Sell All Your Cars – Follow-up

October 30, 2009 at 12:19 PM Leave a comment

My fiancée and I took a vacation to San Fran two weeks ago—but not before having one good financial fiasco at home.

She ordered a new pair of “shoes” off of kayakshed.com back in September.  They were back-ordered for a month and took even longer to actually ship.  By the time UPS got them to our area, we were scheduled to catch a plane the next morning.  And here’s where the fun begins.

UPS tried to deliver the shoes on Wednesday, they day before we left.  Knowing they would—and that she wouldn’t be able to sign for it—my fiancée called UPS the day before to ask how to get the package delivered on the first attempt.

“Oh, just leave a note saying they can leave the package and sign it—that’s your signature,” said a UPS service person.  So she did.

No good.  The UPS delivery person took her handwritten note and left a delivery attempt notification—we tried to deliver, we couldn’t, sign here, please.

Two problems:

1. We weren’t going to be around for the 2nd and 3rd delivery attempt, and we didn’t feel comfortable signing for it and leaving a pricey package sitting in an unlocked entryway for days while we were gone.

2. She really, really wanted those shoes for the trip.

We had to pick that package up—and we’d sold our cars.  Public transportation wasn’t going to cut it, and nobody was around to drive us, so we needed a taxi for a full half-hour: a $35 drop.

Wait, it gets better!

We had it planned: She called UPS again, asked them what their hours were, and the service rep told her that “Pick-up hours are from 8:30 to 9.”  Like most anyone would, my fiancée assumed this meant 8:30AM to 9PM—why would any service be open for only a half-hour?

So we got home from work, booked a taxi, and got to UPS at 7:30PM.  Closed.  Dark.  Empty.  And now she can read the hours herself: 8:30PM to 9:30PM.

We can’t sit around—the pick-up location isn’t in the safest neighborhood.  We can’t just go someplace nearby—we have a trip to pack for.  We just have to—you guessed it—go home, sit around there, and call up another $35 taxi ride in less than an hour.  What did we do to deserve this?

We got the shoes.  They cost $79.99 online, plus shipping.  Our total to pick them up was just a bit less: $75 after tip.  These turned out to be very expensive shoes—and that expense was not in our budget.

Or was it?

When we sold our cars, we knew we would face other expenses because of it: higher mass transit costs, longer times in transit (time, too, is a cost), less ability to get places quickly, and, yes, the occasional emergency cab ride.

Our idea of an “emergency” was pretty narrow: life-threatening appendicitis, a dying pet, a family crisis, that sort of thing.  When an everyday emergency struck, we didn’t recognize it—but we responded the same way we thought we would, by coughing up cab fare.

This only occurred to us later, after we’d hated all over UPS, cab companies, lousy luck, terrible customer service representatives, and ourselves (we did, after all, sell our cars).  But when we’d cooled off, we realized that this was just one of those occasional expenses—totally unrelated to the shoes themselves—that came with a car-free life.  We realized, too, that there’d be other last-minute cab rides just like this, and that they’d seem just as silly and avoidable.

But that’s life.  Sometimes you just have to spend.

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Sam Warren

I write about money matters that apply to my life—and hopefully yours!

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