DHL Have My Passport And Won’t Give It Back

I’m not sure what “DHL” stands for, but I think it could be “Deliveries? Haha, Lol.” Since 1969, DHL has been moving packages from Point A to point B, presumably with some success since they’re the largest logistics company in the world. Yet somehow they’ve managed it with a website that tells you no useful info about your package’s location and with a tracking system that even their own employees evidently use just by mashing buttons and hoping for the best.

  1. Around early September, I complete the forms needed to renew my passport with the UK passport agency. The passport service’s website say it should take about a month to process the renewal and receive the documents back. I figure I’ll still have time to book a trip for December if I want to.
  2. Around three weeks later, my new passport arrives through DHL with a note saying my supporting documents (aka my old passport, with my US visa) would arrive “separately, usually no more than a week later”. All good so far. I’m ready to tell everyone what an efficient process this was.
  3. Exactly a week later, I find a note on my apartment door from DHL saying they tried to deliver the second package but I wasn’t home. They invite me to check my tracking number on their website to arrange a redelivery. Fair enough. I’d get it redelivered when I knew I’d be home. Still all good.
  4. On DHL’s website, the tracking number they provided said it had already been (successfully) delivered. Okay, that’s weird. I’m a bit confused, but assume that they meant my new passport had been delivered and that the old passport was still in transit somewhere. I resolve to wait another two weeks, max.
  5. A few weeks later, I contact the passport service in the UK, asking what the hold-up was. They say DHL has the package and I should contact them, and give me a different tracking number so I assume DHL had written the wrong one on their note that was left on my apartment door. An error, sure, but understandable. The numbers were pretty similar.
  6. I contact DHL with the correct tracking number and arrange to pick up the package a few days later at a DHL center in Manhattan.
  7. A few days later I go to the DHL center in Manhattan. They inform me that my package was en-route back to the passport service in the UK, as it had been over 30 days since they initially tried to deliver it and 30 days was their cut-off time. They give me a new tracking number.
  8. I track the package back to the UK, then contact the passport service. They tell me someone from DHL will contact me with a new tracking number, which they do.
  9. I track the package back to New York, then contact DHL and explicitly ask them to not deliver it to my apartment and instead I’d pick it up from a DHL center. They give me a specific address of a DHL center and said it will be there by the next Monday. Yes! I’m so close!
  10. Next day, I come back to my apartment and find a note from DHL saying they tried to deliver my package but I wasn’t home and they’d try to re-deliver it the next day. Evidently the customer service agent I’d spoken to the day before had done nothing despite telling me it’d be available at a service center.

    Thanks for nothing, Mary.
  11. I check the tracking number on DHL’s website, which says, unhelpfully, “delivery attempted”, with no clarifying information about re-delivery or options to pick it up from somewhere myself.
  12. I contact DHL again and ask them – again – if I could pick it up from a DHL center. They say sure, it’ll be there by Monday. I confirm the exact address of the DHL center, close to Penn Station, Manhattan.
  13. On Monday, I confirm with DHL’s live chat system that I can pick up the package that evening at the Penn Station center. They say yes. At this point I feel certain that my passport will be in my hand that night. Surely there is no way that two separate customer service agents on two separate days can check a package’s location and tell you, with confidence, that the package is in one place, when in fact it’s in another. If that ever happens, that must mean that their entire tracking system is catastrophically flawed…
  14. After work on Monday, with a spring in my step and dreaming of my next adventure, I head over to the DHL center near Penn Station. Now, this is when I discover that my experience with DHL is not unique. There is a woman at the DHL center looking anxious and raising her voice to the DHL agent at the desk. She is leaving the country tomorrow and her package – whatever it was – is somewhere in the Bronx. I have a lot of sympathy for her, but I was also relieved that I was done with my ordeal.
  15. When a DHL agent becomes available, I hand over my tracking number and dream of golden sands and sangrias and wait while the woman went into the back to get my package.

    Soon, my friend. Soon.
  16. A few minutes later she comes back empty-handed and frowning. At this point I’m not either surprised or annoyed. I’m practically laughing. She goes to the computer, then tells me that my package is also in the Bronx. “Another victim!” shrieked the woman suffering the same ordeal. She would have to go to the Bronx that night to get the package, but by this point I had given up all hope of using my passport this side of 2016 so I just asked if I could pick it up from this DHL center a few days later.
  17. A few days later is today. I just called the specific DHL center and they said they have my package. I don’t believe them, but hopefully, hopefully, in 30 minutes I should have my passport. Wish me luck guys!
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