I ordered a package from the US a few weeks ago, didn’t pay for fast shipping so I figured it would take some time to get here but I got a bit concerned the other day that I still don’t have it. So I contacted the merchant and they sent back a note that according to the USPS tracking site the package was listed as “delivery attempted” several days ago. The fact that it is listed as delivery attempted and I don’t have it could be innocent enough. Sometimes they will attempt delivery a couple of times before they leave a note to say the package can be picked up at the post office if it’s too big for the post box.
Since I was home today and there was no delivery attempt I decided to call up SingPost to see what is going on. The answer I got from the lady on the phone was totally unacceptable; she said that the package has been shipped back to the US because it was ‘incompletely addressed’, but she could not tell me what was wrong with the address. Best should could come up with was to “make a request”, not that she could tell me what that meant, just that someone would call me who could be of more help.
A few hours later I received a call from another woman at SingPost who said the package was missing the unit number and so they have sent the package back to the US. The only thing she could do was to make a request to the US to have it resent to Singapore once it arrived in the US so they could deliver it now that they had my address.
Now, nothing these people can do if the merchant failed to complete the address. My issue is that it does not appear that SingPost tried very hard to deliver the package. The address on the package may have been missing my unit number but it contained everything else to get the package to the building. That reduces the number of possibilities to about 60 units. Given that my name was on the package and every other piece of properly addressed mail the postman delivers on a daily basis also has my name on it, wouldn’t two minutes of detective work have solved the problem? Maybe the package would have taken a few extra days —it could be taken back to the post office to some department that deals with miss- or incomprehensibly-addressed packages.
Ironically I recently watched a show on TV about how the post works —focused on the US and UK post— and one of the points they made was about how good the post office (in the US and UK) was at getting things delivered. In the case of the US Post Service packages that can’t be read or understood by the machines in the local sorting facility are all sent to a central processing facility in West Virginia to be looked at by humans. And the UK Royal Post has a similar process. They told the story of a letter that the Royal Post received that was ‘addressed’ with a hand sketched map showing the Southwest of England and an arrow labeled “Peter O’Leary, Somewhere here” [thesun.co.uk]. Basically the central post facility called the local guys in the area identified by the map and talked to people until someone recognizes the name.
I wish the SingPost guys had that kind of initiative and ingenuity. That my package didn’t get delivered is frustrating, that no one made any effort is infuriating. I chalk it up as yet another example of the complete and utter lack of customer service in Singapore. The government has made everything so business friendly that there is no effort by most local businesses to be consumer friendly at all. From loan contracts to credit card rates, cable TV service to the post office no one care about the customer —because the government is only concerned with providing for the companies to ensure a good corporate tax base. (If you’re reading this and thing the US is bad drop me a line and I’ll explain just how much consumer protection legislation and competition have made it consumer friendly compared to here.) On the other hand the personal taxes in Singapore is low because all the revenue comes from the corporate taxes… so I guess it’s a trade off.
But that does not make it any less frustrating that my package is on a slow boat back to the US.