Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Deutsche Post works in mysterious ways.

Yesterday Damon and I left the apartment to run some errands around 11am. I checked the mailbox on the way out and found a little card saying that we had received a package, and it would be waiting for us at a Packstation* way across town (definitely not the closest one) after 6pm. We were home all morning, and the package is addressed to our street address, but they never tried to deliver it to us by ringing our buzzer. They just put it straight in the Packstation. I don't understand why this would be. We do have a Packstation address which is different from our street address, but it's at a closer Packstation, and this package was not addressed to it. (I guess it should have been, but it is confusing for our friends and family that we have one address for letters/cards and one for packages, and I don't blame them for that!)

* A Packstation is a big bank of locked metal boxes that sits in an always-accessible place, like the post office outer lobby or at the side of the road. If you have a code to use one, or a barcode from a delivered "you've got mail" slip to scan, you can retrieve packages from it. You can send packages from them too, but I've never done that. They are a good solution for large mail that is delivered when you're not home...but we were home, so in this case I wouldn't call it so great!


  1. I *heart* Packstation, WHEN I have things addressed to it! This must have been so incredibly annoying for you. Perhaps they'll develop a system so that errors like this can be fixed by on-line request.

  2. Hi CN,

    I have read your posts on the trauma of receiving/not receiving your mail (i.e. via the parental-units-in-law ;-). Looking back, what would you have done differently? Would you use a US mail forwarding service?

    We are moving to Germany in the next month or so. With us, it's more complicated because we'll spend two months in Munich first before settling in Bad Homburg (I'm starting a blog myself). Is the Deutsche Post reliable in forwarding mail?

  3. American with a Packstation address. Worked WELL for about two months then all of a sudden stopped and had to pick up at Customs. Lerned LAW was changed and FOREIGN MAIL / PACKAGES could not use Packstation. (One package wound back in the USA.) Forwarding costs € and for a certain period of time also. Be careful! MY experiences. Other than the Packstation deal, NEVER a problem.

  4. We don't have a Packstation around here, so what I know is sort of theoretical, and not practical.

    But beware, the USPS changes its contract every so often. For a while they had a contract with Hermes, so that when you sent something to Germany via USPS it was delivered via Hermes in Germany, who of course can't deliver to a Packstation. (*Not* an issue at the moment, they deliver with DHL, but with the new year rapidly approaching you just never know. And of course the "Post Monopol" ends as of 31.12.2007, so expect quite a few changes in mail delivery.)

    Bad_Homburg: I'd be careful with having mail forwarded after such a short time. In theory it's supposed to work, but if at all possible I'd not give anybody the Munich address and just wait until you're settled in Bad Homburg. It will save you many headaches! I've seen too many forwarding orders not work. (I work in a Post office.)

  5. MollyB: I like it too, when I want to use it! I just think it's strange they made no attempt to deliver it to our door! Do they just not do that anymore?

    Bad Homburg: If there is a way to have things forwarded by either the USPS or a place like Mailboxes Etc, then I would definitely use that forwarding service if I had to do it all again. My inlaws can't be controlled by me, and they're not a business, they're just people doing me a favor, so I can't complain about bad business if they don't forward things. I don't know if the USPS does international forwarding, because we had a similiar problem to yours - we came to Germany not even knowing our address. So, we couldn't have set it up while we were there.
    We did use Deutsche Post forwarding when we moved from our first place here to our current place. First off, it costs a small fortune in contrast to the free forwarding you get in the US. Second, half or less of our mail was actually forwarded to the new address, and the rest continued to go to the old address (which luckily was part of the university where Damon works so we still got most of it). So, Deutsche Post forwarding is pretty awful. I never knew of any problems with mail forwarding the many times I used in the US - so whatever they are doing over there, they need to learn it here!!

    Anon: This site says that foreign packages CAN be delivered to a Packstation - unless they need to have customs paid on them. In which case, you have to go to the Zollamt anyway whether it was addressed to a Packstation or a street address, so there's no getting out of that problem!

    Martina: Ye gods, there will be more complications after the new year!? Keep me posted on what you know :)

  6. CN:

    that's the problem: right now nobody knows what's going to happen next year. It could be that nothing changes, or all h-e-double-toothpicks could break loose in the postal market. It's anybody's guess.

    I'll keep you posted :-)

  7. Thanks CN, thanks Martina.

    I think we'll go with a mail forwarder in Texas - my husband says that you can see online what mail you receive, indicate online what you want them to forward or hold, even ask them to open it for you and let you know about the contents and then decide if you want it forwarded or not. They'll fax stuff for you or expedite it too. And the monthly fee is probably more economical than having stuff forwarded through DP. Gotta love American convenience (and make use of it while I'm still in the US)!

  8. Just tell your friends that the Packstation is some kind of ATM for parcels and one of the most famous German inventions ;-)


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