On Japan Post and how to have a package re-delivered!
Since moving to Nagoya I have, I'm sure like many other expats, become fairly reliant on the Japan Postal Service and they just never let me down! I think I've mentioned before how much faster Amazon orders arrive here than in Australia but I think that is partly due to orders probably waiting Stateside until there are enough orders for Australia to justify putting them on a plane - many more planes and airlines coming to Japan than Oz. Nevertheless I am now convinced that, once they hit Japan, packages take far less time getting around than in Australia or possibly anywhere! That's a big statement, I know, but I'm basing it on experience. I recently placed a large order of (it turned out wonderful) clothes from the States, they company sent me an email to say it had been shipped and to allow 1-3 WEEKS for international delilvery - obviously the time frame they feel necessary to quote based on their experience. It was at my door 5 days after shipping!
So how do they do it? Like the train system here, the postal service just works like any customer would hope it works - frequently and seamlessly. Deliveries here to our inner east suburb are twice a day on weekdays and once on Saturdays AND Sundays - so that's a speed-up right there, more delivery days = more sorting = less time sitting around in piles. Deliveries keep going right up until 9pm, too. It's also wonderfully regular - my morning delivery is always btn 10:30 and 10:45 so I know not to be in the shower or doing anything where I can't here the doorbell around that time and I can also plan my day around that if I am expecting a package. In fact I have ordered so many books from Amazon that last delivery the conversation with the postie was the following:
"Many, many books. You like a lot to read, yes?" I agreed at which he smiled and said confidently while writing it down at the same time, "Ru Shi Na, yes? I remember today! Please sign."
This is an "Undeliverable Item Notice" and means that a package which required your signature or personal delivery was unable to be delivered and is now at your district post office.
SO - what do you do with it?
A third of the way down you will see some hand written dates - the top date is the day it was dropped off/delivery was attempted and the second date, is the expiry date or the date until which it will be held (I'm not sure what happens if you don't pick it up).
The last couple of times I got these I went to the district post office and found the package counter and picked them up myself and I was planning to with this one but just hadn't managed to get there. So I flipped the card over and went to the web address on the back and got to the English page. It explained that you can arrange a re-delivery either by calling the number on the back or filling in the box which makes up the bottom half of the front of the card and posting it back to them. I decided to give the latter a go and was pondering the old kanji-or-romaji question when I noticed the small print in English at the very bottom of the back of the card:
"A postal item addressed to you is being held at our delivery center. Please contact us. Should need help in English please call: 0570-046-111"
After giggling at myself for a while remembering the time I had painstakingly used my denshi jishou to translate the kanji of first one of these that I got, I gave them a call.
Before anyone real answers a robot will tell you that you are being charged for every 20 seconds of the call and give you a chance to hang up. The customer service officer that I got was fluent, fast and efficient so I felt it was fully worth it.
She asked me for my name and then to tell her the package identity number (I think that's the phrase she used) anyway it wasn't the 6 digit number in the top left above the bar code but rather the 2 digit number which the postie had circled in the list of options in the middle of the card (which I assume says what kind of package it is.) Armed with my name and this info, she pulled it up on her computer, verified she had my address right (asking me for the details of my block number and apartment number I assume for security) and then asked when I would like it delivered.
Here's where the culture clash showed up (note it was 5:35 pm when I called)
Me: "Well I can be home tomorrow morning if it's not too late to organize."
She: "Um well if you'd like..."
There was a hesitation so I offered: "Or the afternoon or evening - any time tomorrow would be lovely if it's possible."
She: "Well, because... I can have it delivered between 7 and 9 tonight, if you will be home."
Me: "Really?!!!!!! Yes! That would be wonderful!"
So here I am waiting for my package - I know which book it is so no big surprise though I'm eager to get my hands on it. If only I'd seen that small print earlier I could have had it days ago!
Update: It arrived at 8:03 right in the middle of the time-frame :)