So I’d listed Destination Maternity as one of my Sartorial Savvy links after looking at their online catalogue and getting very impressed by their prices and their bigness (they’re apparently the world’s largest designer and retailer of maternity apparel). And because I’m outgrowing my work clothes faster than you can wail, “Veronica Maine is no longer my friend!”, I decided to get some DM goodness shipped to Canberra.

Well.

Their clothes are very affordable. I picked out this cute little empire-waisted black and white polka dot number, a pair of sensible work pants, and a work skirt with a ribbon-belt thing. And then I went to pay.

It was $40+ for shipping and handling. Why? Because I’m located in the backside of Mother Earth, as far as America is concerned.

Okay. So I tell myself, the company’s got to make money from somewhere, and the clothes are dirt cheap ($30 for a work dress!) because they hide the real cost in the shipping. I get it. Fine. It’s still cheaper than spending $240 in Australia, so I go ahead with it.

The skirt is out of stock. And because I had stupidly opted for them to ship the balance to me instead of waiting for items to come back in stock (because, you know, I’m on a clock here. You’re only pregnant for so long), I am now paying $20+ per item for shipping.

Suddenly, the prices are looking less shiny.

The thing I didn’t understand at the time, even after reading the terms and conditions (and yes, I read them sometimes), is that they get a third party to manage all their shipping. Their international shipping service has an innocuous, self-referencing sort of name (“International Checkout”, I kid you not). What I did NOT realise is that International Checkout uses DHL as their delivery service.

What you have to understand about DHL is that they take the non-delivery of your goods very, very seriously. In fact, I’m convinced the Devil himself moonlights as a DHL lackey, just for the entertainment.

So here goes.

I placed the order on 5 January. DHL man comes with the package on 17 January. We’re not home – he leaves a docket in our letterbox. It gives us three options. We could

  • opt to collect our shipment from the local DHL office
  • redirect the shipment to a business address
  • get DHL to re-deliver the goods with the authority to leave the package at our door.

Because the local DHL office is near enough to our offices, I call DHL the very next day to ask when they are open until (5.30pm), and to tell them I’m coming to pick up my package.

We rock up at Fyshwick with five minutes to spare. The doors are locked.

I call the DHL local office and no one picks up the phone. I get redirected to their national line and give them a polite verbal bollocking, before being put on hold for ages. Purely by coincidence, someone rather surly looking emerges from the DHL office. From the external glass doors, I mime-command him to let me in. It helps to look pregnant, hot and irate because I doubt he would have bothered otherwise. He is, coincidentally, wearing a rugby jersey that’s completely branded by my company. The jersey is lovely, but completely clashes with the sour expression on his face. I remain unfazed.

Until they tell me that they’d happily passed my package along to Australia Post, and I have to go down the street and retrieve the package myself. Australia Post closes at 6.00pm, better hurry.

Running out of time and patience, Tony and I dash over to the Australia Post warehouse place thingy, and are relieved to find it open. But the service staff are bewildered and tetchy. Because DHL had sent our package along as registered post so no, they cannot find the package “at the back”, and DHL should really stop sending customers to Australia Post to retrieve their packages because it just doesn’t work like that. They’ve been doing this the whole day.

So to sum things up, I had just paid $40+ for my goods to be sent to me by registered local mail. Which I then have to go and collect from the mailhouse another day. I love that DHL left me a card with three options to give me the illusion of choice. That has got to be the knife twist.

We collected the package today. The pants fit me great, which is a relief. The dress is cute, although the armholes are rather huge so I might have to take them in, or else learn to fly with ’em flappy material. The dress has no lining. I just wrote Destination Maternity an email, asking if there’s another way to get clothes shipped to Australia that doesn’t involve paying extortionate dollars for pretty Kmart-material clothes.

And oh. I’m praying not to find any defects in my clothes. Because under their return and exchange policy, defective merchandise can be exchanged or refunded but I’d have to pay all associated shipping fees. Cheeky little…

You have been warned.

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