LC Forstén Fotograf

Capturing life's moments, big and small, through portraiture and documentary story telling.

Photography in Stockholm, Sweden. Documentary photography focusing on families and weddings. Portraits of maternity, infants, children, families, professionals.

Advent Calendar 2017: 14 - Mail and Package Delivery

We love getting mail!  It sometimes works even!  In all seriousness, it gets here, but man is it a mess!  Sweden allowed private competition for the mail starting in 1993 and now is completely privatized.  The internet people who are advocating for smaller government and more privatization think this is awesome.

I disagree.  

Also, the irony!  Sweden was a trendsetter in privatization?  I will have to learn about how this happened.

I’ve had my issues with the USPS, specifically when my mail was getting opened AT the post office, and then stolen from our and all of our neighbors’ porches.  BUT The US mail system works faster, with cheaper and better tracking systems, and is cheaper overall.  For example, it costs 21 kr to send a letter from here to the US.  That is roughly $2.50.  It costs $1.15 to send a letter from the US to me.  Less than half!  Same route.  Same people involved.  

And because it is privatized there isn’t just one company delivering things.  At least two little motor-bike delivery guys come per day to deliver mail-box mail of some sort.   Sometimes there is a third that delivers advertisements.  DHL delivers packages.  

Now I imagine some of these frustrations are created by living more densely, which is a good thing for city building and making space for everyone.  But makes it hard to leave a package at your back door. 

If you aren’t home or they don’t have your Port Code or they just don’t feel like making the delivery rounds, PostNord and DHL take things to the local candy stores for pickup.  If they have your Port Code (outer door code) they might try to deliver it to your door.  Maybe.  There are three candy stores in Bagarmossen, two of which accept packages.  I thought that was ridiculous, but I just looked on Wikipedia and discovered that in 2009 there were 11,000 residents of our neighborhood!  I would never have guessed so many.  It apparently also won awards for it’s pedestrian and family friendly city design from when it was built in the 50’s.  You notice it for sure, that is one of the best features of the ‘hood.  So maybe we are big enough to warrant three candy stores (plus generous candy sections in the supermarkets on either side of the candy stores)!  

The candy stores have diversified to accept packages as well as offering other services. DHL delivers to one that also rents videos.  I guess there are still people who rent those?  They also have an espresso machine and maybe a hot dog roller/warmer thing.   I’ve never seen them in operation.  The PostNord Godis (candy) delivery point and mini Post Office has assorted sundries and tobacco.  The third doesn’t collect packages to my knowledge.  Don’t know how they stay in business, I’ve certainly never been inside.

When you get a package at the PostNord Candy store you can pick it up after 4pm.  Sometimes.  You stand in a long line often to be told that they didn’t have time to organize everything today.  They don’t know where your package is.  Come back tomorrow.  Meanwhile the delivery company is texting you incessantly to pick it up NOW.  If the owner is there he won’t let you use a foreign credit card to buy anything because of the fees.  If he isn’t there, the clerks don’t notice.  In order to collect your package, you have to have the paper slip or text message saying which package you are there for and your ID.  Once we had a package for Felix and I couldn’t get it out without his passport!!?!  Thank God we have a passport for him!  We don’t always know who the package is coming for so I now walk to the post office with all four passports.  

The DHL delivery system is much easier, they send you a code in a text.  You take that code, plug it into the machine and a door magically opens with your package.  No cranky clerks.  No lines.  But you can’t send anything the other way.  

I went to the Post Museum to mail a package thinking it would be easier.  Less lines for sure but the teller was equally unhelpful but in different ways.  All in all?  Mail is deeply appreciated and privatization, in this instance, is not what it’s cracked up to be.  Thus, Christmas cards are getting mailed from the states by those helpful companies that do this sort of thing for you.  And it will be cheaper than mailing a card from here.  Now that is a business innovation success!

All that being said, the mail delivery vehicles are AMAZING.  They have so many different ones for different types of neighborhoods and they seem to put a lot into making over-use injuries a thing of the past, everything looks very ergonomic.  There are motorbikes and little carts and acutal bikes.  I’ll have to do some more research on all this, it’s oddly fascinating!  Still inefficient but fascinating!

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