ZIP – The trials and tribulations of alien systems.

This morning, after a somewhat weary start to the day, decided to order an item from Amazon (USA) for delivery to an address in the USA. Being a mere Brit, I’m not totally au fait with American codes and mores and, boy, did I have a problem filling in the address form. The screen kept on insisting that what I had entered was not a valid ZIP code for the particularly state.
I tried all different formats : place the State’s initial first together with the first five digits, then with five hyphen four digits … still not valid. Tried without the initial letters inputting five digits hyphen four digits … no joy, next I decided to omit the hyphen … still no joy.
Next I tried the USPS website to check on the ZIP code for the particular address and, guess what, it was exactly what I had input and was "not a valid ZIP code"! By this time desperation was creeping in, so from a position of despair I simply input the first five digits … et voila!
Problem was by this time I’d ordered the item from Amazon themselves rather than (3 dollars cheaper) Caiman.comon Amazon Marketplace. Next thing, cancel that order and click to order the same item from Caiman. The item having been ordered, suddenly realized that after all the faffing about the item was going to be despatched to me in the UK but, a) the item would be no use in the UK and b) chances are it would arrive too late for the intended purpose. I have contacted the company to ask if it could be despatched to the USA address, although I’m being charged for international shipping and, then I’ve had an e-mail telling me the item has been dispatched but, I’m not sure to which address.
Had it not been for one and a half hours of frustration with my ZIP, I doubt if this error would have occurred. The USA may speak a loosely related language but it’s sure hard to understand their customs.
A postscript to this story can be found in my entry "Caiman –  came and went".
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One Response to ZIP – The trials and tribulations of alien systems.

  1. Mark says:

    Hi again. I am tempted to say "Tell me about it!" Or "You should try living here!" Seriously, it is really hard for us Brits to navigate our way around such American complexities. You realise after a while that much of it is a question of what we are intuitively used to because of our own cultural expectations and norms. Great to read your blogs, anyway. And all best from us all here in North Carolina, Mark.

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