It’s that season again of shopping and with Black Friday quickly approaching, the temptation of buying online from merchants abroad is pretty strong. Whatever you do, do not have it delivered here via Philippine Postal Corporation (or PHLPost, a.k.a. standard mail)!
Let me start my story a few months back. I was looking in the market for some swimming apparel and noticed that the local prices are pretty high, so I decided to compare with online prices. I was not disappointed as not only were there a much bigger selection, the prices were so much cheaper! This is even after considering a high PHP-USD exchange rate. So I decided to have my purchase from a popular Australian brand and have it shipped to my office address. It would be my first time to do so, and since shipping is free I assumed that that’s all there is to it. I was dreadfully wrong!
About a month and a half after placing my order, I got a notice to pick up my package. I thought that deliveries like these would be treated the same way as the usual letters, but apparently I was wrong. If you use standard mail, you will have to pick it up yourself. Minor hassle for me since I’m literally just across the central post office.
When I arrived at the post office, I was naive to think that I’ll only be paying the minimum amount stated in the notice: ₱100. When it was my turn to claim my package, they opened it in front of me, checked the invoice, and pulled out the calculator. Imagine how scandalous would it have been had my package had “sensitive” items! When I saw a lot of numbers being typed in, I was starting to feel anxious. I knew there’s going to be trouble.
After the calculations were made, I was just shocked–my package costing AUD59.24 (assessed as ₱2,644) was charged an additional fee totaling ₱1,347 (customs, taxes, post office charges, taxes of their charges, basically everything they could think of to charge)! That’s 57.91% of the package’s worth! At that point I felt like fainting! I didn’t even bring that much cash since I didn’t know it was going to cost that much! And seriously, I even thought of just forfeiting my package because of that preposterous amount. Had I not needed it I probably wouldn’t have claimed it.
Grudgingly, I paid the extra 57.91% PHLPost and customs charges (after a quick trip to the bank). But this was quite an expensive lesson for me—never use PHLPost again! Not only were the services slow, you have to pick the item yourself, you have no privacy with your items, you have no idea how much they’re going to charge you, and it is ridiculously expensive! I don’t think any private courier would charge this much amount, especially for a package that you have to pick up.
And so this is the story of my first, and hopefully last, international delivery with PHLPost. An expensive lesson learned.