So I designed this tour recently and the band wanted to use some light boxes. These are basically boxes that have lights installed inside and one side of the box has either a cutout pattern or a painted semi transparent front that illuminates when the lights are turned on. These are great, but they are a one trick pony. In other words, it's a gag that you will most likely use once per show. So I basically talked the band into using some cheap video panels (Martin LC panels) that were 2 meters tall by 1 meter wide instead. The band was adamant about not using video at all. So I explained that I was going to cover these lo res video panels with some rear projection material to diffuse the lo-res and make it look better. They like it and all was good. Til I needed to make some giant gel frames to hold this expensive fabric for travel.
Rosco gels makes a great RP screen material. They sent me a sample to see if it would work. Actually my friend Joel (who lives in my town) brought me the material in person. The two of us headed over to our local video vendor (Heroic Lighting) and they set up a media server and an LC panel for me to make sure my idea would work. It was flawless. This was the week before Xmas. So once I knew it would work, I needed to get this sample to Joe over at Gallagher Staging, since they were building my set. So I went to the little UPS shop down the street from my house. I plopped down 25 bucks and gave them a 1 meter tube of gel to send. The fabric cost was about 100 bucks. I didn't insure it since I really hadn't bought the sample. But they asked me for the value and I gave it to them. They said no problems and told me it would be delivered by 1 week.
Lo and behold a week goes by and Joe calls. "Where the hell is that material? I'm crunched for time and if I don't get that sample today you may be screwed". So I get online and track my package. It was put in a delivery truck at 5 AM, a few scant miles from the destination it needed to go. Next I call the 800 # and I get the following message. "Due to the high demand of the holiday season, UPS may be delivering your package a few hours late. We are NOT RESPONSIBLE for any packages mailed between Dec 14th and Dec 24th. Sweet. Nice message to get while put on hold. Finally I get a representative on the line and they informed me that the package will be there by 6PM when they close. Imagine my surprise when it never came. So the next day Joe calls again and I tell him what UPS told me. They were running late yesterday due to the Christmas rush and we couldn't get there before closing time. Another day goes by and there is no package. This time the trace comes up empty. They have no idea where my tube is.
So now I just have to go and buy 500$ worth of material, hoping it would work, since Joe really needed it yesterday. No problem it all worked out. But now I'm pissed at the freight company. I call and say I need a serious trace. They tell me it will take at least a week since the driver now has to go thru his whole route from that day to see where he lost the package. I am powerless.
A week goes by and I get a call. "No dice, your box is gone from the face of the earth", I'm told. OK, I'm over it. "Can I have the 25 bucks back I spent for you to lose my package?". Sure I'm told. I was instructed to go back to the place I shipped it out of and they will reimburse me. Fine. I drive over there and talk to the head honcho, a nice guy who is obviously used to dealing with lost packages frequently. He explains that he cannot give me my 25 clams back. He has to fill out a form and send it thru the proper channels and in about 6 weeks I should get a check. He feels my pain and asks me if I have a receipt for the 100 bucks worth of fabric. I say "No, it was worth 100 donero, but I didn't actually pay for it. "No problem", he tells me. Simply go online and get a price of what it's worth and type up a reeipt. We will send that and the receipt for the 25 bucks for freight to our headquarters and a guy there will send you a check.
"Look, I just want my 25 bucks", I explain. "Well you are entitled to more, so just write the receipt". So I go home and print out a receipt that is by no means on any official stationary. I make my 3rd trip to my neighborhood mom and pop UPS store and hand it off. I'm still waiting for my check. With my luck, some guy in the office will take a look at the 100 dollar printed receipt on regular paper and laugh. Really, I just want my original money back and I swear I will never use this company for anything again. 2 months have passed since I mailed this package. I'm not holding my breath.
Every time I reminisce about this, all I can think of is the old Fed EX comercial. The one that used to advertise, "If it absolutely, positively, needs to get there on time, Use Fed Ex."