German Deliveries: A Guide for Expats


There’s one thing that I’ve learned to love while living in Germany: and its English option. Instead of wandering throughout random stores and having some less than satisfactory experiences, all I need to do is point, click, and pray to God I’ll be home when the package arrives. Because in a country which prides efficiency and order above all else, dealing with deliveries remains a thorny issue*. Think you can handle it? Then take this quiz and see how well you do!



1. When placing an order, you notice too late that you have misspelled your name on the delivery form by a letter. The item is fairly expensive. Do you:

a) Try to call the delivery company’s customer service line and clear up the situation
b) Legally change your name to now match the delivery form
c) Figure the delivery guy can figure out a small mistake and will still deliver your package

Correct Answer: b

If there is one thing you should know by now, it’s that in Germany there are no mistakes. You will find the delivery company very unsympathetic to the fact that you misspelled your name. If the recipient name doesn’t match your identification EXACTLY, there’s a chance that the package could be delivered to the wrong person! The correct answer is therefore b), and also the reason why my name is now George Scho5schi.


2. Upon making your purchase, a delivery window of approximately 7 hours is given. As you are working a full time job, you are unable to be home for receipt of said item. Do you:

a) Call out sick from work
b) Rig a “Home Alone” set up to receive the package
c) Realize that you are unemployed and have nothing better to do than wait for packages

Correct Answer: a (or c, if you live in Berlin)

You might think that, considering how it’s pretty easy to check traffic conditions these days and deliveries are their job, the delivery company could give you a smaller window or perhaps call you when they’re an hour away. You’d be wrong. Also, rigging up your apartment with a dummy and tape players is expensive. Thankfully Germany offers paid sick leave, so you can just call out for the day while waiting for your package to arrive! Heck, my pregnant co-worker has been out for a month already because of a delivery!


3. After a long day, you come home to find that dreaded note: your package was here, and you missed it. Your neighbor has apparently signed for it. However, when you ask them if they have received your package, they deny ever receiving it. Do you:

a) Show them the note and confidently declare that there’s no way they could screw up an order
b) Believe them, and go to the post office to try and clear up the matter
c) Give up on ever receiving that package and cry yourself to sleep

Correct Answer: c

As before, there are no mistakes in Germany. The reason why your package was not received was because you were not home to receive it. The reason why your neighbor does not have your package (never mind that their name doesn’t match the recipient name) is because the delivery company never gave it to them. The reason why the delivery company does not have your package is because it no longer exists. Now that you understand the reasons, you are ready to embrace that life is full of unknowable things. If you really wanted your package, you should have just been there when the delivery man popped into existence in front of your door.


4. You order a box of your favorite goodies from overseas. However, the delivery man tells you that the parcel requires a cash fee before he can hand it over. This seems odd and slightly illegal. Despite the fact that the item is only worth about a fifth of that, you decide to:

a) Begrudgingly pay the man
b) Tell him you’re onto his game and will call the police
c) Understand what you’ve ordered is now tainted by the fact that this is 100% legal and you’ll never be able to enjoy it, having spent five times the price to receive it

Correct Answer: c

Believe it or not, customs can apparently be paid directly to the same delivery company that couldn’t approximate when your package would arrive. While this makes logical sense (as is often the case in Germany) they usually only accept cash, which just makes it feel dirtier (as is often the case in Germany). So you’ll pay the fee, which is almost always way more expensive than the item itself. And as you eat those Butterfinger bars, you realize that the taste is ruined by the bitter tears streaming down your face because you can no longer afford rent.


5. You have received your item but realize you need to return it. However, the company which sent the package cheaped out and used a random, unheard of delivery company. Do you:

a) Attempt to return the item following the instructions
b) Return the item with another delivery company
c) Convince yourself that you’re actually satisfied with the product

Correct Answer: c

With these companies, the instructions for “easy return” are anything but. Unless you can find a random depot in the middle of nowhere you probably won’t have luck. And mailing the item back with another, more common company usually costs about a third of what the item is worth. So in the end, it doesn’t matter if it was damaged in delivery or if it’s completely the wrong item, it’s usually less of a hassle to convince yourself that this is what you really wanted in the first place, which as it turns out is a great metaphor for living in Germany.

* This is satire. I completely understand that not all Germans behave this way. I love Germany and respect the people within it. Please do not take this seriously.

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7 thoughts on “German Deliveries: A Guide for Expats

  1. kathilleblog says:

    I only go through Amazon Prime now no matter what. You get it the next day, they send someone to pick it up if yo need to return it too. Never will do it any other way. Before this policy of mine, I had an incident with one delivery person wanting me to pay, and I told him it was free delivery and that he could keep the parcel and I’d call his supervisor…suddenly, the package was free. Scoundrel!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom says:

    Looks like you’re living in the wrong area… you simply have to move somewhere where any parcel service that may be used has a pickup/drop off shop with adequate opening hours.

    Moving might actually be easier than changing your name considering the superb German bureaucracy by the way 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandy says:

    I’ve been living in Germany for 5 years. Half of my packages have been either lost or delivered weeks/months after they were supposed to (after many angry calls to the dealer or DHL). This never happened to me in France, country of strikes… 😤
    Interesting fact: it always happened with DHL, never with Hermes.

    Oh and I’m currently waiting for an item shipped on 14th December…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sandy says:

    I’ve been living in Germany for 5 years. Half of my packages have been either lost or delivered weeks/months after they were supposed to (after many angry calls to the dealer or DHL). This never happened to me in France, country of strikes… 😤
    Interesting fact: it always happened with DHL, never with Hermes.

    Oh and I’m currently waiting for an item shipped on 14th December…


  5. nettiste says:

    This is so accurate!

    And the best part about it is that yoy think it is completely normal until you’re in another country and suddenly everything works out fine, parcels are actually delivered to you, and customer service is not only a term to refer to hold music…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bob Cock says:

    The one that really make my blood boil, is when you wait home all day long, and you still get the slip in you mailbox that say they tried to deliver but you were not home. Basically DHL never bothered to ring your doorbell.

    Always with DHL, never with Hermes nor UPS.
    UPS should get 5 golden stars, because they try THREE TIMES to deliver a package, whereas DHL only makes a HALF ass attempt. AArrrggg…..

    Drop It
    Hide It
    Lose It

    Liked by 1 person

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