The Art of Instant Gratification
There is a certain charm to checking the post box after a hard day's work, and receiving an unexpected hand written letter in the mail for your reading enjoyment over a cup of tea. With the rise of social media and instant messaging, gone are the days of carefully composed messages, sometimes becoming woefully out of date before they arrive to the recipient due to the pace of snail mail. As information moves online, so too have the days of posted bank statements and bill notifications become a memory in time. Although letters are declining, there is the rise of online shopping resulting in the postage of boxes in all shapes and sizes sent zooming across the world each day.
nd When ordering an item such as clothing or books online in Australia, there is usually a postage fee involved. Of course there is the option to send via express post, but it requires a heftier fee. More often than not, don’t expect your package to arrive the next day. If the package is delivered to your door and you are not there to sign for it, it’s taken to a postal office, usually only open during work hours, making it rather inconvenient for the full- time worker. The classic image associated with postal services is the friendly “postie” who rides his/her motorcycle up and down suburban streets donning a brightly coloured vest, while carefully placing mail and small packages into people’s mailboxes, waving to the neighbors as he/she passes through. In the urban suburbs the mailboxes tend to be painted with dull coloured boxes, but in the rural regions they can feature eccentric designs such as being in the shape of a cow or a windmill. Today, Australia Post is facing many challenges , as it is trying to
adapt to modern life in the tumultuous era of declining postal services. But in China, it’s a whole other story. For foreigners in China discovering the cheap and efficient magic of Taobao and Kuaidi is particularly spellbinding. Logging into Taobao is like jumping into a never-ending whirlpool of unlimited choices.You find yourself adding bizarre items you never even knew you wanted, to your virtual cart. Once you star t clicking you can never stop. Many of my foreign friends have been bitten by the online shopping bug, addicted to the convenience of choosing an item in the comfor t of their room and seeing a text message arrive the next day informing them of the delivery of the package, or receiving a call from the kuaidi service waiting outside. The question,“Where did you buy that from?” has become devoid, with the likely response to be “Taobao”. Instead the more appropriate question has become, “Can you send me the link on WeChat to the you store you bought that from?” Everything from toilet paper, to Wi-Fi, to soccer outfits, to camera lens caps, to pillows. Though it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Relying on Taobao is also like playing the lotto, where you are either a winner or a loser. Even when looking through the photos, or reading reviews posted by previous buyers, it is still a gamble as to whether you will receive what you thought you were purchasing. When the product is out of the carefully composed photos with filters and strategic placement, the colour or quality can look drastically different. Or there is the chance of only
nd receiving bits and bobs. One friend bought a jacket and trouser set, but he only received the jacket as the trousers were missing. Another bought a set of candles with the promise of receiving an extra one for free, but only two arrived. There is also the fatal error of just looking at the pictures and not reading the description thoroughly. A friend bought what he thought was a mini vacuum intended to clean his room, but upon opening the box realized it was for the inside of a car. Although many foreigner friends quickly mastered the art of purchasing online, there is the more difficult art of returning. Luckily, since the postal service is so fast, there’s the opportunity to ship it back, receive a refund and purchase another product in an instant.