Friends and family have asked me before I left what I thought I would miss about America. At that time being on the verge of shipping my entire life 5000 miles, I only said a couple of things:
1. Talking to my friends and family at a moments notice
2. Going to the knitting store for help with a project
3. Being involved in a running group
4. Ability to know where to go to get “things”
All of those have rang true (though I have met an fellow American who is a knitter) and a few more have been added:
1. Storables/Container Store/Target. You can find many of the items that these store have, but I have had to go to 5 different stores to figure out which one had which item I was looking for AND figure out where to find it in the store.
2. Brands. In America, I knew the brands and their relative quality.
3. Internet Shopping. I was very spoiled with Amazon Prime and their ease of shipping and returns. Same with Target and many other online shopping sites. In France, it’s almost the same, but not quite. For example, I finally found a site La Redoute that has everything from beds to clothes to lamps. It took me awhile to hunt and peck through the site to find the items I wanted. I thought I was being so smart by having the stuff delivered versus lugging it through many metro stops. Yet, their shipping methods are so inefficient that Jeff Bezos would spontaneously combust.
I placed two orders.
Order #1: To be delivered to the apartment (about 10 items — order placed April 30). As of May 15th, all of these items have yet to be delivered. They come one or two at a time and calling customer service costs us .34c/minute (this is a standard practice in France and most calls cost between .12c – 1.25€/minute). I have no way of tracking the order or to find out when it will arrive. Maxime has called and was told “maybe next week”.
Order #2: To be delivered to a local pick-up station. (I did this by mistake). This was almost the weirdest thing yet that I’ve experienced. I was given an address with the store-pick up name Relais Colis, 352 Rue Lecourbe and searched up and down the street and the store didn’t exist. I came back home, a bit defeated but figured it was my error. The next day, after digging on their web site and the emails I had received, I found a store name AVIA. So I decided to try again. To my surprise, AVIA was a gas station/Hertz rental car/and a pick-up station for La Redoute. When I asked for my packages, the gas attendant/rental car agent/station clerk, went to a room with packages covering the floors and shelves. and magically, he located all five of my packages. I was shocked and left with all my items.
In summary, I’m taking a break from La Redoute.