Saturday, 20 March 2010

Postal operators struggle to reach Russia

Customs rules blamed as DHL and UPS consider halting deliveries.

Russia's parcel post is failing to deliver - and that could spell disaster for next week's local start-up for auction website eBay.

DHL and UPS are the latest companies to complain of problems making international deliveries in Russia, a week after similar problems with national mail company Pochta Rossii were reported.

The two express-delivery firms have been forced to up their delivery times for four days to 10, Kommersant reported, and are seeking high-level talks with customs officials and Pochti Rossii bosses to discuss the issue.

A DHL employee was quoted as saying that new deliveries to Russia are no longer being accepted and existing parcels could be stuck in limbo for up to a month, waiting in transit warehouses in Europe.

The company's website released a statement saying it was working with the independent Association of Express Carriers to find a speedy solution.

UPS has similar problems, according to CEO Ivan Shatskikh, and is looking to join the talks with customs bosses. Unofficially, a source told Kommersant, deliveries to Russia may simply stop.

Pochta Rossii blames the customs service for the delays. On its website a statement said that all international parcels have to go to customs for screening and registration within a legally-defined timeframe, and once checked by the authorities they are delivered to customers the same day.

The statement added that the number of international deliveries rose by 50 to 90 per cent in the first two months of this year, and Pochta Rossii urges more customs points to open in a bid to tackle the problem.

However the customs union insists it has no problems and blamed the post office for failing to handle the extra deliveries, Kommersant reported.

Deliveries from Russia were not affected by the delays.

Internet auction site eBay, which is due to launch a Russian branch on March 25th, reportedly refused to work with Russian buyers last week because of problems with deliveries. Site rules usually require delivery within 30 days, but sending goods to Russia could take up to two months.

The post service denied any complaints from eBay or similar websites but The Organization for the Protection of the Consumer Rights advised eBay customers to file lawsuits against Pochta Rossii and even offered help in compiling them.

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