        --> icon, because of AIX's ksh.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Linux.

          I had to do similar back in HK to be able to transfer binary files via email, I used GSTrans to encode them so they ended up looking like filename|mL|b|@|@DOC|A

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Linux.

          Why hex? AIX, like every UNIX variant by that time, had uuencode, which is a radix-64 encoding (like PEM's now-ubiquitous Base64). It adds some overhead and metadata, but it's considerably more compact than hex. And implementing it is pretty trivial.

      5. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: Linux.

        I was going to suggest that the obvious method for error free, restartable file transfers back in '93 would have been to use Kermit. But on reflection, it was probably deemed 'too old-fashioned' even then.

        (Ironic, isn't it, that the only thing in IT that doesn't become old and out-of-date is the belief that something old can't possibly do the job?)

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Linux.

          I was going to suggest that the obvious method for error free, restartable file transfers back in '93 would have been to use Kermit.

          I'm quite sure that ZModem could deal with interrupted file transfers, though that might have been a later protocol extension or some external add-on. It definitely was pretty capable of dealing with hokey connections by adjusting packet sizes as needed, so when the error rate went up the packet size decrease and vice versa.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Linux.

            I was definitely using it back in '91 when an 80486 was the hottest thing out there, and I was lucky to have a 14.4 modem and a line clean enough to actually use it. ZMODEM was the goto protocol then because it had three key features: batch transfer (can set up to transfer a group of files in one go), resume (in case the transfer or even the connection dropped out partway), and adjustable packet sizes (from as low as the XMODEM standard of 128B to the YMODEM standard of 1KB, and in between if necessary to balance between data integrity and transfer efficiency). A little later, a competing system called HSLink made the rounds as well with similar features.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Linux.

              One other thing it had as well: a distinct beginning signature, which good terminal programs could pick up to automatically start downloading. HSLink turned out to have a similar signature, allowing it to also be auto-starting.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Linux.

            ZModem could deal with interrupted file transfers, though that might have been a later protocol

            Well - I was using it in the mid-80s on my BBC model B so it was certainly around then..

            (I spent many happy days inflating my parents phone bill using my trusty 300/15? non-autodial model to connect to Almac..Up until my parents had to pay said bill - at which point my online time drastically reduced)

      6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Linux.

        Downvote deserved

        Indeed. Even on poor, benighted DOS you could still use zmodem - which supported resuming a dropped connection..

        (I remember writing a batch file that looped - if the zmodem transfer completed then it dropped out of the loop. If it failed then it restarted the tranfer using the resume option)

  5. Andy Non Silver badge

    French telecoms

    Brings back memories. Only a few years ago when we lived in rural France I was limited to using dial-up internet at 1200 baud rate. Upon moving to the property the estate agent assured us that big infrastructure improvements were imminent and I'd have broadband within months. Ten years later when we left there was still no broadband. While the UK was arguing about the latest broadband speeds I was still mailing out software via CDs. Tried to get French Telecom to do something about the poor state of the telephone line but because it still "worked" they didn't want to know; despite explaining that the line was hanging off the telegraph poles in a nearby field and the cows were using it as a skipping rope.

    1. Diogenes Silver badge

      Re: French telecoms

      Mrs D's aunt was born in The Netherlands and moved to Australia as a teen. Thirty something years ago she married a Commander in US Navy and he got a posting to somewhere in Belgium that was very close to the Dutch border, so they decided to rent a place in Holland as Aunt, lets call her Helen, could at least understand , if not speak fluently.

      Aunt Helen goes to get the phone connected, the house a phone, and it has dial tone, but you cant ring in or out (here it used to be called soft dial tone, and all it takes is a SULII command to the exchange to put the line in service) fills out paperwork that for some reason the form asks for his work address, which is in Belgium, as Aunt Helen describes it, "it as if i had asked the dutch govt to go to war with Belgium", and somehow the US and Australian Embassies need to be involved as well. Uncle , lets call him John, posting was for 2 years, and when it finished they went back to the States, They had been at Alameida for 6 months, when they got a letter from the dutch telco , stating they needed to be home on day x as the technician needed to plug the phone in as their service was about to be connected.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: French telecoms

        Make that at least 50 something years ago, by 1989 the Dutch PTT was pretty quick with connecting phones. Except for that minor detail, I can believe it.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: French telecoms

          Nah. In 1988 I did have a phone line (with a very fancy clear plastic T65 on it), and wanted to have tone dialling enabled so that I could use a second phone that I had just purchased in Denmark (lines were pulse dialling only by default). They wanted to see my telephone and test it, even despite it being a model that was electronically identical to one they were selling themselves, just styled differently.

          Also around that time someone in the uncharted backwaters of Twente someone called in to a lunchtime radio program complaining that they never managed to get in to radio phone-in games because their exchange was still pulse-dial only, and from the connection quality apparently relying on barbed wire fencing doing double duty.

      2. Grikath

        Re: French telecoms

        Methinks auntie forgot that when you're married to a military commander of a furrin' nation with a posting in foreign country A, it's generally a Bad Idea to have your home adress in foreign country B without prior arrangement.

        Something about secure lines, borders/jurisdictions ( this is when europe still had Borders...) , and the hoops telecom companies have to jump through to arrange stuff like that. I'm not surprised embassies got involved.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: French telecoms

      I saw precisely that on a very expensive north suburb of Madrid (Spain).

      Telefonica would not upgrade the cabinet.. it was a bit too small, plagued by corrosion, etc, DSL connections dropped, etc etc.

      Somebody, in the middle of the night, decided to torch it!

      My then girlfriend started having decent internet, as they had to put a new one.

      Note: it wasn´t me, anon in any case.

    3. 9Rune5

      Re: French telecoms

      and the cows were using it as a skipping rope.

      Any chance that, with some training, you could use the jumping cows to control the modulation?

  6. macjules Silver badge

    Le catch 22

    Non, non, they insist: it is not possible to let me rent a mailbox unless I have a fixed address.

    Mais si, si, I plead: if I had a fixed address, I wouldn't need to rent the mailbox.

    Nowadays known as "une situation sans issue"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing much has changed since 1993...

    French postal workers, or for that matter, most french public workers, still behave the same way today....

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Nothing much has changed since 1993...

      On one occasion I found a note in our mail box stating that there was a parcel for me, but that I wasn't in so it would be available for me to collect after 3pm (or some such instruction) from the local la poste. We were actually in at the time, but the postie couldn't be bothered to walk up our drive.

      I popped into the post office in the afternoon with the card and presented it to the postal counter worker. She sighed, frowning, and said I needed to come back after 3pm pointing to the time on the card. I pointed to my parcel which was on the top of small pile of parcels a mere three feet behind her "C'est la!" Our address shouting out at me in large letters.

      Reluctantly she made the colossal effort of turning around and passing me the parcel. No wonder French public workers have such a poor reputation.

      1. Mooseman Bronze badge

        Re: Nothing much has changed since 1993...

        It's not limited to the French by any means - I've had numerous " we tried to deliver your package but you were out" messages left (when we were in; on one occasion I actually watched the delivery driver stop his van, wander aimlessly up to my letter box and shove the card through from my living room window. He could probably see me) from couriers in England.

        Or FedEx who will helpfully leave a card with a reference number on it but no indication of what they were allegedly trying to deliver.

        Other couriers have left quite expensive items "in secure porch". I don't have a secure porch, I have a step leading from my path to my front door. Other items have been left in what is presumably my secure rubbish bin, or on one splendid occasion with a hapless neighbour - I got their delivery and mine was...somewhere. It eventually turned up when I did a good turn and mowed their front lawn, discovering a mouldering package half buried in under a pile of rotting vegetation.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Nothing much has changed since 1993...

          "Other couriers have left quite expensive items "in secure porch". I don't have a secure porch, "

          And even if you did have a porch, it's not secure if some random courier deliver drone has access to it then so does every Tom, Dick and Harry who is passing.

  8. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Headmaster

    4-wheeled carrier pigeons?

    To quote Andrew Tanenbaum (who himself was paraphrasing Warren Jackson):

    "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway."

    1. Oengus

      Re: 4-wheeled carrier pigeons?

      I remember that quote from my uni days. In the Data comms subject we were asked to calculate the bandwidth of a number of scenarios including copying a large amount of data to tape and transporting them to the other site and loading them from tape. Not only did we have to take into consideration the time but also the cost. It was amazing how cost effective the lorry of tapes was as opposed to the data comms capability of the day.

      1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
        Pint

        Re: 4-wheeled carrier pigeons?

        For us it was a St Bernard and floppy discs, bonus prize you get a free potion.

  9. baud Bronze badge

    > sheer emptiness of the room and utter absence of other customers

    I don't believe I've ever seen an empty post office in France, between the very short opening time and the number of services offered, there's always between an handful and a dozen of people queueing.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
      Joke

      And expostulating, but of course. :-)

  10. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    Getting angry can cost a fortune in clothes

    It is probably better to go all Thor and turn clerks like that into Coca-cola machines.

    I'll get me coat. The one with "The Long Dark teatime of the Soul" in the pocket please

  11. Dr_N Silver badge

    Point Relais

    If I don't want stuff rammed into my letterbox I ask for it to be delivered to the newsagents in the village or the travel agency in my apartment block.

    Both of which do a sideline in recieving deliveries these days.

    Get with the programme Mr Dabbs.

    1. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Point Relais

      "sideline in receiving deliveries these days"

      Whatever you do, do not let the Daily Mail know there's a way to "receive deliveries" as a sideline. Who knows what could be being delivered, and just think of the children!!!

  12. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Pettit beaurocrat

    is in french for a reason

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Pettit beaurocrat

      Petty bureaucrats, the German post/telecom had them before privatization. As much as I usually curse privatization, it really helped with that.

      Icon for those vicious small minded sadistic bastards.

    2. baud Bronze badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Pettit beaurocrat

      Huh in French it's petit bureaucrat

  13. TimR

    Brilliant - welcome back Mr Dabbs

  14. Caver_Dave
    Flame

    Deliberately obnoxious

    In 1992 (the last time I went into a French Post Office) I was in the rural village of Autrans and wanted to send a postcard home to my family. In my very best French I asked for "un timbre pour l'angleterre". Much scratching of the Post Master's head ensued and laughing when I tried again. Eventually the he called his daughter out of the back room to deal with this crazy English and they both kept laughing at me. Probably only 5 minutes after I arrived (although it felt much longer) another customer came into the Post Office and immediately the Post Master took my cash and provided the stamp. I think that they were just taking the P155, but I can't be sure because I don't speak foreign languages with any proficiency (although I do try to at least start the conversation in the native tongue).

    On the same trip, during a day long search for diesel to get the expedition minibus home to the UK (a strike had been taking place for a few days, most garages were shut and I eventually found some in the seedy back streets of Grenoble) I passed a cinema that had a Union Flag and English film title outside and so I returned when I had eventually purchased the diesel. I was the only person in the cinema and noticed my folly when the film started - in Welsh!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Deliberately obnoxious

      I remember watching the first Lord of the Rings film when I lived in Brussels. They don't dub much other than children's films - and have screenings with or without subtitles (french and flemish) - given the high language skills of the locals.

      Which was all well and good until people started speaking elvish and orc - of which there's quite a lot in that film. And I found myself in the unexpected and somewhat odd situation of having to translate the subtitles - which just felt utterly wrong.

      I struggle to read film subtitles at the best of times, because they often move off screen so fast - and that's even worse when they're in foreign...

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Deliberately obnoxious

        Long ago I watched a very funny English-language comedy film in Oslo. It was subtitled, and because most people can read faster than talk, the punchline of every joke was inaudible because the audience had already started to laugh.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Deliberately obnoxious

        Sitting in a hotel room in Moscow one evening, waiting for the bar to open, I put the telly on and tried to find a news channel (I only know a few words of Russian but it might have been enough to catch the headlines on international stories). During my channel-hopping I came across an episode of Porridge, dubbed into what I think was Romanian and then subtitled in Russian. I spent a happy 20 minutes trying to work out what the Russian-via-Romanian equivalent of 'Naff off!' was.

      3. matthewdjb

        Re: Deliberately obnoxious

        I watch LOTR in a Swiss cinema. French and German subtitles generally, but when Elvish was spoken, up popped English subtitles.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Deliberately obnoxious

          Tolkien didn't turn in his grave.

        2. Precordial thump

          Re: Deliberately obnoxious

          Surprised the other dialogue didn't have Elvish subtitles in Tengwar...

    2. Jay 2

      Re: Deliberately obnoxious

      Reminds me of a school ski trip to France many years ago. A snippet of the conversation went like so (please excuse my bad attempt at writing French, can't be bothered to look it up):

      My friend (in best French he could muster): Tois timbres pour Angleterre s'il vous plait

      French post bloke: Three stamps then?

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: Deliberately obnoxious

        I've had many conversations like that in France; me speaking French and the French person speaking English. They liked to practice their English as much as I liked to practice my French. Many younger or professional people have a good grasp of English. I always took the view that French was obligatory for me to learn and speak while living there. From day 1 we watched French TV and that was a great help.

        One thing made me smile. There were so many Brits moving to France and not learning the language that the French started an initiative offering free French lessons. You had to phone a specific number to arrange to attend the lessons. There was only one catch. The person on the other end of the phone only understood/spoke French. A typically French bureaucratic catch-22 situation.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Deliberately obnoxious

          And of course, the advertising for it was also only in French.

        2. Rol Silver badge

          Re: Deliberately obnoxious

          On the way back from the pub the local police drove up alongside and muttered something unintelligible at me. I replied "J' ne parle pas francais" to which they then responded with "Where are you going?" I replied "Me voy a casa" To which they shook their heads and ushered me on. I gestured goodbye with a wave of my hand saying "Au revoir" as they headed away.

          That little passage might make more, or less sense when I tell you I was in a small town in Southern Spain, and needless to say, very, very, very drunk.

          Hats off to them though for not taking umbridge with the clearly confused and bordering on insulting English drunk.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Deliberately obnoxious

        On a family holiday in France 40 years ago we stop at a petrol station. Service, so a bloke walks up to the car to fill it up. Dad panicking leans into car, "quickly, what's french for 40?" My brother answers "quarante".

        Dad: "Quarante gallons of petrol s'il vous plait."

        Close enough I guess...

        Dad was of the louder and slower generation of foreign speakers. So I'm actually quite impressed that he was willing to bend so much as to even know the capacity of his petrol tank in such a disgustingly non-imperial measurement. But I guess was disadvantaged by not knowing the correct french word for litre...

      3. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: Deliberately obnoxious

        > French post bloke: Three stamps then?

        Here is what a coworker of mine experienced in France (long ago). At a Hamburger stand. Apologies for mangled spelling, I don't speak French.

        He: Un hamburger, sil vous plais.

        Seller (very unfriendly): We don't speak English here!

        He: ??! (and left)

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: Deliberately obnoxious

          It makes sense. I can say "I don't speak XXX" in several languages.

          In some of them I neither speak nor understand them, in a couple I understand them but can't construct sentences.

          1. matthewdjb

            Re: Deliberately obnoxious

            That reminds me of the Big Train sketch (Do you speak English?).

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxUm-2x-2dM

      4. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
        Angel

        Re: Deliberately obnoxious

        Many years ago, on holiday in Belgium, we had a tyre destroy itself on the Autosnelweg. We made into a suburb of Brussels and stopped at a tyre depot that was, inexplicably, open on a Sunday morning. Lots of fractured french and gesticulation later, the owner said, in a perfect cockney accent, "Oh, you want a tyre, eh? Why didn't you say?" Apparently, he was from Stratford (east London), about three miles from our home in Ilford, and had set up a subsidiary of his tyre business in Belgium because he could buy tyres there cheaper than in England, load them in a lorry, and drive them to his Stratford depot without having to pay the enormous import duty imposed at that time.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Deliberately obnoxious

      Our neighbour in Lisburn (N Ireland) was in the "Greenfinches" (rather like PCSOs today). A group of French tourists parked in the control zone where you're not supposed to leave a car unattended in the middle of town & went shopping. When they returned they insisted, I'm not sure how, that none of them knew any English. My take on it was that they should have discussed calling the bomb squad to deal with it, i.e. blow the bloody doors and boot lid off. I reckoned there would have been a miraculous recovery of linguistic skills.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Coat

        Re: Deliberately obnoxious

        I was in a posh hand-made soap shop in Covent Garden a few years ago. Don't judge me, I was looking for Christmas presents. 2 rather chic young ladies running the place, very elegantly turned out, french accents asked me if I needed help, then quietly continued chatting at the cash register as I browsed.

        Then a couple walk in, and one went up to the counter and asked the price of something in french. To which the response was, "I only speak english mate." In a very Essex accent.

        Although in this case, the not speaking french was undoubtedly genuine.

        Although I admit I can't count to ten in french.

        I have a huit allergy.

        [gets coat]

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: Deliberately obnoxious

          Some people really have a neuf.

          1. dak

            Re: Deliberately obnoxious

            And some folk just make dix of themselves.

  15. Rudolph Hucker the Third
    Coffee/keyboard

    Coincidently, my extended EEC family includes several cousins, outlaws and colleagues all living in South West France, and they all report similar "fun" with French postal services and courier firms.

    The best solution? Befriend the best local cafe / pâtisserie / wine bar. Be a good regular customer, then ask for a small favour.

    Je suis peut-être absent pendant quelques jours. Puis-je recevoir une lettre ici?

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      The best solution?

      Better solution is moving to another country.

    2. Benson's Cycle

      Exactly this.

      Though I never managed to get it across to a certain German speaker that when in Italy, if the mail doesn't come, you don't go to the post office and bang on the counter. You go to the post office and tell them you are a poor student, you are not getting the mail, and your mother back home is getting very distressed. They will then fall over themselves to deal with the problem because they all have mothers.

      The answer to all problems of this kind is cultural sensitivity. Unfortunately some people consider it's for wimps.

  16. Mage Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Post Codes

    Ireland recently got Post Codes. Co-incidently the number of cards "Collect your parcel at Depot as you were not in" has risen, often posted when we were in.

    Curiously before Postcodes (creation & management outsourced to a private company) delivery was no problem, even letters from abroad with only name an nearest city arriving. An annoyance then were websites insisting on Zip/Post code (everywhere except Hong Kong and Ireland had them). My wife put NA (for not available) and the package went via Namibia. The kind people in the Namibian post office didn't add any "Postage Due" either. The address did end in Ireland and the originator was in the UK.

    Bureaucracy is a terrible thing, in a Democracy or Dictatorship. However the solution is reform, not privatisation.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Post Codes

      When I was in Hong Kong they did have postcodes - though probably more like Japanese building codes, they were often stencilled on the side of the building. I lived at RKT/12/C/601, the 'KT' bit stood for Kwun Tong.

    2. Spamfast Bronze badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Post Codes

      Ah, post codes.

      The sneaker-net equivalent of scrapping DNS in favour of raw IP addresses.

      Worse, actually, because you still have to put the textual address on the envelope as well as the post code.

      Post codes should be retired now the OCR is good enough to read printed text and handwritten block capitals and most hand writing on-the-fly as the letters go through the machine.

      You need to put the county on there of course in some cases to disambiguate - Landshut(Bay), Nykøbing Mors, Gillingham Dorset etc.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Post Codes

        "Post codes should be retired now the OCR is good enough to read printed text and handwritten block capitals and most hand writing on-the-fly as the letters go through the machine."

        So how you would deal with 12 High Street, Marton, Yorkshire and 12 High Street, Marton, Yorkshire and 12 High Street, Marton, Yorkshire, not to mention mis-reading 12 High Street, Malton, Yorkshire. The thing is, postcodes are unique, addresses are not, whereas both DNS addresses and IP addresses are unique.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Post Codes

          ...and not to mention that just a door number and a postcode will almost always get a letter or parcel to where it's intended.

        2. Spamfast Bronze badge

          Re: Post Codes

          You disambiguate with the nearest town or enclosing area name. 12 High Street Marton, Burton Constable; 12 High Street Marton cum Grafton ...

          UK post codes aren't unique to an address and things can and often do get delivered incorrectly when the postie batches things up by post code. US zip codes & German post codes are even less precise.

          I live at Flat 2 <house name>, <street name>, <town>, <postcode>. Quite often I get mail or delivery failure cards for No. 2, <street name>, <town>, <postcode> because the deliverer assumes the number & the postcode uniquely identifies the property.

          If you want an unambiguous code, you should be arguing for something like what3words.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Post Codes

      "However the solution is reform, not privatisation."

      Reform of a unionised government institution? You must be joking. Sometimes the ONLY option is privatisation. At least then the government can wash their hands of the "issues" when the strikes happen due to the needed reforms.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DHL, uh yes

    Sounds like TLA had same standard elsewhere in world. Long ago I built a standard server for an overseas site where in fullness of time it would arrive and I would install the system, set up local admins, printers blah blah. Server dropped off to usual pickup site for official government freight 2 weeks before I was due to go so plenty of time for it to via airfreight, outsourced to TLA Remote site had not received it in a week so I started looking. Two days before I was to travel I found it. Server was still sitting on loading dock at TLA local freight yard. My condolences, Dabsy. Nice Hulk references. Caused a few chuckles.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: DHL, uh yes

      Drop it, Hide it, Loose it.

      Been there, done that, lost the t-shirt.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: DHL, uh yes

      Sounds like TLA had same standard elsewhere in world

      A long time ago and an employment far, far away[1] we went to our office in Bergen to install some Sun E450 boxes. Said boxes were in France so the sequence was:

      1. Fly to our Paris office and check all the kit to ensure it was OK.

      2. Send the servers via Air Chance shipment to Bergen while we fly there on a (separate) flight.

      3. Our flight goes via Amsterdam and when we get there, we discover that the Air Chance pilots have downed tools and the connecting flight won't be until tomorrow (at the earliest). Not a problem as Air France end up having to pay for us to stay in business-class rooms at quite a nice local hotel.

      4. Somewhat hung-over, we take the next day flight and end up in Bergen and go to the office, expecting our servers to have already arrived. No servers.

      5. Our French colleague phones the Air France cargo department to find out where the servers are. After several hours on the phone (international call!) he discovers that someone put them on the wrong plane and they are currently in Milan.

      6. Some excited comments in French follow. Air France promises to send them via expedited delivery later that day.

      7. After 3 more days the servers eventually turn up. By that point, we should have been home so we have to go to more expense to change our plane tickets. I refuse to use Air Chance and instad book my return flight to Heathrow on SAS.

      8. Two days later, I have a very nice relaxed flight on SAS and discover the joys of Akavit and get my taxi back from Heathrow to Wiltshire.

      Since that day I've refused to ever fly Air France. We calculated that they ended up having to pay us about 10x the cost of our tickets and shipping of the servers as compensation. Which just about paid our Bergen bar bills..

  18. Denarius
    Unhappy

    public serpents

    Now you've done it. Someone in current Oz Federal admin will see French public servants as an example to be followed by best practice private sector and State governments. Too late for banks as they achieved this bureaucratic nirvana decades ago. Public sector upper echelons motto could be summarised as "We are not happy until you are miserable." judging by the increasingly petty bureaucracy.

  19. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Going Postal

    Surely I can't be the only commentard to have read that thinking you want the services of Mr Lipwig?

    Oh, and re:

    "Does anyone here remember ..."

    I presume any such question is intentionally rhetorical? If we start on what we remember, it won't take long to to become Four Yorkshiremen.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm french and

    I deeply acknowledge how utter shite our postal "service" is. It's amazing.

    For the last decades, I've seen and still see today:

    - stuffing 2 dozens of ads papers *at once* in my mailbox, every couple of weeks

    - putting all the street address mail in my inbox, just for me to do the distribution

    - not receiving my weekly newspaper, probably someone else got it ...

    - those cunts at the postal service, whenever I'm posting a parcel stealing from customers. 2 examples:

    * this old lady buying a stamp because "I'm sending a letter to my sister" and the post idiot selling the most priced stamp and lying to her: "Oh so, this is important, so we need an, express stamp so it will arrive in 24 hours". I'm in like, desperate to scream "NO IT WON'T YOU IDIOT, EVERY LETTER TAKES 3 DAYS IN FRANCE FFS !!! WHATEVER THE STAMP"

    * this poor young chap closing his banque postale account (jolly good idea BTW, you're not putting your money at a robbers place, no ?) and the postal idiot requesting he'd leave 90 euros on the account before closing it. I was close to tell him in front of the queue that whatever he'd leave would be stolen ASAP.

    So, yeah, Dabbsy, postal service in France, you've put the difficulty bat quite high !

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: I'm french and

      Yikes. Thanks for the heads-up. I knew about the stamps thing: if you ask for a stamp, they try to sell you an elaborately preprinted envelope that’s always the wrong size, then once you’d chosen one, they tell you they don’t have any in stock.

      1. baud Bronze badge

        Re: I'm french and

        For stamps, I've always found better to just use the selling machines in the post office, since it saves from having to interact with any employee. It even weight the parcel/letter, so you don't have to buy too many stamps.

    2. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: I'm french and

      I've lived in France for over 20 years and never had that much grief with La Poste.

      Pamphlets in the mail box aren't La Poste. It's inde contractors in beaten up old cars.

      There are different postage classes. Eco Verte being the cheap slow one.

      I'd have thought a French person'd know that.

      Anything I post to the UK arrives super quick. Stuff that gets sent to me from England however takes its own sweet time. Go figure.

      Maybe A/C is confusing France with England?

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I'm french and

      "the postal idiot requesting he'd leave 90 euros on the account before closing it."

      When closing any deposit account anywhere, drain it dry before telling them you'll be closing the account. I've run into the nonsense about a bank requiring some nominal amount of money to be locked in for a few weeks to cover any outstanding checks/charges. Blow that. When I'm ready to fire some bank, I am firing them right the F now, I'm not giving them 3 weeks notice.

    4. Trygve

      Re: I'm french and

      To be fair, I lived in London for 20 years and had Royal Mail do every single thing you've listed apart from the banque postale thing, but additionally in my last house they would leave me the post for a similar numbered house in a nearby street so often that I would regularly pop round to them and swap post.

      Plus for some reason Royal Mail postmen generally look like tramps.

  21. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Faxing the UK PO and taking a map to the Orange store

    When I moved to France 13 years ago, I wanted to change the delivery address for my forwarded UK mail. As it turned out, the only way to do so at the time was to submit the form by fax, luckily I was able to print to their fax via my spanking new XP install and its built-in print-to-fax driver. Luckily I had been able to set up a free French dialup ISP account before I left the UK, and there was already a working phone at my destination.

    More fun came when I wanted a working phone line at my next place (a rented bungalow). It already had a line installed, but it had been deactivated for years and required an engineer visit to activate it (apparently). After several attempts at calling out an Orange (recently ex-FT) engineer without them showing up, them claiming on at least one occasion that they couldn't find my address, I eventually resorted to taking a Michelin map into the local Orange store to help them out. An engineer visited and activated the line the next day.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Faxing the UK PO and taking a map to the Orange store

      When I lived in Hong Kong I had to fax some mortgage documents to my bank in the UK. After several failed attempts, I stayed up until bird-squeek* to phone and tell them their fax machine wasn't working.

      "Oh, we turn it off outside office hours."

      Gaghh!!!!

      *The time difference seems to be wrong for this, but it's 30 years ago and my memory is something something.

      1. Alumoi

        Re: Faxing the UK PO and taking a map to the Orange store

        Romania, 2018 A.D., public sector: "E-mails will be received only during 08.00 - 14.00. Any e-mail sent after 14.00 won't be received and you must send it again the next day during specified working hours".

  22. Alister Silver badge

    Does anyone here remember the tedious regularity of having to persuade your terminal software to pick up an interrupted upload/download from where it left off rather than starting it all over again from the beginning?

    Yes.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      What you mean is:

      Ye

      +++NO CARRIER

      Y

      +++NO CARRIER

      Yes

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    A year or so ago I ordered a left hand door mirror for SWMBO's car.

    Despite being in all day when DPD were supposed to deliver it there was no sign of it and shortly after it was due to be delivered a note appeared on the web site saying that there was nobody in and they'd left a card. There was no card in our letter box. I reckoned that the basic problem was that we have no house number but a spelled out number is in the house name and the site ordered from had no concept of an address without a number. I realised they'd attempted to deliver to a numbered house down the road.

    After much effort I finally got a phone number for DPD that didn't immediately drop through to an automated system that told me the package had not been able to be delivered (the first time I keyed in the package number; all subsequent attempts to any DPD customer disservice number would recognise my number from CLI and not even bother asking). The parcel was then sent out with the corrected label. At the appropriate time courier with an anonymous white van turned up so I went to meet him to ensure he didn't escape. I was handed a package. Not, unfortunately a DPD-shipped package but another one I was expecting. I went back indoors and found the familiar note on the website - not in, left card. I'm sure it was the same white-van man contracting for both firms and, presumably recognising the packaging and not bothering with the label, attempted to deliver to the same wrong house.

    Despite the fact that they'd never actually attempted to deliver to the right house DPD insisted I'd had the due number of attempted deliveries and took it to the collection point miles away. I drove over there, picked up the box and took it home. I opened the box and found a right hand mirror.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I opened the box and found a right hand mirror.

      Perhaps, somewhere in the multiverse, there is an almost-but-not-quite-the-same mirror universe where this sort of thing doesn't happen [1] :-)

      .

      .

      [1] Yes, I know.

    2. Graham Newton

      I had a similar problem with wing mirrors.

      Both wing mirrors were stolen off my ancient Vauxhall Cavalier. I ordered some from a scrap yard and they didn't turn up. I enquired as to where they were and was told they had got lost in the couriers system and they would be delivered next week.

      Then the car was stolen, the next day I got two wing mirrors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Then the car was stolen, the next day I got two wing mirrors.

        And, the way this thread is going, no doubt we will shortly hear that you got a left-handed mirror to go on the right side, and a right-handed one to go on the left.

        1. swm Bronze badge

          Re: Then the car was stolen, the next day I got two wing mirrors.

          A relative had a junk car that wouldn't run parked outside their house. While deciding the cheapest way to get rid of the car someone stole it. So they received insurance money for the car. The still wonder how a non-running car was stolen and for what reason.

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: Then the car was stolen, the next day I got two wing mirrors.

            Spares. And a lot of running cars are also stolen for parts.

            Some people may remember the Morris Marina. A solicitor I wot of bought one for an articled clerk to get around in. It was so awful he left it in a side street in central London with the key in the ignition. It was stolen.

            Before they were even able to claim on the insurance, it was back in the same place with the key still in the ignition.

  24. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    I didn't know

    That I could play 2 x YouTube videos at the same time on a mobile browser. Thanks for that, didn't sound that bad towards the end lol.

    When I lived in lovely farmhouse (building site would be more accurate) in the south of France the internet was as useful as the local shops. Worked seemingly on a principle of inside knowledge and secret knocks on windows. Good job the neighbours were nice, I ended up paying them with the use of my pool / pond and cigarettes to use their WiFi and they would accept my post and deliver groceries. Very nice people the French if you avoid the cities. Their infrastructure excluding roads is bloody atrocious though.

  25. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    "Even the crappest robot will do"

    Is that any way to refer to "your plastic pal who is fun to be with?" The latest versions with "genuine people personalities" would certainly be distressed. I can just imagine what will happen when you go to the post office and find the place staffed by a robot: "Here I am brain the size of a planet and what to they ask me to do?... Pick up a piece of paper."

  26. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Thanks for the stories, guys!

    I look forward to your next series of posts about the United States wherein you compare it to a Third World country. I'll just post a link to this thread and laugh.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Thanks for the stories, guys!

      Why would we compare it to a Third World country? It is the first (and so far only) country in the world to have reached Fourth World status.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thanks for the stories, guys!

        Well, it used to be that just the Postal workers went "Postal". Now everyone does it. But at least we can get a frigging package on time..

  27. MachDiamond Silver badge

    PO Box in the US

    It's the same in the backwaters (US) in terms of getting a postal box. The form states that two forms of ID are required and one of them needs to be a government issued photo ID. No sweat, I hand over my driver's license (US) and my passport. The ditz behind the counter tells me that I need some other form of ID. ?? I should read the requirements again. I do, no words have crawled from the page so I should be solid. Nope. She tells me I need a utility bill or something. Where does it say that? She can't be bothered to read the regs. This goes back and forth for a bit. Finally, I root through the car and come back with a auto insurance bill and that works. I am who I say I am, for a given value of proved. I've learned how this mold works now so when asked about a physical address, I just fill in the police station's address next door since I can see the numbers through the window. The address comes back as valid in her computer although she must not have seen what is at that address, just that it checks out.

    I have all of my post sent to my box and none to my home. At the time I was renting the box in the story, I was staying with a friend until the house I was buying was vacated by the tenant that was living in it and I was also going to need time to work on the house before I moved in. Switching the mail to the new house wasn't going to work and after the tenant moved out there wouldn't be that much time before I moved in so pointless to switch everything twice. I did need to clear out of the box I did have one town over as it was no longer near my work and a chore to pick up mail and packages. I can empathize that often times when you need a PO box, it's because you aren't living in long term accommodations but still need a place to receive mail. I'm an old fashioned trog that still likes to get bills in the post on paper. I mostly pay electronically, but it gives me a paper audit trail as I will write the payment information on the paper bill and file it away. It will get tossed out in a year, but paper files can still be very fast to search if organized. I also have a folder of bills due that is a great reminder.

    There are a couple of big upsides to a postal box. In the US you can have the box address put on your driving license rather than a physical address. The police can pull up your physical address on their computer, but if you get pick-pocketed or otherwise lose you wallet/keys, you aren't giving away where you live. The same goes for car registrations and insurance cards. It's getting hard to steal cars, but if somebody can break in shortly after you park someplace where it's obvious you are going to be for a few hours (airport, beach, amusement park), they can have your address off of the registration form in the glove box and the garage remote and take their sweet time looting your digs. If it turns out you have a home alarm they don't want to deal with, would you be too suspicious if your garage remote went missing but your car was still locked up? If you move house a couple of times, you start erasing your physical home history if you only use a rented postal box. UPS, FedEx and DHL all keeps vast databases on people and their address. That's great if somebody sends something to your old address and it gets forwarded, but those companies also sell/rent/license those databases. If you have a PO Box in the US (maybe elsewhere) you can have packages delivered to the post office's street address with your box number appended and they will accept them for you if you fill out a form, for free. I believe you waive some liabilities, but a box from the computer supply company sitting on your porch doesn't come with any protections. How many times have you found something on your porch that should have been signed for?

    Having a postal box is worth the expense. Even if you aren't receiving checks or valuable items, it can cost plenty if somebody grabs bills and notices that will cost you in late fees, etc. I find it also useful that I don't have to hand out my physical address all over the place and even if somebody shoulder surfs me and sees my ID, they won't see where I live. Since I travel on short notice, the box also prevents people from seeing that I'm not home. I often wouldn't have time to file a vacation hold at the post office and that would add yet another thing on my get-out-of-town list each time.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: PO Box in the US

      The regs seem to vary from state to state, but I know in Virginia you're required to enter an actual physical, in-state street address (with proof via a recent utility bill or whatever) when applying for a driver's license or state ID card. This is because the card itself becomes proof of residency so carries a certain legal standing that requires some verification (cards can only be issued to residents). You can have the card sent to a PO Box, but the official address cannot.

  28. Spamfast Bronze badge
    Meh

    Whilst I enjoyed and agreed with many of the comments on this piece from my fellow Brits concerning lousy service in France, Belgium, [insert least favourite Johnny Foreigner here] and their general impoliteness, I can't help feeling many of you are forgetting how crap a lot service is in the UK and how obstructive and downright rude post office, bank, retail, bus, railway & law enforcement employees regularly are to their own countrymen.

    Most foreign visitors or recently arrived immigrants to the UK have some grasp of the local language - usually far better than Brits abroad - but perhaps with a thick accent or requiring simpler vocabulary. Imagine how they get on with the already surly and crap service from UK staff. Actually, I don't have to imagine - I've see it in Bournemouth and London repeatedly.

    1. Graham Newton

      I've seen it in Oxford. A foreign student was told his package was "artonvan". When he left rather looking rather confused the post office guy said to everyone waiting "I told him as clear as I could".

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Ah, Oxford...

        When faced with someone looking a bit foreign they tend to start with Sumerian and then work forwards.

  29. strum Silver badge

    CIX

    Er, CIX had binmail (binary mail), quite early. I joined in 1989.

  30. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    For a SMARTR Populace ...... NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT is Practically Virtually Free. *

    Share something interesting here on El Reg and IT Delivers those thoughts practically instantly available everywhere.

    Trying to keep folk deliberately undereducated is surely an Indictable Offence and Monstrous Crime against All Humanities ‽ . Best not to get caught in the future with that collapsed enterprise, is excellent advice in a final warning to such as prefer ignorance to reign without future knowledge ...... novel thoughts realised and presented with future virtual action

    * The Worth/Value of that is Inestimable and worth every last red cent and dodgy dollar spent cornering captivating markets :-)

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: For a SMARTR Populace ...... NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT is Practically Virtually Free. *

      For example ........

      amanfromMars [1909081543] …… enquires on https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-09-07/america-loses-asia-pacific-full-spectrum-dominance-continues-fail

      J’accuse.

      Rather than use this information to propose a new security doctrine premised on cooperation and dialogue as China has offered on countless occasions, the report’s authors join the fantasy world of Esper calling instead for a “collective defense” strategy akin to a Pacific NATO, whereby all of America’s Pacific allies could join in an anti-Chinese military alliance together, and relieving America of the burden of carrying WWIII on its own.

      Are those choices guilty of being certifiably mad? And ideally really only for the psychopathically inclined and fundamentally confused?

      Is that who China are dealing with when venturing into talks with Uncle Sam?

      You have to admire their stoic resistance and persistence. Not many would be so gracious and understanding.

      1. Psmo Bronze badge
        Alert

        Re: For a SMARTR Populace ...... NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT is Practically Virtually Free. *

        J'accuse

        You'll go blind if you reply to yourself too much.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: For a SMARTR Populace ...... NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT is Practically Virtually Free. *

          More critical information is oft required, Psmo, and especially so whenever Everything you can Imagine is at Stake.

          And as to your claim, well I just don't see it. :-)

          The extra chatter is further instruction in virtual programming. And in the Bigger AI Picture Arena, a RealRedHotFutures Commodity in Advanced IntelAIgent Channels.

          Think PleasureRobots Satisfying Tempting Insatiable Desire with Almighty Pleasures and y'all know where that come from and what their drivers desire.

          However ...... that may be a Fundamentally False Assumption ..... and many have no notion of the powers they can wield to Create Brave New Virtualised Worlds ....... Places on Earth Created in Space and Presented Below in Future Monumental Works ....... InterNetional AIdVentures ‽ .

          That at its extremes would suggest just an almighty few in need of upping their great games for worlds are catastrophically vulnerable to the antics of Global Communication Controllers.

          Sound proven correct advice is ..... Employ the Best of the Best for the Rest and AI and IT take Care of Everything for You.

          :-) I appear to have veered off into a number of parallel tangents there ....which be full of awards that reward worthy winners as saintful sinner and/or sinful saint rather than just drowning enterprise in mountains of flash cash which can be burned or turned to Greater IntelAIgent Games Use.

  31. Trygve Henriksen

    I just WISH a human had anything to do with my package...

    One package I've been waiting for has now been travelling between Oslo and Bodø(central and northern Norway) for nearly 3 weeks.

    What a pity that I live almost smack dab in the middle, then...

    Support expect that it'll be returned to China 'soon' as it has been so long since it should have been delivered...

    Until then it will continue to zip back and forth between two large, automated sorting centers, never arriving at my local post office because of what may be a slightly smudged address label... (most probably, a 6 is being misread as an 8 )

  32. Celeste Reinard

    5 years of therapy...

    It all comes flooding back to me... The tears.... the insults... the broken furniture... the sunshine over the deep blue waters of the mediterranean. The happy moments we shared... Dancing in the street at night, crying with joy... naked. In the rain.

    ~ ~ ~ Start waves ~ ~ ~

    It must have been 2005.... I was a gardener, at a hotel, somewhere near California, Cannes. ... Insert your card 20 times, and maybe you are lucky.

    ~ ~ ~ end waves ~ ~ ~

    The good news is that I can go shopping for new furniture tomorrow!

    No, I am joking. The therapy was really a succes. Smashing, even. I can even look at a carte postale (there I go again) of Nice without trembling. My mind is totally unwarped. Un-Bend. De-corrupted. Most of the time. I am even allowed outside these days. Buy an apple with real money. Not the one that you can hurt yourself with. The money made out of papier maché, all chewed by myself. O dear, I start buffering again. ... And I lost the connection to reality - again. Thank god it's raining again and I have a reason to dance in the streets. Naked.

    -

    Yes, mr Dabbs is right. And he is totally innocent, officer. You can stop beating him. ... And no, I can assure you he is fine being unconscious. He's my friend. I know him. We do this all the time... It's something in the water. The dolphins, probably. Just stop beating.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: 5 years of therapy...

      The dolphins, probably

      Dodgy coves those dolphins. They come across as cute and cuddly to hide the fact that, in many ways, they are apex predators.

      They have those teeth for a reason y'know.

  33. Anthidote

    Postal Automation

    I work for the German Post office - yellow van courier service consortium that you used, in the in house group IT division. I'm in *nix operations so obviously the only job I'm automating away really is my own. I know from the devs that I'm talking to that pretty much everything you can imagine is fully automated already except last mile delivery. There are several tricky aspects with last mile. For one it's not a company wide solution. The company delivers packages to some let's say less developed areas where any robot would be abused or stolen along with the contents. Also in terms of labor costs while automating away a German, Dutch or French letter carrier is potentially very profitable. Automating away a Columbian or Senegalese one is extremely unprofitable. There are many other challenges one of which is most customers actually value receiving their mail and packages from a human. I know that seems weird to us, but that's the reality. BTW our helldesk hates French couriers with a passion mostly reserved for war criminals.

    1. Benson's Cycle

      Re: Postal Automation - a German, Dutch or **French letter** carrier

      If you keep expecting them to deliver French letters of course you must expect some choice language.

      Faut pas chercher pour comprendre...

    2. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Re: Postal Automation

      But you may be surprised to find out that the non automated Columbian or Senegalese post office is working more reliably, and smoothly, albeit slowly than your automated counterpart.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Postal Automation

      My French Letter carrier has no performance issues whatsoever.

      None at all.

      Why, who did you talk to?

  34. Updraft102 Silver badge

    "Can you download it to me..."

    Why no, I can't. No amount of receiving data will result in transmitting some other data.

  35. billdehaan

    Persuading software

    Does anyone here remember the tedious regularity of having to persuade your terminal software to pick up an interrupted upload/download from where it left off rather than starting it all over again from the beginning?

    You mean replacing XModem and YModem with TeLink, and later ZModem?

    Yes, yes, we do.

    As for downloading via snailmail, remember the old maxim to "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with magtapes barrelling down the freeway".

  36. earl grey Silver badge
    Angel

    in a former life

    " "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with magtapes barrelling down the freeway".

    I sometimes had to drive a station wagon filled with 51 column punch cards from our data center to another location a couple of hours away for them to process. If you haven't had the pleasure of actually driving a station wagon (no matter how loaded with little to no control or real traction at the rear) down an icy, snow-slicked pavement, you actually haven't driven (lol, but it was more scary than fun).

    On the other hand, I can't complain about my local postal carriers. The government has done everything possible to f-over the postal service, but the local carriers have been hard working, competent, and courteous. I can't always say the same for other delivery services (especially the one which left a box of meds over at a neighbor's barn.). Guess it's hard to see the house at the end of the driveway with your head up your arse.

  37. Flywheel Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Eff Tee Pee

    persuade your terminal software to pick up an interrupted upload/download from where it left off rather than starting it all over again

    .. or downloading an early version of Linux using FTP in ascii mode instead of binary and then wondering why it won't install .... those were The Days.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the story was set in certain other countries (not only Russia) I would have no hesitation in identifying that the guy was angling for a bribe, first up front "make it worth my while" then a second try "see what a great help I've been! how fortunate you are that I was here to help, I'm your best mate and this is thirsty work" .

    No idea whether that's how the French system operates but I expect someone else can confirm or deny.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      identifying that the guy was angling for a bribe

      I'm afraid not. As a reminder, PAYE in France is two years old and was subject to much protest, mostly by those playing tax games (usually retiring early and continuing to work cash-in-hand). In general The System, whether the Post Office or government, is something to be either followed religiously or avoided.

      Making processes functional? Modernising government? Digitising? Mais quoi ?

      AC as I do earn my living here.

  39. Julifriend

    Virgin Media in the UK have an option when to allow you to install kit yourself when you upgrade. One of the delivery options is Click And Collect from a local grocery store. I chose this option to make life easier for me. Big mistake. The store requires a reference number to release the parcel and neither Virgin Media nor their couriers provide one. It took me four visits to convince the store owner to hand over my new cable modem and Tivo box. Never again.

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