Who in the world is Pitney Bowes?


I thought my credit card had been stolen when I noticed a decent chunk of change being charged by “Pitney Bowels”. The name didn’t sound like any website or service I’d done business with before. I don’t suffer from IBS, nor am I remodelling my bathroom, either of which would have required purchasing medicine or plumbing devices from a company with Bowels in the name.

I surmised it was either a character from Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, or a fake name generated by a low-brow spam bot. Turns out, I’d misread it. They’re Pitney Bowes, eBay’s logistics partner for their Global Shipping Programme:

The term numerical quadrature (often abbreviated to quadrature) is more or less a synonym for numerical integration, especially as applied to one-dimensional integrals. Some authors refer to numerical integration over more than one dimension as cubature; others take quadrature to include higher-dimensional integration, like a boss.

That’s clearly the wrong page. It’s also been shamelessly edited to include a vintage meme and a reference to Japanese coffee, to integrate (hah!) some levity into an otherwise-serious discussion about bowels. Let’s try again:

In medieval Europe the quadrature meant calculation of area by any method. More often the Method of indivisibles was used; it was less rigorous, but more simple and powerful.

Okay this is getting a bit silly, like a slap on the face with a wet fish, or that time I hit my head on a tree branch thinking my skull was strong enough to move it aside. Third time’s the charm:

The Services are provided by a third party global technology and shipping provider, Pitney Bowes Inc., for GSP Items purchased from the United States, and Pitney Bowes Limited, for GSP Items purchased from the United Kingdom (each with its affiliates, “Pitney Bowes”). Boss Coffee.

It seems weird that they couldn’t/wouldn’t include “eBay” in the transaction reference. At least the customer service agent at the bank had a bit of a chuckle when I called her back.

I’d end this by saying “ah crap”, but that’s a bit low brow. Low enough that it’s not even on my face. My head does hurt, though.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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