Wild days in New England. Biggest local grocer in the south of the region now on strike. Started in the late 19th century as a local operation. Now owned by giant Dutch conglamorate Ahold Delhaize.

Anyways, it has been a week of retail and service hell for me.

1. Buffet and Gates are big holders of my former trash company, Republic Services. They haven't come by in weeks. 7 consecutive missed pickups. Looks like I'm filling a pickup and headed down to the dump this weekend. Who knows what's going on there. Every day I'd call and they'd say they'd be right by. Nope. Finally I cancelled the service. Now they want me to pay a pro-rated bill and a cancellation fee on top of the money I already paid them to provide no services whatsoever. Lunacy.

2. Also tried to buy a pair of jeans online. Thought I'd replace a decade+ old pair that's looking a bit worse for the wear. Levis. Simple stuff. Name brand. Low quality. But you figure you know the size and the cut, so you don't gotta try them on. Well, they were supposed to come last Tuesday. On Wednesday I got an e-mail saying the new delivery window was sometime between May 22nd and June 21st. Why the hell wants jeans next quarter? Not hard to find, I can take a drive & buy anywhere. Did the same thing to me last month with coffee.

3. This year I've gotten in the habit of ordering groceries every week online from Stop & Shop and picking them up on Thursdays on my way home. Pretty easy. They have them outside in a cooler ready to go. Run out and fill your trunk. Done. Only yesterday they went on strike. So now I had pre-paid almost $200 for groceries I couldn't get, not that I'm the type to cross a picket line anyways.

The trash problem still isn't fully resolved. The other two are. But this took over a dozen phone calls and a lot of BS.

And the upshot is that it got me thinking about how, without really expressly announcing it, e-commerce has upended the traditional model of paying for services rendered or goods received. Now you pay up front, and hope they deliver the goods or services you already paid for. And if they don't, now the onus is on you to try to get your money back. And they do not make it easy.

Buyer beware, I know, I know, but on a week like this the whole retail goods and services system feels so broken and deranged. All I wanted to do was exchange cash I had for a pair of pants, some groceries, and trash pickup. They all took my money. I got nothing in return but headaches and call center people telling me lies.

Anyways, I wish the Stop & Shop folks luck. Same people have been at my local one since I moved here a decade or two ago. They're efficient and friendly and run a good ship. Strike's an inconvenience for me, but those overseas wooden-shoed bosses want to jack up their health premiums by 650% for worse coverage and cut other pay and benefits. Plus they recently put in sketchy 2 meter tall security robots that my first instinct was to punch. 31,000 strikers in 6 states, I believe. First major private grocer strike like this in 30 years.