How to Waste a Morning in Prague

So today I had to send a letter to the IRS. Since I need it to arrive before December 23rd, I thought I would send it by courier – DHL in fact. Around 10am, I duly set out and drove the 10-minute drive to the airport where DHL have an office. I walk in to the DHL office armed with my reading glasses (their air bills use such small typeface its unreadable) and a pen…. yes, last time I was there they had no pens available! This is the Czech Republic people after all where customer service cannot be translated into the local language because it simply does not exist as a concept…..

Entering the office there was what looked like a 15-year old behind the desk and on the phone. OK – so I start looking for the air bills after all this is a DHL office and either sending or picking up packages is what you would expect here right? A quick scan and a further slow search revealed that no air bills were available. OK, so I wait yet to be even acknowledged by the 15-year old…..

Ten minutes later phone call is over and he immediately starts serving the guy in front of me who is there to pick up a package. No eye contact made yet. He leaves to get said package. About five minutes later he reappears with package and finally I say “Can I please have an air bill?” He looks at me like I just transported myself in from the USS Enterprise. I repeat “May I please have an air bill?”. He reaches under the counter and lobs me an air bill. No pen. That’s fine, I brought one.

I struggle to read the thing even with my reading glasses on and determine to bring a magnifying glass next time. I fill it out and place it on the counter with my parking ticket to be validated. Five more minutes go by while our 15-year old shows me that he is busy reading something on his screen. Eventually, he takes the thing, reads it and then gets a package out in which to place my letter. “I need to open it” he tells me brusquely. Why he would need to open my letter to the IRS is beyond me but I have no objection and so he opens it, inspects the contents and then shoves it back in the envelope and then into the bag for shipping. Finally, progress is being made…..

He then reads the air bill again, scratches his head and disappears to return several minutes later with a handbook that he then proceeds to thumb through.
Suddenly, he smiles. “We can’t send anything to a PO box,” he says.
What? I say surprised, “since when?”
“We can’t send it,” he says still smiling and shoving his book into my face to prove it.
“Look, I was here just two-months ago sending my tax return to that same address and you accepted it,”
“No, we didn’t,” he says defiantly.
“Yes you fucking did!,” says I feeling the heat of anger rising rapidly and my hands beginning to shake. I pull out my wallet and pull out the receipt and air bill copy from two-months previous…. “See.” says I.
“Mistake. We shouldn’t have sent it. You will have to leave.”
“Go get your bloody boss now,” I say.

He disappears for another 5-minutes and reappears with his ‘boss’. This one looks about 45 and he is annoyed. I probably disturbed him from surfing the internet.

“Its like he says. We can’t send anything to a PO Box,” says the boss while the 15-year old noods vigorously flashing his crooked teeth in a smile of satisfaction of pissing off another customer.

customer service

“But, its the IRS, their address is a PO box. It is the US Government for goodness sake,” says I sensing defeat.

“Yes,” pipes in a sympathetic customer from behind me who had been patiently waiting through most of this. “Its the US Government and the PO Box is their address.”

“I don’t care who it is. No PO Box addresses and that’s that,” says boss man gradually moving back towards the door and the peace and security of his browsing fun.

I have an idea and I call my accountant in between finally letting rip with a good dose of several fucks and comments about customer service. I mean, wouldn’t customer service oriented people say something like…

“I am sorry sir but it is now company policy not to accept shipments to a PO Box, even in the case of the IRS itself. However, if you would just wait a moment, I will go and look on the Internet to see if I can find a usable address for the IRS.”

Wouldn’t that be the right approach? Don’t you think? DHL is an American company isn’t it???? maybe I am wrong there but surely they would know where the IRS are located?

Luckily my accountant emails me an address for the IRS.

I wait while the 15-year old slowly serves another customer. “Can I have an air bill please?”

“You have one!”

“Yes, but you won’t accept the address and I need a new one now,”

He lobs me another. No pen. I fill it out. and wait a little more. He finally processes my air bill and then asks for the 70USD it apparently costs to send a small flat almost weightless letter from Prague to Austin, TX.

Finally, I am done. I put my parking ticket on the counter… and wait again.

“what’s that?, says 15-year old.

“My parking ticket,” says I.

“Its free for the first 15-minutes,” says he….


At this point, I jumped over the counter, grabbed him by his hair, rammed his face repeatedly into the wall while kneeing him viciously in the balls until he dropped unconscious to the floor where I kicked his lifeless body until sure he was completely dead… in my imagination.

“I have been here almost an hour,” I said calmly.

Reluctantly, he takes the ticket and runs it through the machine.

I leave.

One morning wasted. In Prague where customer service isn’t something that actually exists in the lexicon of the country.

Do me all a favor – boycot DHL please until they invest in some customer service training for their Prague-based 15-year olds….

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