Recently established my presence on Carousell – a mobile app for anyone to sell their stuff, kind of like a community-generated marketplace. Two weeks into using it, I’m beginning to find myself hooked.
Like many others, I started out selling my second-hand stuff on a Livejournal community called SGSellTrade since late-2005. What started out as a really vibrant community had soon fizzled out into nothing, and it was becoming increasingly harder to sell stuff online. (And flea markets are pretty tiring.) Thank goodness for Carousell.
Even then, selling online is not without its risks. Like lost mail, for example.
In my 8 years of selling online, I’ve had my mail lost 5 times. Thrice when I was selling, and twice when I was buying. The first time my mail was lost, it was gone into oblivion. My buyer never received her item, neither was the mail rerouted back to me. Needless to say, I had a very unhappy buyer on my hands. The second time round, the mail was sent back to my home – apparently, my buyer had provided the wrong address. But that ended well.
And the third time, unfortunately, is now.
When your mail goes missing (whether you’re a seller or a buyer), you’re pretty much helpless, especially when it is through normal mail which Singpost can’t do much about. Registered mail, though it costs $2.24 more, provides an ease of mind as the mail’s delivery path will be completely tracked. But since lost mail is pretty rare, most will just absorb the risk and not register their mail.
After consulting the counter staff at Singapore Post Centre this afternoon, I have a pretty clear idea on what happens behind the scenes when it comes to mail delay. Hopefully, this will enlighten the thousands of sellers out there.
Smaller Mail: Letters/Flat parcels
Delivering smaller mail is straightforward. The postman will simply drop it into your letterbox. If mail in this category do not arrive as expected, it’s due to:
1. The recipient’s address does not exist.
If that’s the case, the mail will be routed back to the sender if there’s a return address. This takes up to 10 working days.
2. The recipient’s address is wrong (leads to someone else instead).
Your mail will land in someone else’s hands, and chances of getting it back is very, very slim. Even if you’ve written a return address, most people won’t bother returning your mail.
3. The recipient’s address is correct, but the postman delivers it to the wrong address.
If the mail is delivered to the wrong letterbox in the same neighbourhood, you’ll still have a chance, although slim.
Large mail wouldn’t fit into the typical mailbox, so the postman will deliver it directly to the recipient’s doorstep. If no one is at home at the time of delivery, the mail will be routed to the nearest post office, with a delivery advice slipped under the recipient’s door.
Occasionally, the postman might have difficulty slipping the delivery advice under the door due to obstruction (eg. houses with animals might have additional metal grilles to keep the pets in). If this is the case, the delivery advice will be inserted into the recipient’s mailbox (immediate) or mailed to the recipients house (additional 2-3 working days’ delay).
When the mail reaches the post-office, the recipient has roughly 5 working days to collect it on-site (with their delivery advice).
If the mail is still not collected, the mail will be re-routed to Singapore Post Centre in Paya Lebar for subsequent handling. Once at Singapore Post Centre, uncollected mail with return addresses will be mailed back to the sender. (Time taken for processing and re-routing generally takes an additional 5 working days.) Those without return addresses will be stored at their lost mail department for an unspecified period of time before they are eventually disposed.
If your parcel has not arrived by the expected time:
1. Look out for a delivery advice.
This will be under your door or in your mailbox. If you have not received a delivery advice, wait out for an additional 3 working days.
2. If the seller has included a return address, just wait.
Chances of mail retrieval are higher is the seller has included a return address. Although it takes up to 15 working days for the above-mentioned mail routing to take place. Ask the seller to alert you if the mail is returned to his/her place.
2. All 3 possibilities listed for smaller mail apply.
Tips when sending out mail
1. Include a return address. (Can’t emphasize this enough.)
2. Write the recipient’s address and your return address in permanent black/blue ink. (If your mail gets soaked in the rain and your ink is not permanent, the address will no longer be legible!)
3. Seal your parcel tightly, this means masking tape over all the flaps and other areas that could possibly break open.
4. If you’re sending out a higher-valued item, take a photo of the parcel before you send it out. (It helps should you need to describe the parcel to that bewildered, confused-looking counter staff at Singpost.)
Have you encountered lost mail when selling/buying online? If so, how did you handle the situation?