The Myth of DHL Customer ServiceOctober 4, 2006
Bottom line up front: if you have business-critical international shipping needs, don’t ever rely on DHL. Period.
10 November 2008 update: My heart goes out to the more than 9000 DHL employees being laid off. One thing that I have learned in the 2+ years that I have been waiting for my laptops to be delivered is that word quickly spreads about companies that provide poor customer service. Read through the comments in this blog post and you’ll see that DHL is a company that obviously does not listen to their customers. In my case, they have virtually ignored (although, oddly, the DHL legal team continue to complain to my lawyer about this blog post – must be the 12000 or so views).
DHL employees should be demanding more of their DHL management. The company needs to reach out to unhappy customers to repair their image. It isnt hard and a high priced consultant isnt needed. I’ve been a manager at a Fortune 100 company – the best way is for that efort to be directed from the top. Else, a DHL middle manager with vision could easily implement such a working group.
Aim for success instead of continuing to cultivate a reputation for being such customer service asses. My case would have been so easy to resolve two years ago if DHL had just listened.
DHL would do a lot better in this economy if they work to not continue to create customers like me that wont away until my issue with DHL has been rightfully resolved. Best hopes to those in any company that have fell victim to poor management and bad customer service.
7 September 2008 Update: We’ve passed two full years where DHL has neither delivered 12 laptops sent usig their DHL Jumbo boxes nor settled with me for the lost value therein. I would have never thought that a company in such a competitive, customer oriented market would treat paying customers so horribly.
Although over 10,000 of you have read this article now, DHL once again is ignoring us. the funny part is that the last time they did communicate, their lawyers said that they weren’t happy about this blog post…here s a tip: I’ll gladly take the page down and replace it with a scanned simple letter of apology when you pay me for the lost business value of the laptops. This is hardly an unreasonable request since I entrusted DHL to deliver the 12 laptops. DHL still has yet to even refund my money paid to ship the 2 Jumbo boxes.
If you think that that this situation is as ridiculous as we do, we’ll have a viral and participatory way to show your support for us within the next few days. We’re designing a small website icon that will allow you to show your support for us and make others aware of just what can happen if DHL decides to not deliver their packages to you. You will be able to put the icon in your own blog or website that links to a clear description of what has transpired with DHL – placing the icon will not only alert others but also give us google juice to continue bringing this issue to the forefront for searching on various DHL topics.
In addition, we’ll again ask for your support by either 1) contacting the DHL VP who has the power to fix these types of situations, Mike Heilman, email address is Mike.Heilman@dhl.com (naming him only because he is a corporate officer of a publically held company that was directly involved with this issue ). Again, be polite, however, let him know that you have read about our case and how poorly it reflects on their customer service (he had the power to make this all go away in 2006) and/or 2) write a short blog post about this with links back to us and others that have had such issues.
So, come back on late Monday evening and we’ll have the widget for your own site. Now that we have passed two years, also expect to see press releases relating to this issue sent out to journalists in English, Spanish, and Portuguese (we’ve been holding back on doing this but now its clear that DHL has no intention of settling this issue).
There is now an entire series of updates below in reverse chronological order….
(26 Nov 2006 28 Feb 2007 21 March 4 April 2007 10 April Update 14 May 2007 17 January 2008 Update(see below): for those that are reading this for the first time, we have been waiting 75 91 108 158 179 194 223 233 481 days for DHL to deliver 12 laptop computers to the rightful addressee – thats right, more than 6 months 1.3 years as of this update)
The only redeeming value here is that more that 7000 people have read this specific blog post and thousands more have read it without clicking on it. There has been no change and DHL has made no attempt to contact us or resolve the situation.
29 March 2007 Update: Justice might actually prevail. A Bolivian judge has ruled 100% in our favor. DHL Bolivia apparently has 48 hours to take the actions outlined in the ruling. Keep reading and you, like me, will be asking yourself, “why did it have to come to this?” False alarm – DHL has apparently not responded to an extended deadline of yesterday. Par for the course. What will happen when *you* as a customer have an issue with a company that may be ignoring court orders? My lawyer indicates that DHL has apparently provided some sort of document to the judge that may actually bring this epic saga to an end – I should have more information tomorrow. False alarm but the judge has again found in our favor…despite DHL’s continued claims that we are not recognized officers of our own company (we will post the scans of the judge’s response where he says, “umm..yes they are”.)
Lesson for other companies: help your customers at least feel listened to when they have an issue.
For context, I rarely write about things outside the main scope of international real estate on this blog. We know that many of our weblog readers are english speakers outside of the US (based on our logs for this site) so the advice here may be of use. Our story is below…we’ve included documentation where required.
Like many of you, we do regular business between our Seattle-based company and our South American company. Shipping items bigger than a breadbox to Bolivia can be very expensive as just about everything requires a plane flight or a 20-40 ft shipping container. DHL’s Jumbo Box service seemed like exactly what we needed…Their web site promises delivery of up to 55 pounds for a flat rate of several hundred dollars and a three day guarantee. We signed up for a DHL account thinking that we had found the solution. To date, we have sent more than a dozen Jumbo boxes.
– With one exception, every Jumbo Box of the dozen or so that we have sent has arrived in Santa Cruz more than 2 days later than the promised 3 days
– The DHL tracking website is inaccurate for the location of packages (and this is really the most troubling issue). In almost every case with us, the tracking website indicated that the packages had been delivered to Bolivia when, in fact, they were actually still in Argentina. The toll free DHL USA customer service people would insist that the packages are in Bolivia because they can’t be scanned ahead of time.
Here is the rub: the local DHL office admitted in writing to scanning the delivery paperwork ahead of the package’s arrival. Since this wasn’t the first time that this happened with us, my opinion is that the local offices likely do this to improve their delivery performance metrics as otherwise almost every package would be late (but I have no proof).
The local DHL office would tell us that our packages were in customs inspection during the 3-4 extra days required for delivery. We only realized that there was a problem when we thought that we were waiting for a week for customs inspections. We started having our customs broker ask for a faster customs inspection of the items based on what we had been told by DHL. Our customs broker was informed that DHL had not yet delivered the items for the inspection. After many more questions without clear answers, we then found out that the packages were not even in the country of Bolivia as indicated on the tracking website and as we had been told by the local DHL office.
– You’d think that the local DHL management would want to resolve this. We have called more than 40 times to the local office and even sent a letter to them by courier early in the summer demanding a meeting about this issue that was returned with a stamp that said “received”. To date, they have never contacted us.
– You’d think that Executive DHL management in the US would be very interested in this issue. If I were a DHL exec and this was happening within the business unit that I managed, I’d certainly want to find out the details and get it resolved quickly. We were sufficiently motivated by what happened to find and email the DHL Vice President of Ecommerce. We explained the tracking information issue and how critical the logistics portion of our business. To be fair, he did respond within 24 hours on a Sunday afternoon. We were assured that we could place our trust in DHL and that his staff would dig into the issue. Given my history with VP driven actions at Microsoft and other Fortune 500 companies, I felt like we’d at least be able to resolve the management silence and tracking issues. We did receive a small discount from DHL USA for two previous jumbo boxes that we had sent earlier in the summer that were delayed by more than a week.
Unfortunately, after being passed down the management chain several times, to date we still have no resolution with local management or even have any of our calls returned, our most current packages that were needed for FEXPOCRUZ have been delayed by weeks now, and the only responses that we receive from the lower rungs of international DHL management are to say that “the DHL country manager is aware of the situation”. That’s nice. In short, no one other than the VP seems to care – certainly the refusal to return one phone call over the period of months is the best indicator of not caring.
– When DHL lost the commercial invoice shipped with the latest 2 packages with the latops, they didnt contact us for a copy of the commercial invoice until after they had allegedly produced one locally and tried to get it past customs. Their resulting commercial invoice was so poorly handled that not only did they not get the value of the items correct, they didnt even get our Company Name, Tax ID number correct.
This is hardly what I would expect from a company that was getting thousands of dollars of our business per quarter. You should also expect better.
If you are considering using DHL, save yourself the aggravation – the DHL service is more trouble than its worth. The only thing that DHL appears to do on time is charge the credit card. Use UPS or FEDEX – they actually deliver on their promises and usually clear customs within a day. You can’t even use your own DHL account to ship back to the US.
22 194 days and counting for receipt of our laptops….it is now too late to use the laptops for what we needed them for at FEXPOCRUZ and ultimately a complete waste of money and effort sending them down here via DHL. But, more importantly, its also too late for DHL to ever get our business back.
Don’t give them yours.
—————UPDATES ARE NOW IN REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER———
17 January 2008: (481 Days without our laptops) No Change. We continue to pursue the issue in court. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to rely on you, our readers, to further our cause as you have to date.
27 July 2007 5:20pm (307 days without laptops): I’ve been quiet for a while. To summarize, two days ago, DHL-Bolivia received the final order of a judge in Bolivia to either deliver the 12 laptops or pay us for them by 3:40pm eastern time on the 27th (today). The order clearly states in spanish that an arrest order will be issued if they do not comply.
Remaining in consistent form to the end, DHL did not respond to the judge for this final order. Therefore, as I type this, an arrest order for the legal representative of DHL-Bolivia is being reviewed by the judge (not yet signed).
Further thoughts: It’s all kind of sad actually – this is the story of everything that a company should NOT do when dealing with customers. A set of people at DHL-USA and DHL-Bolivia chose this path because they clearly believed that “big” could trump “little” every day. And, no matter the outcome of this arrest order, this won’t be the end of the story; we have sought out and will continue to pursue the best possible advice on how to deal with the damage that has occurred as a result of this experience.
I have these final order documents scanned (they are public domain) and will be posting them on my blog along with any updates about the arrest order. Stay tuned…
14 July 2007 (294 days without laptops): Yes..still not resolved. DHL continues to seemingly work against finding a solution to this issue. To be clear, the biggest issue with DHL at this point isnt the fact that they had issues with the package but the actions (and lack of action) that their management in the US and Bolivia have taken that continue to damage and cause loss to our company. They continue to focus for some reason on whether or not we are lawful representatives of our company (we are) regardless of the fact that I am the sender and my general manager was the named recipient. We originally sent the laptops for use in last year’s FEXPOCRUZ 2006. This year’s fair is coming around in September again and I wonder if this will be resolved by FEXPOCRUZ 2007.
Promised Documents: In case that any of you have been thinking that we have made this up or have a baseless claim againt DHL, we are posting the following public domain documents:
– The einsteins over at DHL submitted documents to the Bolivian judge saying that they were “surprised” to learn on January 21 that they were breaking Bolivian law by not having delivered the 12 portable computers from the US to our Bolivian company, Frontera Services (see the circled red area of the linked document). Note: The 21 January date of the initial notification was approximately 130 days after we sent the computers via DHL.
– They go on to say in the same document that the requests for information come from two people that are not associated with Frontera Services (first red circle) and that DHL is a responsible company that is dedicated to the service that they provide (second red circle). Note that the date of the submitted document is dated late February almost 180 days after we sent the laptops – perhaps DHL should review the definitions of “responsible”, “dedicated”, and “service”.
– They go on in the document to name me and my general manager as the people that are supposedly falsely representing what turns out to be our own company (there are no other owners). What makes this part worse is that the DHL account from which the computers was sent was in my own name and the addressee was the other person, Alicia Yabeta. Eve if we had not been owners, DHL has gone so far as to say in a court of law that apparently DHL account holders and addressees have no right to find out what has happened to their deliveries – even when said deliveries are hundreds of days late. Interesting….
– The judge responded by summarily rejecting DHL’s response (red circle). They don’t have many options left in what will likely be rapidly turning into a criminal proceeding for our friend, Edison Rodrigo Yepez Jimenez (named as the legal representative over at DHL-Bolivia) in the event that they don’t fork over the laptops. This is all very embarrassing for us and we’ll been tangibly impacted by this ordeal in terms of business lost as well as our reputation. All because of an unkept promise by a DHL VP. Going public is the only means that “small joes” like us have to get *any* sort of action when dealing with large companies like DHL.
Again, we’d like to ask for your support by either 1) contacting the DHL VP could has the power to fix these types of situations, Mike Heilman, email address is Mike.Heilman@dhl.com Again, be polite as he is a corporate officer of the company. Howver, let him know that you have read about our case and how poorly it reflects on their customer service and/or 2) writing a short blog post about this with links back to us and others that have had such issues.
16 May 2007 (235 days without laptops): A number of people have written asking how we know about the below story involving the DHL lawyer (a story which we have received from more than one source by the way). It isn’t too hard when the person involved is screaming into his cellphone in front of a group of people about how DHL could have possibly lost his paperwork including passports as well as asking if they know that he is a lawyer for DHL. It’s clear to me that our story is becoming known in Bolivia when several people that were present thought enough to tell us about it. If this is how they treat their own folks sending things like passports… how would they treat you with your important documents?
I wonder if he at least received a refund? We haven’t…
My new favorite actual Google search that found this article is DHL on time my ass. No joke – thats the phrase that someone searched for to find this particular blog post. Made me laugh all day…perhaps it was the same guy who lost his passport…
14 May 2007 (233 days without laptops): Here is more evidence that shows that DHL’s troubles are not just with their customers. Word comes to us that one of the lawyers for DHL Bolivia is trying to travel to Spain on vacation with his family. Apparently, he sent his documents via DHL from Santa Cruz, Bolivia to La Paz, Bolivia (where the Spanish Embassy processes visa requests in Bolivia). DHL lost his paperwork which included his passport. Oh to have a video camera of the DHL lawyer pleading with the Embassy authorities to process his paperwork…which of course they would not…even if it was DHL’s fault. So, it isn’t just us after all….best of luck to the lawyer (if our case is any indicator)
4 May 2007: (223 days without laptops) It is becoming clear that DHL has absolutely no intention of complying with court orders or delivering the two Jumbo Boxes filled with portable computers that I paid for. I’ve been patiently waiting for more than a reasonable timeframe and my company has never been a party to any of the issues that DHL had with Bolivian customs (DHL generated the allegedly fabricated paperwork and not us). This after being assured in writing by an corporate VP level officer of the company that I could continue to place my business’ future in the hands of DHL. I’ve regretfully had to start the process of getting advice about my legal options in the United States to remedy what has happened here… I’m not yet sure how much more I’ll be able to write about in the coming months. Peace, Out.
19 April 2007: (208 Days without laptops): In response to the new court order, DHL now claims that the legal representatives of my company are not actually the legal representatives (including me!) DHL continues to sink to new lows. Let’s review their “customer focused” actions to date:
– allegedly file false paperwork (we didnt have access to the data)
– blame the customer for all of the problems
– claim that the DHL legal representative has not been in the country for months
– claim that the owners of the customer’s company are not really the owners at all
– completely ignore customer requests for resolution
Is there any hope for a company that appears to be working resolving the issue (my personal opinion is that they likely no longer even have the laptops). But, again, think about if this was your property mishandled by DHL. Notice the word, “Myth” before “DHL Customer Service”. Hopefully, at least of the 50 or so of you that read this posting each day will heed the warning signs in the post. Take your business elsewhere.
10 April 2007 (199 Days without laptops): Apparently, DHL provided some sort of document to the judge today that may actually end all of this, according to my lawyer. I don’t have any details yet nor do I have any reason to believe anything that DHL says even if I had any details. I’ll believe it when they actually carry through with any promises but, honestly, even gloating won’t make me feel better about any of this.
4 April 07 Update (193 Days without laptops) : Also, others are noticing our plight while enduring their own battles with DHL: http://sephyroth.blogspot.com/2007/03/200-miles.html. Please support them and us by 1) contacting the DHL VP that has the power to fix these types of situations, Mike Heilman, email address is Mike.Heilman@dhl.com (again, be polite as he is a corporate officer of the company. Let him know that you have read about theses cases and that they should be working a bit harder to resolve them after so much time) and 2) writing a short blog post about this with links back to us and others that have had such issues. You’ll find a lot of similar cases in the comments section of this blog post.
Here is where we are with the court order: DHL had 48 hours to abide by the court order when it was issued, however, they asked the judge for a 48 hour extension. The 48 hour extension ended yesterday (3 April) but, true to form, DHL apparently chose not to respond to the court order. To be honest, I’m not surprised…if DHL is consistent in anything, it’s in their lack of communication and lack of customer service.
What has larger ramifications here is that DHL isn’t just ignoring *us* anymore….if they won’t respond to a court order as a company, what makes you think that DHL will respond to *you* as a customer if you have a problem with them? I’m really starting to become interested in knowing what the President of DHL thinks of these corporate responses and how these actions paint their company. Perhaps thats the next step…
Additionally, we also have been informed by our sources that DHL Bolivia has taken no actions to get our laptops out of customs (if they even exist at this point) . Hmmm….this would seem to be a required step if they planned to comply….
In the interim, feel free to read what DHL responded to us in December 2006. The original email is in Spanish and posted below but they basically state that DHL executives are too busy to respond to our case because they have important things like christmas parties to attend to. Carla Baro is their designated horse holder for dealing with customer issues.
—– Forwarded message from Carla Baro —–
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 14:46:22 -0400
From: Carla Baro
Reply-To: Carla Baro
Subject: RESPUESTA DE DHL
To: [Our Lawyer]
Hoy tendré respuesta oficial a horas 17.00. disculpe, mis jefes andan con
una variedad de temas por fin de año, que no les ha permitido, evaluar toda
la situación con respecto a la empresa [our company name], y en el entendido,
de que el objetivo es llegar al acuerdo más equitativo entre partes, es que
están revisando todas las variables que su representado y usted han hecho
llegar a DHL.
In the email, DHL says that we will have an answer by 5pm on 13 December 2006 and about how they are working towrads a compromise (the email was sent about 3 months after we had ben trying to get our laptops from DHL). For the record, we didnt even hear from DHL again for several months and the DHL management in Bolivia has never ever returned a single phone call, registered letter, or meeting request. We talk below about how they allegedly told the court that their sole legal representative claims to have not been in Bolivia for months….
29 March Update: A Bolivian judge initially rules in our favor. DHL apparently must take the actions outlined in the ruling within 48 hours.
21 March 2007: This article is now our second most read article. As an update, DHL Bolivia is apparently saying that their legal representative isn’t in the country and apparently has not been for months so there is no one (repeat: no one) to respond to legal actions. Amazing that their legal representative isn’t able to be located considering that DHL has not stopped doing daily business in the country. Clearly, they don’t feel the need to respond. If you’d like to help with this situation, please send a quick email to the DHL Vice President that put me in this predicament with his promises of satisfactory customer service – email address is Mike.Heilman@dhl.com (be polite – but let him know that you have read about this case and that they should be working a bit harder to resolve it after so much time).
28 February 2007 – 158 days…thats right, we passed the 5 month anniversary of shipping with DHL without having received the items. We are not even involved in the issue for which DHL continues to hold the items (perhaps they dont even have them anymore. The little that we hear via our local sources defies explanation… I’m without words at this point. I read every one of the comments posted… as do hundreds more of you with each month that passes. Trust me when I say that I’d rather be spending my time on other things that are more important…
29 December 2006: 108 days…..new years day will be 110 days. Another milestone has been reached: over 1000 of you have read this article. Almost everyday people that search for DHL find this article. The search terms are indicative of the lack of quality and customer service of DHL. The funniest DHL search to date is the person that found this article by using the search terms, “Was DHL ever any good?” It made my day.
12 December 2006: 91 days and we have heard nothing since day 75 – not a peep from DHL. I would not even be in this predicament if Michael Heilman, VP eCommerce Americas and Customer Technology had not tried to convince me so hard to stay with DHL. (I’ve held back on using his name for 3 months but sorry, but when you are a corporate VP, this is so against the norms of customer services….). This whole experience and continuing silence by DHL at all levels makes me wonder what sort of activities DHL has been involved with to warrant such a long investigation of them by customs…. At this point, I just want DHL to do the right with respect to us but at this point we cant even get a response from them.
26 November 2006: Day 75 and still no laptops or any sort of meaningful communication from DHL. We have yet to be able to speak with any local manager (only seemingly clueless “horse-holders”). When calling the local office, we are only told to call the US national number – we have been given no further information at all. When calling the US number, we are basically told to contact the local office. Do you really want to do business with a company that treats smaller customers like this ? especially when we have doing wrong?
15 November 2006: 64 days and still no laptops. We did get a call from a local DHL rep yesterday (not any sort of manager – they have never let us speak with a local manager during any of the issues that we have had with them) who informed us that this situation has only been going on “for a month”. Huh?
7 November 2006 Update: 56 days and still no laptops (and now it has gotten worse…we’ve now get absolutely no information from DHL USA or the local DHL office about our 12 laptops at all…only referrals to other DHL organizations that bounce us back to the office where we first asked for status) Uggg…this all equates to about $12,000 in commercial value being held hostage by DHL.
25 October 2006 Update: 43 days and still no laptops.
19 October 2006 Update: 37 days and Still No Laptops…
If nothing else, do you really want to do business with a company whose leadership would stoop to such lows?
**4 april: edited the format of the post to put the latest updates earlier…who knew that this easily resolvable issue would last for so long?