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Compare and Contrast...

Well, firstly, kudos to Symantec. The day after I last posted, they sent me an update saying Norton Anti-Virus X had shipped, and then the package arrived on Tuesday. As it was too big for the mailbox, I went and collected from the Post Office on Wednesday. Once I got home, it was the usual safe boot followed by an hassle-free install. My first impressions are that Norton AV is finally starting to get it together for the OS X. It looks a lot better than either AV8 or AV9.

Anyway, onto compare and contrast. In this case, the US Postal Service / UK Royal Mail, and UPS. Recently, I've ordered two different items from the US, one of each came into the UK via each service. Let's see how they compare.

Item 1 - a case and USB cable set for my Treo 650 Smartphone. I bought from the US because the Treo is established there and only just became available here in the UK. The perils of being an early adopter! Total value was just over £12 and it wasn't VAT exempt, so unfortunately customs charges ensued. UPS arrive with the package, demanding £18 for clearance and VAT payment. No warning, and, no, they don't give change. Not to mention that the VAT total is only around £2 of the £18 charged! The attitude of the driver really sucked. The whole experience compares well to my previous interaction with UPS, and also to my better half's experience of them a few years ago. Sadly, UPS wasn't optional.

Item 2 - two block games total cost of around £60 from Columbia Games in the USA. I bought these direct from the manufacturer as they don't do distribution anymore as they've been stung by collapses too often. The package came via US Postal Service, and then Royal Mail. I got a note through the door with the charge details and went to the local Post Office to collect the same day. The service was polite and helpful, and the clearance handing charge was around £4 plus £10 for the VAT.

So, in this case, the state owned services win over supposedly customer focussed private industry!