When Singapore Post customer Janan Loh ordered a pair of Bluetooth earphones online earlier this year, he waited eagerly for a few days for them to arrive from the United States.
That wait stretched into weeks and became such an exercise in frustration that he set up a Facebook group rallying others who had been similarly affected.
The 35-year-old chief operating officer at a social enterprise eventually got his $238 earphones when he told the company, Jaybird, that he had never received them, and it sent him another pair without additional payment. It was more than a month after his first order.
This time, the company sent the item through courier company FedEx. The first pair never showed up and all he got from calling SingPost’s customer care hotline was frustration, he said.
“When they called me, they would give excuses and ask me to wait a few more days. And they would throw me around to different representatives,” said Mr Loh, who noted the call centre was based overseas, and he could not get to someone in Singapore till several calls later.
Another customer, a financial consultant who wanted to be known only as Shirley, 25, had a similar experience with a $200 mobile phone she ordered directly from Chinese electronics company Xiaomi in January.
Two months went by and she did not have her phone. When she told the company, it sent another set, but she never got the first.
When an item to or from overseas cannot be found or is not delivered, what SingPost can do is “raise a request” and start an investigation, said Ms Lily Loo, SingPost head of group customer service.
Sometimes mail, whether from overseas or sent locally, does not reach recipients because the sender did not clearly indicate the address. In some cases, the packaging has been damaged when it arrives in Singapore, and the recipient’s address cannot be made out.
Such items are held for three months and when customers approach SingPost about missing mail, staff will first check to see if their package is among them.
Beyond this, however, the odds of tracking down a package are small.
SingPost said parcels from overseas, no matter the kind of postal service used and whether the parcel is registered or not, are handled as basic mail and cannot be tracked. “Technically, we can’t even declare something is ‘lost’ because we cannot be certain if the item is indeed in our…