Monday, January 02, 2012

DHL made a mess of what should have been awesome

Where to begin?

On December 5, my dad & his family mailed us a Christmas package at our Packstation address.  My dad called and asked if I would be free on the 17th to open it at the same time as my sisters (one was going to be home that weekend) since we all got something that's the same.  I marked my calendar and hoped the package would show up on time.  Historically, it seemed that it would.  When my other sister's arrived at her house in Seattle, Dad started getting all excited that he was going to "get away with" his plan.

The 17th came and went.  Dad called a few times and we checked email obsessively hoping for the little Packstation notification saying it had arrived at the last minute.  It didn't arrive.  Dad decided to have my youngest sister, the one who was home, open hers and swear secrecy - then my Seattle sister and I could open ours together when mine arrived.

The days went on.  No notification from Packstation.  We even went there a couple of times and tried our card to see if it was there but the notification didn't go through.  It wasn't.  On the other end, my dad and his family didn't want to harrass the tiny local post office too much, so they decided to wait until after Christmas to try tracking it down, if it still wasn't here by then.

Christmas came and went.  They decided to have Seattle sister open her package and swear secrecy too.  Then another week came and went.  On Friday around 5pm, my dad emailed me the USPS tracking number for the package.  I checked the tracking number.  It gave the following result:

December 5: Processed by USPS in Des Moines.
December 6: Left Des Moines.
December 7: Arrived and processed at USPS facility in Chicago.
December 15: Arrived and processed at sort facility in Germany.
December 15: Customs clearance 9:17am, customs clearance 7:05pm, customs clearance processing complete 7:06pm
December 17: Addressee requests own pick-up - Item being held, addressee being notified.

December 17.  It arrived on time.  But the addressee was NOT notified.  Of anything. At all. Ever.

We thought that the tracking information indicated it had passed customs and that "own pick-up" was referring to the Packstation, so we figured they must have it.  So, first phone call was to Packstation.  They told us to call another number.  Called there.  After giving them USPS tracking and our Packstation info, they said they had never seen the package and that it must be in customs.  Customs didn't pick up the phone.  By then it was 6pm and everything was closed for the weekend.  So, we had to wait until today.

At this point, Dad sent a scan of the mailing label from the package.  It vaguely declares - this was supposed to be a Very Big Deal Secret, of course - that the package contains "Various Christmas Gift, Food, Clothing".  I can't read the monetary value on it. Maybe there isn't one. But the idea that customs would stop the package seems likely given the vague declaration.

Monday morning.  Customs won't pick up the phone. My husband decides to stop there on the way to work.

Customs informs my husband: "We did have it.* We only hold packages for two weeks.  No one came to pick it up, so we sent it back."

They sent. it. back.

And, they blamed the Post for not notifying us, since it's apparently their responsibility, not customs.  Of course, how do we know if the Post was ever notified?  I can't believe it.  I can't believe it!!!  They had two weeks and we would have been there to pick it up in a second.  And yet we got no information whatsoever from anyone by any means at all.

I don't know.  I just need to know: Who the hell is going to make this up to me??  Who do I complain to??

*(It was held because of the vague form and because they wanted us to pay taxes on value over 45 EUR.)


  1. Stupidity has no upper limit when it comes to bureacrats.

  2. You can't find anyone to take responsibility. We were gone for 15 days and they sent our package back on the 14th. Meanwhile, they took a pack of mil- no value- and held it at customs for 37 days before actually delivering to our door.
    It's all crap. Sorry.

  3. Unfortunately, no one is going to make it up to you.

    Every time I had to go to the customs house (and there were quite a few), I received notification that or the next day through Deutsche Post - so that's where I'd lay blame. Come to think of it, with all the bad experiences I had with Post when I lived in Germany, I can just about guarantee you it's their fault.

    However, they will never admit to it and make up some kind of nonsensical excuse and blame it on you. And if you do complain, they won't care or do anything about it.

    I'm really sorry this happened to you - especially with a super secret Christmas present.

  4. Thanks, guys. Realistically I know that no one's going to make it up to me - and honestly, could they? I can't think of anything that would, except some serious cash to reimburse my family for the shipping, which looks like it was about $90 on attempt #1, and will probably be similar if they try to ship again. I'm just so frustrated. It seems like such a simple thing to notify someone about a customs package. I can't be the first Packstation customer to ever have something held in customs. With two weeks to do it, you'd think there's even room to make a couple of fails and still notify us in time. :/

  5. I admit that your situation is frustrating, but one of my relatives sent me a package and didn't tell me hat they did, so I was surprised to see a notice that I needed to go to my Zollamt ...

    My favorite part of the trip: the letter said that the office closes at 18:30. What they don't say is that the door is locked at 17:00. Thankfully I got there at 16:50.

    All of this for a $20 calendar...

  6. wow, that is the worst Post/Customs story I've heard so far.

    Sorry you had to deal with that!

  7. That's just rubbish. It would be lovely if Deutsche Post would offer to reimburse the postage - but would that ever happen?

  8. No. My parents just reposted the mail I was talking about and it cost the same 45$ to repost.
    It's crap.

  9. Maybe its in fact an constructional flaw at the customs/packstation system? That they had no adress other than the Packstation - which can't receive cards/letters - but no one of both Post/customs cared?

    btw: I found the guys at @dhlpaket on Twitter to be quite helpful and sometimes going the "extra mile" for solving problems (being obviously located at the marketing/PR departement not customer care).

  10. @seb, thanks for the Twitter tip! I was wondering too if it happened becuase it was Packstation, but since we are registered with them they do have our contact info (email at least and probably phone). Also, I have actually gotten a letter at the Packstation before (from a relative confused about why I have two addresses. ;) ) so it must be possible.


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