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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Monday, November 13, 2023

I finally have a success story to share. It’s about my home organization project. Trivial, I know, but I will take the wins wherever I can get them.

We have a lot of podcasting equipment. It’s been almost 6 years since we podcasted and I don’t know if we ever will again. We talk about it sometimes. Ralph has ideas. I have ideas. Podcasting is fun but it’s also work. Too much work for me to want to take it on anytime soon.

But even if I wake up one day and realize I don’t know what to do with my time and have a sudden urge to start another podcast, the equipment we have won’t be any use. Technology years is like dog years, but exponentially worse. You buy a thing today and in a few months it’s the old thing and there are ten newer, better, faster, cooler things. We have all eleven.

The problem is that of course you never get rid of stuff like that. It’s Useful Stuff. And Expensive Stuff. Not, say, a box of tongue depressors that Amazon sent you by accident. I threw those out, by the way. Let’s call that a win, too, shall we?

Ralph and I have talked about selling the old equipment but that’s absurdly difficult. You have to find a place to post it, which hopefully doesn’t cost you more money, then you have to deal with the negotiations and the scammers who want to wire you the money in Bitcoin through a Siberian account or something. Then you have to figure out how to get paid and how to ship it and should you include the shipping and on and on.

But then we had a genius idea. Why not find out if we could sell it BACK to the company we bought it from, which in this case is B&H?

I went onto their website and lo! They have a place where you can sell used equipment. One small hurdle jumped, but I was still skeptical. I’ve dealt with some of these second hand marketplaces before. They are typically just “community forums” where the crazy runs as rampant as it does anywhere else.

But that turned out not to be the case, because right there, right on the page where I had found information about selling our stuff, was a big button that said… wait for it… GET A QUOTE.

A quote! With a button! That alone was a miracle. I mean, the thing I needed was right there? In plain sight? And I didn’t have to click ten different things and choose the picture of the llama and check the box to make sure I was human?

In about five minutes I had put all my information into their form and clicked the button to send off my request.

And then I waited.

This is the part where I would normally say… and waited. And resent the form. And contacted them to find out if they got it. And slammed a few things on the desk.

But the miracle continued because within ten minutes I had a quote in my inbox, with a prepaid shipping label to send the stuff back.

No questions, no fuss, no complicated instructions. Just put the stuff in a box, slap the label on and drop it off at FedEx.

I was so confused that I actually left the email there for a few days and did nothing.

Then I went back into my closet and found more stuff.

Back to the website, enter in the info, request another quote. Ten minutes later, new quote, new shipping label. But I realized I had made a mistake, so I amended my request and emailed them back explaining what I did wrong, fully expecting this to be the fatal flaw in the process. I mean, there was no way they were going to respond to a whole different email that fell outside the script, right?

Ten minutes later, amended quote, new shipping label.

Once again, I found this so befuddling that I went and made some pancakes and forgot about it for a few more days.

The chaos in my office grew. I now had all the equipment, a box of bubble wrap, a bag of styrofoam peanuts, about ten empty cardboard boxes so I could see which ones would be the best size for the stuff, and an entire box of cables strewn across the floor that I’d emptied when looking for the ones to send back.

I wish I had taken a picture of it because I don’t think you’ll even believe me when I tell you that Ralph walked into the room to work, picked up his laptop and walked right back out and sat at the dining room table for the day.

That was the point at which I decided something needed to be done.

I just had to figure out what. Should I… email them back to make sure they sent me the right shipping labels? Should I… find some fine print to see if there was a rule about which FedEx location I could use or maybe they wouldn’t accept shipments from Tennessee and I just didn’t know about it? Should I… ask if they really wanted everything in two boxes, or maybe they would prefer one and do they want to give me a single quote instead of two? Should I… go back to bed and wake up when reality hit? Because surely nothing was this simple.

I printed the shipping labels. I put the stuff into boxes. I taped the labels on.

Then I drove them to FedEx and it was over.

To be fair, I wasn’t entirely shocked by the efficiency. We’ve been doing business with B&H for many, many years and they have always been stupidly efficient and reliable. They are like a little oasis of peace in the chaos of everything else that you have to deal with through any given transaction.

They’re intelligent. They’re helpful. They say what they’ll do and they do what they say.

They told me how long it would take for them to process the stuff once they receive it, and you know what? I believe them. I have no doubt that within the timeframe they specified, I will have money in my hand.

Do you know what I didn’t do? Look up the current value of anything to see if it was fair or if I could do better somewhere else. Because I can’t. There is not going to be anything better. There is certainly not going to be another interaction where I go from “let me try this” to “it’s done” with anything resembling this efficiency.

And perhaps the most ridiculous thing of all is that I trust them. We’ve been buying stuff from them for years and they are always 100% fair and straightforward.

Where most people don’t answer questions until you’ve asked them four times in three different ways, these folks answer questions before you even ask. Where most people have to put things on their websites like “Oh snap, something went wrong!” and hope their cuteness makes them forgivable, these folks just make things work.

When you talk to them they’re polite. When you need help they help. They even know how to use spelling and grammar and never have to conclude an email with a smiley face or an lol.

Honestly. It’s a miracle that they even exist.

My boxes are on the way and I await their response. I’m feeling no anxiety over this whatsoever, not wondering how many times I will have to follow up, not worried that they will suddenly undercut their estimate. They do ask you to rate the condition of the items, and say that they will finalize the price after inspection. I might have been a little enthusiastic about the condition of one or two things, but whatever they decide in the end will be fine with me.

Oh, and if I don’t like the price? They will ship my stuff back at no charge.

I do not want my stuff back. I’m going to take the money and run, and enjoy my extra closet space.

And for five minutes I am going to bask in the wonder of people who know what they’re doing and call this a great success. Tomorrow we can go back to work in our office. The floor is, miraculously, still there.

Photo: my new storage crates and some beautifully empty shelves. Oh, and the people who sold me the crates? NOT efficient! Many, many emails, confusing answers, stupid broken website and so much aggravation I told them that if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d already bought these crates I’d never do business with them again.