Update (8/16): The applications arrived by FedEx this past Thursday. UPS offered to refund our money. Now the school is making us jump through a few more administrative hoops. It’s very frustrating that the kids’ schooling is still not resolved one week before we get on the plane to Istanbul.
Update (8/17): The kids are in school! Now we just have to pay for it…
When moving overseas, there are so many tasks that have to be accomplished that it’s expected that something will go wrong. It’s like that old engineering principle: the more moving parts you have the more likely it is that something will break. But that doesn’t mean that a broken thing ought to remain broken, or that a task can’t eventually be accomplished.
One of the biggest tasks we needed to accomplish before moving to Istanbul was choosing a school for our children. For a couple of reasons we chose MEF International School.
We had to do this sight unseen, based on websites and what little information is out there for expats. No, Fulbright does not pay for a school-research or house-hunting trip. We had to find an apartment online, too.
My wife and I downloaded the applications for MEF. She filled them out (her handwriting is much better than mine), got copies of the kids’ immunization records, paid the $500 per child application fee via wire transfer, and took the kids in to get passport-sized photos taken. The latter we’re assuming is for school ID purposes. The kids were not happy that morning and the resulting photos look like bad mugshots.
The photos, the medical records, the proof of payment for the application fees, and the applications were put in a large manila envelope and brought to UPS. We paid $95 for them to be mailed to MEF in Istanbul.
This was over a month ago.
The envelope has yet to arrive.
First, it was stuck in Customs in Turkey.
Then the Istanbul UPS office said it couldn’t deliver the envelope, that no one was at the school.
We gave them the number to the school.
The Istanbul UPS office said it couldn’t reach anyone at the school.
We emailed the school and explained the situation.
One of our Turkish friends called the school and spoke to a human being.
My wife called the school, International long distance ($12), and spoke to a human being.
The school tried calling Istanbul UPS but by then Istanbul UPS had “abandoned” the package. When a package is abandoned, it is apparently put somewhere and left there. No one even tries to deliver it.
We exchanged more emails with people at MEF (they have been very understanding and helpful).
Then Istanbul UPS claimed they needed power of attorney to release the package.
My wife spoke to UPS here in the USA several times over the past few weeks to find out how to get the package out of abandonment. Finally, they claimed the problem was that the package was valued at $400, and for packages worth that much they need power of attorney or some such legal thing to deliver/clear the package. My wife told the person at UPS she had stated the value as $4. The person wrote “$4.00” which in Turkish means “400.” They use periods where we use commas.
OK. Now this will be sorted out, my wife and I thought.
No. It’s been almost a week since this latest wrinkle and the package hasn’t been released from “abandonment.” UPS hasn’t said how or what they are going to do in order to deliver what we paid them to deliver.
What does this mean?
1) We’re out $95. It would have been more useful to use 95 U.S. dollar bills as kindling in our backyard fire pit to make smores.
2) The applications will not be delivered.
3) I’m going to finish writing out a new round of applications, get the kids’ pictures taken again, and put all of that in another large manila envelope.
This time I’m taking the envelope to FedEx. Fuck UPS.