Why you should never use Chronopost if you fancy your packages getting delivered on time. or at all.
Thinking of mailing a package or urgent document from France? You might naturally be inclined to pick French transporter Chronopost: after all, they are the official offshoot of the French Postal Services and you can use their service through any French post office. OK, if you have any experience with the latter, and their dysmal record in both regular and special mail delivery, knowing that they officially “recommend” Chronopost wouldn’t be a big boost in their favour, but still, the point is: they are the default, ubiquitous, choice for parcels in France… marginally cheaper than DHL or Fedex and much more conveniently located.
Over the course of those past three years in Paris, I have done my best to avoid Chronopost and the French Post: never ever relied on them for anything critical, whenever I could help it.
And when I couldn’t help it… well they never once fulfilled their promise. I’ve had “Express 48h” delivery brought over to my doorstep, 3 weeks late and half torn-out, relatives to whom I’d send birthday presents abroad would get them a month after their birthday (that’s despite paying $100 for a pocketbook-sized parcel), I’ve had to go pick-up packages at the local delivery point countless times because “Recipient not at home at time of delivery” (never mind the fact I’d have been sitting by the door all morning and had my cellphone number printed on the delivery slip)…
To sum it up, out of about a dozen interactions with Chronopost during my time here, I don’t think they’ve held up their end of the contract more than once, twice at best.
Every time, I feel I should blog about them. Warn random googlers, particularly non-French-speakers who might blindly trust their brand name, of their pitiable overpriced services. Each time, I just decide to let it slide and get on with more positive things in my life.
Here is the last straw that made me change my mind:
- Cue back last Wednesday (2 days ago). ‘Tis Christmas season, time to send out gifts to my loving world-scattered family. I won’t be hiking out to the Great Ass-Freezing White North this year to see this side of the family, but little brother, who currently spends time in the south of France, will. His plane leaves on Saturday morning.
- Why, no problem: 3 days is ample time to get a small package rush-delivered from France’s largest city to its second largest city, located 5 hours away by train.
- Since I’m not feeling very peachy (i.e.: surviving on pharmaceutical-grade painkillers), I foolishly opt for the easy solution: walk over to my local Bureau de Poste, hand over my package, pay the $40 fee in exchange for their top-speed overnight “delivered-by-1pm-the-next-day” service. This, I thought, gives it a whole extra day security. Even factoring in their usual incompetence in door-to-door delivery, that leaves enough time for little bro to go pick it up himself.
- Sure enough: next day at 3pm, when I go online to their website, their tracking service informs me that an “Unsuccessful delivery attempt” was made at 11:24am (did I mention that the delivery address is a standalone building with no doorcode, a doorman that had been warned to expect a delivery and my brother’s cellphone number clearly printed out on the delivery slip).
- That’s when I notice that, according to the full tracking listing: “Recipient refused delivery”. Which, is so blatantly impossible that I guess it is the delivery-guy’s way of saying “Gosh, I have way too many packages to deliver today, let’s lighten up the load a bit”.
- Better yet, the listing reads that the package has been scheduled to be sent back where it came from (to me), by end of day.
- Half-an-hour on their overcrowded customer service number (billed .15 euros/minute, of course) and much irritating scripted speech with painfully incompetent personel later: package scheduled for new delivery attempt on next day (Friday), same time.
- Brings us to Friday – today – 11am: my cellphone rings. Delivery guy wanna know how he is supposed to get past the doorcode. What doorcode, do I politely inquire while screaming very loudly in my head, then repeat the delivery street address once more and recommend he contacts my brother – the recipient – on his cellphone to arrange the handout directly.
- A couple hours, many more fruitless customer-service exchanges and still no package delivery later: I am informed that my package has been handed over to the caretaker in my building.
- Chronopost has managed to send my package to its destination city, and back. In two days.
Need I mention that any potential complaint I may have regarding their service cannot be registered at the local post office, who will gladly take your package and your money, but not much else (“Chronopost is a fully independent contractor, we are only a pickup place”). In fact, was I to really want a refund for that useless return-trip stampage fee, I am invited to write a letter, stating my complaint and bringing proof of their failure to follow up on the most basic level of service, and might expect some sort of refund voucher in the mail within a couple months (assuming they do not use their own services to send it). If you just said “web” or “email”, you are a sweet, sweet, innocent person who hasn’t dealt with many consumer-oriented services in France so far.
Anyway, I’m off to send my package to Canada via DHL, but decided to post this rant first, if only to remind myself not to fall for the Chronopost scam ever again. If this can help out a few other English-speaking Internet passer-bys, it won’t be all wasted spit.