‘They do not ask for tips, they demand it’
Corruption in the Bangladesh Postal Service continues to be a thorn in the side for e-commerce customers, as many delivery persons still hold packages for ransom.
The authorities concerned are yet to take any measures to address the longstanding issue, claiming there is a lack of evidence.
The Bangladesh Postal Service made its way into the e-commerce sector two years ago and is keeping pace with the booming e-commerce business. However, some online shoppers have complained that delivery personnel from some post offices in Dhaka demand extra cash for their home delivery services, even though the charge had already been paid.
Navida Ameen Nizhu, a resident from Dhaka’s Kawla area, ordered some products through e-commerce giant Aliexpress in early 2020. Her package arrived in Bangladesh and was delivered through the Khilkhet Post Office.
Nizhu tipped the delivery person Tk50, but he demanded at least Tk100 as his tip.
“He did not ask, he demanded it. I do not mind tipping the delivery person but sometimes they demand extra money, and this is unjust to the customers,” she told Dhaka Tribune.
She refused to pay the additional tip, and so the delivery personnel provided unprofessional services. Her packages never arrived at her house, nor did she receive any phone calls when her packages arrived at the post office from China.
“They called me once or twice, and asked me to pick up the packages from the office, but I paid for home delivery service. Later, they did not even inform me about my packages,” she said.
She opened a dispute on the Aliexpress app but did not get any refund since the seller had already sent the products to Bangladesh.
A few months ago, Nizhu sent a letter from Chittagong to her sister in Dhaka. The delivery person showed up at her sister’s address but refused to hand over the letter to the security guard.
The letter was only handed over after the delivery person was paid a sum through mobile banking.
“If we had not paid him, he would probably try to make a trouble next time. We wanted to avoid any hassle,” she said.
Zyma Islam was expecting a product from abroad that she had already paid for in full. The delivery person from the Dhanmondi post office showed up at her address and told her mother that she needed to pay Tk300 as delivery charge.
“My mother did not know that the delivery was already paid for. There was no delivery charge. She thought the delivery person asked for the delivery charge and she gave him Tk300,” she told Dhaka Tribune.
She said she assumes that small business groups that buy products in bulk from overseas probably pay them well, because they run a business.
“There are individuals like us who buy products in retail from foreign e-commerce sites now, and we should not have to deal with this corruption,” she said.
Mohammad Munsur Rahman Mollah, additional director general (supply and inspection) of the Directorate of Posts, told Dhaka Tribune that if someone files a complaint with specific evidence, actions will be taken against the delivery person or post office staff.
SM Shahab Uddin, additional director general (postal service), said that delivery persons or any staff from any post office cannot demand any money from customers under any circumstances.
“They serve the government and are not allowed to demand any extra money from people. We would take action if we found someone doing it,” he told this correspondent.
Currently, 8,500 post offices are operating with more than 40,000 staff in Bangladesh. If a shopper buys a product from a foreign e-commerce site, it must be delivered via the nearest post office to the delivery location.
e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) General Secretary Md Abdul Wahed Tomal told Dhaka Tribune post offices and their staff need to be modernized.
“The post offices do not have modern tracking and tracing systems for packages. Online shoppers do not even get confirmation texts upon receiving the package,” he said.
He recommended that there should be a specific guideline for cross border import and export for post offices to avoid nuisances such as the demanding of extra payment.
This correspondent ordered a few products from Aliexpress last year and they were delivered via Khilgaon post office. Two staff members from the post office arrived to deliver a lightweight product and they demanded that they both be tipped well.