Sunday, August 07, 2022

As Expats we often get parcels delivered from the UK to our addresses in Portugal, either something we order online or from friends and family. The problem is that they do not always arrive.

I have spent much time investigating the complaints from our readers, and personal experiences regarding 'lost' parcels from the UK. It is very frustrating when you are expecting a delivery and it does not arrive. How long do you wait until youparcels complain, and who do you call?

I have received many complaints from our readers which are almost all regarding Royal Mail parcel post or Royal Mail International Signed for deliveries. In Portugal these are handled by GLS (who just happen to be owned by the Royal Mail Group).

I have been in contact with Royal Mail customer services and also with GLS Europe PR department for a number of months. I have sent information about specific problems and also links to the many forum posts regarding this subject, which highlight the problem all too well. I have been speaking with GLS Europe PR department, and I am unhappy to say that GLS still do not think there is a problem so no action is being taken by them

GLS claim that 99.2% of their International Signed For deliveries are delivered in Portugal, when pressed to give actual numbers no answer was forthcoming !

Everyone needs to be aware of the limitations of GLS in Portugal. So that you can make an informed decision about how to get your parcel from the UK to here we provide the following information.

GLS complaints to us generally fall into the following categories;

  • not delivered but GLS say they attempted delivery, but did not leave any card. The biggest problem is with 'signed for' deliveries, it seems that some GLS drivers just can't be bothered getting signatures or driving to areas that are that bit further away.
  • lost in the system and never heard of again, if there is no return address then undelivered parcels cannot be returned
  • returned to sender many weeks or months later, saying address not found, but sender has put the correct, full address on the package

To ensure that your parcel arrives safely I have the following suggestions;

  1. Royal Mail is the most convenient way to send parcels. Use Airmail or Airsure for packages up to 2kg. Avoid 'Signed For' unless necessary. Signed for is NOT tracked online once it leaves the UK. Airsure items can be fully tracked online.
  2. For larger items, always use a courier other than Royal Mail, such as;
    FM Transport  door-to-door, will collect in UK or you can deliver to their depot in Luton, regular route to Portugal, charge by kg
    Pharos Parcels  door-to-door cost less than £30 for 30kg parcel, takes 3-4 days normally
  3. Include insurance, even if not very valuable as Royal Mail will be more careful knowing they will have to pay out if it is lost
  4. If you do use 'Royal Mail International Signed For' then be sure there is a return address and also a phone number on the delivery address, even it does not get delivered it will be returned.
  5. You can now buy lots of things on Amazon, Not Just Books If they are supplied by Amazon themselves and not by a private seller, then they will be delivered using MRW couriers, who we have always found very capable. 

Who can you complain to?

This is not as straightforward as you would expect, as Royal Mail will only accept enquiries or complaints from their customer; that is the person who sent the parcel. Call Customer Services (0044) 08457 740 740

If you are expecting a delivery and have a tracking number you can contact GLS Portugal. (00351) 707 200 607. If you have not received your parcel about 7-10 days after posting then phone them, before they have time to send it back, then you have a good chance of it being delivered.

I hope you find this article useful and my tips help you to get your parcel delivered safely. If you have any ideas to share with other readers then please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wendy Manning - The Editor