I ordered a Celestial Navigator from Restoration Hardware for my friend Tim in Victoria, British Columbia. I decided to use RH's e-commerce site because, well, I'm an internet junkie sometimes. Besides, it was a Christmas present and I didn't feel like travelling to their store in Toronto (I'm from London, Ontario).
After finishing the order online on November 24th, I expected to receive a notification that the item had been shipped. A week passed, then two. Nothing. I then found a postcard in my mailbox on December 7th (dated November 27th, which is reasonable since it travelled from Portland Tennessee) that said there was a problem with my order as they needed more information. "Please give us a call as soon as possible," it said.
I called the number and after a couple of minutes on hold, I was able to talk to a service representative. I asked why I received this postcard, and he said that it was because there was a problem with shipping my order. He put me on hold and came back to explain:
SR: The problem is that we don't ship to international locations, sir.
Me: Oh. It doesn't say that on your web site. (I usually look to see if they ship where I want to send it, and I saw nothing that said otherwise) Where do you ship to?
SR: We only ship to the United States and Canada.
Me: (Stunned for a second) Really? Then why can't you ship this item to my friend.
SR: Because we don't ship international orders, sir. (starting to sound a bit pissed with my stupid questions)
Me: But you said you shipped to Canada. This isn't an international order then.
SR: Yes it is, sir.
Me: (voice getting louder by the second) Victoria, British Columbia is not an international order!
SR: I'm sorry, sir, but it is. We don't ship to British Columbia.
Me: (fuming mad now) But British Columbia is part of Canada!
SR: No, it isn't. My supervisor told me that it isn't part of Canada.
Me: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!? Get your damn supervisor on the phone and tell him to bring a damn atlas!
SR: Okay, sir. I'll get him right now.
There was another delay as I was put on hold. At this point, I'm pacing the room like a madman and my girlfriend has come upstairs to see what I'm yelling about. I quickly explain the situation and she stares at me incredulously. The supervisor comes onto the phone.
:What seems to be the problem?
: Your representative is telling me that your company will not ship my order because it is international. Is that correct?
: (realizing that something very bad is about to happen) Uhh...
: And that British Columbia is not part of Canada? Well I hate to tell you this but if you took a look at a damn map you'd realize that British Columbia is, in fact, part of Canada.
: Uh...okay sir, but isn't it the part really far north?
: No it isn't! It's in the western part of Canada. The capital of the province is more southernly than some parts of Washington
: So are you going to ship the damn item to my friend in Victoria, British Columbia, CANADA
: Uh...could you hold on a second?
After he gets back on the line and apologizes profusely for that "mixup", he then explains to me that they won't be able to ship it in time for Christmas because it is on back order (even though the web site said it wasn't at the time). Then they say that my credit card number wasn't right. At that point, I decided to cancel the order outright. Thankfully, my mom (!) had an extra one of these items at home (previously purchased for a future birthday gift for someone else) and I was able to ship it to my friend in time.
My friend in Victoria almost dropped the phone from laughing so hard when I told him this tale of ignorance. In fact, he was laughing harder than I figured he should be. So I asked him why he was laughing so hard. Eventually, he was able to say:
"Restoration Hardware has many Canadian store locations, including Vancouver, British Columbia
That's right. They didn't even know that one of their own stores was in the "Independent Nation of British Columbia".