Do you ship to Israel?

One of the things people miss when making aliya, especially from the United States, is the ease with which you can shop online there, compared to Israel. Having said that, in Israel I am able to order my groceries online very easily, whereas in Florida, I could not. Everything else, however, not so. There are a few problems with online shopping in Israel. I just can’t go into them, it would take all night, but click the link below and watch the clip and enjoy (I apologize I couldn’t find this with English subtitles, so if you don’t speak any Hebrew you may not get it). It’s so close to the truth.

Okay, now you’ve seen the supposed parody of how the post office in Israel works. Only it’s kind of really like that. You order something from, say, Aliexpress, and then you forget about it, and about six months later you get a notice from a post office, somewhere within 25km of where you live, to go pick it up, only by the time you get there, they’ve returned your package. Or you arrive there only to find that they can’t find your package because it’s so small it’s fallen behind another package (and as it’s that small, how come they couldn’t just slip it into your mailbox to begin with?).

So here’s 2 stories. I frequently order books. I read a lot, and the local library has a rather poor selection of books in English, and the second hand book shops also don’t have much. So I buy books from an online shop that ships for free to Israel, and the books usually arrive within a couple of weeks. A few times, the books have even gone straight into my mailbox. Score!

A couple of weeks ago I received an SMS from the postal service telling me a package was ready for pick up. I knew it was a book I had ordered. I didn’t recognize the pickup location, as it was neither of the two post office branches that I normally get to pick up from. No, it was a supermarket about as far away from where I live as you could get in my city. Two buses each way. I filed a formal complaint about that one, but I still haven’t heard anything from the last formal complaint that I filed about a year ago, so…

Then 10 days ago, I took advantage of a free shipping offer and ordered my kids some winter pyjamas from the UK. Happily, I got an email from a private courier company with tracking information, and the lovely news that the PJs would be delivered directly to my door. Expected delivery date was last Thursday, and sure enough, that morning,  tracking info showed that the package was “on truck for delivery”. I was all excited – it was almost like waiting for Amazon Prime packages to show up in the US via UPS! Sadly, Thursday night came and went, and no pyjamas. But in our mailbox that night was a little slip, from the Post Office “courier service”. It had a tracking number on it (that didn’t match the tracking number I had), but no addressee, and yet requested that the addressee come to a neighbouring city to pick up the package with identification.

So this morning (Sunday), Keith and I drove to the neighbouring city and found this post office. On entering I found that there was no paper in the ticket machine, so I had to declare “I’m last” and wait my turn *. When I got to the clerk, she took one look at my piece of paper and told me I was in the wrong place. The courier service depot is out the door, to your left, down the hill towards the car park and the second door there. I had her repeat that twice. So I followed her directions, and found myself in a warehouse under the post office with 3 employees sitting there. I handed over my slip of paper. What happened next is like something out of a cheesy movie.

Employee: Oh you ordered something from Amazon
Me: No.
Employee: Ebay then. All the tracking that ends with 22 is Amazon or Ebay
Me: No. I ordered pyjamas from the UK
Employee completely ignores me and starts picking up boxes that are definitely not my PJs. I see a package on the bottom shelf of the shelves designated for my neighbourhood (oh yes, the whole shelving unit was for my part of my city!) and try to point it out to him, but he continues to check boxes.
Employee: Oh, wait, it’s passports. It’s your new passports. Look, this is your address.
Me: Em…. I am not getting passports, yes that is my address, but that’s my neighbour, not me
Employee: Oh. Do you want to take this for your neighbour? Do you know her?
Me: Did the wrong note get put in my mailbox? Can you please check that black package on the bottom shelf?
Meanwhile, I call my neighbour (she happens to be one of the few I know well enough to have her number)
Me: Hey, it’s Vanessa. This is kind of odd, but I’m here picking up a package and they are trying to give me your passports. Would you like me to sign for them and bring them home to save you the trip?
Neighbour: Wait, what? They’ll allow you to sign for them? Sure, if you can.
Me: They’re practically begging me to take them….
Employee: Oh hey! I found your package! It’s this black one on the bottom shelf. What is it? Feels like clothes or something. Hey, did your neighbour say you should take the passports?

You cannot make this stuff up.

*this works in every situation in Israel with a queue – you simply say “I’m last, and the next person who comes in will ask “who’s last”, and the “last” person tells them it’s now them. It’s always important to know who is in front of you and who is behind you, so you can go off and do other things and then return before your turn comes, and you can say “I was after him” – this may result in a riot, but it’s just how it works here. It’s quite common in supermarkets, for example, for people to put their shopping cart in line at the register while still quite empty, and then to go off and do their shopping and come back and fill the cart while not having to stand in the queue for very long.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Emanuel Weisgras
    Dec 19, 2016 @ 12:53:56

    Ha – reminds me of my episode last week with one of the private mail pick-up “agents” – a cigarette and liquor shop. They returned my registered mail early because, “How was I supposed to know you would pick it up today?” (on the last day on which I had to pick it up).


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