Archive for the ‘Dominican Postal System’ Category
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
How many man hours does it take to send a fax in the Dominican Republic?
A good friend of ours is for personal reasons earnestly trying to sell his property. He had passed a number of the procedural bridges and reached the advanced and important point whereby the buyer’s lawyer’s secretary called him at about 2 pm one afternoon explaining that they needed a copy of the plan of the property by closing time (6pm), in order to urgently push the sale along.
Four hours to go, our friend thought, should be straight forward, time to spare….
His first obstacle, after rummaging through his personal papers, was to discover that the plan was considerably larger than a regular A4 size and would need to be reduced before a fax could be sent. He ambled along to the local Tricom telephone call center where he unfortunately discovered that the copying machine was broken. He didn’t know of another place off hand to visit and decided, with clearly so much time to spare, to take the short journey back home where he thought he would wait for his housekeeper, Nanny, who was supposed to be turning up escorted by her husband, Perrin, on his motorcycle at 3pm, in order to engage their help.
First off he sent them to the Costa Lunga hotel where he had some time in the past used their copying and fax services. The Costa Lunga’s machine was also out of service! Nanny and Perrin persevered and three more establishments later were able to reduce the plan to A4 size and returned to our friend’s home in semi-triumph. At this precise moment the lawyer’s secretary called to ask, “Have you sent the fax?” “No, but it will be with you in the next 10 minutes”, our friend confidently added. This was because Nanny and Perrin were already off again on the motorbike, this time to the Verizon call and fax center. 30 minutes later Nanny and Perrin returned crestfallen to announce that the fax had not gone through even though they had tried four times. Our friend called the secretary assuming they had a problem with the machine at the lawyer’s end. “No problem at all!” the secretary confidently claimed. “I am sitting right beside it, it is switched on and I can confirm that the number you are using is correct”.
For the first time our friend was beginning to feel anxious about meeting the deadline, for time was marching swiftly on and all he had to show for the effort so far was an A4 reduction of the original plan. He now presumed the problem to be at the Verizon center. He was on the point of sending Nanny and Perrin off again when his landlord turned up and suggested the local pharmacy might have a fax machine. Our friend was rapidly learning the art of pragmatism. He sent the landlord off to the nearby pharmacy, Nanny and Perrin again on the motorbike further afield and he himself went to another call center round the corner. The pharmacy used to have a fax machine but no longer… and the local call center does have a fax machine but only for receiving faxes! Father time’s big hand was now pointing to the 5 on the clock as our friend returned home again and as the phone rang, the secretary asked once more, “Have you sent the fax?” “Not quite yet, but soon”, he said with discernibly less authority than before.
Very soon after that Nanny and Perrin came back with triumph written all over their faces. “It went through,” Nanny whooped. So our friend got straight on to the secretary and asked: “Have you got the fax?” “Well,” she nervously exclaimed, “no! We’ve just now figured it out at this end. We’ve noticed that there is no ink cartridge in our fax machine”.
Now our friend was not only nervous but a little something else as well, but controlling himself admirably he asked, “What now then?” “Take a note of our address and send it by regular mail”, she responded. “What! By the Dominican postal service to arrive tomorrow and it is past 5 o’clock now? (see July 22nd blog on the Dominican postal service) For heaven’s sake give me another fax number”. He could hear the secretary asking around her office if anybody had any ideas on this, and a few minutes later she was able to offer another number. The motorbike was gunned into action again and off went Nanny and Perrin and came back with yet more triumphant smiles. “It went through”, they said with their new-found glee. Even though it was now 6.15 pm our friend made his last call hoping against hope that more or less four hours work put in by three people had yielded the result he wanted. Good… the secretary was still there. Again, “Have you got the fax?” “How could I possibly know that,” she said, “the other fax machine isn’t in this office!”
So, the answer to the initial question in this case is about 12 man hours… that is if the fax arrived at all!
Saturday, July 22, 2006
For sure there is a Dominican postal system though be it quite low profile run by the Instituto Postal Dominicano – presenting itself with the not so abbreviated abbreviation of ‘INPOSDOM’. It is a national public organization with a very large office in the center of Santo Domingo. Boca Chica has its own office though understandably far smaller and appears to employ one counter assistant, one post mistress and one or two delivery men. It is not entirely clear what the post office’s range of services is because, in the Boca Chica office at the least, there are absolutely no leaflets or signs indicating what services they might offer. However you would be right in assuming they sell stamps for parcels and letters and their postmen do deliver mail. Perhaps that is indeed the full range of services, who knows?
Our own experiences regarding the receipt of standard mail from Europe, for example, are extremely varied. The letter can take any number of weeks from a very reasonable one to a very unreasonable twenty… or simply never turn up at all. Outgoing mail can suffer the same degree of irregularity, by the way, and it seems to make no difference if you opt for the express service – a little more expensive – over the regular service.
Here we would merely like to pass on some information regarding the delivery of packets that caused a little confusion and surprise in our midst recently.
One of the postmen from the Boca Chica office turned up the other day with an A4 sheet of paper indicating that a package was available for delivery to Playa Vista, but that the package itself was in Santo Domingo at the aforementioned large central offices. He said we could go and pick the package up ourselves and it would cost us 100 pesos to retrieve it… or he himself could go and fetch it and boldly “suggested” a pick up charge, significantly higher, of 1000 pesos. Presented with these two, to us, non-regular options for a package already fully paid for at the other end by the dispatcher for complete delivery, we went along to the local post office to ask for clarification and for your information here it is:
If the package is ‘large’ – not clear what constitutes large but seemed to approximate to the outstretched arms of the postmistress – the local post office receives written notification which is presented by the postman at the receiving address… and as the postman correctly stated you can take this presented paper to Santo Domingo along with 100 pesos and a copy of your identification in exchange for your package OR, not quite so correctly stated by the postman, you can request the postman to act on your behalf… but he has got to get permission from the postmistress to go to the pick-up place in Santo Domingo and he should also inform you that the obligatory cost is 100 pesos plus the transport costs which the post mistress specifically spelled out to be 120 pesos!
We are not entirely sure of the relevance, but it was a bit strange that the day after asking for this clarification by the postmistress, the previously very conversational postman frantically did his best to ignore us as we passed within a hair’s breadth of him the following morning… Strange, eh?
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Being a public bar in a very public culture we tend to be witness to or engaged in all kinds of fare… in fact acting as a sort of public assistance bureau. The other day was a case in point. We felt very much as if the scene was temporarily transferred to Philadelphia, because it was by way of a number of good customers emanating from that fine city, including ex-members of the Philadelphia police department, who were trying to help out a poor woman from the neighborhood here who had been robbed of her most valued possessions – her credit card and cellular telephone… the credit card being her financial lifeline and the telephone her communications lifeline. She had been given the credit card and the telephone by her husband who was resident in, of all places, Philadelphia Detention Center. After quite a discussion over whether a detainee at such a place had access to receiving fax or telephone messages and after an internet search did not come up with a fax number, it was decided by this willing group of Philadelphian helpers that a phone call would not get through as this was obviously one of the privileges denied to such residents. The woman then presented a ready-made letter explaining her situation and was prepared to post it to her husband, but was concerned that it could take either 3 weeks by snail mail… or would cost an exorbitant 900 pesos to send by air courier.
After all aspects were thoroughly debated, the collective decision was made to provide a clean crisp envelope, address it to the PO Box number that went with her husband’s name and detention number and give it to the member of the assembled group who was due back in the States first to put in the regular mail.
The woman was exceedingly grateful, for she believed her husband would now be able to cancel his credit card and order another one for her – that is if Philadelphia Detention Center inmates are allowed to contact their bankers of course. Time will tell!
So folks,… take your problems to Playa Vista and we will work it out with a little help from our friends!
Meanwhile seven years later:
As is often the way with sudden appearances we never heard any more of what happened to the letter or the woman in question. We like to think that the problem was resolved or she would have been back to ask for further assistance wouldn’t she?
Friday, October 24, 2003
Calle Abraham Nunez where we are located is a very short uncomplicated street; and when we moved in we asked the local postman what number the property was. “No. 3”, he said very forthrightly. All right, we thought, #3 it is! Nice simple number, we are more or less at the beginning of the street and above all the postman recognized it as such.
We haven’t had any difficulties with being #3 in general, but merely observed that the water company has us down as #13, the cable TV company as numberless and the electricity company as #8. However, further to this we couldn’t help noticing the other day a very large #52 being painted on the wall of a restaurant next door but one to us! We do know it is a situation not entirely rare around these parts but we mention it by way of backdrop to an even more entertaining story I heard at the bar the other day from a friend and customer. He owns a restaurant in Calle Caracol… one of the principal streets leading from the high street up to the main freeway running between Santo Domingo and San Pedro. He has always believed that his property was #15 only to discover that Hotel Hamilton almost opposite also uses #15. He was further surprised to then discover that the florist shop some doors down on his own side also uses #15. He visited the post office to try and point out what he thought was a ludicrous situation. The post master said “Well, actually that isn’t too bad because if you carry on up your road and cross the freeway there are actually fourteen #24s.”
Meanwhile seven years later:
After some considerable time had passed we discovered that #3 Calle Abraham Nunez was not unique to us either. Calle Abraham Nunez had indeed been a long coastal road in days gone past and although it appeared to begin a few yards to the east of us that in fact was merely the recommencement of a road that could be trailed well beyond and out of sight beyond the hotel Hamaca. We have yet to learn exactly how many #3s exist in that parallel universe.