Vendor Who's Responsible

Tracking Information–My Favorite Form of Fiction!

It’s no secret that I do some of my best work with purchasing.  Nothing can make the human female’s life more annoying than a good, old-fashioned mix-up with merchandise, poor packing, overages, shortages, breakages, billing, packings slips, miscommunication, and all the vagaries of various freight companies and their whimsical ideas as to what constitutes timely delivery.

Where would I be without the Vendor Who’s Responsible?  The human female orders so many things from them that I have LOTS of opportunities to put my little finger in and stir up some good, old-fashioned mischief.

The human female has two big, incomplete, partially-outstanding orders with the VWR.  One is from early in the spring; the other is from May.  Will the phosphoric acid ever arrive?  How about the pipette tips?  The centrifuge tubes?  She’s called, she’s poked, she’s been put off—and off, and off.  “It’s shipping from a different warehouse.”  “It’s shipping from the manufacturer.” “It’s a special order and the manufacturer has to make it.”  Thus the phosphoric acid, ordered in early spring, and its June 18 delivery date.

Lately she’s been getting Order! Update! Emails!  Progress!  Things are moving!  There is tracking information!  There are arrival dates!

Arrival dates firmly chiseled in jell-o.

Observe closely. Watch those delivery dates.

vwr-interim ship date

Great!  Some of the pipette tips were set to arrive on June 17.   They didn’t.

vwr-initial ship date

Woo hoo!  Here’s a big chunk of the latest order all set to come on June 20!

VWR-tracking est

Uh, make that June 26.

VWR-in processing

Make that June 27.

more dates

Oh, well.  July then.   Maybe.

So what has actually arrived?  Phosphoric acid?  Tips?  Tubes?  Six crates of nothing?

Guess.

>|: [

Advertisements

The Vendor Who’s Responsible–For Killing Trees

The human female’s big order to the Vendor Who’s Responsible for the fall semester wasn’t as big as it has been in some years, but it was big enough, running to multiple line items and a couple tens of thousands of dollars.  The various items have been arriving a few here and a few there for over a month now, and it’ a rare week that doesn’t see some sort of packing slip in the human female’s in box.

Years ago now, I had a chat with the Vendor Who’s Responsible about their shipping and their packing slips.  I suggested that some items should ship directly from the manufacturer.  Thus, a large order to VWR might generate shipments from a dozen different vendors–each vendor using its own color and format of paper, of course.

The human female and her minions usually have enough brains to cope with this, but lately I’ve encouraged the Vendor Who’s Responsible to up their game a little bit.

Wouldn’t it be fun, I suggested, if they put ALL of the items from the whole order on each and every packing slip.  Just in case someone can’t recall what they ordered, you understand.  It makes for no little confusion, what with all the “shipping from alternate warehouse” notes and Prep Staff’s helpful notations of “this came on prior packing slip.”  The slips got so confused, it was impossible to tell what was and wasn’t in any given box.  The spreadsheet of orders became amusingly muddled.  The human female instructed her minions to check and initial ONLY the things actually included in the particular shipment in question.

Hence, this:

Page one of the slip for a recent order.  The minions have checked off and dated items included in the shipment:

vwr invoice1

But wait, there’s more!  Page two:

vwr invoice2

Page three:

vwr invoice3

Did anything actually arrive?!  The human female has taken to dropping the useless pages on the floor as she reads.

vwr invoice5

And on we press!  Page four:

vwr invoice4

There we are!  Anything else?

Page five:

vwr invoice 4

Auuugh!  I meant to annoy the human female, but this!   THIS is why our forests are disappearing!  Stop it, vendors!  I am going to rule this miserable rock one of these days, and I’d appreciate it if there was still a little vegetation left on it when I do!

>|: [

Fun With Paperwork (My Fun, Not Hers) AKA: What Is The Sound of Frustration?

Every year, the human female has to cross her heart and swear that she isn’t going to use her powers—or her drug-precursor chemicals—to whip up a quick and profitable batch of meth down in the basement.  There’s a specific form to fill out that assures compliance with all applicable DEA rules.  Ordering any of the chemicals on the naughty list assures that the vendor will be sending the blank form and asking for the completed document back.  The one from the Vendor Who’s Responsible looks like this.

VWR-Intended Use 2019

So it came this year.  The human female signed it, scanned it, and pdf’d it back.  She received another notice that she had to do it.  She huffed and replied that she HAD done it, and attached a copy.  She then got the email equivalent of a long-suffering sigh from the Vendor Who’s Responsible, pointing out that she had to have her manager or supervisor sign it.  See? There’s a spot right there at the bottom.  Never mind that she hadn’t had anyone authorize her last year.  That was then; this is now.

So she hunted up a boss and had him sign it.  She scanned it, pdf’d it, sent it back, muttered some under her breath, and counted herself good for the next year.

Fast forward a week or two, and she received yet another email notice that she needed to complete the form.  Once again, she pointed out that she HAD filed it–twice.  “See?” she said. “It is attached. right. here.”  There was quite a dramatic eye-roll involved.  She looked like one of those baby dolls whose eyes roll back in their sockets when you tip them.  There might even have been a faint “mama” whimper, but I can’t be sure.

The Vendor Who’s Responsible wrote back, pointing out what she had overlooked, that this request was for her, but under a different account number. Ehehehehe.  I wonder how that happened???

So she wrote the second account number on the form, right next to the first one, scanned it, pdf’d it, and sent it back.  Mentally, she filed the incident under completed business, uttered a few not-so-sotto-voce profanities, and prepared to forget about it for another year.

Until she got another notice that her DEA papers were about to expire.  She sent back a terse little email pointing out that they’d already had three different copies, with two different account numbers, with and without a supervisor’s official okey-dokey and “here it is attached again in case you numb-wits couldn’t read the previous iterations.”  This time, the whimper was more like the growwwlll that comes out of a dog just before it sinks its teeth into the meaty part of your calf.

Want to know the funniest part of all this?  It’s the possibility that she might purchase iodine crystals that triggers the DEA compliance paperwork.  She’s going to check the new, revised lab exercises and realize that she won’t actually be buying iodine anymore.  You’ll know when that happens–it’ll be just like the sound a desperate coyote makes as it chews off a leg in hopes of either escape or bleeding out into sweet oblivion.

>|: [

P. S.  Here’s a catchy little song about “No Iodine.”  I think I’ll get it stuck in her head for the next three days.

Mischief Update: Turning It Up to Eleven

Looking back over recent entries on this blog, I realize that it’s all been rather touchy-feely around here.  Family visits, art museums, wildflowers, and all manner of fluff. Don’t for a moment think, however, that I’ve turned over a new leaf or gone soft or wavered at all in my determination to make the human female’s life a maelstrom of chaos and despair.  Far from it!  I’ve just been too busy to jot all the mischief down.  Allow me to rectify the situation.

I’m still thwarting most of the human female’s attempts to do her job in an expeditious manner. She had to order some rubber stoppers for some large vessels.  Now, the stupid things come in various sizes and with and without holes.  Did she need something normal like a one-holed size eight? She did not! She needed size 13.5. Not 13, not 14. 13.5. With two holes. She couldn’t find them *anywhere.*  No one had them in stock. I finally let her locate some online from Rubber Stoppers ‘R’ Us or some such and she was pleased to put in an order–with postage totaling more than the price of the goods.  And mmmm. That all-pervasive aroma of rubber goods never fails to cling to hands and storage.

There are just so *many* ways that purchasing can go wrong.  A quick trip to the pet store to buy crickets for the tarantulas to eat can turn into a second trip to have a cashier refund and re-ring the transaction to remove the sales tax, which the original cashier had been instructed to delete, and for which the human female presented the appropriate documentation. (I convinced the poor lad that he should jam the long Tax Exempt number into the customer phone number field on his little computer). And yes, the University will quibble over 8.25% of $2.40.

Toluidine blue.Toluidine blue.” Mellifluous words that roll on the tongue like a fine wine.  The human female ordered some last fall as part of the elephantine order.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  The human female called the Vendor Who’s Responsible to enquire as to its whereabouts and was informed that it was Still Going to be a While.  It was that same old story–the warehouse to which the order was directed was out, and there was no ability within the system to transfer the order to a different fulfillment center.  So, after some snarling and growling, the human female ordered some from a different vendor.  So naturally, the original order showed up two days later.

I’ve got proof–the Vendor Who’s Responsible thinks of the human female as an inanimate object:customer is an it

A large part of what the human female does involves safety. She very carefully transcribed and collated a bunch of student Lab Safety Agreements (that paper they all sign saying they won’t do anything stupid in lab, a document that effectively cuts the SAR (Stupid Accident Rate) by a solid 3%) and, under my direction, even more carefully locked the filing cabinet.  That Prep Staff did not have a key for.  I suggested dynamite, which would have been Eventful and Exciting, if a little iffy for the continued legibility of said LSAs, but someone eventually found a key, drat it. Oh, well, there was a nice half hour of tizzy, so I’m counting it as a win.

I do love the unicellular members of the Archaeplastida. The human female and her staff had to grow up several liters of Chlamydomonas, a little, single-celled green alga for one of the labs this semester.  People call me high-maintenance, but Great Frigga’s Corset, those little goobers are finicky! They need just so much light, but not too much. Perfect media to grow in, with just the right amounts of certain solutes.  *This* much agitation while in the growth chamber, but no more.  Apparently that last is particularly important. The students got to find out the hard way that if you jostle the carboy full of goobers just a smidge too much, they shed all their flagella and sulk in the bottom of the container. And then when they’re put into the let’s-see-how-well-they-swim-without-the-ability-to-photosynthesize-or-respire exercise, the students get to take data on a whole bunch of nothing much happening.  Meanwhile, another goober, Scenedsmus (one I am quite fond of, since it has horns at either end of the colony and is inclined to contrariness), steadfastly refused to interact with the gel-making chemicals in order to form perfect little algae pearls for the other part of the photosynthesis lab. The supposed-to-be-cutting-edge curriculum had to resort to the old-fashioned protocol, which involves punching little circles out of spinach leaves.  I like to keep the humans  humble.

I really can’t help myself–- meddling with experiments is just so much fun! Another of the students’ labs involved running gel electrophoresis, a process which is just loaded with variables that an enterprising man such as myself can meddle with.  Prep Staff’s test gels just wouldn’t run.  Or rather, they would, but the results looked like a toddler’s first attempts at finger painting and not like a neat set of crisp, glowy bands.  I actually lost track of how many times they had to re-run it.  More agarose in the gel.  Less agarose in the gel.  More DNA in each lane. Less DNA in each lane.  More DNA stain. Less DNA stain.  Placement of the stain in the gel instead of the sample (this actually works better.) Different reference ladder. Cue multiple very expen$I’ve orders to Let Our Nuclear Zaniness Abound (AKA, the Purveyor of gel reagents, AKA the company that keeps sending other people’s invoices to the human female).

Then there’s maintenance, which is a very fertile garden in which to sow seeds of mischief and nurture them to weedy fruition.  Take the countertops and backsplash in room 306, for example.  They were made out of an inferior particle board covered with laminate, and years of moisture from the sink and the steam from the autoclave had fashioned them into a warped, bulgy, separating, landscape reminiscent of the rolling hills of someplace noted for its hills.  The human female and all concerned parties started trying to schedule replacement sometime last fall.  I delayed the project multiple times with the room being needed for actual work, with shortages of the epoxy replacement countertop materials, and with the ever-present question of available funding.  Prep Staff emptied the drawers and cabinets for what turned out be a false alarm and had to put everything back.  There was a planning meeting about the whole thing that no one saw fit to tell the human female about, and the person at Slow, Silent, and Costly who was in charge of the project quit and didn’t tell anyone, so various balls were dropped there as well.  Good times!  When the work was FINALLY done I decided to have a little more fun.  The next day, everyone on the floor started asking that dangerous question: “Do you smell gas?” A lot of sniffing about ensued, and the general consensus was yes, everyone smelled gas.  In room 306.  SSC was called again and two fellows came out –but only because they had left some tools behind on the previous day.  Those two were summarily pounced upon and made to do the sniff test.  After much nosing about, they were able to figure out that during the counter installation, someone had bumped one of the riser pipes that feed the wall-mounted gas nozzles.  Behold– leaking gas! But no one could find the actual leak.   More sniffing.  Soapy water was brought and squirted about, and leaks were found in a couple of places. A drill had to be fetched.  At one point, there were THREE workmen, the human female, the Bio Department’s building proctor, the Assistant Department Head, and some of prep staff all in the little room.  Attendant thereunto was the annual discussion about whether or not a new autoclave is in the offing.  It was the same old story.  If someone else gets a new one, the human female can have a secondhand one from that someone else.  Maybe.  In theory.  Eventually, the circus packed up its monkeys and the taint of mercaptan was dispelled.  The human female deeply regrets that she was not the one who got to fill out the cheery How Did We Do? satisfaction survey for that one.  Six months or so from work request to putting the last bits of stuff back in the drawers.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

More recently, I did some mischief that didn’t discommode the humans, though it caused some departmental consternation.  It was discovered that there was a sizable pool of water under one of the buildings, mostly from rain.  Now, there are two pumps down there to keep the basements from flooding, which is a good thing–-as long as they’re operational.  One pump was broken and the backup was out of commission as well, along with the alarm system that’s supposed to tattle when a swimming pool develops. While workmen were sloshing about trying to fix things, they discovered that there was a leak or two or three coming down from floors above (Reverse Osmosis water, sprinkler system, etc.)  It took a week and change to drain the swamp, during which time the cats that like to hang out under the building had to find drier accommodations elsewhere.

Several of the rooms in the human female’s tiny domain must remain within a fairly narrow temperature range, for the comfort of various finned or chitinous residents.  Over Spring Break, when the human female was trying to enjoy the fleeting visit with her mother and sister, I suggested to Slow, Silent, and Costly that it would be a good time to do some maintenance on the air handling system.  With the A/C out, the temperature in those special rooms quickly rose, and the human female got to deal with her phone going off with a TEMPERATURE ALERT! every ten minutes for the better part of the day.  Of course, no one was advised of the impending work beforehand. That would be cheating.

Throwing rooms off temp is such fun that I did it some more.  I had one of the walk-in coolers running nice and hot.  I do this on a semi-annual basis. It’s one of my favorite tricks, because if it looks as if it’s going to be hot for a while, all the contents have to be shifted to the other cold room. The human female and her cohorts do spend a lot of time shuffling materials from one place to another. Exercise!  It didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed.  When the human female called Slow, Silent, and Costly to ask sweetly what the Hel was going on, she was told to call the head HVAC fellow, who was completely surprised to find out that there was any problem at all on the floor. I do my best work as a silver-tongued intriguer, but my obfuscation skills are every bit as good.

But in mid-March the human female was informed that the heating issue in room 322 from last November was fixed–and would she like to take a satisfaction survey?  Nothing like timely feedback, eh?  How about this?

SSC-survey from last year

Many points awarded for having fixed the problem soon after it was reported; minus several thousand points for communication.

And then— No, you know what?  My hand is cramping from writing all of this down!  I’ve been so bad this spring that I shall do myself an injury trying to chronicle it all at once.  More mischief update anon–I need to go find an ice pack.

>|: [

Completing a Mischief-Birthday Sandwich: To B. E. or Not To B. E.?

I started the week with mischief and spent the middle looking at art.  I think I’ll complete the mischief-birthday sandwich by making a little annoying surprise for the human female.

She has received a box. This is not out of the ordinary.  The box is from a manufacturer she has ordered things from before, which is also not out of the ordinary.

gotbarbsplatesagain

There is only one problem with this box.

She has not ordered anything from this manufacturer recently.   Examining the box reveals that it is full of TSA petri plates.  The human female says TSA stands for “Tryptic Soy Agar, a goopy jelly which is used as a general growth medium for the isolation and cultivation of microorganisms.”

She is very, very sure she has not ordered TSA plates.  Ever.

But something about this mischief feels familiar.  Ehehehe!  Look at her!  I can practically see the gears turning in her tiny brain.  I can hear a tinny grinding noise and she’s screwing up her face.  Almost has it… Almost has it…

And now she remembers:  Last fall, I arranged for a box of plates just like these to show up unordered and unannounced.   After a lot of poking and calling and thinking, she figured out that that batch actually belonged to B. E., a colleague who works in an entirely different building.  The Vendor Who’s Responsible had simply pulled the human female’s name out of its hat as Someone in the Biology Department who often Orders Things and slapped it on the box.

A quick call to B. E. confirms that yes, ladies and gentlemen, at my behest, the Vendor Who’s Responsible has done it again.  Many of their products–such as this one–ship directly from the manufacturer, meaning that there’s one more step along the purchasing path where information can go astray.  The vendor, Hardly Diagnostic, is still laboring under the impression that the human female is the only person who ever orders from them.

So here comes B. E. now, to retrieve her parcel and reveal to the human female more details of my mischief.  First, since the wrong recipient was indicated on the box the last time B. E. made this order, this time she asked the Department’s purchasing officer to make the order for her, so that it would not look like a repeat order from B. E. and hopefully not go to the human female again.  Ha!  I have hexed the purchasing officer’s office as well, and Hardly Diagnostic just once again pulled a random Biology Department address from its collective bum and sent the box to the human female.

Because that worked so well last time. 

Second, the human female has noticed that the actual P.O. number is actually on the outside of the actual box.  B. E.  is telling the human female that she has ONE ongoing, open P. O. with the Vendor Who’s Responsible.  One. P.O.   As in “can just call them up and tell them to put any/everything on that one P.O. number.”

The human female is sitting here with her mouth hanging open, which, let me tell you, is NOT a good look for her.   She is imagining a future with just one lovely P.O. number for all her dealings with the Vendor Who’s Responsible, and now I am so torn.

On the one hand, I don’t want her to try to make the same arrangement with the V. W. R., because I really, really enjoy making her go through the whole process of getting a separate requisition number and P.O. number for every purchase.  But on the other hand, imagine all of the tangley mischief I could accomplish if I kept messing up her orders and every time she tried to straighten something out with the V. W. R., she had to refer to the same snafu’d, ever-more-convoluted mess of a mis-directed, mis-packed, mis-delivered, back-ordered, P.O. And all her scanned packing slips she sends to the bean counters would have the same P.O.  There’d be no way to match up invoices with orders, and she’d be a gibbering mess inside a fortnight…

Rats!  I hate it when I have two conflicting mischiefy ideas and can’t choose between them!

Oh, well.  I suppose I’ll let B. E. keep her one magic number and just keep having various vendors send all her stuff to the human female, and I’ll keep tinkering with the human female’s orders.

One doomed P.O. at a time.

>|: [

 

Alas! All Good Things Must Come to an End

I wrote back in February about the elephantine order placed with the Vendor Who’s Responsible near the end of last December.   You’ll recall that two line items were unavailable from the warehouse to which the PO was initially distributed.  The Vendor Who’s Responsible not having any method of switching the order to one of its better-stocked warehouses, the VWR put them on indefinite back-order and did not inform the human female.  Eventually, she caught wise, called them up, cancelled those items, and ordered viable substitutes.

Another of the back-ordered items was a chemical known as sodium carbonate.  It’s a very necessary substance because it does mumble-something in the important whoosits reaction.  

The human female’s sodium carbonate didn’t come and it didn’t come—and then it didn’t come some more.  She had reached the point of needing it, so she ordered some from a different vendor (the one with the truly insanity-inducing hold “music” of six bars of perky whistling followed by an announcement about how all of their packaging is changing, followed by six bars of perky whistling followed by an announcement about how all of their packaging is changing, followed by six bars of perky whistling followed by an announcement about how all of their packaging is changing, followed by six bars of perky whistling followed by an announcement about how all of their packaging is changing, followed by six bars of perky whistling followed by an announcement about how all of their packaging is changing, followed by six bars of perky whistling.  (I designed that one myself, and I’m pretty proud of it.))

Well, that order did come, and the sodium carbonate got used, and the human female and her minions were beginning to think the original order from the VWR would NEVER come, but look what showed up the other day!

sodium carbonate

500 grams of mischief well-managed!  And it only took 125 days!  Just 34.25% of a standard Midgardian year!  I call that service!

You might think that this means that the elephantine order can finally be closed out.  But no!  Line item 15, the gellan gum, an agar-like substance that is used to grow those tiny Arabidopsis plants in petri dishes, still has not come.  The human female thought she was being clever and saving money by ordering the generic form of this goop, but she didn’t reckon on my involvement.

Oh, it was glorious.  The packing slips from the elephantine order are so convoluted, with not-present items listed in each separate shipment and various minions’ checking-in notations, that she THOUGHT the gum powder had arrived.  By the time she realized it hadn’t, she needed it “yesterday” and had to order the non-generic formula from the manufacturer with a rush freight charge that would make a nice down-payment on a small condo.  

Today she is on the phone with the Vendor Who’s Responsible, asking if her original December order, which had since been back-ordered to April 15 of this year, is EVER going to come.  Ehehehehe!  She’s finding out that “April 15” means NDAVPN*.  Now she’s cancelling the Infamous Line Item 15, using the tone she reserves for Disappointing Vendors, the one that’s a mixture of sweetness and sarcasm with a heaping measure of scorn, ground out through gritted teeth as she tries not to take it out on customer service operators who have no control over what does–or does not– get shipped.

So, yes, the elephantine order is finally all accounted for, with the human female older, grayer, sadder, and perhaps a bit wiser.  I know that the purchasing software never uses the same PO number twice, but if they did, I still think they’d have to retire this one.  Farewell, good old AB043271F.  I’ll miss you.

But am I sad?  Am I discouraged?  Of course not!  It’s time to do the big orders for the summer and fall!

>|: [

*”no date available; very possibly never.”

Behold the Slide

Remember, O reader, the order of  microscope slides for which the invoice went to the University’s campus in Qatar Not once but twice?  The order that was partially back-ordered, with each part of the shipment being billed to the fine folks in the Persian Gulf?  The order for which the human female spent many hours on the phone and with email, trying to straighten out the billing so that she could pay for her thrice-damned microscope slides?

I thought you might want to see what all the fuss has been about.

schistosome slide

Behold Schistosoma japonicum.  Three of these slides formed the back-ordered portion of the order.  You see, it take a while to prepare them, since each features not one but two parasitic beasts–a tiny male surrounded by a more massive female.  Yes.  You read that right.  Schistosoma japonicum in flagrante delicto.

These slides arrived last year.  Last week the human female received yet another tender note from her colleagues in Qatar, a note which enclosed a note from the Vendor Who’s Responsible helpfully pointing out that the account is now 120 days in arrears. 

Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth.  The human female remonstrated yet again with the Vendor Who’s Responsible, begging them to do as the original PO says and submit the invoice to the proper email address.

All good fun comes to an end, I suppose, because the invoice was finally correctly submitted to the Bean Counters here on the main campus.

Who refused to pay it.

For you see, in my quest to make the human female’s life as frustrating as possible, I had the Vendor Who’s Responsible engulf the entity now known as the Vendor Who Was Swallowed Up By The Vendor Who’s Responsible, in much the same way that the large female schistosome surrounds and dwarfs the much smaller male.  The original order was made to the smaller company, but the invoice was sent by the Vendor Who’s Responsible.  The invoice could not be paid because the vendor names do not match.

The human female pleaded, and tried to explain the situation, outlining how the two entities were fundamentally the same, and would they pleeeeeeese pay the invoice?

What is that delightful Midgardian expression?  “No dice.”  Is that right?  The Bean-counters cancelled the invoice and demanded that the Vendor Who’s Responsible issue a new one with the name of the VWRSbVWR instead.

Which they won’t do.

So now, the Vendor Who’s Responsible, sick unto death of trying to sort this out, has given up in defeat and cancelled that line item of the original PO, saying, “Forget it, pretend you never ordered those amorous schistos, and let us never speak of this again.”

You would think that this would bring an end to the human female’s misery, and that six months is a good enough run for a bit of mischief.

But you’d be wrong.

The latest email from the Bean Counters on campus to the Customer Service Rep at the Vendor Who’s Responsible is short, sweet, and promises more fun to come:

“Per your email below, I have cancelled PO line item 4 on the PO.  What about the other PO lines?  I do not see where we have been invoiced for them.”

>|: [