I’m not great at getting gifts. I’m good at spurring my family to embark on epic and immersive experiences, and on occasion will bring home flowers or perform other generous tasks. But when it comes to holidays and anniversaries, I’m the worst offender of procrastination in gift-buying or not buying gifts at all.
I decided to break the habit this Christmas, and I went to frustrating lengths to get Katie’s Christmas present.
The gift I wanted to get Katie could not be bought in a physical store, at least not in one I could find.
Ecommerce in Chile is not a refined or predicable interaction.
I found the gift I wanted on one website, but all four of my debit or credit cards were rejects.
I found the gift on a 3rd party site, but it was marked up 500%. I didn’t have a problem paying the ridiculous markup because this site would actually process my card.
I tacked on shipping to my order, willing to pay an extra eight dollars to have the product brought to my house.
But the order was intercepted by a customer service rep who insisted I speak with her on the phone.
I declined over email, explaining (with the help of Google translate) I wasn’t able to converse easily in Spanish on the phone.
She addressed the issue over email. They did not want to ship the product because I could pick it up on my own. She explained the product was only fifteen minutes from my house, and so I should just pick it up during store hours.
This was insane. I could not imagine a US retailer calling me to tell me they refused to ship the product because I lived too close to the store. I interpreted the message as stop being so lazy and come get your stuff.
Ok, I agreed to pick up the present.
The lady sent me the address.
I looked it up online, and it was the address to a shopping mall, not a specific store.
I asked her to confirm the location, and she indicated over email that the store was located in the mall.
I asked where and when.
She said to find suite G01, and that the store opened at 10am.
Ok, I was confident I could stop by this place to grab the gift.
The next morning, Wilson and I found a parking spot in a nearby neighborhood since all the spots at the mall were taken. We walked a couple blocks and crossed the street, and we finally located G01.
We had difficultly locating G01 because the store in G01 had no resemblance at all to the online store where I bought the present. It didn’t have the same name or branding. The establishment inside of G01 wasn’t a retail store at all. It was a bike mechanic shop, full of partially assembled bicycles. There was no cash register, displays, or aisles. It was just an open space, crowded with bicycles, and with a couple of men sitting on chairs, two men who did not seem prepared to greet customers.
I interrupted their discussion, and I flashed the invoice I had printed on my home computer. I’ve learned having printouts of receipts goes a long way towards communicating what you need and want in Chile.
One of the men greeted me, and he knew why I was there. He dug around in a bin and produced the gift. He then placed the gift in a Lider (Walmart) shopping bag and handed it to me. Note, the store is completely unaffiliated with Lider, but they seemed to have a whole stash of Lider shopping bags.
The man made me sign the piece of paper that I had thought to brought, and he kept it as proof that I had received the item. I don’t know what he would have done had I not brought my own receipt.
I also don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t asked for the specific location of the store inside the mall. I would have walked by this seemingly unrelated store without a second look, not knowing my gift was inside.
Anyway, I left confused. I’m still confused as to what actually went down. But I got the gift and will have earned Katie’s gratitude on Christmas morning.