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May 3, 2012

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Courier firms give short shrift to new service regulation

THE new courier service regulation aimed at tightening security checks that came into force this month but has been on trial run since February has proven to be an empty shell.

The Courier Service Rule from the State Post Bureau of China requires delivery personnel to examine the contents of parcels they receive from customers and ask customers to show their ID card or passport details.

This is a non-binding rule in that there is no penalty for not following it.

Major courier firms in Shanghai said the new rule has decreased their work efficiency while few customers are cooperative and that they received mounting complaints during the pilot period.

Most local delivery personnel simply asked customers to declare what is inside their packet or show their ID but would still take the parcels if the customers refused, according to a Shanghai Daily investigation.

"Nothing has actually changed for customers with the new rule," said a delivery worker surnamed Huang of STO Express.

"We take the parcels anyway, otherwise we get complaints," he added. Huang said it would cost a lot of time to open and rewrap the parcels and made most customers unhappy.

Yunda Express has stipulated that customers must open the parcels only if they send things from hotels or from other temporary addresses.

"If a deliveryman delivered 100 parcels every day earlier, he can only do half of that now because he has to open and examine every parcel he receives," said Lu Haiyue, a manager at STO Express.

Lu said if the authority insists on carrying out the rule, labor costs would increase for couriers, leading to an inevitable rise in courier prices.

Privacy concerns

The rule regarding customer ID is also being disregarded as local delivery personnel only ask them to write down their ID or passport numbers while most customers bluntly refuse, citing privacy concerns.

"Buyers at my online store may not want others to know where they have been buying," said a Shanghai online store owner, surnamed Xu. She was concerned that the regulation would affect business.

"A national regulation for courier services enacted in 2008 actually requires delivery personnel to check the content of parcels, but it has never been followed," said Shao Zhonglin, deputy secretary-general of the China Express Association. He worried that the new rule may meet the same fate.

However, the good thing for customers with the new regulation is that it stipulates a parcel must be delivered within 24 hours across the city and 72 hours nationwide.

Parcels to Asia and North America have to be delivered within six days while it is eight days for Europe.


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