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Why Is DHL So Bad? What the Data Shows

It is important for us to be objective as possible when reviewing carrier services, however, there is no escaping the complaints online with customers asking “Why is DHL so Bad?

In an attempt to answer that question, we have looked at some of the more concrete reasons and looked into the available data to see how bad DHL really is.

Let’s dive in…

Why IS DHL So Bad? An Objective View

1. Vague Tracking Updates

tracking lots of numbers

One issue that many customers have with DHL is they often send vague tracking updates that do not give a clear idea of what is going on with a package.

The “DHL Shipment on Hold” alert is a major issue in this regard.

So much so we have a dedicated article on the subject, here, and a video here.

Anyway, long story short, whenever a DHL package is experiencing a delay in reaching the next step in the delivery network, this update is sent out.

However, there is really any supporting information or explanation given.

Customers end up thinking DHL is bad because the tracking information is so vague.

The net result of this is frustration and confusion… simply put, if DHL were to provide more detailed information surrounding the circumstances of a delayed shipment, customers would be less annoyed.

2. DHL Shipments are Placed on Hold

Point number one is closely related to this… the reason the “DHL Shipment on Hold” tracking update is sent out in the first place, is because the packages are so often delayed at various junctures of the delivery network.

It is very frustrating to hear that your package is being held for no discernible reason and that delivery might be delayed.

Why is a carrier holding your package? Its entire business model should be to get the shipment to the recipient in the fastest time possible (in line with the service speed purchased).

DHL holding shipments is another reason customers think they are so bad.

3. DHL Packages Arrive Late

clock and calendar

Once again, these issues are all interconnected.

Very often, the result of packages being held, (or any other reason that causes a delay), means that the shipment arrives at the destination address later that the estimated delivery window.

Late deliveries are the biggest reason customers think DHL is so bad.

That being said, the carrier does not differ too greatly from UPS or FedEx in this regard.

A survey, overseen by PA Consulting tested the three carriers in terms of transit times throughout various regions of the United States.

The test focused on 10:30 a.m. overnight express deliveries, (seen as the most critical to business customs and the most difficult to perform), and tracked the progress of 14,400 shipments (sent between 44 major U.S. cities).

DHL’s U.S. performance of 90.66 was very close to UPS’ 90.83. FedEx rated 88.02.

Admittedly the survey was conducted a few years ago now, but it does highlight that the big three carriers are very similar in terms of the percentage of shipments that arrive on time and those that are late.

4. DHL Staff are Under Paid

salaries folder

According to the jobs website, DHL only scored 3.8 out of 5 in terms of being a good place to work, with only 49% of staff being satisfied and DHL wages being less than those at both FedEx and UPS.

Essentially, no company will ever get 100% out of its staff if they are unsatisfied with the working environment and their overall salary.

This is reflected in the performance of the company. 

In the services and logistics industry, poor performance links directly to customer satisfaction…. This also leads to customers questioning why DHL is so bad.

5. DHL Facilities are Understaffed


DHL staff report that the facilities are understaffed.

Only last month in April 2023, ramp workers at DHL-CVG in Erlanger, Kentucky, began voting on unionization, due to complaints about working conditions, understaffing, and workplace injuries. (In 2022, there were 22 workplace injuries inside the DHL facility that required transport to a hospital or emergency room).

It has been said that understaffing and lack of training are to blame for these workplace injuries.

Clearly, this is very bad news for DHL and its staff and customers too. 

Understaffing and workplace injuries end up with package delays and other associated issues.

6. Poor Customer Services

call center staff

Another result of understaffing and staff members not being happy with the company they work for is poor customer service.

Many customers have complained about long wait times when raising queries or complaints with DHL.

Some even go as far as to say that the response (when they finally do get one) is unprofessional at best, and outright rude at worst.

DHL is seen as bad for precisely these reasons.

7. Drivers Can be Unreliable

dhl van

The final reason we would state for DHL being seen as a bad carrier company would be unreliable drivers.

Clearly, not all DHL drivers act poorly, however, where you have a company that has unsatisfied workers and is understaffed, you will get less than committed drivers and those that will not work at their best.

You also get high turnover as drivers look elsewhere for better salaries.

The result is a poor performance from the drivers that you do have, with bad attitudes, all too ready to mark a delivery as delivered when it is not, and will not go the extra mile to make sure a customer is satisfied and gets their package on time.

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