The rush of when you hit the ‘buy now’ option online, and the purchase goes through. The relief when you get the confirmation email that they’ve received your order. The eagerness when you receive the tracking number that your item has shipped. The anticipation you feel seeing that your package is out for delivery, or has been delivered right to your door! The joy of opening up your package, excited to receive what you had ordered only a few days ago. These are great feelings, right? Those are all feelings that we rarely experience in Lyon.
The most difficult thing that we’ve experienced so far while living in Lyon is trying to get mail or packages delivered to our apartment. In the U.S. we were spoiled. We could always rely on one or two-day Amazon Prime delivery right to our door. It was easy, convenient, and a time saver! Ordering things online in Lyon is the opposite – difficult, inconvenient, and a waste of time.
We’ve found that many carriers will not deliver mail to our apartment, and we have to select ‘relay points’ to pick up our items. That would be great if the relay point was the same for all carriers, but it’s not! Sometimes we pick things up in an Amazon locker at a small grocery store a couple of blocks away. Other times we pick up a package at a shoe repair shop a half mile away. Occasionally, by luck, our package may get delivered to our apartment. We just hope to be there when they call (with no advanced warning). And then there’s times where I don’t know where the package is going to be delivered. All I know is that it’s a local ‘relay point’ near me (thanks, UPS). According to one of Jordan’s co-workers, the delivery drivers are just lazy and this is a common experience.
That is, these are things we do if our order online goes through at all. I go through a card roulette when trying to buy things online. It all depends on where I am buying from and where I am trying to get the package to go. We also have to play around with our browsers and VPN (the VPN allows us to say that we are in the U.S., even while we are in France, to access U.S. specific content), but sometimes that isn’t even enough.
I hope you can find some enjoyment and amusement in some of our experiences below, like we have. We’ve got to laugh at the situation or else it would get too frustrating!
To buy dog food from Chewy.com for our doggies that are living with Jordan’s parents, we have to use a VPN to connect and a U.S. card. Otherwise, we cant even access the site.
To get Hello Fresh delivered, we have to be home the entire day they expect to deliver. Even then they might decide not to deliver our food for two consecutive weeks (true story). I guess as a silver lining to being “funemployed”, I will always be home when Hello Fresh delivers our food.
To buy things on Amazon.com, we have to buy something small enough/safe enough to fit into an Amazon box at the relay point. Or we take our chances on having it delivered to our apartment, which we have to be at home for to receive. Amazon also may try to deliver to the relay point on a holiday when the store is closed, and then email us and tell us the package can’t be delivered and to contact them to discuss other delivery options. Shouldn’t they know when their relay points are open or closed?
If they deem the item isn’t safe enough to deliver, like nail polish, we’re out of luck. They won’t deliver it to a relay point, but they also won’t typically deliver it to our apartment. We haven’t had much luck with Amazon Prime since moving here. The best use I’ve found for Amazon so far is that I can use Prime video to watch The Office in French for practice.
To get a package delivered from La Poste, the French postal service, instead of them bothering to leave it at the door or contact us, we’ll get a note saying that our package couldn’t be delivered because “we weren’t there” and that we can pick up the package at the La Poste office at a later date and time. No wonder there’s always really long lines at the La Poste locations.
To buy things from more local stops, sometimes the only way is to get the items delivered to the store for in-person pick up. It would be easier for us to just go to the store to begin with, right? Not necessarily. At some stores, their locations are small and they don’t carry much variety, so we have to order online and they will send the items from the warehouse to the store. Then we have to figure out logistics: are we going to walk or drive, how big are the items that we are picking up, can one of us do it, or do both of us need to be there to help, etc. Not easy, convenient, or a time-saver at all!
And sometimes, your package will be delivered to a local shop, but then that shop will close and all the packages will be moved to another shop… but which one… who knows! Last week, I had received an email that a package had been delivered to the local shoe shop. On Friday afternoon, Jordan and I had to go return a couple of things nearby and then decided to walk the mile to the store to get the package. When we arrived, the shop owner said that all packages had been moved and were “au bar”, or at the bar. But which bar? It wasn’t until five days later that I got an update on where I could pick the package up. As of this writing, I still haven’t picked up the package.
We haven’t mastered the art of returning items either.
I tried to return jeans that I had bought at H&M, but for five minutes the associate behind the register told me I couldn’t return it because I didn’t have the card I used (it was through Apple Pay on my phone). She gave me all my jeans back and I was at a loss… until she finally held up a gift card and allowed me to return the jeans and get the money back on a gift card instead. I think she just wanted me to sweat before she helped me.
Jordan tried to return a footprint for a tent at the local sports shop, and had to fill out multiple pages of paperwork for the return. It wasn’t until about a week later that we got an email saying that the return had been completed and our money refunded.
Online purchases that we have bought and needed to return are out of the question. We bought door stops for our doors from Amazon, and they were definitely door stops for ants. They were so tiny and not functional. We would have had to pay to return them, and I also would have had to figure out how to return it… so if anyone is in the market for tiny door stops, we have two we will give away!
Package stories aside, we leave today for a two week vacation in Norway! We will be posting photos on Instagram if you want to follow along daily.
I made a few updates to the blog this week. We now have an About Us page as well as a Travel page that will include tips, travel inspiration, and itineraries. We also just created a Pinterest site – if you use Pinterest, please follow our page!