Desperate times, simple measures
Avoid forays into the crowded high street this year and take the annual splurge online. By Tom Rowe
If you have decided to read Village instead of going Christmas shopping you are obviously determined to leave it to the last minute, as this issue is published less than a week before C-day. Rest assured, it is still possible to salvage your family relationships through consumerism without involving a freezing street and jostling crowds, but to go online shopping necessitates keeping your eyes wide open.
Many websites offer what they call last minute shopping, but their deadlines for Christmas delivery have long since passed. Avoiding the crush outside requires patience and resolve, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the perennial dilemma of what to get for the person who has no idea what they want. Online catalogues compare poorly with reality, and shopping in Irish shops on the Internet is difficult. Those that have good online facilities, such as Easons.ie, Argos.ie or Arnotts.ie will have difficulty organising last minute delivery. Others such as Brown Thomas have a poor online catalogue, but a well organised delivery system. Looking outside the country at this late stage would be to risk Christmas day disappointment.
One option is Buy4Now.com, a clearinghouse for 25 shops with Irish outlets. Normally you order online with them and they post the item to you, but Christmas delivery dates have already passed. Instead, use the site as a wide-ranging catalogue to choose the gift, then contact the shops directly to see what they can do for you.
Here is where couriers come in. For the true last minute shopping experience, they are necessary. The idea of the expense of a courier added to the cost of Christmas presents may seem daunting, but with parking fees, petrol charges, missed posting dates and wear and tear on the fabric of your soul, having someone deliver to your home makes sense.
Unfortunately, this is more difficult than you might imagine. Courier companies will deliver to your home fast, some the same day, some the next morning. A good idea is to order early in the morning. It is also necessary to be at home to accept the package and some companies require a mobile phone number before they agree to deliver. If you are an account holder it will be a lot easier, but this is restricted to those who regularly use their service. Happily, many shops have such accounts, so you can use this and pay the extra cost, but be sure to check with the shops before you go ahead, as some agree to courier on the assumption that you have your own account.
Delivery prices vary, and the nice lady in the Brown Thomas information desk told Village that the price of a courier delivery from Cork to Tralee would be ‘outrageous'. It turned out that the cost to deliver a mans jacket on weekdays from Cork to Tralee is €15. As you are a dedicated last-minuter, you will be sending this over the weekend, when the courier company will charge triple. Another quote from a courier for a 2kg package from Dublin to Clare was €31.80, steep, but not beyond the realm of possibility. Prices for sleigh bells and white beards on delivery men also vary.