HOW TO: Arrange a home delivery

During my first few months in Japan, I realized I needed a new futon. Mine was flat, old, and had strange orange spots. No matter how often I hung it outside in the sun and beat the crap out of it, it was just, done. As I didn’t own a car, I walked 45 minutes to a home store, bought a futon, and carried it back. In my arms. Passerby, both vehicular and pedestrian, stared in a most indiscreet way. What was this odd foreigner doing walking along the road with a giant futon in her arms? It was only when I needed a futon pad later on that I realized I could ask for a home delivery (as that particular store offered it).

Not every store will offer delivery, but many large stores will. Usually this is done at a customer service counter that typically says カスタマーサービス in katakana. You may notice a picture of a truck somewhere under the main signage. Or look for the word 配達  (はいたつ, haitatsu) - which means delivery.

Considering my Japanese was quite basic at this time, I walked up to the counter and said “haitatsu....?” my intonation much higher at the end than necessary. (Now, I’d probably say something like “haitatsu shitain desu ga…” or something similar) The woman pulled out a pad, explained some things I didn’t understand, and then asked when I wanted it delivered. *Hint: listen for the word “itsu.” I told her a day and time frame. She wrote this down and then asked me to write my address on the piece of paper.

For reference, address is 住所 (じゅうしょ, juusho). Name can be 氏名, (しめい, shimei) or 名前, (なまえ, namae) or 姓名 (せいめい, seimei). Actually, seimei regularly shows up as last and first name on paper and online forms, i.e. 姓 (sei) and 名(mei), respectively. It’s safe to assume that name will include the kanji 名 somewhere, so just look for that.

You’ll probably need to write your phone number somewhere too: 電話番号 (でんわばんごう, denwa bangou).

As another note, usually most places don't mind if you write the address using romaji (Japanese as roman letters). You can ask "romaji daijoubu desu ka?" or "eigo de ii desu ka?" or however you wish to ask. They always cut me off before more than two words leave my mouth, so it's usually pretty easy to get your message across.

Even if you can’t understand every single thing they say, don’t worry too much. They will most likely confirm all of your information. If a particular day or time doesn’t work, they may try to explain that to you and ask for a different day, unless they flat out tell you they can’t deliver to your area, for whatever reason, or that they don’t deliver some items (like dishes or fragile items). If that doesn’t make sense, and they can see you have no idea what they are saying, people often cross their pointer fingers in an X, or cross their arms, to tell you something is not OK. Honestly, speaking from experience, much of learning how to communicate here has to do with context and body language. Context has made communicating without much Japanese ability the easiest, allowing me to grasp the situation even if I can’t catch the meaning of the words.

So, I went to the store on a Wednesday, and the futon was delivered Friday afternoon. The delivery guys called me beforehand (sometimes the store might call you), and though I didn’t understand most of what they said, I just said “yes” (in Japanese) repeatedly since they usually say they are coming or in the area, and are checking to see if you're home. They brought the futon up to my apartment, and I signed the delivery receipt. Though a little difficult at the time, the entire process was much easier than carrying a futon in my arms for forty-five minutes.

*If the company or store uses Japan Post or another delivery company, and for some reason you miss the scheduled delivery and aren't able to communicate that to them by phone, etc, you can reschedule a redelivery online. (See: HOW TO: Schedule a redelivery via Japan Post and HOW TO: Schedule a redelivery via Yamato (Kuroneko and HOW TO: Schedule a Redelivery with Sagawa.)

Do you have any other “home delivery” tips? Feel free to share below.

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