Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sending something abroad? Good luck!

Many expats need to send and receive parcels – and fairly regularly. As many are self-employed, a lot of this is commercial and livelihoods can depend on it.

So, in the 21st century one would expect many companies and national postal services to be able to offer expats a good range of services to choose from and exemplary service to follow.

Yet in fact one of the most common moans and groans from expats virtually everywhere is how unreliable the various parcel services are. I know this to be at least partly true from personal experience.

A friend told me that they had ordered some special Easter treats for their children well in advance and paid for 48hour express delivery services from the UK. They eventually turned up many days after Easter and had been in transit for about 10 days. They tell me that the UK based parcel company had no idea where the parcel had been and they didn’t seem to care very much either.

Nobody seems to be immune. I know of one person that shipped an expensive gift via one of the household name US couriers. Upon arrival the recipient signed for it and opened the box only to find it was empty inside. The box had been opened with a knife, the contents stolen and the box then expertly re-sealed. As this was invisible from the outside the recipient had perfectly understandably signed for it on receipt as ‘OK’ because the problem was not visible externally. The shipping company have refused to pay up on insurance because they hold a signature that says “OK” from the point of destination.

I know of another appalling example of the dishonesty and incompetence that can arise. A large parcel was shipped to an expat business in Egypt via a prestigious carrier at a cost of almost 100 pounds sterling, and through a trackable service. The box then disappeared for nearly three months, during which time the tracking showed constantly that it was still at the airport of departure!

An insurance claim was launched. At the end of three months the doorbell rang at the shipper’s residence and the man said that the parcel had been found. He demanded another 100 pounds “return freight fee” before he would release it to the shipper. He said his documentation showed that the consignee in Egypt had refused to accept the box so it had been returned.

Upon examination, the box showed absolutely no sign of ever having gone anywhere. There were no entry stamps for Egypt, no flight stickers, no return slip documents and the consignee in Egypt confirmed they had never seen it and certainly never refused to accept it. It was clear that the parcel had never left the local airport in 3 months and the courier were unable to produce any evidence that it had ever been anywhere. Apart from losing a very valued client over the fiasco, the shipper is still 200 pounds out of pocket and is fighting to recover it – so far unsuccessfully.

So the message to the courier companies is clear – come on guys, get your act together! The cowboy days of the 1970s should be long dead. Expats (and many others) need services they can rely on and honesty/integrity from you. Make it happen!

1 comment:

bubbah said...

I ordered a large heavy item from the UK purchased on eBay from a very good went to Belgium via UPS ground service for a reasonable cost based on the weight and arrived in 3 days with no trouble at all and the postman left a message to come to the post office and collect it...superb!!