Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Bag Story

I'm typically amazed at how Germans sit and ponder upon a problem....coming to a creative and rational solution, then getting foiled in some manner as the solution just won't work in a practical manner.

Today?  There's an interesting story from Der Western (a German newspaper) that talks over this older German guy (in his seventies)....who was going to Bavaria by train for a week.

Train travel usually means that you have to have some family member or taxi drop you off at a local station....where you drag a forty-pound suitcase with you onboard a train.  The older trains were more "friendly" in terms of bags, storage, and getting through the train hallways.  The newer trains?  They were made for riders....not necessarily for bag-carriers.

So this guy considered the trip.....likely taking train A to a certain point.....dragging the bag around from this point to another point....boarding a second train, and possibly repeating this effort to get onto a third train, before getting to a vacation hotel.  The bag a problem.

The solution?  He found that DHL (our local version of Fedex).....would take the bag for 13.50 Euro (roughly $16) at his local post, and deliver to the hotel in Bavaria.  They kinda warned'd take at least a day or two.  No problem....he'd actually send it on four days prior to his arrival in Bavaria.

So X-day came as he arrived in Bavaria and the hotel hadn't received his bag.  This is the 4th day, since he shipped it....thinking that four days in Germany were enough for such a delivery.  Naturally, this is a minor problem for a guy who hasn't brought any underwear or socks with him.

The chat between this guy and DHL?  Kinda limited.....they were designed for emails and such....which he hadn't brought a laptop with him, nor did the hotel offer such service.  Eventually he was able to communicate with DHL....which didn't help apparently.  The best we can say is that it was twelve days after he shipped the bag....that it finally arrived.  He'd already spent roughly 150 Euro on underwear and clothing to "survive" the episode.

No one from DHL can really explain why issues arose....but they did come to agree that they owed him something and paid up the 150 Euro that he'd spent.  The final six-odd days of the vacation went well enough.

What happened at the conclusion of the vacation?  Well....Der Western didn't say nothing much about that part.  I'm guessing the old guy was pretty peeved and just dragged the bag with him through the train stations...refusing to ship it back via DHL.

A common practice?  Twenty years ago....I would have said it was rare.  Costs have gone down on rapid transport within Germany, and this ship-the-suitcase practice is fairly common now....if you were going on a trip within Germany.  I won't suggest forty or fifty percent of people doing it....more likely to be ten-percent.  It does make sense.....shipping three days ahead of time and just assuming the bag will be at the hotel waiting on you.

The final part of the story?  It would be curious where exactly for ten days....this bag was sitting.  Everything is swiped and the database ought to know the precise location of sixty-eight thousand items being shipped today via DHL.  Losing something?  It ought to be impossible.  So this is the one part of the story that I'd be curious about....where did the bag reside for ten days?  The coast of France?  Some brothel in Berlin?  A shipping hub in Poland? Or did it remain in the original DHL shop where it started....for nine of the ten days? There's a curious story here, but we'll never know the real ending.

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