Spectacular own goal?

Had TNT just blown up one of my review shipments from the UK?

The Irish Sea is quite narrow. You'd not think that shipping goods across it would be that strained. Alas, that was before Brexit brought down the new iron curtain on trade.

Despite my shipment at left having been formally declared a temporary import with all the necessary paperwork to make it so, Irish customs were adamant that their usual 23% VAT was applicable pre-paid rather than being waved upfront only to be collected with a credit card on file should the shipment not export again within the agreed time frame.

To get 'temporary VAT' refunded now involves physically presenting the shipment at Irish customs in Dublin before it may be shipped out again. I live 4 hours from the airport. A pallet squarely won't fit into our compact car. Now it was incumbent upon my shipper to prepay Irish VAT; plus likely face British VAT for the return trip then collect all of it back during his year-end tax return. What an absolutely splendid way to do business.

In a recent interview with British prime minister Rishi Sunak, a UK business man running the country's largest clothing empire called the related implications "a spectacular own goal".

But as far as the Irish curmudgeons at TNT go, there's more. Check my shipment's progress on their online terminal. It arrived in Tallaght (Dublin) on the 20th right on time then shows 'in transit' to Koeln. Checking a map, there is no Irish town by that name. Any reasonable person suspects Köln, Germany. Arschkram?

Six days later it still wasn't delivered. Instead it seemed in endless transit betwixt Tallaght/Cologne. TNT's masterclass on purple ping pong? "Recovery actions underway" didn't sound too encouraging. So with TNT having merged with FedEx, I called them. They'd just gone 100% pure voice recognition sans earlier option menu. The ghost in the machine soon found my tracking number and said "out for delivery on the 24th". It already being the 26th, that was funny. AI stuck in a time warp?

I eventually managed to get a living customer-service agent on the line; in FedEx's usual Mumbai call center. That chap couldn't find the tracking number. When I explained that FedUp's own system had just routed me through, he was adamant. They didn't handle my shipment. I had to call TNT. When I did, another AI rattled off the TNT greeting then rolled over to FedEx. I was stuck on the endless bureaucratic hamster mill. Was I seeing red or was it just red tape? Sticky stuff, that.

What's more, to even get through to FedEx's Indian call center now requires having an account number. It never did before. Not having one for TNT, I had to lay follow-up on my UK shipper to sort. He has a TNT account so could ring his local account manager who promised 48-hour resolution; or the pallet would reroute to the UK. Writing this on the 26th, I'm still hopeful that it'll get sorted. For now I'm simply chilled by Big Corp.'s cost-cutting readiness to go full AI and shut out actually breathing people. Big Corp is getting ever more inhuman. That's not a world I look forward to living in. Perhaps I must relocate to the one moon? I'm also struck by the fallout of Brexit's self infliction three years after the fact; and Irish custom's apparent glee to stick it to the Empire. If you were wondering why certain reviews are late or possibly never materialize, this antsy anecdote is just one of many reasons. Let's leave some of the others for another rainy day.

PS: By May 22nd so one full month after initial collection, this shipment was still in Dublin even though late on the 26th, customs had cleared it; and then cleared it again on May 9th. Word to the wise? Do not use TNT; or get blown up.