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Down side of transporting Asian purchases to the USA

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Mar 18th, 2016, 06:22 PM
  #1
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Down side of transporting Asian purchases to the USA

For many years and over many trips to SEA we had thought about purchasing and having transported home some large purchases-- in this case two dressers.

We had read and knew people who have done this, even with some less than successful results-- furniture cracked from dryer climate and central heating being the most frequent situation.

So last fall during our 19th trip to Thailand, we had our driver take us to a furniture showroom in Chiang Mai. We spent some time with the manager and a very friendly salesman. We selected two pieces: a medium sized tall dresser and a shorter dresser/side board. Both are teak, but I believe the salesman used another name--maybe a variety. Total price including shipment by sea to Boston $2350.

We decided to sleep on our decision---oh, so American. The salesman said he would pick us up the next day to process the paperwork if we intended to buy them.

We did decide that they would serve us well in our new house, so we purchased them by credit card. We were given some paperwork and a bunch more followed by mail, including wood certifications and fumigation details. Also included were two copies of sales receipts-- one for the actual cost and one for $1020 dollars less "for customs".

We were not going to be home until mid-December so they held the shipment until mid-January when we would already be in our new house in NH. Perfect...

I received an email from the salesman in January asking if they could ship...sure.

More paperwork arrived detailing the shipment, it's weight and expected arrival date, first to NJ and then to Boston. One paper detailed our first bit of added cost and the NJ facility including arrival date for the ship and the name of the cargo forwarder to Boston. Both had addresses and phone numbers.
There was a fact sheet as to what we might expect, including a rough timeframe and possible setbacks. The total weight was 158 KG, about 350 lbs and represented 1.18 CM

This form also included our first addition costs: $201.58 due to caroTrans the NJ agent, payable by company, certified or money order check ONLY. I Fedex'd that two days before arrival. Then an email arrived telling me that customs was requiring an X-ray...fine... Later another bill arrived a week or so later with an additional costing of $185 for the X-ray. A few days later the shipment was released by customs. I spoke with eagle air transport in Boston who would receive my crates by truck from NJ. They were very helpful and suggested a NH trucker who could deliver to crates to my driveway.... Oh, btw eagles fees would be $112.... NO PROBLEM.. I paid them cash.

The NH trucker will charge me $142 which I may pay directly to the driver in cash or my check.

So today we drove to Boston to get the paperwork from Eagle, took it to customs and had it stamped near to the fish pier---which allowed us to have a delicious exceedingly fresh fish luncheon---then returned it to Eagle with the stamped customs papers. The clerk told us that the NH trucker comes everyday at 4PM so he would see that it gets loaded on today.

You can hire a broker who can handle some of this.

Bottom line is that I expect our parcels are not far from our house at this moment and that they will be delivered next week after our Monday snow storm, or maybe in the middle of it.

Come over with your crowbar and help us unpack...

BTW, they were shipped as "personal effects" so there was no duty, but also I think they enter under custom's GSP rules.

The whole reason for this long story is to demonstrate how quickly added costs can add up. Are the chests worth about $3000., probably not, but it will always remind me that I do in fact HATE Chiang Mai.
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Mar 18th, 2016, 06:28 PM
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Bob, you need a $3000 reminder of how much you don't like Chiang Mai? LOL I do hope you and Karen will enjoy the furniture for many years to come.
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Mar 18th, 2016, 11:47 PM
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I shipped some Shona stone sculpture home from Zimbabwe on our honeymoon and the whole experience was simple and surprisingly affordable. I went down to the port and cleared everything through customs and picked them up myself. It was before 9/11. In our experience things were quite different a few years later when we had some antique family furniture shipped from England. The rates were much higher and there were fewer options to clear things ourselves. the whole experience was far more bureaucratic.

Hope you enjoy the chests despite your dislike for Chiang Mai!
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Mar 19th, 2016, 01:37 AM
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Ha ha, when we went to Chiang Mai years ago and we went to Baan Celadon and had a fabulous dinner service made. We also bought some other wooden items.

We had it all shipped. The items were fantastic value but by the time it got to the UK and we paid all the duties and "admin fee" and transport fee we think we could have bought in John Lewis's for same money BUT it always reminds us we got in CM and had it made....
BTW we are returning to CM this November, any shopping recommendations?
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Mar 19th, 2016, 02:21 AM
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At least you were able to enjoy a nice lunch in Boston ...
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Mar 19th, 2016, 03:35 PM
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Been there done that, LOL. That's why I now do most of my shopping around my neighborhood or online from US middlemen. Fewer choices, but also less hassle.

That being said, I'm not exactly saying "never again" to overseas purchases.
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Mar 19th, 2016, 05:07 PM
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We have tons of things we have purchased overseas, but few we were unable to carry.

A table from Laos and two separate shipments of rugs from India, plus a couple of shipments of stainless steel from bangkok-- but all of these were air shipped to our house.
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Mar 19th, 2016, 05:53 PM
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We had a similar experience with a chest from Burma. It was 5-6years ago so I have erased some of the details from my mind. We hired a broker to clear everything...and then had someone pick up deliver and uncrate. The uncrating took 3 men over an hour. Anyway...I did claim the value because I had it insured. When I received the chest ( fortunately in perfect condition) the paperwork indicated I had insured by the pound. So if I had had an issue I was grossly underinsured...but I paid customs on the actual cost. Then...one year later I got a bill for Illinois sales tax for TWO chests. It was many weeks trying to prove I bought one chest not two. How do you prove you didn't buy something? Customs had two " ID numbers" but both had same description. I can only imagine that something was smuggled in and created a separate ID number but used my description. It was a headache...the broker went out of business etc. it all ended up ok...I only paid taxes on one chest. The guy we bought from had very high quality stuff...he has a piece in a museum in London ( I did verify that). I have heard his prices have gone way up since things have opened up over there. When I was in the middle of messing with all of the nonsense I sorely regretted the purchase at that time. Guessing you will love your stuff once the memory of the hassle and the $$$ fade!
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Mar 19th, 2016, 06:08 PM
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Chichi, your TR inspired me to buy a small chest from the same studio in Bagan. I had a similar experience to Bob with all the additional payments adding at least 50% more to the shipping costs. And the hassle of getting the chest picked up at Dulles airport, uncrated, etc. but thankfully I didn't have the phantom chest problem that you did. My trip to Bagan was soon after yours so although the chest was expensive, it wasn't outrageous. My only regret was not getting a larger one, we saw some absolutely exquisite larger chests that were almost ready. Anyway, I love my piece and thank you for that post on Fodors.
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Mar 20th, 2016, 07:49 AM
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I once bought a Tibetan hairdressing stool in Singapore, as we had a huge luggage allowance ( travelling BA bizz class) I decided to have a go at checking it in! They didn't bat an eyelid checked it in and it successfully made it back to the UK . We have bought a few things back this way! I'm bviously no good for much larger items....
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Mar 20th, 2016, 08:50 AM
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The assumption seems to be, in general, that shipping by sea will be less than by air. Quite true if shipping a full container but maybe not for 1 or 2 items.

Several years ago I was planning a trip to India. I wanted a bed and after shopping around gave myself a budget of $1000 all in. I shopped in Delhi, no luck. Then, in Jodhpur, found it was known for antique furniture and hit the warehouses. Despite finding myself dealing with a couple of fairly sleazy young men, I found what I wanted and after pricing the shipping, discovered that it cost no more to ship it by FedEx air than by sea which, for some reason, also saved all the rigamarole that comes with customs at a port. It would be delivered to my door, at the time in Arizona.

I arrived home a couple of months later and emailed the sleazy guys to please ship. I was able to follow my beautiful bed online in real time as it was trucked to Mumbai, then flown to Germany, Kentucky (if I recall correctly), then Phoenix where it was put on a truck and delivered next day to my home in the far south. It arrived without fuss, well packed and in good condition.

Cost: bed $400. shipping $600. Right on budget, paid by credit card. No additional fees at all.

Moral of the story: Check on shipping by air before you make a decision, even if it defies logic.
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Mar 20th, 2016, 10:23 AM
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Interesting info Mme P, I will bear that in mind when we go back to Thailand in Nov....
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Mar 20th, 2016, 02:32 PM
  #13
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Also good to know...

Now the best deal is to work overseas, buy all you like, and let your employer pay for the shipping when you return home...
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Mar 20th, 2016, 05:47 PM
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I recently shipped 6 elephant teapots from Baan Celadon in Chiang Mai. All arrived intact. Yes, the bargain disappears when you ship. On the other hand the items were all for gifts to friends and shipping 6 at once was cheaper per teapot than it would have been one at a time. I had been Chiang Mai once before and had one teapot shipped and everyone loved it. This year everyone loved their gifts.

Taking a bunch of souvenirs to the post office can be a good investment in Asia as shipping by sea still exists and the bill is cheaper than having the store ship the merchandise. Of course, for the teapots, I had to have the shop pack them because running around to find a good carton and shipping supplies would have eaten up a good piece of my time. Everything arrived intact.

I would never ship home furniture from overseas. It is just too complicated and makes no financial sense.
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Mar 20th, 2016, 07:55 PM
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"I would never ship home furniture from overseas. It is just too complicated and makes no financial sense."

I have to disagree with this part of your post. As I said above, I got exactly what I wanted, something old & unique, costing less than if I'd found it in the US, but had not. Shipping it was not in the least complicated, actually less so than sending a postcard, a simple email saying "go". It made perfect sense.

Post Offices in Asia often have packing materials and even people who do the packing, no need to for "running around" to find supplies. And, yes, sending boxes by sea can be bargains with some exceptions, Singapore for instance.
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Mar 21st, 2016, 08:36 AM
  #16
 
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Bob--

If I even remotely express an interest in an item when we are abroad, my husband's first question is always, "How will you get it home?" Thanks for filling me in on the reality.
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Mar 21st, 2016, 11:21 AM
  #17
 
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my shipping stories from asia are all good and virtually no added on expense. You live in the wrong place

Aloha!
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Mar 21st, 2016, 04:55 PM
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julies - are you sure you are not my wife Jeane just posting under another screen name ?
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Mar 22nd, 2016, 08:53 AM
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Craig--And, perhaps you are a clone of my husband!
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Mar 22nd, 2016, 10:35 AM
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The stuff will finally be delivered tomorrow for another $142... Driveway delivery only..
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