The Long, And Not Particularly Interesting, Story of A Hat

16 Nov

There were 3 options when buying this hat. These were – small/medium, medium/large, and large/extra large. As a man of 5’8”, I tend to think of myself as medium sized, with perhaps, a medium-sized head (not sure of the size of the contents of the head). When buying clothes, I usually buy medium-large. Small will always be, well, too small, so I thought I made the right choice when deciding to go for the middle of these options. Aren’t baseball caps usually adjustable anyway, I might have thought? I honestly don’t think I put too much thought into the size I was ordering.

This hat really was way too big. And not adjustable. It allowed for some flexibility, but unless I had perhaps paid somewhere to have the thing suitably adjusted – and this might have spoiled the look of it, and not been economical – it was not going to be suitable for me to wear. There was nothing else for it, the hat was going to have to be returned. Again.

I must have contacted the dear old NFL shop customer service team, and back came, probably about 10 paragraphs worth of apology, etc. They did say they would pay for the hat to be returned, but I think I had wasted no time in sending it back, and filling out the supplied returns form, asking if perhaps they could replace it, instead of refunding me. The postage cost me about £5, but I wasn’t too bothered about that. I wanted the debacle ended as quickly as possible now.

It was now about another 3 week wait. In this time, I think I might have checked the NFL online shop, and just had a quick look at the particular hat I was ordering again. I swear it now showed that the hat was available in just 2 sizes. I am almost 100% sure it was 3 sizes when I ordered it, but saying that, even if it was just 2 sizes, I probably would have gone for the wrong one the first time. I was now waiting for the smallest available adult size that I knew of. Assuming they had the correct address, there could surely be no further problems.

So anyway, about 3 weeks after I’d sent back the hat that was too large, I got a knock on the door. It was a UPS delivery guy. He had a hat sized package in his hand. He also had an invoice for around £15. I had a quick look at this – something to do with additional delivery charges. £15 was at least the same price as the hat itself, if not more. I wasn’t going to pay this without further investigation. The delivery guy left me with just the invoice, and not the hat.

Apparently, there is import duty to be paid on items worth more than £15, and in my case, remarkably, that charge came to more-or-less exactly £15. As far as I was concerned, I had paid the delivery charge when I’d ordered the hat. I was not going to pay any more. And besides, as stated on the package, the sum I’d paid was in fact $24.99, and this included $5 delivery, so the item in fact was worth less than £15. And besides which – there had been no import duty to pay the last time I’d accepted delivery of a hat!

Email and phone call to UPS – nothing of course. On Monday (the original delivery attempt had been on the Friday, allowing me the weekend to cool off), back came a different UPS guy, but with the same package – yes, the hat, in many senses, just centimetres from its point of sale – and with the same insistence that I pay the £15 odd import duty. Again, I said, if you don’t mind holding it – I wanted to get the duty issue resolved first.

Well, later that day, a curious thing happened. The NFL shop sent me a refund, via paypal, of $19.99. This was the full (reduced) price of the hat, minus the postage (which I’d effectively paid twice). It was also of course, roughly the same amount as the import duty I was being asked to pay. This, I felt, was sufficient compensation, and I was now less reluctant to pay the import duty, even though it was a duty I still did not think I should be paying. Poor old NFL shop probably weren’t doing too well out of this, and I don’t know what their email customer service staff are getting paid, but they deserve a pay rise, assuming they can afford it – they must make some money off home-based customers?!

So now, I thought, having refused the package twice, there was a good chance that UPS, in their wisdom, might have ideas about sending the hat back to its point of origin. As I had now had some form of refund, I resolved that my mission now was to stop this from happening.

The invoice I had been left with did not have a Cardiff address on it, and although it’s not clear on the UPS website, there appeared to be a UPS warehouse somewhere near Newport Road in Cardiff, and I straight away drove down there. The location my sat nav pointed to was a closed up place with a for let sign. I asked next door. They gave me rough directions – along the coast road, near to the windmill thing. We don’t have many wind power generators in Cardiff, so I was pretty sure I knew roughly where he meant, and I headed off in this direction.

I got to a taxi rank – they’re bound to know, I thought. One of them gave me some pretty clear directions, and on I went. I got to..another taxi rank. These people had google. Well, praise the lord for google – you think I hadn’t tried that?! This girl’s googling resulted in the news that UPS is now Yodel. Hmm. I wasn’t so sure about that – the UPS delivery guy did after all have a UPS uniform. But I tried going roughly in the directions she gave (all the time adding to my fuel costs here, of course). I was now heading closer to the wind power generator thing again. It was at this point that I seemed to remember having gone in this direction before – had I perhaps had to pick up something from UPS before, about a year or two ago? Yes, it was coming back to me now. I knew I could not be far away!

There it was, like a vision on the horizon – the UPS warehouse. Looking different from how I vaguely remembered, but this was surely the place. No-one at reception – not a problem. Soon, there will be someone surely. I just need to “ring this number”, or if no answer at that number, “ring this number”.

Customer RequestI rang the first number, and there was an answer. Someone came to see me. I gave him the delivery number, and “cut a long story short” by saying I was here to pick up a package, and that I was after all, now willing to pay the additional delivery charge, which I didn’t think I needed to pay.

The kind man went to get my hat. He brought it to me. I paid the £15 odd. I think I gave him a £20 note, and he had to get change. While he went away, I opened up the package. I took out the hat. I put it on. It was still a bit too big, incredibly enough, but it did fit, just not a snug fit. I took it off. The kind man brought back my change. I gave him a truncated version of events about how long it had taken me to get this hat. He told me to put it on again, and said it looked good.

Well, if the finale of this story was to have a Cardiffian with the slight look of Robert De Niro tell me, with a Robert De Niro-style grin, that the hat looked good, I was happy enough. We still quibbled about the charge, and he gave me a “magic number” which allowed me to get through to the UPS customer service department almost straight away. I was told I’d have to ring another number. I decided I’d try this at home, and left.

I think I tried this number, didn’t get through and sent UPS an email. It’s funny, a saga finishes, and you’re so overwhelmed that it’s finally pretty much all over, you can’t help prolonging it somehow. This time, UPS did get back to me, and said they’d even refund the import duty I’d paid, which I must admit, I felt very slightly cheeky about now given that NFL had already fully compensated me. Perhaps I should send it as a Christmas tip for the NFL shop customer service team (it’s coming up to Christmas now, and bear in mind that I first ordered the hat in June). I have also received a letter from UPS informing me of their intention to refund me, but as of yet, no refund.

I won’t be stressing over this however. Importantly, I now have the hat. The hat I didn’t especially need or want. I have worn it on a couple of occasions. Some people have asked why I’m wearing it. Well, it covers a bald patch I might say. Um, Ian Brown had one a bit like it, I might say to someone who at least has some interest in music. Another friend I go to watch Cardiff City with also wears a NFL hat, so I won’t feel too out of place if I wear it when I go to watch Cardiff with him. He is actually a fan of the team whose hat he wears though, I think. Along with Cardiff as well of course. You would think it would make more sense to wear a Cardiff hat, but for some reason, Cardiff fans don’t always wear the official Cardiff merchandise. It can look a bit “plastic”. Plus, there is the issue that Cardiff have changed their colours and badge this year, and many people, like myself, find this a bit distasteful and won’t wear the new badge or colours. So I’ve got something different to wear now.

But anyway, the other “moral” to the story is that progress is not always so great. Oh technology, with the joys of things like sat nav that take you to places that don’t exist, or the joy of being able to click a button and have something – if it’s being delivered in this country – delivered to you in 2-3 working days. How quick and easy everything is these days! Well, there is another way to buy something that doesn’t take around 5 months of hassle, having to pay over the odds, and still having to drive to pick it up yourself. What you can do is go to a shop. That’s it, a shop. Here you can choose what you like, you can try it on for size, you can give the shopkeeper the correct money, and then, that very same day, you can take it home with you! To quote the advertising slogan of a popular money-saving website, simples!

And finally, good luck to the Cleveland Browns this season. With just 2 wins from 9 so far, it looks like they’re going to need it.


Footnote: The hat “modelled” above is, for reasons not known, not currently on sale from the NFL online shop.

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1 Comment.

One thought on “The Long, And Not Particularly Interesting, Story of A Hat

  1. Stephen

    Never have I had to read such a load of whitter, whitter, whitter, and more whitter.
    But I’m glad I persevered. Some bits were very entertaining. Page Two just about came out top.
    Hope those kind and patient people back in NFL have seen your post.

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