April 05, 2008

Why I May Never Ship DHL Again

Posted at April 5, 2008 04:00 PM in DHL , misc .

Last Friday, I had three packages shipped from Michigan to my home in San Mateo, CA via DHL ground. I finally received tracking numbers on Wednesday evening and went to DHL's web site to see the status. They were both scheduled for delivery the next day, Thursday.

Thursday morning, I once again checked the tracking status and saw that the packages were in Santa Monica, which is by LA, 400 miles south of me. I thought this was weird, since they were scheduled for delivery that day. I called up customer service to see what the problem was. It turns out the destination zip code on the packages was incorrectly listed as 90024 (Santa Monica, CA) instead of 94403 (San Mateo, CA). As a result, the packages made it all the way to Santa Monica before they realized the address was really 400 miles north. I'm puzzled as to how this can happen because you'd think on package scan they would do a geocode of the address and compare to the zip code and alert if something seemed wrong (e.g. the distance between the two points was greater than 50 miles or something). Anyway, the conversation with customer service went well and they stated the packages would arrive the next day, on Friday.

Later in the day, I again checked the tracking status to see if the information was updated. The destination zip was still listed as 90024 and it said to contact customer service. Again, I called and talked with an agent. I explained that I had called earlier to update the zip code and they said everything was in order on their end. It is just the web site can sometimes run a little behind. Great. This second agent also confirmed that the packages would arrive on Friday.

So, Friday comes. I'm fully expecting delivery of the packages. I leave a signed note on my door to let DHL know they can leave them there. Around 3 PM, I leave work early and head home in anticipation of playing with the contents of my packages. I get home and nothing. The note is still on the door and no packages are there. I check DHL's web site. It states the packages are scheduled for delivery on April 3 (the day before) and has no status updates. Great.

I call up customer service for the third time. They say the packages are traveling from the regional distribution center near LA to the one in South San Francisco and should arrive any moment. Wanting the packages before the weekend, I ask if I can pick them up at the sorting facility. They confirm I can and I give them my telephone number, which they promise someone should call in the next hour or so to say the packages are ready for pickup in South San Francisco.

An hour comes, and passes. No word from DHL. I call them back. This customer representative says the packages are still in the southern regional hub and the one I talked to an hour ago had bogus information. Are you kidding me?! At this point, it was after normal business hours, so I'm pretty sure I can't pick up the packages in South San Francisco. So, I confirm they will be put on a truck for delivery instead of waiting for me to pick them up. To my surprise, the agent said that because of the zip code screwup, they will be delivered on Saturday, despite the fact they are only ground service. Oh well, what's another day?

Before I go to bed, I check the tracking information. Both packages have left the southern regional hub and are presumably on their way to South San Francisco. Good, it sounds like I really will get them on Saturday. I leave a note on my door saying to drop them off in case the delivery happens before I wake, then I head to bed.

I wake up, open the door, and nothing. So, I wait. I periodically check DHL's web site. It still says the packages are scheduled for delivery on April 3, now two days prior. There hasn't been an update since 2:00 AM, when one of the packages left the southern facility (the other one left around 12:00 AM).

Usually I go on a bike ride on Saturdays, but I wanted to stay at home and wait for the packages. So, I'm sitting around, waiting. Around 1 PM, I grow restless because the tracking information hasn't been updated. I call customer service. The lady says the package is on its way to Santa Monica! Aggghh! I tell her that zip code is wrong and the real zip code has been updated. She quickly realizes the error on her end and sees they are going to San Mateo. Whew. I ask about the state of the packages and she informs me they haven't been scanned at the South San Francisco facility yet. You are kidding me, right? If they haven't been scanned, they aren't out on a truck for delivery -- and customer service yesterday twice stated they would be delivered on Saturday!

At this point, I am pretty pissed off. I try to vent as calmly as possible to the agent. I know she didn't cause the problem, but I explain that I called up Thursday and they said they would be delivered on Friday. I called up Friday and they said they would be delivered on Saturday. I call up on Saturday and hear they won't be delivered until Monday. Every time I call, the delivery date seems to be "tomorrow." It sounds like I am being told what I want to be told rather than reality. Furthermore, I'm not getting consistent information from the agents. I ask that she kindly relay my plight to management. Who knows what that'll do.

At this point, I'd like to think that I will receive notification of the packages' arrival in South San Francisco so I can drive up and retrieve them today (Saturday) instead of waiting until Monday. But, after all that has happened, I'm very pessimistic.

This being my first interaction with DHL, I am very disappointed. Although I was impressed with the speed with which I could talk to a customer representative, that service is all but useless if you receive inaccurate information. I cannot begin to comprehend how you can talk to five different agents and hear five different stories.

Oh well, it sounds like I have another 48 hours of waiting. That will be 4 days after it was initially scheduled and 3 days after when a customer service agent promised it would be delivered after correcting the zip code mistake.

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