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DHL Express international couriers – NOT RECOMMENDED!

Here’s why. We used DHL to ship valuable and time-critical documents from Thailand to Manchester (UK). DHL’s agent got our package mixed up with another one. Thus our recipient in Manchester received a consignment from DHL, and upon opening it, discovered it was for an accountant in Portsmouth. (He immediately forwarded it to the accountant.)

After a lot of phone calls and chasing about, we tracked down the original sender of the documents intended for the accountant. We found out from him that DHL had sent our documents to his accountant in Portsmouth. (Meanwhile he’d been extremely concerned about what had happened to his own valuable and time-critical documents, and was relieved to hear they were back on track.) He told us that when the accountant received our package, he knew it wasn’t for him and immediately contacted DHL to take it away, which apparently they did – to their Southampton depot.

Armed with that knowledge, we got back to DHL to explain exactly what had happened, and asked them to forward our documents to the correct recipient in Manchester. Their response? “There’s no one to deal with that sort of thing at the weekend. Phone back on Monday.” Huh? An international courier company that doesn’t work weekends?

Anyway, it was a waste of time trying to get any sense out of them, so we phoned again on Monday. These are valuable and time-critical documents, could they please forward them to Manchester now? Only after they’d investigated, they told us – it’ll take 24-48 hours to redeliver them. We told them they didn’t need to have an investigation, we’ve told them what happened and all they need to do now is send our documents to the correct address. They can have a post mortem later if they like, but we need them to deliver our documents ASAP, by tomorrow by the latest.

Could they do that please? Nope, they can’t because our documents are in Southampton and there won’t be anything leaving before tonight. Could they at least guarantee that they’ll get the documents delivered by tomorrow? After all, it’s only 200 miles or so from Southampton to Manchester – you could drive it in a few hours. No can do.

I accept that everyone makes mistakes but when a major international company makes a botch up like this with valuable and time-critical documents, then you’d expect them to take action to correct their mistake promptly. Instead we’ve been confronted with a complete lack of any sense of urgency.

We have been appalled by the very poor service we’ve had from DHL, and recommend to all our expat friends that you don’t even consider using this company. If something goes wrong, they don’t seem to give a toss.

Please Tweet and retweet this story (with the #DHL hashtag). Help us to make them understand that we need those documents as soon as possible – they are valuable and time-critical.

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)


Dave McMahon 30-07-2012, 13:34

I sent in a complaint to DHL Express UK’s CEO (they provide a link for you to do that).

I first received an automated “out-of-office” message with cover details. Ten minutes later I got a one-liner from a “Customer Service Specialist Manager” saying they were sorry to hear about the problem and someone would be in touch shortly.

Just now I received a fuller reply, apologising again and saying:
(a) my comments had been passed to the relevant Customer Service Manager for review to improve their service;
(b) they’ve been in touch with Southampton and Manchester to ensure the papers get forwarded correctly; and
(c) they’ll monitor it and update me before 1200 GMT on Monday.
Unfortunately they rather spoilt the effect by sending the email at 1324 GMT. 🙄

Dave McMahon 31-07-2012, 11:15

They subsequently apologised and said they’d meant 1200 GMT on Tuesday.

I got a phone call from them at 1030 GMT. They’re trying to track it down – their tracking system currently shows it as being at their facility at Heathrow, where it’s been since 1730 GMT yesterday. They say they’ll keep me informed.

This is awful. You’d think that when something’s already gone spectacularly wrong, they’d make a special effort to ensure it was put right quickly and efficiently. It’s starting to look as if they’ve lost it again.

Dave McMahon 31-07-2012, 11:21

I’ve now had an email saying “we have been unable to physically locate your shipment at this time” and “the earliest delivery would be tomorrow”. Incompetence piles upon incompetence.

Dave McMahon 31-07-2012, 13:26

Their VP for customer service says on their website: “The true measure of customer service excellence is how we react when things go wrong.”


JJ 06-08-2012, 11:23

Someone else ‘unhappy’ (in a spitting blood sort of way) with DHL over here: He paid over ÂŁ80 to have a replacement camera delivered to him in Greece next day but it turns out that to DHL ‘next day’ means five days if you’re lucky.

Alex 06-08-2012, 17:07

He paid over ÂŁ200 AFAIK to have a camera delivered to him… Which I do accept is also over ÂŁ80. But still!

Mike KingdomHockings 23-08-2012, 08:09

Tweeted. This was a simple courier delivery. Several years ago, Nick sent docs to South America. Tracking stopped once they put the package on the plane in Paris. He had to arrange for someone to got to Sao Paolo customs and ferret around to find the package when it didn’t arrive.

Kay 20-10-2014, 08:44

What I didn’t say at the time because it was such a scary experience was that they’d lost my passport plus a lot of personal documents supporting a visa application.

It really was an urgent matter. How would you feel if you were abroad and DHL had lost your passport? They did nothing to help us until I got in touch with a friend who has thousands of followers. When he ‘tweeted’ about it, they suddenly paid attention.

Even then, they got it wrong because they asked him to privately send them the details of the case. They didn’t even pay heed to what he’d tweeted or try to get in touch with us.

The matter was eventually sorted out but only because all of those who had been inconvenienced by DHL were working together to try to resolve things.

I do not recall ever getting an apology from DHL for the nightmare of stress they put me through. I will never willingly use that company again.

(I just happened to come across this old posting and thought I’d expand on it, while I was here.)

Dave McMahon 20-10-2014, 09:03

They did actually tweet at us after their initial misdirected tweet – but only to request that we send them the details. I DMed them the case number… and got nothing but silence in response.

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