Filipinos like to send balikbayan boxes back home especially on the holidays or before they come to visit. These generally contain a variety of gifts and souvenirs that are given to family and friends upon their return. The boxes may arrive earlier or after the overseas worker returns.
There are, however, a number of things that senders should be wary of. There were several instances when packages get lost completely or a few things went missing after the boxes were tampered or opened.
1. Look for reliable forwarding companies
Start by visiting the FMC or Federal Maritime Commission to look for a number of forwarders who can offer top quality services. The website will show if they are licensed with the OTI or Ocean Transport Intermediaries. Also check the background of the company by determining how many years they have been in the business and if they have served shipments to the Philippines before. You can also check with the Department of Trade and Industry or DOLE in the Philippines to look for reputable shipping companies. Make sure that you only invest in accredited agencies.
2. Talk to a representative.
Get information directly from a company representative. Ask about the shipping options, rates and possible discounts. Also ask for guarantees on the shipments and if they have a support system available for customer complaints and inquiries. Some companies have their own websites or have an existing social media account where you can forward all your concerns and questions. Get the full details of the company representative and refer to him whenever you have future shipments or trouble with your current ones.
3. Get recommendations.
Also seek for suggestions from other Filipinos sending their own balikbayan boxes home. Many Filipinos abroad group their boxes together so that these are sent at the same time by the same forwarding company. As a result, they can get discounts for bulk shipments. Find a company that is highly recommended by trusted friends who have personally tried their services over the years. You may also check customer feedback on review websites.
4. Check charges and rates.
Compare the rates offered by companies. The cheapest rates are not always the best so aim for an agency that knows how to take care of cargoes going to the Philippines. You can ask for discount rates, special rates for fragile items and other packages. Also learn more about fees and extra charges that you need to pay. There may be storage fees, carrier fees and duties. Rates may also change depending on the season.
5. Packaging details.
Learn more about how the forwarded cares for the items and the methods they use to secure the boxes. Companies will provide you with guidelines on how to file complaints or recover losses due to negligence and mishandling. Be aware of the goods that are not allowed inside balikbayan boxes to prevent agencies from opening it midway.
Staying aware of the policies and finding the best forwarder will give you satisfactory service each time.