Recently, some of my friends sent me a birthday surprise in Kenya through the mail. In the end, we were all surprised – or shocked – even with my experience with the Postal Corporation of Kenya, more commonly known as “Posta”.
More than a month prior to my birthday, my well-organised Australian friends kindly sent me 2 bottles of Aussie wines as presents through the registered post. As weeks went by my birthday, my friends started to wonder why my present have yet to arrive in Kenya. Ultimately, we managed to track the missing birthday present, it had been misplaced and ended up at the central post office in the CBD. This was the beginning of an interesting hunting experience with the Kenyan Posta.
When I arrived at the central post office, I was sent to the upper floor of the building where hundreds and thousands of mails are being stored. As I did not have the physical notice of receiving the parcel, I spent the next 30 minutes running between departments confirming the location of the parcel. Finally, my parcel was found and I only had minutes to spare before needing to attend a meeting. However, at this point, I was told that “the parcel will need to go through custom”. With limited time to spare, I had no choice but to return again after my meeting.
Few hours later, I returned and the post office staff spent another 20 minutes hunting down for the same parcel which I caught a glimpse of earlier in the day. “Going through custom” involved opening my parcel and determining the value of the tax I needed to pay in order to collect it. As it was labelled on the box that the 2 bottles of wine costed $50 AUD (i.e. $37 USD), the postman undertook extensive calculations which resulted a total tax amount of $17.5 USD – almost 50% of the value of my parcel! The calculations included an inflation of 25% on the goods and applying 16% of Value-Added Tax (VAT), 1% levy and 20% of Import Duty. After making my tax payment to the Kenya government, I was told I now need to pay for administrative cost for Kenyan Posta. Such fee is generally $1.75 USD flat charge, but because my parcel had been collected late I was required to pay $35 USD as storage fee. Greatly frustrated at the situation, I angrily complained to the handling staff – clearly it is not my fault for collecting my parcel “late” when it had never arrived! Next, I was told I needed to see the branch manager on a different floor in order to discuss on a solution.
(To be continued…)