You’v Got (Registered) Mail!

How important is mail (traditional mail) in our daily life? No so important. In the last few years, I didn’t receive any written mails, and all the mail in my mailbox are either “Direct Mail”, or the fly-er of commercial advertisement, or bills (telephone bills, gas bills, cable TV bills).

I totally have no incentive to open the mailbox.

Among them, there are some special mail notification. It is a small piece of paper to ask me to go to the post office in person to fetch package or registered mail.

I hate this.

China Post

Once upon a time, all major services are operated by the state-owned enterprises: banks, post offices, telephones, water, electricity…

20 years past, all these industries changed dramatically. The only industry that left unchanged seems to be China Post.

For banks, most of them are commercialized. Recently, the ICBC is going IPO, which may marks the biggest IPO deal in the history of man-kind. The service provided by banks are among the best in all these industries.

For water supply, in Pudong Area, the water supply company is a JV between Shanghai Water and a France company, and the quality of water, billing system, and maintenance is great.

For gas, and electricity, more and more services are provided. The only interface between end users and the company is the billing and payment. Now people can pay your bill at convenient stores, online, via mobile, via banks… For the quality of gas, or electricity? I have no comment. That is too technical for common people to comment.

Now let’s talk about POST OFFICE!

China Post Office

If you want to experience the “old China” before 20 years of reform, go to a post office.

For example, here is the typical process to get my “registered mail” or package.

The notification

On the notification slip (bad quality paper, and all information is hand written – low efficiency), it said “come to post office within 3 days, or we will charge you for delayed fee…”.

They don’t care about whether it is convenient for people to go to THEIR office. The office closes at 7:00 PM. That means, if the mail arrives on Monday, it is for sure that I need to pay the delayed fee.

The location

The post office on the Linyi Road – about 4 km away from my home. I drove there. The package claim area is not inside the post office. There is no sign, and you have to ask the people working there, and they tell you – go out side the post office, turn right and turn right in the first gate of a residential area. To ahead for 10 meters, and there is a small gate on the right. Enter the gate, and turn right. Do NOT go up stairs, instead, go to the left side of the stair and there is a small window…”

The person must have told people many many times – inefficient.

OK. I followed the instruction and go the small window. They need you to write down your national ID number, signature, and hand in your national ID or passport.

They person inside the window will get the small piece of notification, and start to search in the piles of letters – one by one. This typically takes about one minute or two (low efficiency), and then give the the letter… Their attitude is really bad.

The Result

After all the suffer, you know what I got?

It is a bill from China Telecom.

14 thoughts on “You’v Got (Registered) Mail!

  1. Nice to see, it is all the same, all over the world…

    Instead “China Post” set down “German Post” and it will be the same story.

    ;-) : Xiong Shui

  2. i have bad experiences with China Post:

    1.should show your ID Card when transfering money between 2 Post Cards;

    2.should go to special office to change newspaper/magazine delivery address 2 months in advance. now i have to buy the newspaper and magazine in the 2 months from the day i moved.

  3. In United States the USPS is also a monoply business, ans it is tax-funded :) The post office here is one of few places where you can see the line for waiting ALL the time. But they are so well protected from the competition that the government even doesn’t allow other private carriers to charge less than USPS prices…

  4. I’d say the railway could do with becoming more customer oriented. At Suzhou Station, the ticket office is in a separate building about 100m from the station entrance. All tickets are issued by human beings. There are no ticket vending machines even for short distance tickets and of course no chance of purchasing a ticket on the web.

  5. Even though, China is the most service oriented country in this world.

    If you are not satisified with any service, at least , in shanghai , you can always complain. In shanghai , customer is god, in U.S. customer is dog. you have to beg for their service. If you want to complain, you have to talk to vocie machine over phone, or push 20 times of your phone keys first , then , there will be some human talking to you. Before you could complain , you felt like throwing shoes on the person’s face who is on the other side over phone. Or you call would be directly connected to somewhere in India, you have to tell someone living in india about your complaints in U.S.

    Otherwise, most western countries dont run their post serivce on Sunday. Weekday, long long queue makes you feel hopeless

    Or , in most areas of North Amercia, trasportation is a problem, if you dont own personal vehicles.

    More than that, look at night life of shanghainese, you can find out all kinds of activities after 12pm as long as you can think.

    Shanghai is the most convenient city is this world, in terms of life style, trasporation, food, fun, everything.

  6. Hey I was wondering…about China..I’m 17 right now…I’ve never been there, even if my parents were born there. I plan on visiting China soon…Your site really helped me think of China and I just wanted to thank you!

  7. “The service provided by banks are among the best in all these industries.”

    My god! Queuing the long line of ICBC bank and then talking to the bank teller with bad attitude is similar to talking to the Soup Nazi (if you’ve watched Seinfeld then you know what i mean)

  8. In China there are many strange ways how things work due to the number of people.

    In smaller countries it’s easy to built nice systems but they tend to cost too much per user and often wont happen. But this is how a real post office service should work. I ordered a car part (a drive shaft) from internet (COD). Two days later I got message on my mobile phone telling I should go to the post office after 4PM, So I did and showed the text message to the clerk. She typed the code to her computer and went to get the package, then I slid my ATM card for payment and walked out. The whole process took 3 minutes.

    It would work even better if I could send the text message to her via infrared which in turn would verify the receiver and charge my phone account for the payment. Unfortunatelly the vendor likes to get paid immediatelly and there is no link between the bank and phone company. Phone payment works with some smaller purchases though.

    This is how the system works in Finland and most likely in the other Scandinavian countries too.

  9. I am enjoying living in Shanghai, but I couldn’t disagree with JJ more. Shanghai has the worst customer service I have encountered anywhere in the world. This is no defense of the US – New York was the second worst.

  10. My colleague sent a letter to Shanghai by Air Mail (no reg. no tracking no.) last Tuesday, but it supposed to send it by UPS. She had done it by accident. Our client needed it very urgently, until now our client still havent received the letter. What could he do in order to trace out the letter? The letter involves a big consequence.

  11. You should come and live in China’s Gansu Province – only the post office in the city center can post my letters abroad – and a registed post envelope to another nearby city takes more than a week! Coun’t your little Shanghai blessings! You have it really good where you are in Shanghai. If I make it there I’ll try to find which Starbucks you are in and have a coffee – we only have really expensive, very bad serviced coffee houses here with milk always put in the coffee whether you want it or not!

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