Post Updated: 5 May, see end of post
Are we really a First World country with a world-class service industry serving the economy? Certainly not if our still unresolved issue with Singapore Post (SingPost) is a yardstick for measurement. A simple request for Singapore Post to re-deliver my wife’s parcel (containing online purchases of clothes from Forever 21) has dragged on for almost 3 weeks with no end in sight. Much worse is the customer service treatment we have been receiving at the hands of this monopolistic (we don’t really have a choice, do we?) Singaporean postal service. Truth is: no one at SingPost seems to care!
‘Parcel is Lost in Our Service’ says Singapore Post
The parcel, with a total purchase value of US$385.16, had been declared ‘lost’ by Singapore Post. And this happened while it was in its care! Unbelievable? Unfortunately, this is true, SingPost officially states so in this email and this one too. And for the record, there WAS an attempted parcel delivery to our door step on 30 December 2009 (more on this later). But it seems as though the parcel simply….vanished!
Obviously, we were deeply concerned and wanted this resolved as quickly as possible. As the lost item was a combined purchase between Elisa (my wife) and her friends and acquaintances, it is only right on Elisa’s part, as purchase coordinator, to rectify this quickly. If the parcel is really lost as claimed, then compensation must be made, especially when SingPost has clearly acknowledged losing it. Simple enough? Turns out, not quite.
Ignored by Singpost?
It is painfully obvious from our interactions that Singapore Post does not see any urgency in this matter nor does it feel totally responsible for this blunder. Despite countless calls and information request via emails, no single person at Singapore Post took the initiative or claimed any service responsibility over our case. Read on to find out how SingPost tries to ‘tai chi’ this problem away. (Note: ‘To tai chi’ is Singlish for shifting work or blame to someone else)
Since January 11, Elisa had been making periodic calls to Singapore Post’s customer service hotline to enquire about this parcel. The same mantras were repeated countless times: ‘We are looking into it’, ‘Our operation team is still investigating’, ‘The parcel is still missing’, etc. And she kept being told ‘We will give you a call’, but never heard back from anyone. Not a single call-back came from SingPost in the course of 2 weeks. Unbelievable but true.
This perceived ‘lack of interest’ by SingPost is also evident in email communication. A certain ‘Jxcqueline Lim – Senior Manager’ offered to keep a close watch on this case when Elisa spoke to her on January 22. Unfortunately, that did not happen. See the chain of emails that is still unresponded (and possibly ignored by Miss Lim) since January 22.
All Talk, No Action
From January 11 till the 22nd, this case was ‘ping-ponging’ between Singapore Post’s Customer Service team, their Investigation team and quite possibly their Claims Department. It seems like no one wanted to make any decision. If it takes 2 weeks to locate a single physical parcel, then there must be something seriously wrong operationally at SingPost.
Only on January 22, when we demanded immediate concrete action to be taken, was a police report given to us the very same evening (more about discrepancies of this police report later). We deduced it to be SingPost’s way of saying: ‘Yes, we lost your parcel but can you wait in case it turns up so that we don’t have to claim insurance and save some bucks?’
This whole episode, coming hot on the heels of the controversial Singapore Post’s “Acts of Vandalism” publicity stunt that backfired, does make us wonder the quality of decision-making business managers currently helming the company. SingPost is not exactly doing itself any favour here. And to think I had voluntarily proposed a revolutionary business idea to SingPost previously.
Next, I’ll detail a factual rundown of events that led to this blog post.
What Actually Happened
20 December: Elisa and myself left Singapore for a 3-week holiday in the Middle East.
29 December: Parcel arrived in Singapore on 29 December at 3.10pm. View the online tracking report by United States Postal Service for item CJ242179875US (Elisa’s parcel).
30 December: Delivery was attempted on 30 December by owner of mobile no. +6581461087 to our flat in Toa Payoh Central. The following are text messages (signed off as ‘S’pore post’) sent to Elisa on the same day regarding this attempted delivery:
Another text message was also sent on January 2:
31 December: My mom called on my mobile and mentioned that our neighbour, an elderly lady, had contacted her to inform of a postal delivery man at our door the previous day. Our kind neighbour had spoken to the delivery man and that she was ready to ‘make payment’ on our behalf (we found out later that Goods and Services Tax (GST) was due on Elisa’s parcel). However, our neighbour mentioned that the man was nowhere to be found when she returned to the door later with her money bag.
8-9 January: Elisa sent several text messages to +6581461087, but did not receive any reply.
11 January: Elisa made the first call to Singapore Post’s Customer Service to enquire on re-delivering the parcel. She was told that parcel cannot be located and SingPost advised that it will need at least 2 working days to look for the parcel. SingPost assured her that a return call will be made within the next few days.
Text messages and phone calls made to +6581461087 were still not answered. Gave up on that channel of communication.
13 January: No news from Singapore Post. When contacted, SingPost informed that ‘the Operations team is still trying to locate the parcel’. SingPost also mentioned that if the parcel is not found by January 18, a police report will be made in order to initiate claims. We decided to wait it out and requested to SingPost to provide a prompt update by January 18.
18 January: Again zero communication received from Singapore Post. Elisa made a call and told the same thing: ‘the Operations team is still trying to locate the parcel’.
So no police report had been made. When asked when exactly the police report will be filed, the Customer Service Officer quipped that she had just updated the system for the ‘Operations team’ to file the police report. Ping! Pong! Among other things:
Was also told that the police report would take THREE working days to complete
After which the report will go to the Claims Department to look into the matter and handle the proceeding steps Ping! Pong!
Will be updated via a phone call regarding the police report and claims
I guess Elisa and friends have to wait. Again.
The Singapore Post’s Police Report Mystery!
22 January: Still no update on a late Friday afternoon so we decided to give Singapore Post a call.
No police report had been made! The atrocity!
The SingPost Customer Service officer on the line said ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it and will call you back on Monday’. ‘NO WAY!’ we protested. Eventually, by sheer verbal force, Elisa and yours truly managed to speak to Jxcquxlinx Lim (Senior Manager, Customer Service) and she agreed to file the report so that a compensation claim can be initiated as soon as possible.
Do see the chain of emails here on this. Notice an attempt to delay official action again, despite an earlier verbal agreement with Jxcquxlinx Lim. Elisa highlighted this in her last email reply.
A police report was eventually lodged by SingPost on the same evening and we duly received a copy of this report. Please do view the full copy of this police report.
Now, let’s play detective! Notice the following discrepancies in the police report:
Police report was made in the personal name of ‘Ayub Bin Hamzah’. Is this normal practice? I assume this is a safeguard so that Singapore Post, as a business entity, is likely to be absolved from any connection or responsibility in case a criminal offence had been committed.
No signature or name and details of police officer-in-charge visible in the report. The informant ‘Ayub Bin Hamzah’ did not sign as well. Extremely odd! I wonder what is the real story here. Anyone familiar with police reports?
Look again at the following text message sent by owner of mobile no. +6581461087 on the afternoon of 30 Dec when the parcel was still in his/her possession:
Notice the time and date message was sent and received:
30 December, 2.59pm
Now look at the ‘Time of Incident’ for loss of parcel as stated by Singpost in the police report.
30 December, 11.47am-11.59pm
So Many Questions!
The parcel was reported/discovered ‘lost’ between those hours when it is obvious that, evidenced through the text messages sent to Elisa, the owner of mobile no. +6581461087 still had the parcel in his possession. Isn’t this downright fishy? A parcel gone missing while being delivered? Should this not be grounds for a criminal investigation?
Who is the owner of mobile no. +6581461087 anyway? Singapore Post’s official response to us on this query is “We do not know to whom this mobile number belongs to”. ???
Singapore Post does not keep track of its own delivery men/women? Inconceivable? Apparently so.
Could the owner of mobile no. +6581461087 be ‘Ayub Bin Hamzah’?
If parcel was already ‘lost’ on 30 December, why did Elisa receive another text message from +6581461087 on January 2? What was its purpose? There was no other communication after this message.
How is it possible that a parcel, in SingPost’s care and ready to be delivered to owner, can go missing and untraceable within the space of a week? Aren’t all parcel shipments individually tagged and tracked?
There was never a ‘Request for Re-delivery’ note left behind at our door by owner of mobile no. +6581461087 or was there ever an official SingPost call made to Elisa to arrange for re-delivery afterwards. Is this an attempt to cover up something?
25 January: No call from SingPost, specifically from the Claims Department.
26 January: Still no call and no news. So Elisa made a direct call to Jxcquxlinx Lim to ask for status of the claims.
Jxcquxlinx’s reply was: ‘Oh, no staff contacted you yesterday? Someone was supposed to call you. Ok, let me try to get hold of someone from the Claims department and have them speak to you.’
We felt really numb by now. Ping! Pong!
Later on a Fxdilx called, informing Elisa that the claims process will take several days. However, Jxcquxlinx had earlier agreed to resolve the claims process by Monday, January 25. Fxdilx claimed that she was ‘unaware of this’. Com’mon, SingPost, COMMUNICATE!
When asked to speak to Jxcquxlinx, Fxdilx informed that she had left for the day and instead a ‘Miss Umx’ would be calling by 9.30pm that evening. Unfortunately, Elisa missed this call. A return call to ‘Miss Umx’ was, however, unanswered.
The Final Straw: Singapore Post Washes Hands and ‘Tai Chis’ Tasks to USA Post, Forever 21 and Us!
27 January: Elisa picked up the phone and called a ‘Miss Umxmagasvary – Asst Manager, Customer Relations’ (we theorise that the concept of calling back or following up apparently does not exist in SingPost’s operations manual). In the call, the message communicated by Miss Umx simply astounded us! Elisa asked that this be documented in an email, which was received promptly. The full copy of the email is available for viewing. Reproduced here is an excerpt from Miss Umx’s email:
Dear Ms Elisa
ENQUIRY ON USA PARCEL NUMBER CJ242179875US
Please refer to your conversation with our call center dated 12 Jan 2010.
We are sorry to inform you that despite a through search, we are unable to locate the parcel. As such, the parcel has been declared as lost in our service.
We have reported the lost of the parcel to the USA Post and have requested to liasie with the sender accordingly. We have also informed them to compensate the sender at our expense as in accordance with the UPU Regulations.
As the sender would have the prior right of claim, please advise your sender to file a claim with the USA Post.
Our sincere apologies for the lost of the parcel and the inconvenience experienced
Asst Manager, Customer Relations, Customer Service (Business Division)
DID: 65 68456222, Fax: 65 68425114
Case closed?! This is totally unbelievable! MAJOR PING PONG!
This is as good as Singapore Post saying:
‘Sorry, we fxxked up, please help clean the mess after us’.
After 3 weeks of dealing with Singapore Post’s Customer Service and after it admitted to losing Elisa’s parcel, SingPost now wants to close off this matter by making USA Post, Forever21 and us to ‘take care of business’. How much more crazier can this get? There are even more questions now:
Why is Singapore Post getting USA Post involved in this when it is pretty obvious that SingPost lost Elisa’s parcel in Singapore? The parcel was delivered and arrived safely in Singapore on 29 December at 3.10pm. It went missing under SingPost’s watch, for goodness sake.
And why is Singapore Post making my wife do their work for them? “Please advise your sender to file a claim with the USA Post”. Not content with making Elisa constantly following up with customer service at SingPost (who lost Elisa’s parcel, by the way, if I haven’t already mentioned that), she is suddenly asked to TAKE CARE OF HER OWN BUSINESS? Nasty.
“Compensate the sender”: Whatever happened to the person whose money and time has been spent in this? In this email from Miss Umx, there is ZERO mention of claims or compensation to my wife, the paying customer. An oversight? Nah. It is likely that SingPost just does not care. Instead, the email implied as such: ‘Sorry, we tried our best but you are on your own. Now shoo. Leave us in peace.’
Is this a way for Singapore Post not to claim compensation on its insurance? Or not to fork out any money from its own coffers by making the sender claim from its own insurance, etc.? In the real world, if I were to lose someone else’s property, I should jolly well be made responsible for it.
Answer our questions, Singapore Post!
Elisa and myself have given enough opportunity and time to Singapore Post to ‘play’ nice’ and resolve this matter amicably. Yes, Elisa will probably be fully compensated, albeit in a ‘gazillion years’. But there are still so many questions that need answers, even legal ones.
Thus, we decided to bring this out to a public forum. We decided to let you be a witness and, hopefully, a commentator to this issue. We are always lamenting about our Singaporean service industry and this is probably just one of many cases you’ve heard. Now here’s a platform for your thoughts so that we can all learn from this unfortunate episode.
But above all, we would like Singapore Post to respond publicly to our many unanswered questions and the mysteries surrounding the vanished parcel, police report, compensation etc. Keeping it quiet and under wraps have not worked at all in our favour. We have stopped believing in your ‘stories’ over the phone and now we desire some real deal honesty.
On to you, Singapore Post.
5 May Update:
We thank you, visitors here who have found our story, for reading and sharing your thoughts on the SingPost issue and also for giving us your encouragement and support. We are happy to update that we had received compensation directly from SingPost for the full value of the lost package.
There are still questions that remains unanswered, including what really happened with the lost package and the conclusion of the police investigation on the matter. However, we commend SingPost for taking up our issue directly, visiting us to discuss in detail, leaving comments on this blog and keeping the conversation open. Please read Peggy Chong’s reply to us on this matter.
We hope in some ways we have helped institutions like SingPost and other exasperated consumers find a way to communicate better in resolving similar issues. Technologies and communication platforms that allow a much closer interaction between businesses and consumers have evolved greatly with the Web2.0 revolution. We hope opportunities like these will be fully utilised on both sides of the commercial divide.
Thanks again for visiting and do leave your thoughts and opinions for the benefits of others. I also invite you to read the rest of the blog if you have the time. Cheers!