home of the madduck/ blog/
Pay us, we might actually do as promised

On Saturday, we sent an express letter to Ireland, using the courier service provider of the German Postal Service: DHL. The lady at the counter alerted us that the letter was unlikely to arrive on Monday, but Tuesday would be fine for our purposes, so off it went.

What an amazingly crap choice. The letter has not arrived in Ireland today (Thursday) even, who knows whether it will make it tomorrow. Or next week. Or ever?

When we handed over a fair bit of money to aforementioned lady for their express services, we entered a contract with the courier. A sensible assumption would be that the contract requires the courier to deliver the letter as soon as possible, which is my understanding of "express".

But in this world, nothing is sensible any longer. Somewhat related to the asymmetry of e-shops I previously identified, the terms and conditions of the courier make sure that they cannot be held liable for failure to fulfill their side of the contract.

The next time you walk up to the Deutsche Post/DHL counter, keep in mind that when you hand them money, you are purchasing a lower bound on delivery time: they assure you that they won't deliver the express letter before the next business day. That's it, nothing more, please move on. They don't even ensure that any such letter will arrive. Ever. But you cannot hold them liable.

Maybe there is a reason why e.g. UPS charges almost three times the sum for express delivery of letters to Ireland: they actually get there in time. But then I check their conditions and see that they also interpret their delivery times as estimates of best effort, but no guarantees.

Since when does "consumer" mean "get ready to be screwed?" Why are we putting up with this?

I am now filing a complaint. I hope others in similar positions do the same.

I am also going to try an experiement: post another express letter and ask to see their terms and conditions before forking over the money. I have a vague feeling that they'll fail to present them in an orderly fashion. Then I'll call up a lawyer friend and sum up my belligerence, time available, and plausibility. And the likely outcome is that I'll go to court against the Deutsche Post. You can count on me.

NP: The Pineapple Thief: Variations on a Dream