Why you should never use Chronopost if you fancy your packages getting delivered on time. or at all.

Thinking of mailing a package or urgent document from France? You might naturally be inclined to pick French transporter Chronopost: after all, they are the official offshoot of the French Postal Services and you can use their service through any French post office. OK, if you have any experience with the latter, and their dysmal record in both regular and special mail delivery, knowing that they officially “recommend” Chronopost wouldn’t be a big boost in their favour, but still, the point is: they are the default, ubiquitous, choice for parcels in France… marginally cheaper than DHL or Fedex and much more conveniently located.

Over the course of those past three years in Paris, I have done my best to avoid Chronopost and the French Post: never ever relied on them for anything critical, whenever I could help it.

And when I couldn’t help it… well they never once fulfilled their promise. I’ve had “Express 48h” delivery brought over to my doorstep, 3 weeks late and half torn-out, relatives to whom I’d send birthday presents abroad would get them a month after their birthday (that’s despite paying $100 for a pocketbook-sized parcel), I’ve had to go pick-up packages at the local delivery point countless times because “Recipient not at home at time of delivery” (never mind the fact I’d have been sitting by the door all morning and had my cellphone number printed on the delivery slip)…

To sum it up, out of about a dozen interactions with Chronopost during my time here, I don’t think they’ve held up their end of the contract more than once, twice at best.

So this morning, I am sitting in Parc Monceau, perusing Paris’ public-park-wide open wifi, trying to pull the schedule for my afternoon train.

Trying, because despite being on my twentieth online ticket booking for the month, trying to get anything out of French National Railway’s website feels like trying to get freshly squeezed OJ from a stone. I am not sure how exactly the whole “prevent users from getting a ticket online at all cost” fits into their business plan, but I guess if you take in account their laughably bad track record in all areas of service, it is merely brand identity on their part.

Twenty minutes and still no luck trying to get a single schedule for a local train departing 10 times a day from Paris (website timing out or randomly crashing at varying levels of the 50-step process), I had an epiphany and remembered a friend telling me about how it was probably easier booking a French train through Deutsche Bahn, German’s national railway company. At the time, I thought it was a joke.

Well, it’s not.

In approximately 1/100th of the time I spent attempting unsuccessfully to get a schedule for a French local train (from a French city, to a French city) on the official French website, I got the exact same info (available in 4 languages) on a German website.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so lame.

There is a lot I would like to write about the recent news from Ireland
But frankly, I can’t be arsed and it would be nothing you couldn’t read elsewhere anyway.

So to keep it short and bitter, I’ll just say that, as a fierce Euro-hopeful, I’m doubly disappointed by this result. Not only because it drags the once promising European process further into the ditch where it’s been for the past couple years, but also that Ireland, of all countries, had to be the one responsible for doing so.

If by now you haven’t heard a thousands times how Ireland virtually owes a huge share of its current miracle economic success to the very European solidarity process they have just bailed out on, then you must have been sleeping for the past 20 years.

It’s bad enough seeing people and countries act as selfish me-first teenagers, but when said country was until not so long a clear beneficiary of such solidarity and decides to leave as soon as they are finally asked to pitch in… That’s both infuriating and slightly dispiriting about people.

My not-so-great hosting company having unilaterally decided to move the cluster my account resides on. This website, and all other websites on my account, as well as email and everything else, will be out of reach for about 8 hours starting at 10pm PST.

This sucks, unfortunately there isn’t much I can do (not like DH bothered offering any temporary hosting elsewhere: just a very helpful “going down tonight, deal with it” announcement).

Back in 24 hours.