In Will The Sad State Of Logistics Hurt eCommerce?, I’d alluded to how DHL, FedEx and other multinational courier companies are 8-10X costlier than the local ones, and are, therefore, used only for high-value consignments.
I recently went through an experience which highlighted the risk of sending anything valuable via couriers.
I placed an order for redeeming my points on one of my credit cards in the middle of September. As frequent card users know, such rewards can be quite valuable. Three weeks later, I still hadn’t received the ordered items and called the bank. The CSR who came on the line was shocked to hear my complaint since the bank had apparently shipped the consignment the day after I’d ordered it and promised to follow up with the courier company immediately.
Lo and behold, I got the parcel within the next two hours.
As an external party who is not privy to what goes on between banks and couriers, here’s what I suspect happened:
From the external marking, the courier company could easily make out that the package contained valuable items – even gift vouchers are sent out as bearer instruments. The courier sat on the delivery, hoping to pocket the reward if I hadn’t followed up.
I suspect something similar happens in the case of my FORTUNE magazine deliveries. I’ve been subscribing to FORTUNE for over 10 years. Virtually every year, I go through one or two times when I don’t receive a single issue for two months, a period in which four issues of the bimonthly magazine are published. My complaints to the domestic distributor of the magazine normally go nowhere. I start getting heard only when I email the magazine’s Asia Pacific HQ in Hong Kong. Finally, I receive two or three of the missing four issues a day after I send a fax to FORTUNE’s Regional Vice President. (For reasons unknown, I’ve never managed to extract the email address of the person or persons holding this position over the last few years that I’ve reached out to them, so the word “fax” in my last sentence is not a typo.)
While these attempted thefts might be isolated acts of a few of its employees, I hold the courier company guilty of omission, if not commission, in the process.
Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions. If you can think of any alternative explanation for the aforementioned incidents, please let me know in the comments below.