I order quite a few computer parts and electronics via online stores and therefore have had an opportunity to be on the receiving end of many, many packages. These packages have been shipped via a multitude of shippers, so I have had a chance to determine who is on the ball and who is not. Recently I have found a few of said computer/electronics web stores are turning to DHL for shipments as opposed to the standards, UPS and Fed Ex. My most recent experience explains well what most of my experiences with DHL have been like.
What is DHL?
DHL is a courier/parcel delivery company similar to UPS or Fed Ex. Actually, they have recently expanded aggressively in the US market in an effort to compete more widely with the two aforementioned companies. You have probably seen their commercials which imply that DHL is surpassing UPS and Fed Ex, and the mantra is that competition is good.
DHL offers many delivery methods ranging from Next Day service (By 10:30 AM, Noon, and 3PM at different rates) to Second Day Service to Ground. In my most recent case I used Second Day Service to deliver a Seagate 300GB external hard drive with one-touch backup from Outpost.com (Shipped out of Wilmington, OH) to my doorstep in rural Montana.
One important item of note is that the Guaranteed transit times do not necessarily correlate with the names of Next Day air and Second Day. You really need to check the transit times on the website to see what the guaranteed time is. For instance, if I were to schedule a pickup for Tuesday morning to be delivered via Next Day air, you may expect it to be delivered on Wednesday
This is not the case, at least for a package delivered from my home to Omaha, NE. That is guaranteed for delivery on Thursday, with two days in transit. Maybe the pickup day is considered a gimmie, but it is something you should check and take into consideration. You can see domestic maps on the DHL website that will graphically show you the maximum days it will take to get your package to all points in the US. Alternately, you can enter your zip and the zip you are sending your package to and the website will let you know when you can expect shipment with the various delivery alternatives.
First, let me state that I have not used DHL from the shipping side, only from the shipped to side. When I ship my sold items via EBay, it is either through USPS or Fed Ex as those are the closest to my house and the most reasonable in rates. If you would like to find out how much it will cost to ship via DHL, the rate sheet is very convoluted, based on zones, weight and size, and can be found at the following URL:
DHL offers Saturday and Holiday pickup, hazardous material shipments, local and remote pickup and returns and Residential delivery, each for a fee. With DHL it seems as though there are surcharges and fees everywhere you turn! The initial base rate for shipments is on par with Fed Ex Second Day and higher than Express Saver fees. After adding in a fuel surcharge, residential delivery surcharge, destination ground surcharge and pickup fee you have far exceeded the price of Fed Ex, at least for a single shipment.
DHLs tracking service is a complete joke. Out of four orders I had placed before Christmas this year, none of them had real time tracking. For the most recent order, I placed the order on a Monday in the afternoon. Later that evening a shipment notification arrived stating that the order had been picked up from the shippers door at 6:17 AM of Monday
Huh? How could they have picked up the order at 6:17 AM when the order wasnt even placed until that afternoon? Obviously a problem in the website, I would say. Even granting them this one mistake, the tracking site still is of no use. The tracking system didnt update with anymore information until after the package arrived on my doorstep two days later. Late that evening the website finally updated to show that the package had delivered at 2:44 PM on Wednesday. Oh, and by the way, it did finally show the rest of the trip that the package had taken.
This recent experience is indicative of the problems I have found with DHLs tracking on previous orders, as well. It is apparent that the website does not uplink data from scanners in real time, and therefore tracking for a 2nd day air package was somewhat worthless. With a ground shipment you at least get one update before the package shows up on your doorstep, but it is still nowhere near real-time. It is free however, so I guess I cant complain too loudly.
Delivery of the most recent package occurred well within the allowable time limit. As stated above, the order was placed on Monday in the afternoon and it arrived on Wednesday before 5PM. This is what the website guaranteed, and this is what they delivered. I have never had an order that was lost through DHL, nor have I had one arrive late. However, it is important to note that late is defined by the transit times found on the website, not necessarily by the names. I have never had a package arrive in beat up condition, which is more than I can say for UPS
I realize that my experiences are not the all-inclusive experience that you may have encountered with DHL if you are a business owner. However, that being said I have used all three of Fed Ex, UPS and DHL for shipments. DHL is more expensive to the person buying the service, there are many surcharges and fees that get dumped on at the end, and the tracking system is worthless. If I were a store owner, I would be worried of having dissatisfied customers who never know where their package is and feel that they are paying too much. When I ship I will continue to use Fed Ex over DHL as a personal preference even though my orders through DHL have always arrived on time.
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