Mail frustration


Chinese post office

As we all know, Christmas is coming (yayy!) and for the past few weeks I have been planning to post some gifts to Poland and UK. I do buy some gifts online but have always made the effort to send some ‘local’ gifts via airmail as I know my family and friends appreciate them; they feel they are more special as they’d traveled all the way from China. I would too, wouldn’t you?

Finally, today, with spare time on our hands, we went to our local China Post branch (an abandoned-looking, dark and gloomy place) with a simple idea of posting a couple of items via slow mail (by sea) and the main parcel via airmail. I should point out that I have mailed letters and postcard using airmail from China before, but never larger items.

What I saw as an easy and stress-free process (which I went through without a glitch for many years back in UK), turned out not be so stress-free after all, in fact it was very frustrating. First, I was asked to present every single item to the staff (who was polite, not blaming her), which I found a bit intrusive. Imagine if I wanted to send some underwear or more personal things?! I did anticipate being asked to declare the content of the parcel, like it works with sending something from UK to USA but it seems they are much more thorough over here. After I laid out all the gifts I purchased (in full view of other customers), the staff informed me that I would have to open the ones I’d already wrapped in decorative paper. Not happy. They were completely flat, wrapped in thin paper and so it would be hard to claim that they were anything other than what I claimed them to be (calendars)…

Becoming more stressed. THEN I was told that sea mail would take around 2 MONTHS to reach Europe! And airmail would take about 3 weeks, with no tracking, no guarantee they would get there in time for Christmas  (if at all) whatsoever (it’s only the 28th Nov!). The cost for the airmail parcel would exceed 100 yuan even though it was only a few light items, nothing big or heavy.

How it is possible that in this day and age it still takes so long for an ordinary parcel to reach a major destination? I’s not like I’m sending some oddly-shaped and sized pack to some obscure location in the middle of nowhere.

To add to my growing frustration, it turned out that some of my gifts couldn’t be posted! I was not planning on sending anything flammable, dangerous, poisonous or explosive! In fact, one of the banned gifts was a pair of earrings (not made of any precious metal), which apparently could pose a mysterious yet real risk. How, is completely beyond me…

At that point I grabbed all the items from the counter and told my husband I’d been defeated by the Chinese mail system and I give up. I’m aware that another person probably wouldn’t have got so wound up and eventually would have managed to post at least some of the gifts but I was not prepared to go through all this craziness just to mail a few things. The complications, the expense, the stares of other customers, all that put me right off going ahead with the whole thing. I can’t say my husband shared my feelings. He tried to explain that perhaps it is not the Chinese rules, it could be the European countries that require all these steps to be taken. That maybe it’s for safety reasons. It bloody well could be. I didn’t care.

All I know is that in 12 years of posting gifts to family and friends, I never faced such difficulties with, what should be, such a simple process. I’m hoping there is another way of sending goods to Europe. There must be. I can’t spend Christmas with my loved ones but I’m still hoping that on Christmas Eve, under the Christmas tree they will spot small gifts, which were posted from somewhere very far away, thinking of them.

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