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Apex Obtained. Finally.

They deliver despite rain, snow, sleet, hail, heat, and cold. But that doesn’t stop the US Postal Service from periodically losing your mail.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a “plug”:http://blog.apexdigest.com/articles/2006/07/21/auctions#comments on Jason Sizemore’s blog, “A Writer’s Vanity”:http://blog.apexdigest.com, about an opportunity to win signed copies of the first five issues of “Apex Digest”:http://www.apexdigest.com plus a one-year subscription to the magazine. At that point, there were no bidders and only two days left on the auction, so I went ahead and put my bid on. Well, the auction closed, and I became the proud winner of nine issues for the low, low cost of two issues (including shipping costs). ((I actually still feel kind of bad about it, almost like I stole something. But at the same time, I’m ecstatic that I was able to snag a complete collection at a time when I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to save up the dimes I’d need to purchase every back issue.))

This is where the headaches began.

This had been my first eBay auction since moving to my new home. So, before I paid for my prizes, I made a point of updating my information inside of eBay. Well, as it turns out, eBay is kind of tricky. When you update your address, you actually have to make sure that you are updating both your registration information as well as your shipping/billing information. I didn’t realize that the two things were separate, let alone that updating one does not populate that information across to the other. So, it wasn’t until two days after I’d paid that I discovered that my shipping information still pointed to my old address. It was also several months after moving, so I had no idea if my forwarding request was still active at my previous post office.

I emailed Jason in a panic, hoping to give him my correct address _before_ he shipped everything out. I didn’t want my magazines to get delivered to my old address; I knew I’d never see them again. He responded quickly and told me that I did, indeed, catch him in time and that he would be shipping them out soon.

Relieved, I sat back to wait. And wait. And wait. A week went by and no Apex. I emailed Jason again to inquire about the shipping status. He replied that he had sent them out priority mail so I should have had them by now. He asked that I wait another few days and if they still didn’t arrive, then he would ship out another batch. Or I could go down to the “Destination Apex”:http://www.apexdigest.com/destination.shtml event held on August 5 in New Albany, IN, and pick them up directly from him. I would have loved to do that, except for the fact that it was my birthday and I had family in that weekend. (Plus time and budget simply haven’t allowed for much travel lately.)

So I waited another few days. Wednesday arrives and still no Apex. So I let Jason know, and he said he would ship another batch out. Unfortunately, he didn’t have anymore signed copies, so he said he would toss in a copy of Issue 6 as compensation. Fine by me, I said. The autographs would have been nice, but the main prize for me was the content itself. Apex Digest is a fabulous magazine, and I just wanted to devour the stories held in its pages.

Finally, I received a notice from my post office that they had an item too large for my mailbox. New problem: ours is a small-town post office, so they open after I leave for work and close before I get home. This makes it very difficult to pick anything up from the window. I called asking to have it delivered to my house; they said, No way, José; you’re not on a delivery route; you’ll have to come pick it up. At this point I just wanted to be able to close this deal, to tell Jason I had his product in my hands, to be able to complete the details on eBay by leaving my feedback for him. The post office had delivered things to my house before when I couldn’t come get it myself, so I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t do it now. I admit it – I lost my cool. I didn’t quite go off on the lady, but my tone of voice made it pretty clear I was very unhappy.

But I calm down after a while, and I realized that it wouldn’t hurt anything to wait until Saturday to pick things up from the post office. I was content, then, to sit back and wait a few more days.

This story does have a happy ending, though, because when I got home last night, what should greet my eyes than my Apex purchase waiting on my porch for me. Apparently, someone at the post office repented and decided it was okay to deliver it, after all.

With glee and a sharp knife, I slashed open the envelope (careful to avoid injuring my prizes, of course), and out fell six shiny chapbooks filled with wonderful stories. I was joyous. An email was sent to Jason to let him know I finally had the magazines – still with a couple of signatures, but with fewer than the original batch – and feedback was left to complete my eBay obligations.

In all of this Jason was very patient with me. Numerous panicked emails and questions were sent his way, so many that he was probably tired of hearing from me before it was all done. ((I admit to being somewhat irrational with worry at several points. I don’t really handle stress all that well, as anyone who knows me can attest.)) I appreciated him sending another batch at no additional cost to me, which I again felt bad about since it was an additional loss for him.

My aggravation was with the postal service for losing yet another important piece of mail (the third within the last year). I still half-expect the original batch to show up at some point – I find it hard to believe that something that size could get lost forever – but I cringe to think what condition it might be in if it does. ((The first item that was lost last year was a bill that finally showed up a month last with the top half completely missing.)) Chances are good, though, that it’s gone forever. Should it turn up, it will end up back in Jason’s hands for another lucky customer to snag.

A long ordeal, stressful to say the least, but completed successfully, despite the bumps in the road. I’m very pleased with the product, and I started in on Issue 1 last night. If you’re a sci-fi and a horror fan, I urge you head over to “Apex Digest”:http://apexdigest.com right now and put in your order for a subscription. The writing is high quality, the chapbooks are beautiful, and the magazine is a wonderful addition to your speculative fiction library. I’ve become a fast and loyal fan and customer of this particular publication.

Thanks to Jason for the wonderful opportunity to snag such good fiction so cheap, and to the entire Apex staff and writers for creating such a fantastic publication.

Now, wasn’t that just a whole lot of information you really didn’t care about?

More Technical Difficulties (of a Different Sort)

Over the weekend, I won some back-issues (and forthcoming issues) of “Apex Digest”:http://apexdigest.com on eBay. I was thrilled, partly because I’ll be able to get caught up on reading everything and partly because several of the issues have been autographed by various contributors to the magazine.

I noticed a problem today, though – it turns out that when I updated all my address information in eBay, that information didn’t populate over to the primary shipping address for some reason. I’m pretty sure I told it to do so and even made a of point verifying it; I’m paranoid about this sort of thing. The shipping address that was placed on the purchase order is my old one, now seven months defunct. Our forwarding address information with the post office has long since expired.

I’ve been in a low state of panic for the last couple of hours since I noticed. I sent a quick email off to Jason Sizmore, the editor of Apex and the seller of the auction, notifying him of the problem and hoping that I noticed it before he got around to shipping the order. If I missed then I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to need to do in order to make sure I receive my merchandise. So, here’s waiting and hoping (and trying to figure out what Plan B might be, in the event of worst case scenario).

Fingers crossed…