Packages To “Small Town,” Greece

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Getting packages to Exarchos, Greece is not the easiest thing in the world…. recently, I had occasion to order some photographic lens filters from the United Kingdom. A seller on Ebay had two filters that I wanted for my Nikon D7000 camera, while another seller in Poland had a battery charger for the same camera, for sale.

So I ordered both. Almost three weeks ago. So far, the package from Poland has not arrived, but we finally managed to track down the package from the UK and pick it up personally in Atalanti.

On Ebay, when providing a delivery address, a street address is required. However, in Exarchos, there literally are streets with no name – and therefore, houses have no number. There is however, probably like many villages in Greece, an agent for ELTA – the Greek post office. In Exarchos, the agent is the small grocery store just around the corner. And I’m told that when mail arrives, it is left at the postal agent, and someone there will call you if you have mail or packages to be picked up.

So with that in mind, I simply had the address as:

Exarchos (where the street name would go),
Exarchos, Phthiotis 352 00

I was told by the ebay seller in the UK that the package would be sent via Royal Mail, with tracking. So, we simply expected that from UK Royal Mail, it would eventually end up in the care of ELTA Greek mail, and dropped off at the agent in Exarchos.

But that was not the case… we discovered that in fact, the UK’s Royal Mail handed the package over to a courier service called “GLS-Group” and tracking the package through the Royal Mail website linked us over to the website of GLS-Group where it appeared further tracking could be done.

We were wrong. We also assumed that because the package originated with the UK postal service, it would still end up being treated as mail and end up at the Exarchos ELTA agent. We were wrong on that as well.

Instead, for a week, a check of the GLS Group website and trying to track the package continued to show “In transit to Final Parcel Centre.” Finally, after all this time, I got a little suspicious and tried to find contact information for GLS Group, and discovered they had a “partner” courier in Greece called “ACS Courier.” But unlike the Royal Mail whose website referred to GLS, the GLS site did not refer the tracking code of the package to the ACS website. It took some effort and research time to figure it out.

When I finally realized that I might need to track the package through ACS instead of waiting for information from GLS, it turned out the package had been in Greece, close by for several days! In fact, two delivery attempts had apparently been made, one with the notation of “Difficult to access area” and the second something like, “Can’t find address.”

This was Saturday August 31st however, so phone calls to ACS went unanswered as they were closed. Naturally, the discovery of two Odelivery attempts caused concern the package would be shipped back to the UK as undeliverable, and we crossed fingers until Monday, when we drove into Atalanti to the ACS Courier office.

Thankfully, the package was there! We were advised that they would have held the package for ten days before sending it back, and that a phone number should have been on the package address – but we know this now, for next time.

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