Thursday, October 20, 2005

New adventures in buying stuff.

Shoes? New phone & laptop? 70 inch Plasma or LCD TV?

No, I spent 45 minutes on the phone yesterday (sequel to the 15 minute personal visit last weekend to an actual quarry) buying a truck load of gravel.

It was a mission.

First off the context - I need 2 cubic metres of base course, 1 cubic metre of bedding sand (river sand is recommended), and 1 metre of 20mm round pebbles, to create my new paved & pathed area around the house.

The local quarry can supply all of that. Very cheaply.

however, when I popped around last week to order it, they told me that each load would have to be delivered separately, and each delivery would cost me $60 (we're talking maybe 3 km distance here).

"So." I said, considering carefully, "The various gravels will cost me something like $75 total, but it will cost $180 to deliver? I'm going to have to rethink this."

The lady tried to be helpful - "Have you got a trailer? I know it'll take a while, but maybe your best bet is to come & get it yourself?"

I got told off later for abruptly curtailing the discussion, but really, while she was trying to be helpful, I have neither a trailer, nor the intention of spending a whole weekend just getting 3 piles of sand & gravel just to the near vicinity of where I need it. The capper was that they're not open Labour weekend anyway & so I'd have to take time off work to go get it. No go.

So I spent a few days weighing my options, then gave them a call back.

"How many metres does a truckload hold?" You see, it's all gonna get used eventually, so may as well maximise the payload.

The answer is 7 cubic metres. And so I explained that I wasn't that anal about the loads being mixed up a bit (I mean most of it is going to end up being pathway somewhere). And so "could I please have 3 metres course & 2 metres each of sand & pebbles? And can it all go in one truckload?"

The answers were "yes, yes, and no". Apparently 3 different types are too many & the best I could hope for was to get 2 types on one load without it all turning to gravel salad (the truckdriver actually said "gravel salad").

So I had another think about it, then thought "Wait a minute, I haven't ordered the pavers yet, so I don't need the sand until I do, and anyway, they say not to lay the sand until you have the pavers ready to go." And I need a lot less sand than the rest, and maybe the paver people can supply it.

So it was back on the phone, "Hi there again Janet, can I this time order 3 metres of course & 3 metres of gravel?"

And mercifully, it turned out I could. And not a moment before time as mine would be the very last delivery they made this week.

Went through the usual patter about access to the property "Is the access OK? Will he be able to back his truck out? Etc"

And I seem to find it difficult to convey the concept that there is enough room to get the truck in, turn it around even without recoursing to so much as a 3 point turn, while (hypothetically) the concorde lands beside it.

Remains to be seen whether THIS truckdriver can grapple with the usual delivery instructions "Down the drive, there's a tin shed on your left, anywhere near there." any better than the last guy could.

"Acme mulch here, I've got a load for you & the instructions say to take it down the drive & dump it near the shed on the left."
"That's right" I said.
"Well I'm down the drive... and there's a little shed on my left... you want it there?"
"Good as gold!"

Mrs Llew reckons of course he can, how could anyone be so stupid?

I reckon I'll be telling a story about a stupid truck driver before next week is out though.