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DHL Switzerland Does Not Inform Its Cuban Clients

February 5, 2010 1 comment

The flood of publicity with which DHL inundates the world floods in telling us that they will deliver packages in 72 hours from door to door.  Well, that will be the case for the rest of the world.  In Cuba, generally, it takes a while longer.  And you have to pay a lot for their services.

I have experienced for myself how the leading firm of global couriers tricks its clients.  I will tell you my story.  I have a daughter who turned 7 on February 3rd. Several weeks in advance I asked my mother to buy her a red outfit for her birthday.  My mother lives in the prim city of Lucerne, a German-Swiss city that never captures international media headlines.

What appeared to be a routine procedure turned into an odyssey and this time Cuban Customs was not to blame.  According to Moraima Vargas Hernández, who is in charge of the DHL Import Office in Havana, the office of the multinational on the outskirts of Lucerne had been informed by email that “for anything with a value over $100, the sender must acquire a consular invoice from the Cuban consulate.”  This consular invoice costs 210 Swiss francs (some 200 dollars).  And in this document one can read that the invoice is required regardless of the contents and weight of the package.

In 2009, my family in Lucerne sent us four packages via DHL. To send a package to Cuba, a country located in Zone 2, the geographic area most distant from Europe, you must use a box, which they give you for free, that is one of five sizes.  The tariffs from Switzerland to Cuba are not cheap: 155 Swiss Francs for the smallest package and 320 for the largest (some $147 to $303).

The point is that DHL in Switzerland had never told my mother, who is 67 and who had to take a bus to Dierikon where the Lucerne DHL office is located, some 40 minutes from her house, that to send a package to the Island she had to get the consular invoice from the Cuban consulate in Berne.

That is  not all, besides of this flagrant violation of the worldly courier, the implacable Cuban bureaucratic state machinery came onto the scene. According to official Vargas, the time allowed for these errands was only ten working days, a very short time in comparison with the two months allowed by DHL for these types of errands.

I agreed with my mother to reclaim the box and pay the money she had to pay to have it returned to her house.  As she lives in a country with rights, there are mechanisms to complain and even sue the international company for providing bad information.

From Cuba it’s a waste of time.  In its desire to deposit money in its depleted coffers, the government imposes high taxes on any commercial transaction or sale of products.  Not to mention that on the Island, the law does not protect the consumer.

For the Castros, emigrants are a kind of cow, the more they can milk them and the more foreign currency they can obtain the better.  DHL, like nearly all transnational companies when it’s about money, is apolitical and unscrupulous, and they negotiate with the highest bidder.

The giant Google, anxious to grow its user-base, has established itself in China, a nation where fierce censorship and human rights violations are enforced  Or the famous Nike, has also installed factories in the Asiatic giant to produce low cost goods, without caring that the Chinese government pays miserable wages and exploits their workers mercilessly.

Unfortunately, this is the way most multinationals operate. They are more interested in a piece of the cake than adhering to ethical business practices or principles. They negotiate with tyrants and closed dictatorial regimes, knowing that these countries violate human rights and the free press is notable for its absence  Each time the contradictions between the politician’s speeches and those of the business people are even more evident.

Doing business with Cuba could backfire for DHL. Employees from DHL in Switzerland were alarmed upon learning that their offices in Havana charge 200 Cuban pesos for delivering the package to your door. According to what we know, DHL global pays for the fuel for the delivery vehicles that bring the shipments to their destinations in all of the countries where it does business.

In this tug-of-war between a company that cheats its clients and a government that for any transaction charges high amounts of money, my daughter Melany will not be able to premiere, on her birthday, the clothes that her grandmother bought for her. Thankfully, she is a happy girl. Not even DHL in Switzerland or the Customs of Cuba are going to erase her naughty smile.

Melany still does not understand the diabolical mechanisms established, in the country where she was born, to continuously put obstacles in the way of the free flow of goods. They form a part of the embargo of the Castros against its people. Three times more effective than that of the United States against Cuba.

Iván García

Translated by: caribbeanmanny@yahoo.com

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