Shipping purchases from Italy

Old May 11th, 1999, 09:56 PM
  #1  
Kay
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Shipping purchases from Italy

I am going to be in Italy in June and would
like information about the best way to ship
home items that I buy during my trip.
If you have any tips please share them with
me. I am especially interested in how to
safely get pottery to the US.
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 05:21 AM
  #2  
elaine
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My experience was letting the shops take care of the shipping. I dealt with two different stores in two different cities, both shops were very experienced in shipping. The items took about 8 weeks to arrive, but they arrived in perfect condition, very well packed indeed. If you charge the items by credit card you'll have some recourse if something goes wrong.
The items arrive at the US international port city that is nearest your home. I happen to live in one and so it was easy, but I have heard of people having a little more delay or inconvenience having the items some into a US port, passing customs, and then making their way to your home. That's on the US end, not the Italian end.
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 05:33 AM
  #3  
Donna
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Kay: I'm going to tell you my experiences at shipping stuff home:both disasters and success.

Even though there were disasters, I'll still continue to have faith, buy beautiful things, and ship them back.

Disaster #1: went to Venice, floated out to Murano, fell in love with beautiful pieces of glass, and had them shipped home. First, it took them two months to ship the glass: from Oct 15 and the box arrived at my house December 15. We put the box inside the house, went to my mothers for family Christmas, and came back and opened the box around the 22d. I am very, very busy with business at the end of the year, so when I opened this box and found one piece broken (this piece was valued at $1000), my first response was "I don't have time to deal with this." I called American Express, because I have the "breakage" insurance w/them, I filed a homeowners report, I contacted the Italy supplier, I followed up, I took the $1000 off my Amex Bill, dealt with that off again, on again posting, kept dealing with Amex insurers, what a MESS!

The Italy supplier was no help, rather nasty in the letter written back, indicating it was my fault for not replying within 7 days as indicated on the invoice. SO TAKE NOTE OF THE TIME LIMIT YOU HAVE on your invoice. SAVE YOUR RECORDS. CONTACT IMMEDIATELY, do not give up.

My file on this was 6 inches thick.

After a year, it was settled: Amex insurers paid my Amex bill. I pushed it, I called every day, I got to managers, I got to more managers. Someone finally read my file and said that "we should have paid this 8 months ago. You'll get your check tomorrow." And I did.

Italians got off scot free, even though I have the photos to prove that the glass was not packed well. ANOTHER TIP: before you life the glass out of the box, get your photos taken, with date stamp, so that if there is something wrong, you can get someone to believe you.

ANOTHER TIP: Pay for your shipped purchases with a credit card. I only use American Express, because they do not ask questions when I called up to say "get this off my bill-it arrived broken." In fairness, I have no experience with Visa or MCard doing that, have never used them, so get info before you go if you use them.

Disaster #2, turned out great in just 3 days: Went to Ireland and visited Nicholas Mosse pottery. Bought many, many pieces, had them shipped. Three arrived broken: one was wrapped very carefully, two were just sort of wrapped with newspaper. I immediately read my invoice: respond within 7 days if there is breakage. So I immediately wrote a VERY NICE letter, noting in the letter that it is within 7 days, complimenting the pottery, my visit to the factory, mentioning that 3 pieces arrived broken, described the pieces, offered to send the broken pieces, asked that they send replacements at their earliest convenience, and faxed letter and invoice to them. In 2 days, a telephone call from Ireland saying yes, the items are to be shipped in one day. Items shipped, items arrived. I'm happy.

Success story #1: 3 large cuckoo clocks, two months later, arrived in PERFECT condition, not a scratch, from Triberg, Germany, Black Forest.

Success story #2: Gault houses from France, arrived in 2 weeks, not a scratch, perfectly bubble wrapped, fragile, very happy.

Success story #3: small items from Italy. I pack a strong tube in the bottom of my suitcase, suitable for rolling up a painting, poster, or shoving small wrapped, items of glass from Italy, so I can carry myself.

MAIN THEME HERE: BUYER BEWARE of shipping rules. Ask before you buy. "What if it breaks?" "Where on my invoice does it say 7 days" (tiny print usually) "How do you resolve it?"

ALSO, at Murano, I had taken a photo of me, and the seller, plus all the glass spread out on a table at the showroom. Picture plus invoice . . . how much more proof that I bought it could they want?

Okay, sorry this is so long, but you gotta know before you go.

 
Old May 12th, 1999, 07:25 AM
  #4  
Robin
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Kay - do agree with previous poster that you need to purchase & ship using a credit card. But fortunately, I did not have the nightmarish experience that Donna had. I purchased several ceramic items when I was in Positano (Oct. 97). I had the store send them & could tell from their organization that they were experienced in shipping worldwide (do ask questions about how they pack, who they use to ship, how much merchandise they send, etc.). About 8 weeks later everything arrived at my doorstep in Dallas, Texas. In contrast to Donna's experience, I found everything fully intact and in fact, their packing was so secure (box itself was fully lined in styrofoam & every item individually wrapped in newspaper), that you could have air dropped the box directly from the airplane and I doubt that anything would have been damaged.
Another suggestion to insure that the store uses reliable shipping methods would be to ask if they have a website - then you know they definitely are dealing with a far flung clientele.
In Positano, I bought these ceramics from 'Ceramica Casola', which is outside of the "center" of town - can't remember if they're on Via Colombo or on Via Marconi, but it's the main road out of Positano towards Amalfi (also, a short walk up the road is La Fenice).
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 08:01 AM
  #5  
Beth
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I don't have any personal experiences to share, but I have heard that Mailboxes Etc has offices in Italy. I have always been pleased with their packing and shipping services in the US. They have lots of locations including Rome, Milan, Venice-Mestre, Siena, Lucca.... You can look up their office locations at http://www.mbe.com.
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 08:07 AM
  #6  
Kathy
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Hello: I am probably going to ask a question that is definitely stupid, but I want to know the answer! I thought
that when you shipped items home from a foreign country, you would not have to take them through customs.
From what I have read, they still go through customs, and you have to pay a tax. Is that correct? I want to know the procedure that you go through to mail things that you buy home. I live in a rural area, and not
near a port. Thanks.
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 08:22 AM
  #7  
Beth
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Hi Kathy,

Its not a stupid question at all. Clearly though, everything you ship has to go through customs somewhere, other wise you could ship whatever illegal stuff you wanted to ship. When I imported a rather expensive object from the Netherlands it was shipped using DHL, an international shipping company like Fedex or UPS. DHL took care of getting my package through customs, and paying the duty which was a percentage based on the invoice provided by the shipper (who was also the manufacturer in this case). DHL delivered the package to my doorstep, and then sent me a bill a couple days later for the duty, which I paid to them. I would definitely try to use a well known, international shipping company like this, as they took care of all the problems. It wasn't cheap of course. My package was medium sized (1 foot x 1 foot x 3 foot), weighed about 10 lbs, and cost $120 to ship from the Netherlands. (that's purely the shipping cost, not the duty).

hope this helps a little.
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 08:35 AM
  #8  
Helen
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Now, now, Kathy, let's not start calling our own questions stupid. Most people have never experienced these situations, why should you assume you're supposed know about them? (What I was really thinking was, why call yourself stupid when so many people in the world are willing to do it for you?) Anyway, back to the topic of shipping. Yes, everything that comes into the US is subject to US Customs inspection and potential collection of duty. If you don't have it with you when you arrive, it somehow has to clear Customs without you. (As I said in another posting, check out their web site.) BTW, one thing people might not realize is that the $400 exemption only applies to things that accompany you when you come into the country -- not things you ship separately. As to the logistics, I think it depends on the shipping method (postal, UPS/FedEx, air freight, etc.) I have not had personal experience with this. Perhaps Elaine or another Fodorite will chime in.
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 08:38 AM
  #9  
Helen
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Or Beth. (Fodors people rule!)
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 09:07 AM
  #10  
Robin
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When my things were sent from Positano, I believe they were shipped via UPS. At the store, they did advise they have a minimum shipping fee of $50, so to make it worth your while, it's best to buy/ship several items to one address. I guess I was naive at the time, as I never asked about customs or ports (Dallas is very inland) or any of those things, and like I said (previous message further above), everything showed up on my doorstep fine - I didn't have to go anywhere to pick it up.
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 11:38 AM
  #11  
Kay
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Thank you to each and everyone of you
that contributed information about
shipping. I have learned alot!
Kay
 
Old May 12th, 1999, 01:40 PM
  #12  
Deb
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Re Shipping from Italy. I had heard horror stories about shipping from Italy so I didn't. I didn't buy much that was breakable and I carried it by hand.

However, I just went to San Fran and went to a store there that does ship from Italy. The store owner is an Italian-American and she told me about her horror stories.

She told me (and I am assuming she is telling the truth) that people assume if they use a credit card they are safe. She said that Italy is often the exception. Make sure you know that your credit card does include items shipped from Italy.

Second, be careful when buying ceramics. Apparently certain colors used in ceramics contain lead. She has had to work with her Italian suppliers to get a lead-free red. So if you are purchasing items to use as kitchenware, make sure it is lead-free.

Deb
 
Old May 13th, 1999, 10:33 AM
  #13  
mwg
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I ordered pottery from a shop I recently visited in Deruta. I called first, sent az fax & then wired money. My question is also basic. What happens next. I have no idea which shipping company he will use. Will my first notification be some type of slip from US customs snet to me by mail. will it tell me precisely how much duty I must pay. When I go to wherever it is that I must go, will it take forever to get my package or does it proceed smoothly? This whole thing is a learning experience.
 
Old May 13th, 1999, 03:52 PM
  #14  
Adrienne
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I've shipped things home from Italy both using the Italian postal system (for personal goods I was sending home) and for purchases (shipped through the store where I bought the merchandise). First...avoid the Italian post office. There are long lines and endless forms which I did not understand. The items that were shipped from the store arrived in 2 to 3 months (normal for surface mail) and were shipped to my local post office where I picked up the packages since I had to sign for them and pay the duty. Duty is charged on anything mailed home over $25.00. I hadn't anticipated paying duty so each package cost me an extra $50 to $60 for customs and shipping. Before you send anything via mail be sure you want to spend the extra money.

I've also carried home plenty of pottery without a problem. The shops wrap everything in bubble wrap and I carry it on the plane. One time I had an extra piece of pottery that I couldn't carry on and I wrapped it in my clothing and checked that piece. It arrived unbroken.


 
Old May 14th, 1999, 05:34 AM
  #15  
Denise
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Line your suitcases with bubble wrap. Fill every nook and cranny with it. Take a spare (and empty!!) overnight bag (called carry on in US???). Make sure it has two handles. Fill it with your purchases, fill your purchases with your clothing. soxes undies tshirts.......pad it up. Assuming there are two of you, carry a handle each, protect it between you both, and leave in the overhead. Our many purchases of ceramics arrived home, no extra cost, and in A1 condition.
 
Old May 14th, 1999, 06:00 AM
  #16  
ROSEMARIE
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VERY INTERESTING TOPIC. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR HELP!
 

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