Post office promises friendlier parcel service

| 02/09/2013

CNS): In an effort to reduce bureaucracy and offer a more customer-friendly checking procedure for parcels, the Cayman Islands Postal Service has begun checking packages as they arrive to assess duty levels before customers come to collect their parcels in the presence of postal service staff. The new system starts today (Monday 2 September), when parcels arriving through the Post Office will be processed and assessed based on the invoice or by examining the item if necessary, without the customer being present. As a result, officials said, the recipients will not, in most cases, be required to come into the Airport Post Office (APO) and wait in line to have a parcel assessed. 

“It is similar to the process customs uses for assessing packages imported by Courier Services such as FedEx and DHL,” government officials said in a release. “Once the parcel is assessed, the duty information will then be entered in the parcel system, and a notice requesting the customer to come to the APO to collect the item will be generated.  The notice will include the total amount due, including duty and fees.” CIPS officials did not, however, include instructions for customers on Cayman Brac or Little Cayman.

Customers on Grand Cayman will then be able to bring that notice to the post office, pay the stipulated amount and collect the parcel, which the officials said should significantly reduce the time customers normally have to wait to collect a parcel from the central post office.

In cases where an invoice has not been included in the package, customers can send it ahead of time via email to to minimise delays. If a customer wishes to challenge or dispute the amount assessed, customs officers will still be available at the APO from 11:00am to 2.00pm to discuss the issue.

The customs department is open to the public from 8:30am to 4:00pm, Monday-Friday and Saturday 8:30am to 12:30pm.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So if any of my ordered items go missing, at least i know who to send my lawer too!!!

    This is just setting customs up for lawsuits!!!

    And i'm sorry it takes extra long for parcels and mail to reach CYB because if cayman airways doesnt want to take it they dont have to, but now its going to take LONGER than before!! This is really ridiculous!!!

  2. noname says:

    I wonder if the system will still require you to wait in line to actually get the  'package assessment invoice', then go to the other counter to pay, and finally, suffer the abuses of the new people now queued up (whilst you are paying), who think you are now 'jumping the queue' when you go back to actually pick up the 'paid for ' package?.

    I got a real caustic comment from one woman who added " There is a queue here you know"…I had to then explain the system to her but she was so frustrated from waiting (or just plain ignorant) that she never even apologized !

    I can't speak for other but I personally have found the Staff friendly most of the time however, the long waiting time does nothing to help people like this woman from becoming frustrated.

    It is usually the case when I order Amazon/Ebay stuff that no invoice is included (even when requested to the Seller ) and what happens with the $50 'gift' waiver – if the package has been assessed and I then provide proof that it's a gift ?  Also, when I do provide an invoice, I believe the charges are made on the 'total' (including shipping) but the figure is substituted from the US$ for CI$. I stand to be corrected on this but inany event, I usually end up paying more in duties than the item cost (WITH SHIPPING) to buy.

    As someone else suggested, what about paying online or even better at my 'local' Post Office – surely spreading these collection duties to the BT/Savannah/WestBay Post Offices would be a better use of Manpower than just having ONE Officer on duty at the APO?

    Deliver the Packages to the 'addressees'  Local Post Office and let the receiver pay and collect there – much more friendly arrangement..




  3. Anonymous says:

    The system is broken, I sent so many letters and packages to my kid attanding st matthews medical school.  Maybe one or 2 actually arrived.  What does the Post office do with all those cards letters and packages ??? 

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Customs inspection counter at the Airport Post Offices closes weekdays at 3pm, NOT as stated 4pm.This has been the proedure since last February.

  5. Ohforfawksake says:

    Firstly I want to state my total disgust at not having the entire front desk/counter staff at APO not receive the joint prize of civil service employee of the year!
    Where else in the world can you get such service? There is nothing quite like going to two different counters to pick up one item and then be met with an array of questions that boggle the mind. Only once have I met a staff member who had a smile on their face! Only a mile or two away you can enter an entirely different world in that of the Westshore Post Office, it’s a pleasure to go in their compared to the Gulag type atmosphere of APO.

    I get no greater joy in this world than handing an APO slip to my lovely wife and see her face contort into something from a spitting image video, it makes my week but not hers.

    Of course the ‘service’ will get much worse now in the APO as they havnt received the CS employee of the year award. I like a number of other people here have told relatives and friends not to send any parcels EVER again to Cayman……….this was over ten years ago but for some uncanny reason they continue to do so but thankfully not as often!
    Oh my I just realized that they are laughing in front of their fireplace knowing that my face will be contorting when I open my PO Box and see the dreaded APO slip.

  6. gandalf watler says:

    Three post offices in cayman brad. At least two employees in each for 1500 people. What a waste of money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Privatise the entire lot and stop running it as an extension of social services!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think they have more than two employees as well as supervisors.

      I would love to see the ratio of postal workers to population, coupled with the amount of Public works department employees against the population of the Brac.

      There is probably a small number of people somewhere in the Brac wondering why all these people are working for them!

  7. Anonymous says:

    The entire apparatus should be put out to tender and privatised. The employees should be given  the opportunity to 're apply for any remaining jobs. 

    This system is currently a massive waste of government funding and should not be used as a secondary welfare system.

  8. Anny omis says:

    Oh happy days! Now we can have our packages delayed, pilfered, molested, and over valued, by surliest of the surly of Cayman’s Civil Service. Win win! (For the courier services that is).

  9. postman pat says:

    This is not a postal system. It is a day centre for those that would otherwise be on welfare or need a care system. Count up how many post offices and employees there are here and in the brad against the population size. Add the p-$$ poor performance ratio and you would soon boycott it. I did ten years ago and everything I need to do via email and visiting friends. I am more than happy if I never have to set foot in any post office.



  10. Anonymous says:

    Much as I hate visiting the APO I don't want those people opening my packages without me there.

  11. Anonymous says:

    i can see the complaints piling up from here, the courier firms will be loving this move !

    • Anonymously says:

      Opening packages in the presence of the recipient is just good practice.  I agree that they are opening themselves up to allegations of theft, damage etc.

      • Anonymous says:

        It was not long ago that I was waiting behind a lady who was receiving a birthday present early. She attempted to hide her view of what her surprise present was and the customs girl said "I am a customs officer and you have to obseve me opening your package" even though the customers friend was there to see nothing was pilfered the surprise was spoilt. Now they can open to there hearts content!

    • Anonymous says:

      In fairness to the postal service, it is the customs service that provides this service out of hte post office. I also do not have a problem with the neglible $3 fee.  I see it as a processing fee and I think it is reasonable — although I am not a lawyer and did read the posting about inernational agreements.  I do go quite regularly to collect parcels and I find that the wait is usually not that long and I personally have not had the experience of the long waits for notifications.  What I find awful is the apparent lack of training by the women (the men are very personable) in how to avoid confrontation with the customers.  I got to the point where I wished I did not have to go there.  I was beginning to feel that it was me, but I now see that others have the same experience.  I am happy the customs service is doing something about this. Without wanting to appear sixist (and I am a woman), my advice would be to put men on the front line — they seem to be able to handle things without their becoming a federal case.

      • Anonymous says:

        I do agree the guys are much much better to deal with, however I can only recall one very long wait.  I had the misfortune to find myself in line behind a lady who was clearly  trying to give mis leading info about the value of the contents of her package.  Let me tell you she was put through the ringer.  After she left after having to pay up, the person who was assisting her commented  "that she always comes in here with her lies".   My advice is never ever understimate the value of your packages.  They will embarrass you to no end.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I agree that going to the post office can be a pain, but can you name a country where that isn’t the case?

    • Anonymous says:

      United Staes of America. Bermuda- they deliver mailto houses to start with.

    • Anonymous says:

      UK, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech republic, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland. Those are the ones I have experience of and they all work pretty well…US was not such a good experience, however that may have been the exception rather than the rule…

      • Anonymous says:

        A lot of the above postal services are under threat of being privatised, despite providing an efficient and professional service.

        It begs the question as to why, a third rate sytem like Cayman's has not been privatised years ago.

        I can only guess it is coming, like the Christian heritage park and the cruise berth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman really ha a third world postal service with a Communist-era service ethos.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you never lived in a Communist era- do not compare. I grew up quite nicely under Communism and people, real people were nice and friendly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, the United Kingdom.

      Prior to coming the Cayman Islands, I walked a long distance footpath that took a couple of weeks to complete.

      To do this, I used the 'Post Restante' service and posted supplies, spare clothing, etc ahead of myself to be picked up from the nearest post offices on route.

      Not only did it work perfectly, there was never an occasion when I thought that my mail may not have reached the final destination or be somewhere else.

      Here, there seems to be a problem getting it 200 feet from the plane, sorted and assessed in less than 9 weeks on some occasions.

      France and Spain have a similar system, so there are at least three examples that I can think of.


    • Anonymous says:

      Hong Kong manages to run a very efficient postal system for the millions of people it serves.

      • Anonymous says:

        And in Hong Kong – this small territory with millions of people – mail is delivered to homes and businesses!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I thought we had an award-winning postal service? Didn't the minister of cakes and parcels spend 3 weeks at a plush resort in the desert collecting medals on behalf of the post office?

    • judean people's front says:

      Oh it is award winning all right. But not for the right reasons!


  14. Anonymous says:

    I've told all my overseas family and friends to please just save their money and never send anything here anymore. It's just not worth it. About half the things they used to send never arrived. One parcel turned up back at the sender's address 2 years after she sent it- with a Cayman post office stamp on it.

    And even if it does arrive there goes and entire morning lining up to hand in a form, lining up to pay a fee, lining up to show the receipt just so I can watch the World's Grumpiest Woman open my birthday presents in front of me. No thanks!



    • Chicken says:

      Exactly.  It never used to be quite as bad as it is now, and I have seen some very pleasant staff at the APO in the past.  When they started making you pay at the other counter and changed staff, I stopped buying things to import here (unless a big purchase where i can use a broker on island via Miami to get it here), and made sure no one sends me anything via mail except by direct courier (I'd rather pay Fed-Ex $30 than the goverment $3). 

      Easy example of how the typical lackadaisical attitude of so many here backfires.  Vote with your feet people, do not import, and do not allow anyone to send you anything. 

      As for these so called enhancements, I get what they are trying to do, but I am afraid I do not trust your staff not to run off with whatever is in the package.  Change that, and maybe, just maybe, I will start importing things again. 

      Oh and one more thought from this here chicken.  How about letting people pay the duty online and then just have the parcel put in the PO Box / sent to the work with the next mail shipment?  Too much work for just a few dollars?  Stop charging the illegal fees on everything, then all online payments will be worth the time for everyone concerned, yes?  No you say?  Back to my tree I go.  cluck cluck.

    • Anonymous says:

      Possibly because, as was said before in another story. the Post Office is a way of employing indiginous people who can't  hack it in the real world….it' s a welfare state of employment

      Sell the PO off to a private firm… though if that happens we would all have to pay for the privelage but at least when  the doo doo hits   the fan we might have some recourse…

  15. Anonymous says:

    The package fee is unlawful. A large part of the delay comes from processing the $3 they charge even on non-dutiable items.  This fee is imposed in blatant breach of the regulations of the Universal Postal Union, a UN body of which Cayman is a member.  These clearly state that postage is payable by the sender, and no fee of any kind, other than legally payable import duty, may be imposed in the state where the parcel is received.  So if the Post Office complied with its treaty obligations and dropped this fee, there would be no need for anyone receiving a book or other duty free item to queue up at the cashiers desk while a receipt is laboriously issued for $3. 


    • Anonymous says:

      But you have to pay the $3 to cover the wages of the person collecting the $3 from you.

      • foxglove says:

        If only the figures were that good. It is more like pay 3$ against 8$ would be shocking to all if the annual cost of running the post office was placed against the revenue generated.

        If it was any other business, bankruptcy would be filed.


    • Anonymous says:

      Very good point. CNS can you please clarify this with POST officials?

    • Anonymous says:

      The Post Office does not have treaty obligations since it is not a party to any treaty. It is obliged to apply the laws of the land.  

    • Anonymous says:

      This is Cayman.  Laws are more like guidlines that can be renegotiated over and over till they get you to pay.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Is this yet another joke about the very bad costumer service this country offers? We should have a poll to check who are the worst trained customer service employees: the Airport Post Office staff certainly are strong contenders. Lime, Superstitch and Butterfield are also very serious candidates.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Even with an invoice enclosed in the package, customs staff at APO will commonly ignore it and pluck an inflated duty figure out of the air. Disputing this (by providing copies of emails, website printouts, credit card receipts) is a royal PITA at the best of times, and given that a customs officer will be available for some 3 hours a day only, at lunchtime, the queues & frustration will only get worse. Presumably the idea is to reduce customer service, minimize the opportunity for the correct duty to be assessed and effectively to hold parcels to ransom. Extortion is the word that springs to mind..

    And I have lost count of the number of undelivered packages which have disappeared somewhere, anywhere..


    • SSM345 says:

      I have always found it bizarre that the duty placed on any items / parcels greatly exceeds the actual cost of the goods themselves. The last 3 packages I picked up contained goods totalling US$52 which I bought on Amazon with the remenants of an old gift card and the duty placed on the 3 packages was almost CI$148. Not one item in those packages cost more than US$10.

      When I then asked the incredibly rude woman how they came up with the duty imposed she told me it was "none of my business" whilst "kissing her teeth". "Really?" I replied, "perhaps then you could let me know whose business it is, as the packages are mine and consequently so is the magical figure you have imposed on ME for the duty". No explanantion was given,  she refused to get anyone else and refused to provide me with her name all the while basically mumbling under her breath "white boy this, white boy that".

      I left with my packages and a few choice words which I got a round of applause for from those that had just witnessed what I describe as the absolute worst display I have ever witnessed by any employee in any business I have ever been to worldwide.

      How you can have that person in a position to deal with people blows my mind. How she even has a job blows my mind and also makes me wonder what all these unemployed / unemployable beggars that we have in Cayman bring to the table if someone like that manages to gain employment.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I bet it would be a violation of some privacy laws let alone an opportunity for stealing. If someone sends me a gift (s), without telling me what it is, how would I know that I got what was in a box and not what was left in a box after an inspection. About grumpiness of post workers-they truly believe that they are doing you a favor just coming to work and serving you. That applies to customs and many other civil services.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I hope this makes the process quicker but it will certainly by no means make the process less painful! I once had to wait in line 15 minutes to pick up a valentines card which came in the post with a single Godiva Chocolate attached… the Customs Officer looked me dead in the eyeand asked "This sumtin' ya ordered?"… Whilst I felt like poking myself in the eye with a sharp pencil I had to calmly respond to the MENSA candidate "Clearly not Ma'am"… "as you can see, it's a Valentine's card…" I was then asked for a $3 handling fee to pay to the government… imagine that… pay the CI Government for the inconvenience?! At least now I will be able to speed up the payment for wasting my time! As anyone who has gone through a similar experience with the Cayman Islands Postal Service knows… a quick email to every family member with strict instructions to never send birthday presents, Xmas presents or the like by mail for fear of another genius behind a counter asking for an invoice… Sorry mate, my Mum forgot to send me a gift and tell me how much she paid for it but I'm fairly certain that if she knew I'd have to pay duty on it that she'd rather you bend over so I could shove this borble up a certain orifice of yours before I paid a cent to the Cayman Islands Government to celebrate the day of my birth or celebrate the birth of baby Jesus!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Am I the only person who thinks this might be a great temptation for theft? I personally have had the contents of a package stolen when it was deemed unfit for Cayman due to the contents being "untreated animal skin" I was told it would be returned to sender, it never was.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hate to be a naysayer but I see a potential problem here.  I thought the packages HAD to opened in front of the person collecting it (the adressee) to avoid any so-called "tampering" with the package.  If drugs or other contraband is found then the person is going to claim it was "put" there by someone else.  The defending lawyers will have a point!  I'm only saying…..

    • Anonymous101 says:

      This stuff is already being done with couriers. Stuff that comes via UPS, Fedex, DHL or any other broker service is searched without recipient being present.

      • Anonymous says:

        Aren't UPS, Fedex  etc. representatives resent upon each inspections?

      • Anonymous says:

        yes it probably is, maybe not evertyhing but most. The difference is you as a sender are paying a courier to clear customs for you based mostly on the packing note sent with it. there lies the difference.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Praise be the Lord, hallelujah!

    I don't have to pick up packages often, but in the last few years I've had to go to the APO at least a dozen times to either (1) pick up books or a package from family overseas with photos or other memorabilia that is also duty free and could have been sent to my post office if it had been opened in advance, or (2) pick up an item ordered online when I have my invoice readily available or it's in the package.

    A few times I have been lucky and gotten through quickly, but far too often there have been at least half a dozen people in front of me, most of whom don't have their invoices or want to argue about the value of items or the legal requirement to pay duty on them.

    Thank you, post office for making this easier and letting me avoid APO-rage!

  23. GR says:

    Since when are shorter hours more friendly?

    I have my doubts that this system will be an improvement.  Most of the packages I receive through the post are gifts that do not contain an invoice unlike packages which are couriered so how will these be handled?  

  24. Anonymous says:

    Thank God! Not having to deal with that ray of sunshine of a Customs lady at the Airport PO window will make my life much more pleasant, thank you.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Typically picking up a package can be described as by far the worst customer service experience, anywhere, ever.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I was harassed by a custom officer lady & I just brought in personal clothing for the first time! I was discussed by her unprofessional action against me!


  27. Anonymous says:

    it baffles me how usps get manage to deliver an item in 6 days and it's on-island but not released to me for weeks! hopefully this helps!

  28. Rorschach says:

    A promise is a comfort to a fool…

  29. Anonymous says:

    Is something going to be done about the amount of time it takes the APO to process packages arriving from the UK?

    On numerous occasions, I have had an item posted by UK Royal Mail and haven't received it until 6-8 weeks later.  I know that British Airways delivers packages to Cayman Islands within 1-2 weeks on the regular weekly flights.  Therefore,  it is taking 4-6 weeks for the APO to process the package and send out a notification to the customer to collect. 

    With this new system in place, this will now take even longer!

  30. Anonymous says:

    the concept of a less officious, speedier parcel post collection is long overdue – and Oh So welcome.  There have been times when I have debated abandonning some unsolicited gift to the PO, rather than put myself through the aggravation and lengthy processing (with the often surly staff() at APO.  I sincerely hope the results realise the intention.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Does the GT post-office select staff who deal with parcels mainly on the basis of how miserable they can be? 

    • judean people's front says:

      No, it is measured against attitude, attendance, sickness, punctuality and the length of lunch break taken. If you can score a rating of poor or below you are in.

      People who scored "mediocre" can still apply but to be honest, the job market is flooded with those below you who will take priority.