Our grocery shopping patterns have dramatically changed in the age of the pandemic. In the before times Winnie would go grocery shopping every several days, using a variety of mostly Asian food stores. Since we’ve started staying-safer-at-home, we shop every several weeks using either Costco or Walmart curbside pickup. The ripple effects of this change includes not having enough space in our freezer for meat, and other stuff needing freezing to stay edible for long periods of time. So a few weeks ago, we (Winnie) decided we needed to buy a small chest freezer to store our stuff.
This should have been an easy purchase. But in this pandemic age, even internet shopping has proven to be adventurous.
Once Winnie made the decision to buy a chest freezer, I leaped into action and researched what was available. We quickly determined that a five to seven cubic foot freezer would be suitable, and checked online prices. Then, armed with our shopping knowledge, we went on down to our local home improvement store.
After seeing nothing in the appliance section, I took the unusual (for me) action of asking a sales associate. The associate literally laughed and said “we might have some in stock by October.” We went to a second store, and received the same response. So, we went home.
Back home, I reviewed my favorite online shopping site “Amazon.com.” We found several models, but most showed shipping dates of several months out. After a bit of sleuthing I located a seven cubic foot model for reasonable price, with a shipping date four weeks out. We made our purchase and waited.
Waiting For Delivery
During the following weeks I periodically checked shipping status. The delivery date was scheduled for no-later-than Friday August 21 and tracking info showed all was well. By Friday morning August 21, I sent the vendor an email requesting delivery information. I expected them to get a solid delivery date/time. Instead, I received the following response;
Thank you for your message. We are really sorry that you didn’t receive your product. We have contacted our shipping carrier and unfortunately your order has been lost in the mail, and we cannot fulfill your order at this time, you have already been refunded in full. Your bank can take a few business days to adjust the amount in your account. We can replace it for you but item unexpectedly we are sold out.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us directly if you have any additional questions or concerns.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Best regards,Amazon Vendor Response
Customer Service Operations.
This wasn’t the response we expected, and both Winnie and I were pissed. It was pretty obvious to me this vendor tried selling something they didn’t actually have. After a few cups of tea to settle down, we discussed Plan B. Winnie suggested we try Craig’s List and buy one locally. This sounded reasonable, so I pulled up Craig’s List and did another Internet search.
Exercising Plan “B”
I quickly found several chest freezers for sale, same model we had tried to purchase on Amazon, within a one-hours drive. Early Saturday morning I contacted them via email or phone messages, and waited. Within one hour I started getting responses. While I waited, I got our venerable utility trailer cleaned up, and hooked up to the Jeep ready for chest-freezer hauling action.
By 10:30 I’d received several responses, with the closest vendor in Alexandria about 45 minutes drive. Properly equipped with pandemic protection gear (masks, face shields, gloves), and the vendor address, we headed out.
The vendor’s location proved to be a small highly-cluttered office unit in a light industrial park. The man answering to door asked if we were there for the freezer and we acknowledged. He said “thanks for showing up,” and showed us the unit. The freezer was still packed up in factory shipping box, obviously new. Winnie wanted to test it, but there literally wasn’t room to unpack it. After some back-and-forth, Winnie agreed to go with the freezer as-is.
The vendor explained his business was buying wholesale using online apps, then reselling retail using Craig’s List, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace for advertising. He had purchased five of these freezers three days earlier from Target using an app, and ours was the final unit available. The vendor seemed pretty happy with his turn-around resale time.
We loaded the freezer on the trailer and headed back home. Once home, I unloaded it and set it up in the garage in a space Winnie had already prepped. We ran it overnight to cool down, and Sunday morning transferred all the food from our refrigerator/freezer to our hard-earned chest freezer.
So this is pandemic shopping through the Internet.
Living In Interesting Times : An ancient Chinese curse goes “May You Live in Interesting Times.” This pandemic age is definitely interesting.
The New Age of Mom and Pops : My observations on how the Internet is changing the nature of small “Mom and Pop” businesses.
Our Internet Romance : My story on the long-distance courtship and marriage to Winnie.