Although, according to Nurul Islam, office secretary of Courier Services Association of Bangladesh (CSAB), 138 domestic courier service providers are now legally operating in the country, individuals concerned said there were many other service providers operating without any legal framework
Navida Nizhu, a graphic designer and film-maker, prefers home delivery services to in-store purchases since it saves her time and allows her to beat the traffic.
However, a few experiences have made her reconsider that decision.
Last year, when the government enforced nationwide restrictions on public movement to check the spread of coronavirus, she ordered a product from an online store in the capital which was delivered via Sundarban Courier Service.
Although she had paid for home delivery service, Sundarban refused to do that and asked her to pick it up from its office.
She had to take a rickshaw ride to the office to get the product.
Nizhu could not recall the name of another courier service provider that lost one of the items she ordered last year, but did not want to file any complaint.
Being reluctant to deal with all such hassles, she ended the matter right there as it was not an expensive product.
Courier service providers in the country often take no responsibility if they fail to deliver products or documents due to a lack of uniform law on courier service and e-commerce.
Although, according to Nurul Islam, office secretary of Courier Services Association of Bangladesh (CSAB), 138 domestic courier service providers are now legally operating in the country, individuals concerned said there were many other service providers operating without any legal framework.
General Secretary of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) Abdul Wahed Tomal told Dhaka Tribune that as there were many Facebook-based small business owners joining the e-commerce industry, the demand for courier service providers had increased manifold than before.
Many small online business owners did not take service from these 138 registered courier service providers and therefore it was difficult to control the quality since they were operating without being monitored, he added.
Nurul Islam said: "The courier service providers offer compensation for lost and damaged goods. However, sometimes it is difficult for the small courier service providers as they do not have the financial capacity."
How to be a registered courier service provider?
In order to be registered as a courier service provider, a company has to get a trade licence, VAT (value added tax) registration, and TIN (taxpayer identification number) certificate to apply for a certificate from the Courier Services Association of Bangladesh.
Upon receiving the certificate, the company needs to apply for a licence to the licensing authority under the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology to operate in the country.
As per Mailing Operator and Courier Service Rules, 2013, "No Mailing Operator and Courier Service Provider shall, without a licence, conduct Mailing and Courier Service Business."
For the purpose of obtaining a licence under the rule, every applicant of a mailing operator and courier service provider is required to have a head office, minimum one booking and distribution office, transportation arrangement along with necessary arrangement, including godown, bonded warehouse and other facilities.
The applicant must have proper arrangements for managing customer complaints, a price list of offered services by the mailing operator and courier service provider, adequate security arrangements till the delivery of goods sent by the customer to the recipient, guidelines of its own, a written agreement or counterpart agreement with the principal company, and adequate arrangements of fire safety.
Where to file a complaint?
A consumer or seller can lodge a complaint with the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) for any violation of Consumer Rights Protection Act 2009 by courier service providers.
While speaking to Dhaka Tribune, DNCRP Deputy Director Monjur Mohammad Shahriar said consumers could file complaints against both sellers and courier service providers at their office.
"We have received a lot of complaints related to home delivery-based services lately as people ordered summer fruits from different parts of the country with the courier services."
Most of the complaints the directorate gets are related to missing products, misplaced and damaged items, along with fraud in weight and measurement.
"From my experience, I would say courier service providers are not well-equipped to deliver items. In most cases related to damaged products or fraud in weight and measurement, we found that they were careless about packaging the products," Shahriar added.
What about customer services?
Requesting anonymity, a police officer shared his bitter experience with Dhaka Tribune regarding sending a parcel from Dhaka to Jessore at the Shantinagar branch of SA Paribahan.
He asked a staffer at the office for a pen to write down the address and make some corrections.
"The way that staff approached me just because I asked for a pen was not something any customer would expect."
"He was literally yelling at me every time I wanted to talk to him about the parcel. I do not know if he was having a bad day, but I expected good customer service as I was the one paying for it," the police officer said.
Tomal, the e-CAB General Secretary, thinks courier service providers and e-commerce entrepreneurs need to be groomed and trained on how to interact with customers before coming to the industry.
"The existing courier service providers which have been here for years need to train up their staff on customer service as well," he said.
He, however, urged the government to include the entire industry in the formal sector for its development.