Inspections slow LibanPost deliveries

File - LibanPost offices are seen in Beirut, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Marwan has been waiting more than two months for the delivery of a smartphone that he ordered via online merchant Ali Express.

But like many other Lebanese who have bought products from China via e-commerce websites, he will likely have to wait a couple more weeks before his order gets delivered home. Marwan’s package is one of thousands of mail items shipped from China that are being inspected by the Customs department at Beirut international airport before clearance for delivery, an industry source told The Daily Star.

The source added that the inspection of thousands of individual packages is delaying the clearance process and the delivery of goods to customers, many of whom have vented their frustration over the holdup on social media websites.

“I have three parcels from Ali Express from two months ago and even more but still didn’t receive anything. How can we get infos about our parcels??” Dunia asked on Aug. 27 in a post on the Facebook page of LibanPost, Lebanon’s private postal service company.

Dunia, like Marwan, is one of hundreds of Lebanese who have grown frustrated with the delay in the delivery of mail items from China since early July.

In an announcement dated Aug. 21, LipanPost apologized on its Facebook page “for all the delays that were out of LibanPost’s control occurring with mail items received from China/ Hong Kong (AliExpress and others).”

“As per the Lebanese Customs’ law, all incoming items with a value less than LL200,000 will be exempted from any charges or fees. It is important to note that all incoming items still have to be cleared by the Customs, and LibanPost will deliver right after clearance,” the statement added.

According to the source, the sharp increase in orders from China had prompted the Customs department to initiate a thorough inspection of shipped items to determine whether they were intended for commercial or personal use.

The source said certain individuals were ordering quantities of two or more of the same item, which cast doubt on whether the items were bought for personal use or for small-scale trades.

According to the Customs’ Law, items of “non-commercial value, personal dispatches and occasional gifts” qualify for total exemption of customs fees “within limits specified by the Higher Council of Customs, after consulting the Director General of Customs.” Any package or gift valued at less than LL200,000 is qualified for exemption.

Another source said that the clearance process might take some time due to large quantities under inspection, but that people should feel assured that their packages would soon be delivered.

“The issue should be resolved soon and people should expect to receive their packages in less than a couple of weeks,” he said.

LibanPost said in its Aug. 21 statement that it “started the sorting process of more than 100,000 pending items and delivery will start in the coming days” but failed to provide an exact date, provoking comments from frustrated clients.

“What is the definition of ‘in the coming day’ pls?” Bashir asked in a comment on the Facebook page.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 01, 2014, on page 5.




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