Elite Courier Services Wisely

April 5, 2019

Thousands of Fijians use courier services as a way to send and receive parcels to and from their loved ones. Courier service by road, air and sea was developed as a means to provide customers with an alternative way to send mails and portable goods. These services are typically more expensive than traditional mail and postal services because of their speed, security and ability to track packages. However, when consumers need to send documents urgently or ship items between countries, these services offer a convenient and relatively safe means of doing so.

A reliable courier service offers consumers peace of mind. These courier services are able to deliver parcels and consignments on time and undamaged, giving consumers faith in their abilities.

However, this is not the case for many frustrated consumers as revealed through complaints recorded by the Consumer Council of Fiji. In the past four years the Council received 55 complaints against courier service companies which amounted to more than $39,000.

The types of complaints ranged from increase in the cost of sending cargo, missing consignments, delay in delivery of items, increase in revised costs charged by a third party and reports of items being damaged in transit.

Dissatisfactory courier services

Case 1:

In a recent case lodged with the Council, Lusiana’s brother couriered a new bicycle worth $160 from Lautoka to Savusavu at a freight cost of $45. The bicycle was a birthday present for Lusiana’s son. She was extremely disappointed and dissatisfied with the courier company because the bicycle was damaged in transit.

She raised the issue with the courier company who agreed to repair the bicycle. However, many weeks passed and there was no action taken. The complainant sought assistance from the Council and a mediation was conducted. The courier company then agreed to provide a replacement and gave assurances that they would handle all items with care in future.

Case 2:

In another case, a frustrated consumer who couriered a 50inch LED screen television claimed that the courier company had mishandled and damaged the item during transit from Nadi to Labasa. Upon finding the television set damaged, he lodged a complaint with the Council.After the Council’s intervention, the courier company agreed to arrange for a replacement.

The Council acknowledges that while some courier companies are forthright with consumers and offer redress when they are at fault, some fail to do so. These companies need to improve their services so that consumers receive the service they are paying for.

Transparency is key

Consumers must also be aware that the costs associated with delivering different types of goods whether it is a small envelope, a parcel or a household item, varies from one courier company to another. Charges also vary according to the weight, size and fragility of the consignment.

Courier companies work on a schedule for regular runs made in a day or on a weekly basis. There are also instances when a courier company may not have any consignment for a particular day and consumers may have to bear the full cost of delivery.

It is important for courier service providers to be transparent and display their actual prices to help consumers make an informed decision before engaging their services. They must also have clear and fair redress policies which must be read and understood by consumers.

The companies should realise that consumers pay a lot of money for their courier services. When they are offered pathetic service, it causes frustration and unnecessary hassle for consumers to remedy the problems.

Helpful tips for consumers

It is advisable for consumers to:

  • Research about the courier company online, check for customer reviews, check out their terms and conditions, talk to people who have already used the services of a particular company and compare costs with other courier service providers to know about a company’s credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Select the appropriate courier method depending on the type of goods they are sending through.
  • Mark fragile and sensitive products as such and label with ‘handle with care’. Check the items thoroughly at the courier offices before the parcels are couriered and prior to collecting them.
  • Choose a courier company with a website for a package-tracking facility with GPS. This will ensure you know the status and location of a consignment.
  • Sign for delivery – Signing for items indicates the date when the parcel was delivered to them and is essential if you are seeking redress for late delivery.
  • Try to find out about a courier company’s insurance coverage and select one that offers a fair deal. Some companies offer insurance that will cover any theft, damage or losses of the customer’s shipment.

Consumers who have come across courier companies that provide substandard services are encouraged to lodge complaints with the Council by calling the toll-free National Consumer Helpline 155.