Scrutinize the courier services available

July 5, 2017

Time and again consumers engage the services of courier service providers to transport items from one location to the other. This is primarily in events where consumers are unable to safely transport their belongings on their own or cannot physically deliver parcels to their loved ones.

The costs incurred in delivering those items locally and internationally are usually different. However, consumers expect the prices of transporting items locally to be reasonable and affordable.

While, there are a handful of service providers who render courier services, only a handful of them clearly state their costs for the different services provided. There are some deceptive courier companies that mislead consumers. The initial prices they state are normally different from what the consumers end up paying at the end of the day. These charges are exorbitant based on several factors including the urgency of transportation.

The Council has over the past four years received 39 complaints with a monetary value of more than $37,000 against courier and freight services. The nature of cases include: failure to deliver products on time, products being damaged beyond repair or parcels gone missing at the hands of some sluggish workers.

While the recurring complaints remain a concern, the Council recently received a complaint through its National Consumer Helpline, relating to the fees charged by courier service providers in transporting items within local towns and cities.

Tevita who resides in Suva, wanted to send his aunty a washing machine as her birthday gift. Since his aunty lives in Nadi, Tevita had to seek the services of a courier company, as he had no intention of travelling to Nadi.

When Tevita took the washing machine to one of the courier companies, he was surprised to find out that transporting the item would cost him $200. After enquiring, he was informed that the company does not have regular trips around Viti Levu. Hence, if there were no other item being transported and no one was sharing costs then the cost of transporting the item would be high.

Ultimately, Tevita was able to get his item delivered at a cheaper cost of $60. However, he requested the Council to do a survey of prices charged by the courier services.Thus, the Council undertook a research to establish the costs associated with delivering different range of products right from envelopes and small parcels to household and commercial items.

The Council’s finding was that one company clearly outlined its costs associated with delivering envelopes at $5. For parcels and cartons, the prices are outlined based on their weight or cubic meters. Also, the companies have in place schedules for regular runs made in a week.

Alternatively, few courier and freight companies stated that they do not provide standard charges as their charges vary based on the size, weight, fragility, handling of the items and the urgency of cases.

Further, one of the company charges consumers based on contingency. This means that if a consumer engages the services of this particular company, they may have to bear the entire cost involved in engaging a transport to deliver the item from point A to point B. This is due to the fact that the company may not have any other items to carry or runs to make on a particular day. As was in Tevita’s case above.

What concerns the Council the most is that despite placing high dollar value for transporting items, some service providers delay their service or damage the products in the process. The number of complaints received are evidence of pathetic services offered by some courier companies. Loss of items, non-delivery and damages caused by the courier companies leaves consumers frustrated. Needless to say the exorbitant costs they have to incur in order to send the items across to their loved ones, colleagues, business partners, etc.

To avoid such unwanted hassle, consumers are advised to properly scrutinize the rates placed by the different service providers. Tevita acted responsibly by comparing the fees and charges provided by different courier companies before deciding which provider to engage.

Consumers are strongly encouraged to compare the rates of the service providers in the market before zeroing down on one. It would be advisable to engage with companies which display their actual prices. Consumers can further seek feedback from friends and relatives to ascertain which company is good to engage with.

Consumers who wish to lodge complaints against unethical and shrewd courier service providers or seek advice on the issue are encouraged to contact the Council on its National Consumer Helpline Toll Free Number 155.