Beware of SF Express for Shipping

TO: Anyone in China who is shipping
From: An expat in China

This is a warning to beware and avoid at all costs using SF Express to ship anything.  They are the worst and a company to avoid at all costs.

I am leaving at the end of my contract from Yangchun, China in Guangdong Province to take a new contract in Jilin Province, Changchun.  I decided it'd be wise to ship some boxes ahead of time so they'd arrive prior to my arrival.  I'm connected with a local factory so with their help I was going to ship 4 boxes.

I'm a former UPS employee so I know how to pack a box, and I had packed all 4 boxes with great care.  The factory even sealed the boxes to insure they were in good shape.  However, when the boxes were taken to SF Express the person there decided to open the boxes and then refused to take them claiming I had packed "pepper" which couldn't be shipped on an airplane.

I was upset over the fact they had opened the boxes when modern technology doesn't require them to do that but even more upset being told I packed something that wouldn't be permitted on a plane.  By the way I didn't pack any "pepper" I don't even use the stuff.

I tried contacting the local people only to discover no one can speak English so I ended up calling their offices in Hong Kong and got a person named DoDo (fitting name) who told me she'd look into it.  I explained to her that their website had a link to restricted items that didn't work and I wanted to know what did I pack that was on that list?  I also informed her that I was rather upset that her office on the mainland had opened two of the boxes which they didn't need to do.

Thankfully nothing was taken from my packages but things had been shifted around.  This incident has cost me time and effort.  I had to change my plans and ship via common trucking company which means it'll take 10 days if I'm lucky to get my boxes to Changchun from Yangchun. 

I was informed by some local friends that in China right now there's a rash of problems concerning package carriers.  Boxes are routinely opened and items are taken.  So BEWARE if you are shipping don't ship anything of value!  Avoid SF Express as they are incompetent.  I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what item I packed that couldn't be sent on a plane.

Here's the funny part every item I packed came over with me on a plane!  I told them that and it didn't seem to matter.  The factory was even confused by this and they have now told me that SF Express will no longer be a company they will ship with so SF Express has lost not only my business but the factory's business as well.

Here's one more tip, when shipping packages in China keep a complete inventory of what was in the box.  Put one inside and keep one for yourself.  Also, number the boxes on the outside near the label (i.e: 1 of 3, 2 of 3 etc).  Finally if possible have the boxes sealed with plastic straps that keep them from being opened up.

I have 10 days now to wait and see if my packages arrive in good condition and unopened.  This has been another learning experience for me in China.


Moderated by Priscilla last year
Reason : defamation


I cannot express how much my life has improved once I started to throw out things that I no longer use.  The rule is, if I haven't used it in a year, it gets tossed, no matter how functional it still is.  We have thrown out all kinds of "good" stuff.  This goes from working appliances such as toasters, water dispenser, and electric razors.  Let others benefit from your clutter.

Houses in China are too small to accumulate junk.

Ok I dont think SF was the problem but China govt. Truth is that people think just because they own it, its shippable. There are not only published restrictions but also restrictions made up arbitrarily at the moment. This especially includes Customs in international shipments. Also, couriers in general fear explosives and other hazardous things and when they cant tell which is which, they error on the side of caution and their preference. A bag of (pepper?), who knows what it really is....drugs? gun powder? I suggest people ship things as much in original packaging as possible.

I agree on your second post about de-cluttering. It makes the world of difference to clearing your mind which in the pandemic these days has become a critical component of survival. If you cant sell it then give or throw it. A problem for a lot of people is deciding which to do, so they leave it sitting for another two years. Look at it, if you cant decide keep/sell/throw, then THROW. A week later, you wont even remember it.

In the USA, I bring sealed box to UPS, FedEx, or USPS.

The culture or the rule seems to be different in China.
It seems that SF, China Post, etc. has to see the content of the box. I saw that other customers do not come with sealed box. They come to SF store or China Post office with open box or no box. Vietnam, you must bring an open box so the clerk at the counter can unpack and inspect everything to make sure no contraband or anti-govt things are leaving. In Thailand, the post office has third-party clerks to inspect and properly tie/seal the parcels. In Malaysia, they dont inspect or open anything, whether domestic or international but they say they reserve that right.

Just FYI truth is the defense to defamation....that is a legal rule.  :)

lrai wrote:

Just FYI truth is the defense to defamation....that is a legal rule.  :)

It's a forum rule. :)

As for opening the box, what's the rule in China?
Refusing items is up to the shipping company, and they'll be tied by their rules, and airline / government rules.

These should be checked before attempting to send anything.

thank you Fred

BTW I did this post about 10 years ago and I have learned a lot since then.  I still say don't ship all your stuff if you can buy it again's a waste of time and money.  Give it away, sell it, but don't waste money shipping items that can be replaced.  That is the biggest lesson I learned from this.

Furthermore...check around to find the best can ship in China by rail and sometimes that can be very cheap.

lrai wrote:

thank you Fred

BTW I did this post about 10 years ago and I have learned a lot since then.  I still say don't ship all your stuff if you can buy it again's a waste of time and money.  Give it away, sell it, but don't waste money shipping items that can be replaced.  That is the biggest lesson I learned from this.

Yes, I noticed the thread had been dragged up by someone. Your post is always good advice - If you're cross border or moving a greater disatnce, live light, dump it, then buy new.

LIVING LIGHT was the keyword there. Its a lesson for anytime and everyone. Less to worry, to repair, to move, to throw, to sell for peanuts. Im a light liver and I still have accumulated far too much junk. Its all junk in the end and my answer is to just walk out. When its time to go, im taking the computer, the clothes on my back, cash (if I have any),  turn off the lights and close the door.

I met someone like me once. He left and abandoned everything. He drove himself to the airport, left the car and got on the plane. Three years later he came back for a visit and just for laughs went looking for the car he left. It was still there! As I remember he didnt do anything about it, just had his visit and left again.

If you work for a company that is shifting you and your goods, OK fine. Otherwise, it best serves a persons interest to walk out and start new again. I know plenty of expats who were so attached to their things they couldnt bare to leave them and they paid for the shipping of old, broken, worthless crap. It wasnt the items they really wanted, it was their mind that needed an adjustment and I realize thats hard to do when you have worked hard to accumulate things. The mistake is believing its actually wealth. Its not, its an old EXPENSE and thats the difference. If I have any small items that actually are valuable and can fit into ONE box, maybe I will ship but I will work to avoid that too.

I like recounting this as my own reminder. I visited a temple in Thailand with a room devoted to a monk who died. In there on display was everything he owned at the end of his life -- eyeglasses, a cup, a comb and something like a safety pin. Ok, as a monk thats expected but its still a lesson I think about.

I have to say, if I was alone, I would have very little. If I couldn't move in my car, I'd assume I had too much rubbish.

However, a family changes that

I agree with you, Fred, AND i know its impossible to live with nothing. I guess im referring more to a persons attachment to things that clearly make their lives harder. Im thinking back on the years in forums of people spending a lot of time shopping for the best prices for massive transcontinental shippings and it seems crazy.


Amen!  I totally agree with your last sentence.  A dear friend left our city nearly 3 years ago and I still have her crap on my balcony.  I did it because at the time she was supposed to be returning within a year or two most, but then COVID happened so it's now been 3.  I will most likely in the end be throwing or giving most of her crap away.  Yep my computer and a few trinkets, and I'm good. LOL

IRAI she'll be back in 15 years and complain, wheres my stuff???

I just want the pc, some jeans, tshirts, not even a phone. And my tools. I guess that answers one question. What to move? Anything you can still make money with.


LOL, I'll be dead by then so let her complain...LOL   You made my day.


I have been using SF to ship things for years now, almost a decade. On average, I would use it from two to maybe seven times a week. This is for business and personal reasons. I have not had any problems. I ship important documents, bills of lading, and other time sensitive, and mission critical documents using this service.

I am sure that there are occasional errors, and mistakes that can happen. But in my personal experience, this has never been the case.

Vannrox, you are talking about within China, yes? They are international as well so there may be differences in service.

Yes. I live in China. I have lived here nearly twenty years, so obviously I am talking about services within China. My experience is both in the domestic and the international arenas regarding SF. They are my de facto first choice for shipping documents, samples, parcels and small boxes. In larger shipping venues I use one of my freight forwarders.


Long time...anyways, this post is about 10 years old and so much has changed since I put it up.  I would hope that my bad experience was a hiccup and maybe they are much better.  I can tell you that I don't often ship anything now or have anything shipped to me from back home.  If I can't get it locally I don't bother.  Time and age have changed my priorities now.  Things I once felt I couldn't live without now really are insignificant in the overall scheme of things.  There is also really very little now that you can't get here in China so spending a fortune to ship stuff just isn't something anyone has to do anymore. 

Nice to see you here...take care

Always a pleasure. It's great to hear from you as well. Take care up North. This year is something else isn't it?

no kidding!

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