I fear this post will only be of interest to myself.
In it I attempt to cleanse myself of yellow and red. To exorcise the demons of the most incompetent courier company it’s been my displeasure to instruct.
So if watching self-flagellation is not your thing it may pay to close the tab now.
<begin>I see DHL vans. I find myself wondering – sometimes mumbling quietly to myself as my palms go moist and I get an odd cramp in my left calf – what’s inside. I ask myself will any of it find its way to its intended home. How much of it will end up going around and around in an endless circle, recorded – perhaps, very much perhaps – by some cyber tracking system which nobody at DHL seems able to make sense of or, worse, cares about. And if anyone asks where their packet is will DHL, despite any evidence to contrary and any past communication, simply deny its existence.
I’ve been there. All of it. It was like a dodgem ride – going around in circles, forever dodging blows – but one that it seemed, and may still be, impossible to get off.
The journey started in early 2005 in Auckland. I had been approached by a representative of the global courier, whom I’ll call Justine. She had a nice smile and seemed like she knew her stuff. Lots of fancy red and yellow bits of paper – glossy ones.
Did I want to open an account? Maybe. There was one service I needed. We were about to move to Bali but had huge volumes of mail arriving in our PO box in Auckland. Could DHL empty our mailbox once a month and sent the contents up to us?
‘I’ll check’ said Justine.
Twenty-four hours later she rang to say ‘Sure’.
And they did. Smoothly. At least until Justine left the job and was shifted elsewhere in the organisation a year or two later. She had proved to be helpful and efficient. All the things promised on those bits of glossy paper.
Then the first problem: the invoices seemed to jump. I began to check the weight and noted that the weight on the invoice was often twice the actual physical weight when it arrived. I questioned it. I was told, very curtly, that they were ‘approximating the weight’. Really? You aren’t accurately weighing these things. No – our scales are not accurate so we guess. They sent through copies of the weight as documented in Auckland. Our invoices were still almost a kilo or so more than the paperwork they provided.
I rang Justine and, despite the fact that she was no longer our point person, she looked into it. Without a word from anyone, a credit of close to $400 was applied to our account and the weights dropped. I guess they found some accurate scales in the building.
As Brigid pointed out, most of the DHL billing was done to large companies who never question. We did.
Benefit of doubt time – it was a mistake. We moved on.
Justine then left the company.
And the deliveries stopped.
I rang Auckland. I spoke to a woman there who told me ‘we don’t do that sort of thing – we never have’.
‘You’ve done it for us for two years’.
‘No, I don’t think so’.
I wrote a letter. Somebody with a nice voice from Christchurch rang. She was helpful.
‘I’m looking after the Auckland customers who were handled by Jade’
‘Jade? Who’s Jade? And you are in Christchurch?’
‘She was your account manager. Jade replaced Helen. And yes, it’s not easy.’
This woman from Christchurch, who we will call Christine, said she would look into it.
And she did. She rang back in two days and said it was all resolved.
An invoice arrived by email for a mail shipment. I checked the tracking service online. It said the AWB did not exist. The parcel never arrived, but a final demand from Sydney for the invoice did less than a month later – in the first of the newly renewed mail pickups, which began a month after the missing one.
I emailed the contact address given on the invoice and the final demand. Nobody replied. I emailed again. No response. I called Auckland. I was given an email address for the accounts manager in Sydney – who we will call Roxanne. I contacted her. Pay up she replied. There was no parcel I said. That’s between you and the account manager in Auckland, Roxanne said. I have no account manager in Auckland I believe – I have one in Christchurch. Roxanne was very rude.
I rang Christine in Christchurch. She said she would check. A credit note arrived without another word, a few days later.
The mail resumed and mostly arrived on time until 2009 when we made the mistake of moving house.
I had been sent a form email telling me that I had a brand new account manager – we will call her Sally. She was in Auckland. I emailed her. She replied quickly that she would ensure the new address was entered. I realised I had made an error with the postal code so I emailed her back. A read receipt but no reply was forthcoming. I sent the email again. Same. And again. Same.
I was in Auckland a week later so I called Sally. It went to voicemail and I left a message. No response. I called back a week later. Sally resigned yesterday – you have a new account manager – we will call him Shane. I spoke to Shane and he was pleasant and said that it was no problem. The new address was in the system and it was all go.
I went back to Bali and moved house. I received an email giving me the tracking number of a mail shipment – to the old address.
I emailed Shane. No reply. Again. No reply. I emailed Christine in Christchurch. She contacted Shane who telephoned me.
‘Why has my mail gone to the old address?’
‘I have no idea. We don’t collect mail. Who is your account manager?’
‘You are, you fuckwit. You did the redirect!’
‘It wasn’t me but I’ll arrange to have this parcel sent to another address. There will be a charge.’
It arrived four days later having toured around Bali in a DHL van for three of those. No invoice – either for the shipment or the extra charge – ever arrived.
Next month it was sent to the old address again. I rang DHL’s helpline in NZ after Shane simply refused to reply to repeated emails. The woman said it had been returned to NZ because the address my Auckland office had put on it was wrong. ‘We don’t have an Auckland office – DHL addressed it.’ ‘We don’t do that,’ she staunchly answered – the ‘you are an idiot’ tone in her voice swamped any idea that she was going to help. I asked to be put through to Shane. Nobody of that name worked there she said.
I emailed Christine in Christchurch and Roxanne in Sydney. Roxanne replied and said it would not happen again – she was sorry and not rude this time. The parcel arrived a week or so later, routed via Dubai!
The next month the parcel arrived at our new address.
Then we decided to move again – to Bangkok. Shit.
I emailed Shane, Christine, Roxanne, and the customer service email address on the website with the details and the dates. Roxanne and somebody else called John replied. Shane was no longer with the company. It seemed that perhaps his fuckwit to helpful ratio was too low for even DHL’s suspect standards.
Roxanne said it was nothing to do with her. She was curt and unhelpful this time. Chur…
John said it was done. New address labels had been printed and it would all go smoothly.
We moved to Bangkok.
The next month the mail went to Bali – back to the old address, not even the more recent new one.
I emailed John. He apologised. ‘Your office in New Zealand must have misaddressed it’.
‘We don’t have an office – you arranged this.’
‘We don’t do this sort of thing – picking up mail from PO boxes – never have.’
I sent him his email from a month earlier.
I had a call from DHL Bangkok. The parcel was now here – who was paying for the journey from Bali to Bangkok? It was $100.
I emailed John. The tracking system said the parcel had been sent to Jakarta. I rang New Zealand and spoke to a woman at the help desk.
‘We don’t empty PO Boxes and forward mail – never have.’
I yelled at her and she put the phone down.
The parcel arrived three days later.
I wrote a letter of complaint to the General Manager of DHL Express (NZ) Ltd. It was sent by mail and faxed to the head office. No reply was ever received.
The next month the mail was sent to Bali. I watched the online routeing as it left Singapore, went to Jakarta, to Bali, to Singapore, to Jakarta, to Singapore, to Auckland.
I emailed every address I could find at DHL. I re-sent the fax to the General Manager and to another fax number, adding to it a formal written cancellation of the service. I also mailed the cancellation to Roxanne and John.
I received an email from another person – a senior manager of the company – profusely apologising and saying it would not happen again. I responded that it was too late and I wanted the service stopped.
He replied that it had been stopped forthwith.
I had another letter of demand from dear Roxanne. I replied firmly, explaining that I was not going to pay for non-delivery and rudeness. She was, by return, even ruder, saying that it wasn’t her problem but mine. By return, I made it her problem and sent an invoice for my time.
She sent credits and all went quiet. We arranged mail clearance via a third party. It works well.
In November, six months after cancellation, out of the blue, a mail parcel arrived via DHL at our house in Bangkok! In the first week of December, I received another tracking email. They had more mail but it was not being delivered because I owed money on the last one …
I sent emails to all the people I had dealt with before. Not one replied, not even the helpful woman with the nice voice in Christchurch.
Brigid arrived in Auckland to clear two containers and rang them. She was told they had no record of the AWB number and that, no, they don’t clear mailboxes. Never have. Can’t help, sorry.
I emailed Roxanne and demanded resolution. Her response was that it wasn’t her problem, she knew nothing of it and anyway, DHL don’t clear mailboxes and never have. This was followed by an email saying that the account had been closed at my request months earlier. Then, within hours, another saying that they had no record of me closing this account – could I provide proof?
I responded with a threat to take it to the police – why were they uplifting mail without authorisation using a key that I had asked to have returned?
Three days later two more parcels – that had been going around DHL neverland for months it seems, without notification to anyone – arrived in Bangkok.
Until last week when I received another email. The mail parcel they had just cleared from our PO Box was out for delivery – in Auckland, not Bangkok or Bali. I knew not what to do. I was numbed by it all and just stared blankly at the email.
I contacted the New Zealand Post Office. They confirmed that DHL – somewhat randomly – were still clearing the box. Some months they would, other months there was no sign. I put a permanent ban on these idiots going near the box and had the lock changed.
We will see. In the interim, I’m using parcel post.