My daughter bought an apartment. Actually she bought a fully furnished apartment. It was brilliantly designed and decorated. The only thing she wasn't keen on was the white leather sofa. When she was able she decided to replace it with a dark grey one. When the new one was ready for delivery she arranged to have the white one transported over to our garage where it is now in residence (it has replaced her brother's derelict Triumph Stag, which we finally had removed for scrap, and the electric bike that I foolishly purchased thinking I was too decrepit to peddle unaided).
Here was the first problem. One of the metal legs of the white sofa had snapped off. Of course, the developers had long moved off site and an e-mail to them asking where the sofa had been purchased from led to a dead end. Never mind, I found the same legs on the Internet. They were manufactured by a factory in China. Unfortunately, this factory does not answer e-mails. Never mind, my daughter found the same legs on offer from an American company on e-Bay. They were only $3.75 each. Of course, she had to buy a set of four. She paid her money but they didn't arrive. Eventually an e-mail informed her that they had only charged her for overland transport. International orders would cost more.
Now I have heard it said that one third of Americans believe they could drive overland to Paris. Perhaps, because Tony Blair has been such a strong supporter of GWB, many Americans believe that England has become the 51st State? Perhaps, some Americans believe that the US is still a British colony? Perhaps it is that because we speak a language very similar to American that some Americans believe we are Americans. After all, Bill Clinton did list splitting the atom as an American first, and there was that film claiming it was an American rather than a British submarine that captured an Enigma machine from the Germans. A lot of American actors have featured as pilots in films about the Battle of Britain, and Winston Churchill was half American. Perhaps it is not surprising.
After paying the extra postage the legs were held up by the post office. Apparently there was duty to pay. This was surprising because it is permissible to import duty-free items costing less than $36. In order to release the legs she paid the duty and found that the American seller had written on the label of the parcel that the value of the goods was $112 rather than $20. Was this to make her feel she was getting a bargain? We are in the process of trying to reclaim the duty.
Worse was to come. She had bought the replacement sofa from John Lewis, a company with a high reputation. It was an elegant design. An 'L' shaped sofa that by some maneuvering would turn into a bed. It did not come in a flat pack. It seemed ideal. It comes as two pieces that fit together. But instead of a left hand end and a right hand end, they delivered two left hand ends that don't fit together. It seemed that someone somewhere has two right hand ends, but no, when we contacted the factory they told us that they would have to make another right hand end and that would take two months. We are still waiting. I find it very hard to believe that when it finally arrive that it will be the same color of wither of the two left hand ends we have.
What galls me is that, as doctors, if either my daughter or I had made these sorts of errors we would have been struck from the Medical Register, and have lost our livelihood. Standards are falling.