The Shocking Truth About How DHL “Forgot” Our Shipment!



It’s a cold March evening and I’m walking down a Tokyo street, when I get a call from Kristel, DreamBody Centre Franchise Manager.

“Sensei, we have a problem.  DHL forgot our order!” She explained in a panic. [Team Members still call me Sensei, a throwback from the Zen-Do days]

What?? “How can they forget our order??” I replied, shocked at what I’m hearing.  We had booked a place at the Tokyo Franchise Show months ago, and shipped our promotional material and booth posters two weeks ahead with DHL.  When Kristel arrived at the hotel earlier that day, she discovered that DHL never sent the shipment.

The DHL staff in Bahrain apologised profusely and said that they are willing to send the shipment right away.  This would be too late however, as the material would only arrive at the end of the second day of the three-day expo.  I was really angry.  You can imagine our embarrassment at having a completely bare booth at a massive franchise expo.

The booth didn’t stay bare for long though.  We had the Team in Bahrain email us soft copies of our promotional materials and posters, and we had them printed at the expo – at very inflated prices.  The DHL mess-up cost us a lot of money, and considerable anxiety.  But we made do as best we could.

While at the expo I was fantasising about the complaint letter I would send the DHL CEO.  I was planning to give him a piece of my mind, and insist that they compensate us for all the expenses  incurred at the expo.  I told Kristel to keep all the receipts.  I was also thinking what my next move would be if DHL refused, which I half-suspected they would.

Upon returning to Bahrain I wrote the letter and had it hand delivered to the Bahrain DHL head office.  I enclosed the receipts and said that I expected to be reimbursed for the expenses I incurred due to their mistake.

How do you think they responded? To my utter amazement, they sent the money the very next day!  In cash!  This was followed by a phone call apologising for what happened, and explaining why it had happened.   They assured us that this had never happened before, and that it would never happen again.

I have to say I’m impressed with the response.  And here’s the business lesson; it’s not about the mistake, it’s how you deal with it.  People understand that mistakes happen, what matters most to them is that it’s resolved in a professional and fair manner, which is exactly what DHL did.

Using the DreamBody Centre as an example, we’ve made mistakes with our members in the past.  We’re not perfect and even the best make mistakes.  But we always admit our mistake, apologise and compensate a member.

As far as DHL is concerned, though what happened was not a small thing, all is forgiven.  I’m perfectly happy to give them another chance.  After all, to err is human; to forgive, divine.

Thanks for reading and talk to you soon.

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