Courier services are essential for a successful online selling business. It creates a certain connection between you and your customers in the way it makes your products available for people who want or need it. However, it can also make or break your online business. A quick and efficient courier service can gain you more happy customers and a slow and unreliable delivery service can ultimately damage your business’ reputation.
As an online seller myself, I have had a few experiences with the available delivery services here in Manila. I started selling way back in 2015 and there have been a few hits and misses over the course of three years. Some delivery services I used have closed, and new courier services are recently popping like mushrooms. It could be really daunting to choose over which services will be worth your time. Especially if you’re just starting out, you do not want to end up with bad reviews, terrible financial liabilities and undue stress just because your delivery service failed to do their part.
The holidays are coming, which means the demand for pick up and delivery courier services in Manila will be super tight. Nobody wants delayed Christmas gifts. And obviously, no online seller would want to compromise their business this busiest season of the year.
In this blog post, I’m going to do a rundown of the delivery services I have tried in Manila. This list includes Ninja Van, Zoom, Xend, and Sonic Express. Note that I didn’t bother ranking them from worst to best. I am merely relaying my experiences and honest to goodness opinions about their services.
I only used Ninjavan because my friend worked there and he recommended this to me. I know. Plus, I was panicking a bit because I had clients who wanted Cash on Delivery and I didn’t really trust just any other courier service. I figured if I had a friend working in this company, I’d have someone to bug just in case shit happens.
Technology-wise I think Ninjavan has the best online platform for booking and monitoring your deliveries. That’s it. Everything else is just pure cognitive load. This is really disappointing because judging from the UI/UX experience, one would really expect a lot from this company.
From the getgo, you cannot simply register and create an account with them. You have to contact them via email so they can create the account for you. Exclusivity, I know. And I’m telling you, they have a lot of time to burn for communicating via email, which means a little too much back and forth. Plus they don’t just post their rates on their homepage. You have to be part of their system before you can see how much they charge for their services.
Standard Metro Manila delivery (1-3 days)
Pouch: P60 | 1-3kg: P80
Next Day Metro Manila delivery
Pouch: P90 | 1-3kg: P100
Same Day Metro Manila delivery
Pouch: P110 | Heavier parcels: N/A
They also charge 2% for CODs
They also have a Luzon delivery indicated in their contract. Truth is, they don’t deliver in every province, which is confusing. I mean, they could just refer the packages to LBC or 2go like how other local couriers do it, but oh well.
Okay so I emailed them. I provided the company name, address, contact number, banking details–all the basic stuff that they can just do away with a signup plugin on their site. I thought that was it. Then, I have to sign a contract. Okay, odd, but I went through with it because I was excited. I thought, “Wow, this company’s even making me sign a contract. They must be super legit.”
My account was created and now I have to book a shipment. I opted for a COD (Cash on delivery). The client is just within the Metro Manila area anyway. I went through their online booking platform (easy breezy), printed out my waybill and waited for the courier. I booked around 9AM and the rider arrived around 6PM, which is understandable because of the traffic and delivery demands here in Manila.
My customer received it the very next day, as promised. I was really excited. I thought I found the courier service I’ve been looking for. Then here’s where shit happens.
Typical cash on delivery services remit the paid cash the next banking day or within the week. As for Ninja van, they included in their contract that they remit at the first billing cycle of the next month. I didn’t really put much thought into this, so I continued booking CODs hoping that at the first week of the next month, I’ll receive my remittances in bulk.
Then came the next month. Nothing. I even waited until the end of the week but still, nothing. So I started to bug my friend instead of contacting customer service. He told me he’ll follow it up, and so he did. The next day, I received a report from customer service. The document needed my signature so I had it signed and sent back to them.
Then another email of the other delivery I booked came. I was like, “What the hell? Shouldn’t all my bookings be condensed into just one report? And then totaled?” I emailed my thoughts and the CSR sent me yet another fucking invoice to sign and send back. I was running down on patience but I needed my money so I followed through.
Then, I received another document from them about the service fee they’re charging for the CODs. Again, here’s another document to sign and send back. I was seriously pissed off at this point.
Believe me, these back and forth emails could go forever, even during the part that the csr was about to transfer money to my bank. Good thing was that I got my money and I’m never booking Ninjavan ever again.
1. Excellent UI/UX online booking platform. Everything is done and updated on-app.
2. Fast and on-time delivery as promised
3. Affordable rates
4. Real-time notifications and updates sent via email
1. Too much cognitive load. They seriously need to rethink and iterate their system.
2. Unreliable Cash on Delivery service.
3. No Mobile customer service contact number
Zoom Courier‘s service in my opinion is kind of the same with NV: Awesome interface, terrible customer support. I’m guessing this is the same case for every local courier that includes Cash on Delivery in their services. They’re always going to remit it late. Customer trust will always be on the edge. I don’t know. Comment if you know of a courier service here in Manila that has your 100% trust.
Frustrated with NV, I tried this one out for their COD service. First sign up and booking, it was seamless. Their online booking interface have great UI/UX which made it easy to sign up and create my first booking. Delivery was on point. Cash was remitted by the end of the week. I also really like that they send snapshots of the deposit slips as proof of remittance. Plus they don’t require fucking signatures for fucking everything like NV does.
I was starting to get hopeful.
Small (6.5×12): P40 | Medium(9.5×14): P60 | Large (12.5×17.5): P80 | XL (15×19.5): P100
Greater Manila Area
Small (6.5×12): P50 | Medium(9.5×14): P70 | Large (12.5×17.5): P80 | XL (15×19.5): P100
Provincial (LBC Rates)
Small (9.5×14): P140 | Large (12×17): P220
Second attempt. There was a problem with the rate. Their COD rate was P40 and the Next Day delivery rate was P40. During the first delivery, the rider asked for P80, which is how I came to the conclusion that the P40 COD fee was an additional perk. On the second attempt, I was out and left my mom my package and P80, and when I came back she gave me the P40 back.
This is weird because if I were to have an additional service, I’d require an extra few bucks, because I’d be doing an extra effort of remitting cash in banks. So, did the first rider charge me double? Or are the riders not briefed properly on how much to charge?
Anyway, my client received her package the next day as promised. However, cash remittance was delayed for a couple of weeks, and they wouldn’t have done anything had I not contacted them persistently. My pissed off energy was nearing troll mode but there was this part of me that wanted to give them chance (and never book again after). I still felt a little bit fortunate I’m only having remittance issues with Zoom.
Mind you, I have friends whose products they either lost or sent to the wrong addresses. Expensive items.
1. Great UI/UX for booking interface
2. Affordable rates
3. Fast and on time delivery as promised
1. Unreliable cash on delivery service
2. Poor customer service
Xend was the first courier I’ve used for a longer time. They didn’t have a cash on delivery service but I was able to avail of their services for almost a year. I believe a lot of online stores use Xend. I ordered a few stuff online and usually it arrives inside the Xend package.
Their online booking platform does not impress me at all. It’s a little on the prehistoric side of web design. Add the fact that as soon as you log in, your dashboard surprises you with head shots of couriers who are no longer working for them. It’s informative in a sense, but a bit creepy. It’s understandable though. They might have encountered a laid off worker who continued receiving packages and payment, so they’re just taking careful measures to inform the public.
Large (9×14): P69 | XL (12×18): P89
Large (9×14): P109 | XL (12×18): P179
I like the liberty of being able to contact the rider directly. Online sellers get familiar with the riders because they are usually assigned in a particular area. They want the liberty of being able to contact them in order to coordinate pickup times (because maybe they may not be available at the pickup location the whole day and the predictability of pickup times is near impossible here in Manila).
Maybe because of a few untoward incidents involving ex-riders, they discourage people from contacting the riders directly. This provides security for both parties in a way, and full autonomy on the company. However, there are instances when riders arrive a little too late and the seller is no longer available to hand over the package. That may have happened a couple of times in my case. And they don’t even call you when they have arrived.
There was also this instance where I waited the whole day and nobody picked up my package. This happens in like, 2 out of 10 deliveries.
Another thing that really annoys me so much is that they have the worst customer service available. I know I complained that in Ninja van and Zoom, they have the tendency to over chat in the email. As for Xend, they are totally dependent on Zendesk and they reply in 2-3 days, or not at all. They don’t even have mobile numbers and their hotline is either always busy or unattended.
I had packages lost and following up with them has been a huge pain. It takes them forever to reply and sometimes my ticket gets flagged as resolved when really, no one has even responded to me. There were instances where I simply gave up and just sent another product via JRS at added cost to me.
My brother sent this package to a client in Cebu and when the rider found that the receiver was not at home, they sent the package straight to their warehouse. They didn’t even notify. My brother called the client and according to her, nobody called to announce that delivery is within the day so, she went out. To think we rushed this delivery because she was going overseas within the week. That counted as a loss to our business. To make matters worse, Xend didn’t even have the courtesy to return the package to the receiver. My brother had to go all the way to their warehouse to pick up his package.
I stayed with them for as long as I can because I had no other option at that time.
1. Terrible online booking platform
2. Terrible customer support
3. Inconsistent deliveries without notifications
Sonic Express has been my recent discovery. They were recommended by an online seller buddy and I have been working with them since March up to now. Surprisingly, all has been well. Not perfect, though. It also has its hits and misses. However, if I had to recommend a pick up and deliver courier service here in Manila, I’d have to go for Sonic Express. Well, for now.
They don’t have cash on delivery services. No flamboyantly modern looking online booking platform. They don’t use printable waybills, which meant I had to write everything every time. Good thing, I make it a point to make my handwriting legible.
Technology-wise, it sets me back. However, what I really like about them is their consistency, and their customer support. For months now, I still haven’t had any major complaint with them. This might change, however, as soon as they decide to add cash on delivery in their service, which is where most couriers fuck up.
Small (9×14): P50 | Large (11×18): P60
Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan
Small (9×14): P100 | XL (11×18): P130
Provincial (LBC Rates)
Small (9×14): P145 | Large (12×18): P230
Truth is, I don’t do my booking online. For months now, I’ve only been texting their rider who was assigned in my area. He never really failed to pick up my packages, and it’s always a seamless process every time. No unnecessary mambo jambos. I text him, he arrives and rings the doorbell, I hand over the packages with the payment, done. It’s a bit risky though that they don’t hand over receipts, but I could really do away with the extra paper.
There has been only one incident where my client did not receive her package. See, for provincial deliveries they mostly refer their packages to LBC, like most pick up and deliver courier services here in Manila. This time, Sonic Express did their part. They picked the package on time, referred it to LBC, and updated the tracking number. Unfortunately, after a week my client still hasn’t received her package. This is obviously LBC’s blunder. My client’s address was a known hospital somewhere in Mindanao and they friggin’ lost the package!
I called SonicExpress about this and they graciously offered to help. They called and emailed LBC but it was a lost cause. LBC kept promising to follow up the package but fast forward to a month and a half, still nothing. Even the tracking hasn’t moved. My case was obviously received, piled down and forgotten.
I ended up just sending another package via JRS, which she received immediately the next day. Facepalm, I know.
1. Consistent, fast, no-bullshit delivery
2. Affordable rates
3. Very accommodating customer service
1. Online booking system has a lot of room for improvement
2. No cash on delivery service
3. Need for digital or printable waybills
That’s it. I really hope you found value in my experiences with these courier services in Manila. Let me know if you had similar experiences with them or if you could recommend better ones.
Photo via Kourtney Roy