I was sitting in a folding chair in our empty new apartment waiting for our delivery from Ikea, which was scheduled to come between 1:00 and 5:00. As 5:00 approached, I started to get nervous – had they forgotten us? We were expecting 12 large, heavy boxes containing some kitchen cupboards and our new oven among other things.
They didn’t forget us
Finally the phone rang. The delivery man said that he would be there in about 15 minutes. Then he asked, “Do you have a trolley to move the boxes with?” I thought this was a strange question – I would have thought he would bring his own trolley. I answered, “No” and then he informed me that he was only to unload the merchandise from the truck and it was up to me to get it into my apartment and since we were on a pedestrian street he couldn’t unload on our street, it would have to be one street away.
It is not possible
I was shocked and started to protest that no one had told me this and that I was alone and could not move the boxes, using the famous French phrase, “c’est pas possible” (it’s not possible). He responded that it was also impossible for him to move the boxes because according to the contract he was only to unload them……and then he hung up.
I panicked, imagining myself out on the street with 12 big boxes. Jeff was at the other apartment doing a live radio interview and had informed me not to call during that time as he wouldn’t be answering the phone. My mind was racing, trying to find a solution. I had just about decided to go to one of the restaurants on the street and beg for help, when Jeff rang me. His interview was over so he cancelled his next call and headed to my rescue.
A guilty conscience
In the meantime, the delivery man must have started to feel guilty about leaving a middle aged woman stranded alone on the street with 12 big boxes. He called back and said that he would make his other deliveries first then come by my place and bring everything in for me. I thanked him profusely.
A happy ending
So Jeff arrived and helped the delivery man who was young and strong and in the end, it all worked out fine. But I wanted to know why we had found ourselves in this situation. So I asked if this was the normal delivery procedure, adding that we have had deliveries from Ikea in the UK and they were always brought inside the apartment.
He explained that there are two types of deliveries. One is “livraison à domicile” which is delivered by 2 men and brought into the house, and the other is “pied de camion” (foot of the truck) which is delivered by one person and is just unloaded from the truck. The young lady who prepared the paperwork for the delivery didn’t explain this to us or ask which one we wanted. She just put down “pied de camion”. So another lesson learned – next time we will definitely verify what type of delivery we are getting.
PS The delivery man got a nice tip.
We are now all settled into our new apartment and it was a relatively painless experience. Of course anytime you move there are frustrations and worries, and even more if you are in a foreign country. We had some anxious moments along the way, as in the story above, but all in all, we found the French to be helpful as we manoeuvred through an unfamiliar system. The expat life is never dull!
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