Poczta Polska – Going Postal Posted by on Apr 22, 2010 in Culture

Yes, today Anna’s going postal. In more ways than one.

I am pretty sure there is an entire level of hell reserved for Poczta Polska (Polish Post). A very special level of hell, no doubt. And even then, I can imagine the devils in charge “going postal” when they’re told who its for.
Yes, it’s time for another Poczta Polska rant. No surprise here, after all it’s difficult to do anything other than rant when talking about this institution. Because no two other Polish words inspire so much conflicting emotions as “Poczta Polska”, not even “Doda Elektroda”.

As most of you know, I don’t live in Poland. But every so often, as most Poles away from the motherland, I require a little something to remind me of the old country.
Sometimes it’s instant barszcz czerwony, sometimes a box of ptasie mleczko, nothing big, and nothing special, just the usual stuff.

Enter Poczta Polska.

There are no words to describe just how much I despise this institution, so I am not going to even try. And besides, it raises my blood pressure and high blood pressure is bad for my health.

You see, when I was in Poland last year, I sent several small packages (pakiecik, noun, masc., plural: pakieciki) to myself. As a test of sorts. Some I sent via airmail (these days called “Priorytet” – Priority) and some using the fancy-schmancy, supposedly fast and very expensive EMS – express mail service, called Pocztex.

Pocztex costs a lot but gives you a tracking number, which you can actually try to track even when your item leaves Poland. I say “try to track” because the results may vary. Sometimes you can, and sometimes you can’t. But the good thing is that someone has to sign for a Pocztex package (or a Pocztex letter) upon delivery and the signature is (supposed to be) stored electronically. So, at least in theory, you can check when your stuff was delivered and who accepted the delivery.

In that respect, it’s similar to the “polecony” (registered) option, but speaking from experience, 9 out of 10 post offices will tell you that you can’t send a polecony abroad. Instead, they will try to convince you to use either Pocztex or some other certifiably certified gizmo. And even if you manage to send an overseas polecony, it won’t do you any good – polecony is worth only the paper your receipt is printed on. In reality, once the mailing leaves Poland is as good as gone.

And then, there’s the good old airmail. Oh, sorry, priorytet. No tracking numbers, no nothing, just the good will of Poczta Polska that your pakiecik will, at the very least, leave the borders of the country.

And here are the results of my very informal pakiecik sending and receiving experiment.

Out of 5 packets sent via airmail (priorytet), some registered and some not, I’ve received exactly zero. Zip, zilch, nada.

Out of 2 packets sent via Pocztex, I’ve received both. One 4 days later, one 2 months later, but hey, at least they got here.

I hate to say it, but the problem seems to be limited to Poland. I get packets and packages of various shapes and sizes from the US, Canada, Korea (South) and a few other, assorted countries more or less regularly and without any hassles. But from Poland – nothing. If it’s not sent via EMS, oh pardon me – Pocztex, it’s as good as gone forever.

Now, by all means, if you have a good Poczta Polska story, please do share. Because it seems that good Poczta Polska stories are nothing but urban legends. Or like a UFO sighting. (Though personally, I’m more inclined to believe someone saw a UFO than had a good Poczta Polska experience).

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  1. Rose:

    I currently live in Macau, and my uncle went to the post office a couple weeks ago to send me a birthday card.

    No less than 5 people were summoned to insist that none of them had ever heard of a country called “Macau” and to berate my uncle for trying to send cards to made up countries.

    In the end they took his card, but we’ll see if it ever gets here…..

    • Anna:

      @Rose Macau? LOL! But I’m not surprised. 🙂
      And hey, we’re practically neighbors!

  2. Ahmed:

    Hello everyone,

    I currently live in Poland learning the beautiful Polski (Polish)
    and when i was checking my facebook page i saw this post which dragged my attention because I was in Poczta Polska an hour ago to send a package to someone currently living in Poland as well.
    and I have to say I used to complain about my motherland’s post office services, but after arriving to Poland I regret all the insults I have said in the past.
    Poczta Polska IS and as long any other country will do “better” will stay the worst service EVER.
    here are my complains :
    – I don’t speak Polish good, and am a foreigner at least, for god sake’s, have the courtesy to speak slowly, clearly and be nice, and please oh please don’t talk loudly letting all the people in the room know that I don’t speak Polish good and announce what I would like to send.
    – The woman says in 5 days the package will be sent, please give a scale rather than an exact amount of days. because most of the times they get to destination in a week “depending on the weather apparently”.

    And at last but not least, I’d like to thank the author of this post, Anna you made my day thank you.

  3. Mike:

    A very strange system and one that constantly frustrates me in Poland. And waiting in line to send a parcel in Warsaw is just comical… 🙂

    • Andrew:

      @Mike shipping address in Poland , , mail forwarding,
      forward mail,
      polish address,
      polish shop,
      po box address,
      polish online shop,
      forward my mail,
      redirect mail,
      post redirection,
      get polish address,
      parcel forwarding poland,
      poland mail forwarding,
      mailbox rental,
      po box rental,
      parcel poland

  4. Bill:

    I visited Nowe nad Visła in 2008. This town is about 50 miles south of Gdansk, and is the town where my grandfather was raised. It was my first, and so far, only trip to Poland, but it was a momentous occasion for me. Anyway, I decided to mail postcards to all of my 26 cousins, my father, and a few friends. I bought the cards that showed pictures of the town at the Poczta Polska and was asked if I wanted them sent priorytet or pocztex. I said that I was in no hurry (I was going to be overseas for another 2 weeks), and even buying and sending 35 postcards priorytet was over $50, so I told the clerk through my translator priorytet. She looked at me as though I were nuts! But I insisted. Then I found that I didn’t have enough cash and she didn’t want to take my credit card. My cousin talked her into it, but the clerk treated it like a cash advance, which I straightened out with the credit card company once I got back to the states. At any rate, I had expected the cards (I sent one home to my wife, also) to get there about the time I arrived 2 weeks later. Was I naive! 5, 6 weeks later, still no cards. I gave up and figured they were lost. To my surprise, 10 weeks later, they started arriving! My cousins started e-mailing thank yous. The one I sent home was a little torn up, but all but one cousin reported that they got their cards.

  5. Angela Derda:

    Thank you for that info because I was planning to post a few things to Australia next time I am in Poland! Especially Ptasie Mleczko!!! A few years ago, I was living in Ireland with my boyfriend, now husband, and we decided to to post a little package to his daughter in Poland. Of course, it never arrived, so I’m assuming some polish postal worker ended up having great Craic (irish word for fun times) with a tin whistle, leprechaun, and stone from Blarney castle…maybe they got the gift of the gab and learnt to do a little jig! hmmmmmm

  6. David Honley:

    Hi Anna! In defence of the Polish Postal system, Poland to England, England to Poland… Over the past five years I have been sending packages and letters to Poland, and receiving CDs, DVDs, books etc. ordered from Poland, posted in Poland to me in England. ALL have arrived safely in Poland, ALL have arrived in England and in GOOD TIME. Nothing has gone astray either way. I have no complaints whatsoever. Maybe at some time in the past you upset the Polish Post and have never been forgiven 🙂 Or you were posting items during volcanic eruptions 🙂
    Pozdrawiam serdecznie

  7. Jennnorton:

    Hi Anna-
    I am currently living in Poland and I actually have been very happy with Poczta Polska…I sent a bunch of things home at Christmas via priorytet, including food and breakable items and all of it arrived safe and sound- it did take about 3 weeks… but, hey, it was the holidays! Later I sent a pearl and diamond ring- regular airmail (no insurance, registration etc.) to Hawaii to be repaired and it got there in about a week…I even stated on the package what was in it! The only thing I have sent that never arrived was a card I posted…in Berlin!

  8. Jennnorton:

    …and one other thing–where else in the world are you going to find post offices that stay open 24 hours a day??? PLUS, they fax things to the US for ridiculously low prices (just a couple of złoty per page). When I priced sending a fax from Berlin last January, they wanted to charge me Euro 6.50 PER PAGE! Outrageous! Finally, where else in the world are you going to be able to buy your washing powder, children’s toys, top up cards, refrigerator magnets and sundry other items at the post office? Poczta Polska is the best!

  9. Lori:

    Well, I had better luck. Last summer while in Poland I sold my house in the United States. The realtor sent me papers to sign via Fed Ex. I sent them back via Priority of some sort. The papers went into a post office on Tuesday and were received in midwest United States on Friday. Once they hit the U.S post office the tracking number worked. I rent an apartment to live in when I returned. The lease was sent e-mail; I signed it and sent it back as above. it took arrived within four days. If I was the exception to the rule, I’m grateful.

  10. Lori:

    Last summer while in Poland I sold my house in the United States. The realtor sent me papers to sign. When notarized at the consultate, a Polish friend helped me find the right priorty option. Papers send on Tuesday morning arrived in the midwest US on Friday afternoon. I had the same service when a lease for an apartment into which I moved when I returned. No complaints, great service and way cheaper than Fed Ex or DHL. And convenient, all I had to do was go to a post office, not find an obscure address for a shipping company.

  11. pies bialy:

    2 years ago — I attended a technical conference in Gdańsk. When I was preparing to leave I asked the university to post the conference books and some papers to me in the US. I then went to another conference in Budapest stopping in UK to see my brother in between. At each stop some cards, books or miselaneous papers were posted back to the US to minimize checked luggage weight (I was flying wih WizzAir while in Europe).

    When I got home to the US, in a few weeks — things stared to arrive — except for the stuff which had been left in Gdańsk to be posted by the university office. In desparation of seeing my stuff– I finally asked my wife — she said — oh that package from Poland arrived before you did (I think that I was in UK heading to Budapest when it came). — Therefore I salute the Politechnika Gdańska and marvel at some sort of incantation they must have placed on Poczta Polska.

  12. piotr:

    polska poczta to jakis zart.jak wysylam paczke z angli do niemiec idzie do 4 dni do polski wyslalem 7 dni temu pierwsza klasa i do tej pory nie doszla co to ma byc polska w eu.

  13. Jen:

    Interesting! I live in the States…I just got back from visiting Krakow…sent home 6 postcards the day I arrived (over 2 weeks ago now) and nobody got a card. Maybe in another 7-8 weeks…

  14. work:

    Kobiety, które chcą zarobić dużo pieniędzy w Holandii. Można zarobić duże pieniądze w naszym prawodawstwie domu seks domu.
    dużo pieniędzy. voorr Więcej informacji mail pozbyć 19 lat. i ważny paszport. pracy i jest wypłacane przez godzinę

  15. arTurek:

    Poczta Polska, PKP itp. to typowi postkomunistyczni monopolisci, których istnienienie, w aktualnej formie zawsze będzie mnie zastanawiac.
    Kiedy ja wiem kto i o której polizał znaczek mojej paczki z częsciami, w Hong Kongu, żona nawet nie jest pewna czy jej zakupione książki opuściły Polskę.
    Może ktoś czyta te książki przed wysyłką szukając “treści zagrażających bezpieczeństwu narodowemu”… Nie dojdziesz 😉

  16. Margaret:

    Poczta Polska :))

    Nie wiadomo czy sie smiac czy plakac .
    Wyslalam 6 paczek z Polski 100 kg,wartosciowych .Prwdopodobnie nie wyplynely z POlski ..bylo to we wrzesniu .Moze statek zatonal ???
    Na terenie Australii ich wogole nie ma .
    Dodzwonic sie nie mozna na telefon ,ktory podaja .
    Dla mnie to jest skandal ..nic sie tam nie zmienilo .Nie wiadomo gdzie to reklamowac i jak .
    Telefony sa gluche na wszystko ,bo panienki nie maja czasu odebrac .
    Nie wspomne o pieniadzach ,ktore stracilam .

  17. Macowiec:

    “9 out of 10 post offices will tell you that you can’t send a polecony abroad”

    Rubbish. Of course you can send registered (polecony) letters abroad. I do so daily. If you have a problem with this, ask for the supervisor, and tell her to check the regulations (regulaminy).

    I’ve had far more problems on the delivering end (USA and UK postal administrations–that’s you) then on the Polish end.

  18. follow me:

    Thanks for writing this. I really feel as though I know so much more about this than I did before. Your blog really brought some things to light that I never would have thought about before reading it. You should continue this, Im sure most people would agree youve got a gift.

  19. Aaron:

    Poland’s postal service is a national disgrace. I’ve given up on Polish sellers on eBay. They may have nice products, but until they train more carrier pigeons, there is no way for them to reliably deliver to the UK. I’ve tried several times, but parcels never arrive. Only Poland’s service is this utterly incompetent. It should send representatives to Vietnam or China (or any western country) to discover how to run a working post office.

  20. Sarah:

    Sent a parcel to Germany and card to the US from Krakow mid/end of August. It is now mid October and neither have arrived. Should have read your blog and waited until we were back in the UK.