Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Confessions of an Unsatisfied Post Office Patron

Note: this is my blog. I say whatever I want here. That’s what a blog is for! If you don’t like what I say here, get lost. Don’t bother flaming me by posting a comment. I will just reject it. If I want to read stupid opinions from stupid people, I would have started a forum instead of a blog. So if you don’t have the brains to understand my opinion, drop dead and stop wasting our oxygen.
Now, where was I…

I don’t know why this topic was brought up or when I wanted to talk about it, but I was at PEX a few weeks ago and I saw a thread where Pinoys posted horror stories about their horrible experiences with the Philippine Post Office. Since I have been using Philpost heavily for the past 6 years, mailing my packages for my sales in Ebay, until I stopped selling by the end of last year, I have a lot to say about Philpost.

Just like most things in this country, the Philippine Post Office needs a huge upgrade. It is one of the things we clearly have to work on if we are ever going to tap the online trade. How can we maximize profits in e-commerce internationally if the Philippine Post Office’s service is unreliable?

2-3 years ago, the Philippine Post Office raised their rates but the quality of service deteriorated. I used to use EMS [express mail service] but 2-3 years ago, the rates went up and it was no longer affordable. The worst thing was, the speed of delivery became slower. EMS used to take 5-7 days to get to the US, now it takes 2-3 weeks. It just isn’t worth it anymore. This is frustrating since EMS in Hongkong only takes 4 days to deliver a package to the US. Ebay sellers in Hongkong are proud to say they will mail your item with their world class post office.

The only reason to use EMS is for the tracking number, which is only useable online if the destination of the package is in the US. If you send a package elsewhere, EMS’s tracking number can’t be used to trace the package online, since our post office isn’t even computerized yet!

EMS is advertised as a fast door-to-door service, but if your package is heavy, you have to go to EMS’ main office near the airport in Pasay to pick it up. Where’s the “door-to-door” service in that? And you better have your money ready because the customs examiner is there to charge you an arm and a leg in fees!

I once ordered a large quantity of original region 2 DVDs from a seller in Canada. He was very careful in packing the DVDS, so careful that he used a huge box, I had to go to the main office to pick it up and the customs woman charged me P8,000 in taxes! That’s P8,000 for something that isn’t even available here or competing with local products. Who is going to buy original DVDS if this is what the government is going to do to us in return? No wonder most people would rather buy bootlegs in Quiapo!

The regular airmail of the Philippine Post Office has also slowed down incredibly. They say your package will only take a week to get to the US, but it usually takes 2-3 weeks to a month. A lot of my customers in the US become edgy and irate waiting for their item to arrive. I have no choice but to just apologize, and I can’t give them any comfort by telling them where it is since regular air mail has no tracking information! This is another frustrating thing since airmail is the cheapest mail here yet by comparison to mailing rates of other countries, it is still expensive and the quality of service is worse!

The alternative, registered airmail, is actually worse. For a tracking number, you pay more and it takes longer to arrive since there is accompanying paperwork. The tracking number is also a cumbersome thing, if you want to have the package traced, they have to trace it manually [the Philippine Post Office isn’t computerized, remember?] and you have to PAY them to do it!

In fairness to the Philippine Post Office, the branch where I mail my stuff is at the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan. It has been modernized. It’s no longer the humid, stuffy, government-type installation, it has been upgraded to look like a modern bank, fully airconditioned, etc. I don’t know how bad things are with the post offices of other municipalities.

However, the fancy facilities will still not change the fact that delivery of your mail via the Philippine Post Office will take forever, and the tracking system is a joke. Your customers will be impatient and worrying if their item will ever arrive. The kicker is that you don’t really have a choice, since private forwarders like DHL and FEDEX are much more expensive.

The most frustrating thing is, this problem will most likely never go away, since our government doesn’t consider this problem a priority. It’s strange when the general attitude nowadays is to encourage more people to be entrepreneurs or to engage in internet business. How can we do this if our basic services aren’t up to par?
I guess my having to stop selling in Ebay a blessing in disguise. At least I don't have to take the heat for their lousy service. I could mail the stuff as fast as the customers pay, but if the post office takes forever, I still get the heat!? That's just plain wrong. But customers will never understand, they just want someone to blame.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My Big Daimos Artbook from Japan

Got this from a seller in Ebay in Japan last year. It could not fit in the scanner so I used the digicam. It's about twice the size of a typical Newsweek magazine. It's in full color and there is even a huge poster.