British Columbia

DHL customer demands refund after being charged more than $260 in additional fees

A Burnaby, B.C., woman is sounding off against shipping provider DHL, in hopes the company will reimburse her after she paid more than $600 to have her packages released following an alleged employee error.

The courier service denies any wrongdoing, writing 'staff followed the right procedures'

Burnaby resident Cindy Melendez wants DHL to refund $261.80 in fees that were paid in order to release two parcels that she sent to her brother in Honduras. (Christian Amundson/CBC)

A Burnaby, B.C., woman is sounding off against shipping provider DHL in the hope the company will reimburse her after she paid more than $600 to have her packages released following an alleged employee error.

"I'm never sending anything [again]," said Cindy Melendez, 29. "It was the worst experience ever."

Melendez's allegations coincide with calls for increased transparency from the global courier service, including a proposed class action lawsuit that alleges DHL has profited by misrepresenting some of its fees as duties and taxes.

The company denies any staff wrongdoing in Melendez's shipment, writing in an email to CBC it "reviewed [the] case in detail" and determined "staff followed the right procedures throughout the process."

Parcel problems

In early April, Melendez paid the courier service $393 to ship an iPhone, a charger and two iPads to her brother in Honduras. The devices were gifts for her mother and two older brothers, who she had planned to visit in December before the pandemic forced her to cancel the trip.

The items, which contain lithium-ion batteries, were divided into two packages, she says, per DHL guidelines, and sent to her brother in San Pedro Sula.

Melendez says that before the packages could be released, however, DHL required another payment, pushing her total shipping costs to over $1,000.

DHL delivers almost 1.6 billion parcels a year. A proposed class action lawsuit alleges the courier giant is cashing in on 'hidden fees' charged to customers. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

A bill shared with CBC shows that, along with $318 in taxes and duties, DHL also charged storage, communications fees, data transport, as well as commission, resulting in a total of $620 worth of additional fees.

Melendez says she tried to rectify the situation with DHL representatives, asking them at various points to change the recipient name or waive the fees but to no avail. 

In a statement to CBC, DHL says after the package arrived in Honduras, Melendez "requested a correction to the information [she] had provided, reviewed and confirmed."

A spokesperson also told CBC that DHL explored several options with Melendez to resolve the issue, including sending the parcels back to her — but she opted to have the fees paid.

The company also says it worked with her "to identify what options were possible, in order to minimize both potential delays and costs related to customs processes and/or storage in bonded facilities as a result of this request."

Melendez, meanwhile, says that while her family accepts the taxes and duties, she wants DHL to refund the other fees, which amount to $261.80. 

"I have never sent anything before," she said. "The company should tell you ... the right things to do."

According to its website, DHL is the biggest international courier company in the world, delivering almost 1.6 billion parcels a year to more than 220 countries and territories. 

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated that Cindy Melendez was subject to a customs and duties rate of 35 per cent because her parcels were sent to her brother's workplace. Information provided by Melendez after publication shows that was not the case. DHL tells CBC the recipient information had no bearing on the customs and duties applied.
    Apr 30, 2021 10:59 AM PT

With files from Belle Puri

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