Inside the FedEx office in India. The similar signage is NO sign that your experience will be the same as the US.
I knew once that Jacob had left the United States and moved to the Philippines that I would need to finally figure out how to mail a package from India. Well, today was the day and let’s just say that it once again confirmed to me that one needs to “expect the unexpected” when doing anything here.
Jacob’s birthday is next week and I had found a very simple package idea off the internet that consisted of envelopes glued together and folded accordion style where it opened up into one long strip. Inside each envelope were notes, a few items of memorabilia from our travels to Paris and Thailand then just some basic US treats like gum, mints, Crystal Light lemonade powder, skittles, etc. that we had still from our US stash. So I figured the most reliable source to get a very small package to him was FedEx. I didn’t know where one was located but after searching on the internet, I gave my driver two different addresses with telephone numbers and asked him to please locate one of them. At home, running a package to FedEx would take maybe 15-20 minutes. Well, my little excursion ended up being three hours and moments of pure frustration. The FedEx location that is closest to our home really is not very far. When we pulled up there was the familiar FedEx signage so I went in with hopes that it would be a similar experience to sending something from FedEx in the states. Well here are a few differences that I encountered:
1. Passport and Visa are required. So, my driver and I headed back home, I made copies of my passport and visa pages and returned with those as well as the actual passport. I had to leave the copies with my signature on each paper with FedEx in order to have them send the package.
2. Package must be thoroughly inspected by FedEx employee — and more than once. I had wrapped the package in brown paper but was prepared to open it for them and then transfer to one of their boxes, if required. Well, not only did I have to unwrap the package, every single item had to be removed, taken out and hand inspected thoroughly, answering multiple questions about each item. The first time the employee did this he told me the powdered Crystal Light could not be sent. I told him no problem, I would just remove those. Well the second time he went through it (after I returned with my passport and visa), he handled everything again and told me that nothing edible could be sent. So basically, all of my little pocket envelopes were stripped of their contents outside of the notes and a few non-edible items. Now, according to the FedEx website, there is nothing that says mints, gum, etc. cannot be shipped but in India, it was a no go.
3. Shorter distance does not necessarily make the cost of the package go down. So by the time I had refolded my now empty envelopes, hoping Jacob would laugh about it when I emailed him and just know we were thinking of him on his birthday, and placed it in a FedEx envelope, my paper contents now cost almost $50 US dollars to mail and arrive in 3-4 days. I have had the same size envelope mailed to me from California to India overnight rate and let’s just say that being closer to the Philippines I expected the price difference would be more noticeable.
Well, like many things in India, the FedEx experience again confirmed the “process” everything takes in India. The experience, though frustrating, was a great reminder for me that in India, one should ALWAYS “expect the unexpected” and just roll with it because that is how it is done here. Now for future packages, well, let’s just say I think our son can expect packages when we are back in the states at summertime.