If you are waiting for a package to arrive from the states and you haven’t received it by the time you think you should have, or if your sender has tracking information that says the parcel is in the UK but you haven’t received a notice or card telling you where it is (let alone an attempted delivery), chances are the package is sitting with Parcel Force and you need to pay customs charges.
This isn’t a big deal. There is always a chance you will have to pay customs charges/fees on a parcel arriving from outside of the country. I have no real idea on how this works or how to avoid it. The purpose of this post is to tell you HOW TO GET YOUR BLOOMIN’ PACKAGE!
If your sender sent using FedEx, you shouldn’t have any problems. FedEx often pays the charges for you, then bills you the same amount a week or two after they deliver. (Pay it. They will come hunting if you don’t.)
If your sender sent using the US Postal Service (USPS), when the package arrives in the UK it is often managed by Parcel Force, a “sister company” to the Royal Mail. This is where the problem often lies because Parcel Force sucks huevos.
There have been two instances where a parcel has arrived in the UK for me but I did not receive any delivery attempt, nor did I receive any notice in the post that I needed to pick up/pay for/claim this parcel. They arrived in the UK and some thing, some kind of package force, seems to expect me to inherently know that it has arrived, to know who has it, and to know how to go about getting it from them. This force is called Parcel Force.
They are, probably, the number two example of British incompetency in the service sector. (Number one would be British Telecom.) Except for the drivers. Once the package is en route on their delivery truck, excellent service. Yay Parcel Force drivers.
Anyway, if you are waiting for a parcel that was sent via USPS and it seems to be in purgatory, try this:
- Visit the Parcel Force website.
- On the right hand side, in the red “Track Your Parcel Online” box, enter in your USPS tracking code, without spaces. (The USPS tracking code is usually the same number once in the UK, but the “US” at the end is changed to “GB”.)
- Hopefully you get some tracking results and it will tell you where your parcel is or what the status is (i.e.’”Awaiting payment of charges”)
- Depending on your results, it is then easiest to call Parcel Force and pay by credit card over the phone and arrange delivery, or collect it in person. (I wouldn’t recommend collecting in person because that would simply add another layer of incompetency to deal with once you arrive at the depot.)
Seriously, that is all there is to it. If your package is missing, chances are Parcel Force has it. Not the Royal Mail depot, not your local post office. Parcel Force. If you can advise your sender before they ship to you, make sure they get a tracking number, even if it costs a bit more. That tracking code (or bar code, as it is sometimes referred to here) will save your sanity.
And though it may cost significantly more, if what you are expecting is valuable or important to you, see about having them send it via FedEx or UPS. FedEx and UPS will use their own couriers here once it arrives. USPS doesn’t have that same link.