By Mariam Mokhtar
Pos Malaysia must claim the record for the world's worst postal service.
A letter which I once posted from Ipoh, arrived in Kuala Lumpur ten days later. Contrast this with my friend's experience. He sent a parcel which failed to arrive in KL. Others have the same experience.
It would have been faster if I had walked to KL to deliver the letter. It may have taken 4 or 5 days and that is still faster than Pos Malaysia's abysmal service.
Older Malaysians remember a time when the postal department was run by the government and the service was relatively efficient. There were two deliveries and five collections, everyday. Mail was also collected on Sundays and public holidays; but today, sending letters or parcels with Pos Malaysia is like playing Russian roulette.
The rot started when the Postal service was privatized by Dr Mahathir Mohamad during his first tenure as Prime minister.
The tidak apa attitude which gripped Pos Malaysia then, has worsened. At least one investigation into customers' complaints about missing mail, revealed that mail had been dumped in the jungle.
In some post offices, large queues develop despite many empty counters, but the staff are busy chatting at the back.
Horror stories of counter staff bullying people into repacking parcels, which are adequately packaged, are also common. Complaints on social media also tell of incorrect, or incomplete information being relayed on the phone.
Since the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO), it has been alleged that Pos Malaysia has suspended the Western Union service, and this has inconvenienced the many foreigners, who use this service, as they are unable to send or receive money. Did Pos Malaysia suggest an alternative?
If one thought that Pos Malaysia's shoddy service was confined to local or national deliveries, the international postal service can be a hit and miss affair, too.
In late November last year, I posted a card from Petaling Jaya, to a friend in England, and it arrived in the second week of January 2020. Why did an airmail letter take two months to be delivered? How does Pos Malaysia justify the delays and non-delivery?
In mid-January, a friend sent a parcel from London to Kuala Lumpur. He used a reliable courier service and the tracking service showed that the parcel had left Heathrow two days after posting and had arrived in Malaysia, the day after. That was the beginning of his three-week nightmare.
As instructed by the English courier, he had included a commercial invoice and a list of contents of the parcel to ease custom's formalities.
Instead, PosLaju played 'pass the parcel' with his package. When it arrived in Malaysia, at KLIA, he was told that PosLaju, the handling agent for the English courier, had handed his parcel to Pos Malaysia.
My friend was going to be charged an additional fee, as the delivery process involved 'another' handling agent, Pos Malaysia, a fact of which he was not aware.
When he asked Pos Malaysia how the customs charges would be worked out, as the list of his goods was below the threshold value to be charged duty, he was continually fobbed off, with non-committal replies.
He inquired about the customs formalities, as he feared that if the parcel was opened without his presence, the contents would go missing. The parcel was mostly chocolates (for Valentine's day) for his family in KL.
He had paid for a door-to-door service but was informed, that he should collect his parcel at Sepang, or from a post office in Kuala Lumpur.
Working full time meant that his family member would have to take a day off work, just to collect the parcel from Sepang, despite having paid for the home delivery service.
Frustrated by the lack of answers, or help, from Pos Malaysia, he contacted a Malaysian friend in KL, who was of considerable influence, to help recover his parcel and ensure that it was delivered. He is fortunate. How many people can claim to know someone who knows the ins-and-outs of Pos Malaysia, and the Customs Department? My friend allowed plenty of time for his package to arrive, but Pos Malaysia's incompetence is totally unacceptable.
A few years ago, a friend sent 50 books for a book launch in England. He paid for insurance. The books did not arrive and PosLaju refused to compensate him for the loss of the books, or even the hefty air mail charges.
Nevertheless, the complaints of regular customers are nothing compared to the manner in which Pos Malaysia treats its workers.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic MCO, the number of parcels to be delivered has increased, and subsequently, the workload.
The plight of one young postal worker was uploaded to social media on 16 May. Like his peers, he has helped Pos Malaysia reduce the backlog of deliveries but was told during his shift, that he would not receive a Hari Raya bonus, this year, despite working overtime. Why does Pos Malaysian belittle and insult the role played by these frontline workers?
This young man is the breadwinner for his family, as their father had died a few years ago. He was hoping to bring a little Raya joy to his family with new clothes. A petition has been started online to help this particular postal worker. Please support this campaign.
Extra parcels must also translate to extra profits. Has Pos Malaysia lost its compassion? Does it not care for the well being of its workers?
Why has the bonus been withheld? Is Pos Malaysia bleeding money? Every company is in the same rocky economic position, so is the company badly managed? Or is it poor investments?
If Pos Malaysia looks after its workers, the company's performance might improve.
The service provided by Pos Malaysia is terrible and customers probably utilize other couriers, because Pos Malaysia does not know how to keeps its customers happy, and instead gives them the run around.
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(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)