Saturday, July 11, 2009

Please, Mr. Postman

Based on personal experience, I would have to say that weakest communications link in this country is the postal system, also known as Philpost. Over the past couple months, mail sent to me from the U.S. has arrived either late or not at all. Even priority mail items that finally did reach me were not delivered--based on the Quezon City Post Office date stamp-- for three weeks or more after arriving there.

In an attempt to resolve this issue, I called that office. According to a delivery supervisor with whom I spoke, the problem is a shortage of and turnover of mail carriers in my locale which is a densely populated mixed business and multi-unit condominium area but that they're doing the best they can with their available resources to keep up with delivery demands.

Incidentally, finding the phone number for Philpost was a task in itself because that operation is not a government bureau as such but rather a government owned corporation and so is not listed under Philippine government offices. Instead, it's listed alphabetically under Philippine Postal Corporation in the Metro-Manila DPC "Government and Business Phone Directory". Significantly, there's no customer service number listed under that heading in the phone book or on the Philpost website.

So if you are outside the Philippines and are mailing an important letter, consider sending it via registered mail or through private carriers such as LBC or Fed-Ex. If you can get away without sending the primary document itself, there are of course other recourses for correspondence from, to, and within the Philippines such as telephone, fax, email, and text messaging. For residents of Metro-Manila, to improve the chances of receiving your mail consider renting a post office box. Sending money to the Philippines can be done through such services as Philippine National Bank, Western Union, and various Internet services.

Another problem with the postal service here is internal pilferage which is why much of the mail (possibly including my lost items?) goes missing. Also there are no public mailboxes. The reason for this is that they would be highly vulnerable to theft due to the high crime rate here. So mailing a letter requires a trip to the post office or to malls where there are private companies that accept mail and perform other services for Philpost such as selling stamps.

In short, although it's a separate entity from the government, the postal system's deficiencies reflect the culture of inefficiency of its "parent company" and of the Philippine society as a whole. Unless the national character through some miracle drastically transforms itself, it would probably be futile to expect Philpost to function any better than it does now.

7 comments:

Bruce said...

Rick,
I know your feelings. A year ago my mom decided to put my IRS refund into an envelope and mail it to me here. Even though she wrapped it in a letter, it never arrived and when IRS was contacted, it was deposited.
I told my mom "next time you decide to do something completely stupid. Tell me first"
Well, my apeal did not work and I am out $1,800.

Tom said...

If I mail anything other than a post card I always send it registered mail. Packages I don't usually bother with at all.

Although I recently mailed a Magic Jack to a friend and it arrived within two weeks. (I was stunned) I figured I had seen the last of it and was kicking myself for not registering it.

Usually I just e-mail or call on the phone.

Secular Guy said...

No doubt about it. wWhether you're the sender or the recipient, the anxiety resulting from waiting to see if the item will arrive is extremely stressful.

Anonymous said...

i am a nurse and i'm waiting for a mail sent by the canadian licensing body for my application approval. The mail was sent last june 22 and it isn't delivered yet.. I've requested for another one to be resent and until now, it isn't here yet..that's my future.. please help me!! i don't know where to go or how to retrieve it..please...

Secular Guy said...

For what it's worth, Anonymous, I just received some mail that was sent to me at the end of June.

Here are some thoughts off the top of my head that may help:

Subscribe to a Canadian mail forwarding service in the area who will furnish you with a Canadian address. Then throw yourself on the mercy of the licensing body and ask them to send a third application approval to that address. If they do so, the mail forwarding service will contact you to let you know that they are holding it and will likely give you options as to how you want it sent, including registered mail. You may this kind of service useful for other mail too.

Alternately, you can ask the licensing body to send you a new copy directly to your Philippines address via regitstered mail. but I wouldn't count on their consenting to that, but it's worth a shot--nothing to lose by asking, right?

Finally, you might try contacting or visiting your local post office and speaking with the postmaster and asking for his/her help in locating the approval form(s) that have been delayed in transit. The form may be still sitting there waiting to be delivered.

Good luck anonymous, and let me know how it turns out.

Jonha Ducayag Revesencio said...

Bigger cities are expected to have more efficient systems in whatsoever transactions-better roads and facilities but it turns out that living in the jungle (er, I mean living in rural areas or smaller cities) turn out to be of advantage in these cases because of the following reasons:

1. Everybody almost knows everyone (I'm sure Mr. Postman will too!) thus easier and faster delivery of packages, letters and if not, it's easier to complain because you know where you should

2. Smaller area of responsibility
I understand that postmen are delivering bazillion of mails, parcels and packages daily so it must take considerable amount of time but with smaller area of responsibility and smaller letters to deliver, it becomes easier and faster.

Those proposed solutions were indeed helpful but may I add several others like:

1. Email instead (unless it requires actual documents getting delivered) but what about fax and scanning of documents? Electronic and technology offer the best solutions

2. For sending money in the Philippines: Banks are overrated and often outdated. Xoom and Paypal are relatively new but definitely secure and fast. I have been receiving payments from my clients through Xoom (I prefer it over paypal as I am not being charged, being the receiver)

3. Google Voice (Further detail about how to set this up and how to use this really cool and free technology has been written in my blog if you want to know more)
Call, people in the Philippines could now call USA and Canada for FREE using Google Voice (which is also integrated in your Gmail accounts) so if there's anything really urgent, you just gotta open your email and dial, now those are just some of the great things you can enjoy with technology advances and yes, they're available to Filipinos or people in the Philippines too

Secular Guy said...

Jonha,

You have some great observations and suggestions to which you've obviously given a lot of thought, especially about delivering to and sending mail from the province.

BTW I now use xoom.com to transfer funds from the U.S. It's a great service and as it turns out much cheaper than Western Union.