This story tells about my first experience with SF Express (Shun Feng), which delivers documents and goods within one day everywhere in China and Hong Kong.
Before I used to go to a Chinese post office and utilize the EMS service, but with SF Express you only need to call the 4008 111 111 and tell them where to go in order to get your documents and send them overnight. The operators speak English and the delivery boy will usually find you within one hour.
He will take your order and let you a receipt with a track number. For tracking your documents, just go to S.F. Express website and insert the track number. It is that simple!
OK, here my story.
Every time I change country, I crash against local bureaucracy. So far, the Chinese one is the most difficult I found. I guess my approximate knowledge of the language doesn’t help, but there are so many laws that vary from one province to another and so many offices you have to pass through, that gets to a point where nobody knows what to do is quite common.
Further, if the documents you are looking for need some information coming from abroad, for instance, your foreign passport, then you may be sure that some problems will arise, independently of the fact you need to renew your resident permit, sign a cell phone contract with China Mobile or ask for a rent receipt at your bank. The good news is that, in the end, you will always find a cavil that solves the situation… you just need faith.
Why am I starting this blog with such a post? The answer is that this morning I had to choose between sending a signed document to Hong Kong and making it arrives tomorrow morning or going there, losing two days and having to pay for the plane ticket and the hotel. Then I started to look for an express post service and I found two of them: EMS and SF Express, the Chinese DHL.
Asking my friends, I discovered EMS doesn’t guarantee that my docs will arrive in Hong Kong tomorrow. Hence, S.F. Express becomes my only possibility. Since my apartment is almost impossible to find and my Chinese is not good enough to guide a lost roundsman, I decided to visit S.F.’s offices.
When I arrive at the address I got from the telephone operator – for which I paid as the address was not available on the internet, – instead of SF Express (顺丰, Shun Feng in Mandarin), I find a supermarket 顺福 (Shun Fu), which is pronounced in a similar way but has nothing to do with express post service… f*ckin’ operator!
Displaying surprising self-control, I give up to imprecate and walk till my home resigned to fly to Hong Kong.
I almost don’t believe what I see, when I arrive close to my building and I notice an SF Express’s roundsman delivering some heavy boxes. Without thinking, I ask him if he can send my docs.
He takes a puff from his cigarette and tells me he’s only delivering. Feeling quite ridiculous, I try to “menace” him:
“If you don’t accept my documents, I will have to come back also tomorrow…”
He watches me and decides to make me happy by accepting my docs. Then he reconsiders it and starts to speak in Chinese, so fast that I don’t get the point. In these cases, the only solution I know is to call a Chinese person that can translate for me. Therefore I call Feng and put her on the phone with the roundsman. After five minutes of discussion, they agree that it’s not sure he can accept my doc as SF Express only sends to Honk Kong downtown and we don’t know where is the address I want to send the docs to. I decide to take the risk, pay 35 kuai and send the documents.
I will know if they will arrive on time only tomorrow.
[Update 1: The docs arrived on time.]
[Update 2: Feng’s boss blamed her because she lost time helping me on the phone during work time.]
[Update 3: Probably I will go to Hong Kong anyway.]
Photo Credits: Photos by Sapore di Cina