Will foreign parcels sent to India be ripped apart and items stolen? Read along to find my experience.
I had accumulated several books by the time I was about to return to India from France after a three month stay. La Poste, the French postal service, had a mechanism called Colissimo which allowed me to pack my stuff in a standardized box and send to foreign destinations. The largest box could carry up to 7 kgs. La Poste charged 36 euros per box for delivery to India. This seemed to be a good option for a returning student who needed to send valuable books which cannot be carried along due to airline baggage weight restrictions.
I got four boxes and sent them during the last week of December 2006 from Paris to Bangalore. The first three carried books and documents and the last one carried some clothes. Colissimo tracking web site indicated that the baggages were within the Indian territory customs by the second week of January 2007. Beyond this point, tracking was not available.
I learnt from the local delivery post office that apparently foreign posts end up in a foreign post office. (In Bangalore the FPO is located in Museum Road.) Upon inquiries during January second week the FPO informed me that they have not received the parcels yet. After several inquiries and follow-up, I got the last three parcels delivered in the third week of January and the very first parcel in last week of January almost a month after posting. The FPO was not very clear in explaining the work-flow involving customs once a foreign parcel reaches Indian territory.
The cardboard box parcels were covered with dust and dirt, their sides opened, and tied with jute threads, and sealed. Upon opening, I found out that all the plastic bags within which I had packed the books were partly opened perhaps to see the contents. Fortunately, no books or documents were missing. However, I was shocked when I opened the box carrying clothes. All the plastic covers used to pack were missing and clothes were almost strewn around the box. To add to my disgust, two formal full sleeve shirts and a T-shirt (which carried my B-school logo) were missing. Incidentally, these were the only shirts within the box which were in a shrink wrap cover put by a dry cleaner which might have incorrectly signaled that they are perhaps new.
My hypothesis about the missing shirts is that they were likely stolen by the personnel who inspected the box: perhaps customs, perhaps India Post. If the hypothesis is true (which I would never know), it's quite bad and reflects badly on the professional image these organizations are trying to build in the recent years.