CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - November 6, 2020 - 12:00am

48 hours ago, I was under the impression that FedEx the courier company was an easy and convenient option for sending a small care package for my daughter who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Netherlands. My wife Karen said they were strategically located in malls, had lower rates and claimed to be the fastest in delivery. What they don’t advertise is that doing business with them can be tedious, complicated and time consuming.

Some of the things we learned was that they don’t accept products labeled as “Made in China” or known to be produced in China because “the Bureau of Customs in the Netherlands allegedly would not allow entry.” I wonder if the Dutch government really does this or are aware of the claim. Given that we were sending a few t-shirts in the care package, we were momentarily concerned since there are very few actual t-shirt manufacturers in the Philippines. Many t-shirts are imported from China because they are so cheap and therefore used as base material by local companies that sell them off with “Pinoy” designs. Fortunately we bought the t-shirts from Kultura at SM Mega Mall and they were all about the Philippines so they were allowed into the box. We then presented two sketchbooks that had “Made in China” stickers but all we had to do was remove the packaging and the stickers and they were good to go.

But when we presented two tiny bottles of facial wash made by Human Nature in the Philippines, a tube of Cèleteque moisturizer made in the Philippines under Unilab, a small bottle of Betadine throat spray manufactured in Cyprus for Mundpharma B.V in The NETHERLANDS, and two small packs of dried mangoes regularly sold for export at tourist outlets in the Philippines, the polite lady at the FedEx counter said all these required Food and Drug Administration certification! I honestly could have agreed to dump the t-shirts instead since all the creams and throat sprays were what my daughter would have appreciated. But that was not to be. So we Ended up sending the second options totaling 3 kilos and costing P6,000. Not cheap at all. By the time I got home I felt like a soldier who failed to accomplish the mission. We had spent money on products we could not ship, wasted an entire afternoon in a failed effort to send love and joy to our daughter and totally disappointed in our half cooked transaction.

I don’t know if countries and their Customs officials have thrown out the provision or consideration of allowing limited quantities for personal use or if companies like FedEx have become such sticklers or have zombies who have no power of discretion, what we do know is that private individuals in the Netherlands can order different products from different countries including China without a fuss. But here in the Philippines, Filipinos can’t ship Philippine products through FedEx unless they apply for certificates from the FDA for a 50ml throat spray or moisturizer! At the very least good Corporate Social Responsibility would have insured that customers were made aware of these on their website. Oh by the way, in a time when the government is promoting cashless transactions to avoid the spread of COVID-19, FedEx only takes cash payments! How is this possible? They are supposed to be an established brand and company and yet their business is all “Cash Only” basis. Given the many customers they have for local and international services, imagine how challenging it must have been for some to carry a thick wad of thousand pesos bills!

All we wanted to do was send a “Feel Good” package to our COVID positive daughter, but instead I left the counter feeling bad and disappointed. I’m sure the PR people of FedEx will have a long list of reasons and justifications for conducting their business the way they do, except none of it matters if a customer’s needs or expectations are not met or managed. No, I’m not going to hate on FedEx. We will simply X-FedEx from our list of options for overseas courier services. I’m better off using a mule.

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Whatever happened to “political will”?

I just watched on the evening news where they reported that Malacañang essentially made no final decision or announcement concerning a price cap or price limit on COVID-19 tests. Instead, the Office of the President passed the buck back to the DOH and the DTI to study the matter or figure out a scheme.

It is hard to believe that the recommendation needs further study, given how the DOH submits thorough recommendations like they did when Secretary Duque aggressively pushed for a second round of price reduction and limits on Over The Counter (OTC) and prescription medicines. Even the DTI submitted particular suggestions and compromises that would be beneficial and acceptable to all parties concerned. So how is it possible that Malacañang and the DOH built up public expectation for the price cap only to pass the buck? Back then it did not take several months for the President to act decisively.

Whatever reason there may be, one thing certain is: The more delay on a decision, the more profit hospitals and laboratories and the importers will make. It is both tragic and wicked that the government can easily make decisions to place price control on the price of pork and medicines but delays the price control on COVID tests. When it was politically beneficial they imposed a second MDRP immediately. I guess political will is deemed unnecessary when the leader is popular. The question is: Who is protecting the importers of the test kits and why?

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Next Tuesday Nov. 9 pls join me and Dr. Eugene Mende of BMeg as we talk about management concerns for hog raising and the like. Just Google the BMeg website.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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