Due to some of the personal email responses I received from this blog post, I have updated the post. First, is my personal experience in Ankara, which may be useful to both Turks and expats here in Turkey. Second, is some helpful information for foreigners and Americans when dealing with shipping in the U.S.
Turkey has several cargo (kargo) carriers and generally they work pretty well. But there is one major problem that can cause anyone a lot of distress if you need something delivered immediately. Apparently, the cargo companies tend to ignore addresses!
Allow me to explain. This past Friday, I ordered from an online cakes & pastries supply store (a store that sells specialty items for baking.) I need the supplies by Monday. So I had my husband call the store to make sure I would get it on time. Since it was early Friday morning and the store is just in Istanbul, they assured him it would ship the same day. Normally, it would come the next day, Saturday.
I received an email on Friday afternoon from the company indicating my order did in fact ship, however, there was no shipping tracking number.
The local cargo companies usually deliver only until 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. So, on Saturday morning, when we saw no update on the supplier’s website, we started making calls.
Call #1 – to the supplier. They said they would look into it and get back to us with a tracking number. They did not.
Call #2 – to the cargo company. They tried to track the order via our name. (Addresses are difficult, because they are not standardized in Turkey.) They did not find anything.
Call #3 – to the supplier. They found the tracking number. The order went to the wrong location!
By this time, the cargo company was closed. Also, there were several other calls to the local branches of the cargo company in between, but they did not answer.
So what went wrong? I had placed the order with my name and my home address. All of this is correct with the supplier. But, since my Turkish is not that great, I used my husband’s cell phone number. Made sense to me. If there was a problem or a question, they could call the Turk to explain.
The phone number caused the problem. The cargo company decided to be lazy, and once they saw the phone number, they delivered it to the last place my husband had something shipped – the University where he works! UGH! So the order first went to the main sorting center in Ankara, then the local branch near the University, and allegedly, has been on it’s way to the local branch near my home now. It’s now more than 24 hours later, and that has not been updated in the cargo company’s tracking system. By the way, it is less than a 10 minute drive between the two branches.
No telephone call. No updates on the tracking website.
The supplier says this happens all of the time. The cargo companies ship where they want. The suppliers do nothing about it. The supplier gave examples:
- If you have a temporary location you want something shipped to, the cargo company may still send it to your main location.
- If you moved, they may send it to your prior address.
In my case, the delivery had neither my husband’s name or the University’s name on it. They grabbed the address from his phone number, which is interesting because they said they cannot track by phone number! It also makes no sense because the supplier asked for the shipper’s phone number, not the recipient’s phone number! So what if my husband was shipping to another family member, with the same name, in another city? Would it still end up at a university in Ankara?
I guess it’s my fault. In fact, my Turkish is good enough if I ask the caller to slow down and ask questions so that I will understand. I had forgotten that this had happened to my husband before on more than one occasion with more than one cargo company (when he shipped something to our home address.)
If this happened in the U.S., I would be making calls, speaking to managers, yelling and screaming, writing letters, and thinking about class action lawsuits! But this is Turkey, here, we simply shrug our shoulders and find something else to do.
This is just another fine example of why Turks should not be offended when we foreigners say, “Burası Turkiye!”
Keeping my fingers crossed for Monday. . .
UPDATE: For those interested in how to prevent this from happening to you, the only way I see to prevent this is to learn the name of the cargo company BEFORE placing the order, and, assuming you had prior dealings with them, call them to be sure your address is correct in the system. It’s a lot of work and they may not answer the phone. But, If you need something delivered urgently, as I did, it may help.
You should also have a backup plan if possible in case your order does not come in a timely manner.
In the U.S.:
- The U.S. has many cargo companies. FedEx and UPS are the most prominent. (My personal preference is UPS).
- These companies update their tracking information regularly, so you will know where your package is most of the time.
- You will have the ability to get messages sent to your phone or emails.
- Be careful, the U.S. Postal system’s tracking is not very good. They do not update frequently, sometimes not until the package is delivered.
- Some of the cargo companies connect with the postal service for actually delivery.
- The cargo companies will use your address as you give it, so be careful you know the US format for writing the address correctly. (house number, street name, apt. number, city, state, zip code).
- Make sure your zip code is correct! This can cause a delay!
- The biggest fear with cargo companies is that they will often leave a package at your door, tempting thieves. If you will not be home, you might try leaving a note on your door, with the tracking number, ask them to leave it with a particular neighbor, give that address, and make sure you print your name, sign your name, and date the note. This has worked for me numerous times, but not every time.
- Most cargo companies will leave you a note that they attempted delivery if you are not home. You then have the option to pick it up. If you don’t pick it up, they usually attempt 2 additional deliveries.
- If you decide to pick up your package from the local cargo location, be sure to have an official I.D. with you. The package must have the same name (and maybe the address too.) You can not pick up a package for someone else!