When a new vacuum cleaner was delivered to my house last week I assumed it was a belated birthday present from my mother-in-law. A veiled reference to the fact that I’m a surrendered husband, perhaps? Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I removed the packaging, stuck it in the cupboard under the stairs and didn’t think any more about it.
Then, a couple of days later, another ‘gift’ arrived: an industrial-strength mattress protector. Surely, that couldn’t be from my mother-in-law, too? I looked at the label and it was addressed to ‘Tobias Young’, rather than ‘Toby Young’, which was odd. It had been bought from a large furniture retailer called Wayfair.
My first thought was that I must be the victim of some sort of scam, but I couldn’t work out what. If someone was using my Visa Debit card to buy furniture, why were they sending it to me rather than themselves? I checked my bank account anyway, but no payments had gone out to Wayfair. Clearly, the company’s fulfilment ‘team’ — a 22-year-old computer science grad in Bangalore — had mixed me up with another customer called ‘Tobias Young’ and I was getting the stuff he’d paid for. When he didn’t receive his vacuum cleaner and his mattress protector he’d call the customer service department, figure out the mistake, and in due course a white Transit van would pull up outside my house and collect the items. So I put them back in their packaging, got busy with the Sellotape, and propped them up against the wall in my hallway. (To read more, click here.)