You'll Never Guess how DHL Ruined My Family Christmas
The amount of incompetence, disorganization, and ineptitude displayed by DHL China is almost incomprehensible. Let me explain the situation.
My family mailed what was suppose be a Christmas package for my wife, myself, and our two-month old son on Tuesday, December 15th (Waybill: 6924384401). I was amazed at how quickly it arrived in Shanghai: only two days to go from Philadelphia, PA to Shanghai, China. That is the only positive thing I can say about DHL. The story quickly degrades into a series of catastrophic failures and total lack of communication or knowledge on the part of DHL China or what company or customs policy is.
Knowing full well that Chinese Customs are unusually bureaucratic, my family had already declared all items, DHL inspected the package before it was shipped to China, and an itemized list and Proforma Invoice was attached to the box. I can provide copies of all documents given to DHL employees in Philadelphia, PA upon request.
The first miscommunication was that DHL U.S employees informed my family that Chinese Customs allows a package to be declared as a gift so long as the total value of the gift(s) is less than $1,000. This is false. You can only declare a package a gift so long as the total value of the gift(s) is less than CNY1,000. It is even on your website: http://www.dhl.com/en/express/customs_support/customs_paperwork/customs_guidelines_china.html
That one miscommunication between my family and DHL U.S employees is the beginning of the most vexing experience of my life in China. However, mistakes get made, people get confused, it happens. Honestly, I can overlook that. The series of events that follows in DHL China is absolutely unforgivable and intolerable.
My parents sent multiple items in one package with a value over CY1,000, which made it no longer a simple ‘Gift for Foreign Teacher’ declaration (despite being assured by DHL employees in Philadelphia that they followed the letter of the law and would have no trouble passing Chinese Customs). The result: the package was set aside upon arrival in Shanghai for customs officials to either ‘approve the importation or return to origin’ the supposed ‘Gift for Foreign Teacher’ which did not qualify to be declared as such.
So began the process of 28 e-mails, multiple phone calls, and me wanting to blow my brains out over the unadulterated idiocy that I was being exposed to. It started with that first email from DHL Employee Jun Zhou (email@example.com).
It started off very abruptly with: 请确认一下货物有没有超过1000CNY
Now, I don’t speak Chinese, so I had to use Bing Translate which translate this message as: “Please make sure that goods have more than 1000CNY.”
I thought to myself: “How do I respond to this? I have no idea why this person is asking me this. How do I make sure the goods ‘have more than 1,000CNY?” No explanation, only a simple declaration. Not knowing what else to do I replied ‘It is less than 1,000CNY’.
Jun Zhou replies: 购物小票有吗？
Again, I needed to use Bing Translate: “Shopping ticket have?”
My thoughts now were: “Why couldn’t he explain to me what is going on? What is going on?” So, I replied: ‘No, I don’t have. It’s a Christmas Gift. I don’t know what’s in it.’”
The conversation continues for a while, without a clear explanation what is going on, why the package is being held in customs, or what I need to do to get it out. The only information I received by Jun Zhou was short commands or questions: zero information about what was going on or how to remedy the situation. Eventually, I gave up and my wife (who is Chinese) began talking to him. Perhaps the issue was language, and my wife could understand better what was going on.
Absolutely not. In fact, the incompetence displayed by DHL China and specifically Jun Zhou was astronomical. First he wanted a receipt. But then, no, a receipt was not enough. Now he needed an itemized list (how the itemized list should be formatted or what it should include Jun Zhou never said). So, we sent him an itemized list. It was immediately rejected by him for not being ‘detailed enough’. We tried again. This time, it was too detailed. Finally, the third time, Jun Zhou accepted our itemized list.
But, here’s the thing: My family in America already provided DHL U.S employees an itemized list and Proforma Invoice. My parents claim that it is attached to the box. Why in the world am I completing information that is literally on the package!? By now, my confusion and frustration are reaching tipping point. But, I calm down. I think to myself: “Okay. Jun Zhou has what he wants, now he can submit it, and the package can be on its way.”
Relief finally creeps in. Done! Free! The package will be here shortly and my son, wife, and I can celebrate Christmas with presents from my family in America.
December 18th turns into December 19th. As the 19th turns into the 20th into the 21st into the 22nd into the 23rd nervousness creeps in. I ask my wife: “Has DHL called you?” to which so replies “Nope.”
Christmas cheer quickly turns into Christmas despair as the realization creeps into my head that we are not done yet with DHL China or good ol’ Jun Zhou.
I ask my wife to send Jun Zhou an email asking the status of the package. I crossed my fingers and prayed for a Christmas miracle, but none came. Jun Zhou replied (in Chinese and to the effect of): ‘Oh, we need a copy of your passport and entry stamps into China.”
“Okay,” I think to myself, “I have no idea why they would want that, but whatever.” So, we send him a copy of my passport and entry stamps into China.
Jun Zhou replies (in Chinese and to the effect of): “Oh, actually we need the shipper’s passport. We also need the shipper’s driving license.”
At this point, I just want to put a gun in my mouth and blow my brains out: This makes absolutely no sense in the least. Nowhere on your website does it claim Chinese Customs needs the shipper’s passport or driving license. It only asks for the consignee’s ID (that would be me).
Jun Zhou told us he needed my father’s passport and driving license on Dec. 23th. That just so happened to be the day my parents left for a vacation in Road Island. I messaged my father and told him the situation: “DHL and Chinese Customs needs your Passport and DL.” My dad promptly responds with a MMS of his drivers license but says he cannot send me a copy of his passport until after Christmas when he returns home with my mom.
Our spirits are now absolutely crushed. After two-dozen emails with Jun Zhou, frustration over how to please his capriciousness, there was no way to get the package before Christmas. But then, a Christmas miracle, or so I thought. Jun Zhou replied back (in Chinese and to the effect of): ‘Sorry about before, we only need the shipper’s DL.’. That was Dec. 23.
Today is Dec. 31st and my *** on Earth that is DHL China is far from over. It seems that despite the 28 emails, it was not enough and Chinese Customs rejected entry of the package. My wife called DHL Customer Service in China to ask what this means, but they appeared more confused than we were. They told my wife “No, your package wasn’t denied by Chinese Customs.” I call ***. It clearly states on your website as of this moment “Entry is rejected by Customs Authorities”.
After a few more phone calls between DHL and my wife, It seems that the itemized list, which was the first bloody thing we provided Jun Zhou is not valid since it doesn’t match the receipt we gave him. I had no idea this level insanity could exist: It took twelve days before someone realized an inconsistency in what we provided? Did we even have to provide anything else Jun Zhou asked us to?
So now, according to Jun Zhou, we must copy the receipt we provided him to an Excel Spreadsheet. I mean, literally copy the information on the receipt to an Excel Spreadsheet. Why? I have no idea. Because it is what Jun Zhou says we need to do? It could be futile, and it most likely is. But, at this point, what else can I do? Answer: Absolutely nothing but follow the whims of DHL China, do a rain dance, and hope with all hope that this is actually just a terrible nightmare that I will wake up from any minute.
DHL: I’m out of energy. I’m exhausted. I just want this to end.
Please help me,
Andrew M. Friedle
Reason of review: Poor Customer Service & Problem with Delivery.
Preferred solution: Let the company propose a solution.
I liked: Package arrived in shanghai very quickly.