Act 2: Shipping in China – Do you want that delivered in one piece?

This is a continuation of “A Logistical Nightmare in Three Acts”.

Meanwhile, this side of the globe I having to deal with Kuaidis and Wulius has almost caused my head to explode. The quest was to send the largest of the wedding pictures, 1.2m X 0.6m and thereby almost as tall as myself, to Hohhot, as a present for MIL and in preparation of the wedding, since it is customary for the the most massive wedding pictures to go up on the wall in the home of the couple. In our case, it is rather Mr.Li’s mother’s home, since we do not live in Hohhot.

engagement pictures

Now, Kuaidis and Wulius might have you thinking “What the heck?”, so let me back up. Kuaidi is the general term in China for delivery guys (快递 meaning speedy delivery). You might say a lot about China but the delivery network is fabulous for the most part. That is of course, if you are not sending anything remotely valuable. They deliver documents and the like with the blink of an eye and quite contrary to the Chinese post rarely lose anything. What’s more, it is stinking cheap to use delivery services. However, with that come a few obstacles. The cheap fees equals low wages equals terrible attitudes. So it can happen that a Kuaidi will say your package has been delivered and sign for it themselves, just because it is 4.30 and they can’t be bothered to walk up that flight of stairs to your flat, and it is not until you call him and raise hell that the package will be delivered (true story!). What it also means is, when you try to send a wedding picture they will reply with “oh well, the size is not the problem but it will almost certainly break during the delivery process, so no, we won’t take this package and deliver it to Hohhot.” Naturally, the operator on the phone said something completely different, so it is not until the guy shows up to pick up the package that he informs you of the impossibility to grant your wish.

Onto Plan B, the Wuliu, or logistics company. Once again I found myself facing the oh-so-familiar feeling of being told information by customer service only to find that most of the information was rather inaccurate upon the arrival of the people handling the goods.

After a detailed breakdown of the costs had been given over the phone, we estimated that with packaging, extra padding, doorstep-delivery and the whole shenanigans, the package would cost about 200 RMB to be delivered to Hohhot (this also depends on the location inside the city; if it is the suburbs there is another extra charge).

As I should probably have anticipated, but as usual failed to mentally prepare for, a couple of young men working for the logistics company came by to pick up the package and informed us that they “doubt that this could be sent for 200 RMB”. See, this is what always happens, you are given wrong or only partial information and then people from another department give you other half-truths until you are so confused you do not know which way is up. Now, if the actual price was in the range of 250 RMB then fine, but how can I have this company pick up the picture and then in the end send me a bill of around 400 RMB?! After I angrily shouted this at the poor pick-up guys (my temper is rather short strung these days, I wonder why), their helpful reply was “actually, we have no clue since this is not our department.” Oh, the classic “not my department, not my responsibility” mentality, you have got to love it. The thing that blows my mind is why they then felt the need to comment in the first place, if in actual fact they have no bloody clue. Maybe just to seem knowledgable, or out of a desire to make one’s life miserable and add to one’s worries. We shall never know.

In the end, I decided to risk it. After all, there was not really any other option than having them take the package. How else was I going to get that giant of a picture to Hohhot, I could hardly take it on a flight with me, I’d have to buy it an extra ticket! The end result was that the picture was successfully delivered, however MIL decided that we can’t use this picture since we are looking at each other rather than facing the camera and apparently that is a no-go in the world of wedding pictures. Which means that she will not actually be using this picture but instead get two new ones printed and I could have saved myself the worry and the money in the first place. As it stands, I am still waiting for the bill; I am sure that’s another heart attack waiting to happen.

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