Receiving International Shipments via USPS?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Fragomeni, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    Hi all,

    I'm looking for a little help here. I'm currently waiting on my new Leica M6TTL and lens to arrive from Portugal. Portugal's post CTT says that the package was dispatched on a flight to the US on Dec 17th. USPS says that they have been "notified that the originating post is preparing to dispatch the item" but I've spoken to USPS twice this week and they say that they have not received the package and have no record of it's entry into the United States. CTT's website says that packages sent outside of Europe can take 7-20 days to deliver so i am still inside of that window but I am concerned that CTT says the package was already dispatched on a flight (they've provided the flight number and package information) to the US but the USPS has no record of its entry 6 days later. I'm hoping some of you have some insight into the international shippment process. Is this normal? Will customs grab it without notifiying USPS of its arrival? Can it take packages a number of days to be recorded into the system? It just worries me that it supposedly flew out of Portugal on the 17th and now its the 23rd and no one seems to know where it is. Considering its a Leica and lens, I'm concerned. The sender has had excellent communication with me and is working with me to figure this out. USPS told me today that an official inquiry would need to be stared to initiate the process of locating the package and that official inquiry needs to be made by the sender and the originating post. They actually told me I can't do anything. I understand that I am still inside of the delivery window and it is the holiday season but the lack of information on the location of the package concerns me. If anyone has any insight please help me out! Thank you!
     
  2. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    It's Christmas time. There is probably huge backlog of packages at customs. On top of that, I noticed that international shipments usually don't have very good tracking. They typically update it on the day you get the package or couple of days after you receive it :smile:. Not very useful for keeping track of the progress.
     
  3. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    I persoanlly hate USPS. Their domestic tracking is pretty worthless in my experience and I wouldn't expect more for international packages. My concern is based on past experiences where they have lost VERY valuable packages. If it arrived in the US wouldn't they at least be aware of it? I guess I wouldn't be too surpirsed if the answer to that was no. I'm just freaking out a bit considering it's the Leica I've been wanting basically forever with the lens I've wanted for equally as long.

    Anyone else have insight into this predicament?
     
  4. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    I concur with Anikin's comments. I buy books from vendors in Mexico and USPS tracking isn't often very informative.

    On the other hand, last year I bought a large lens from a vendor in Germany. He shipped via DHL, which is another way of spelling Deutsch Bundespost. USPS reported that it was waiting to receive the parcel from DHL for nearly two months before he and I lit fires under DHL. Turns out they'd never put it on the plane ...

    As Anikin wrote, this is Christmas time. It is the busiest time of year for delivery services and is the time of year when parcels are most likely to go astray. In nearly forty years of buying from foreign vendors I've had one (1) parcel vanish completely and two (2) parcels go seriously astray. The one that vanished was shipped from the UK in early December. One of the parcels that went astray was also shipped in early December, from France. Both of the parcels that went astray turned up eventually. You should have asked the seller to ship your camera after 1/1/2012.
     
  5. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Francesco, based on this and many of your other posts here and on other bulletin boards, you're prone to hysteria. Calm down.

    From time to time Consumer Reports does a delivery services test. USPS, UPS, FedEx, ... They're all equally good at losing parcels.

    In my limited experience, USPS is the best of the lot, but my sample is much smaller and much less well-designed than CR's. And in my experience USPS domestic tracking works very well. They've never lost anything I've sent, and neither has the foreign post office involved lost anything I've sent. What I have learned is not to use first class. Regardless of what USPS says, first class often just sits, sometimes for weeks. Priority and Express Mail have worked very well for me.
     
  6. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    Ditto on the USPS tracking pretty worthless.
    I usually have the item by the time USPS tracking is even showing anything useful.
    When I buy small items off eBay from China via mail the tracking shows every step of the China post office then fizzles out once I gets to the USPS system.
     
  7. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I just sent a package to China from the US. I used Global Express USPS with tracking and confirmation and insurance. Once the package entered China the tracking completely stopped. I went to the US post office 10 days later and they were able to research it and found it was sitting unclaimed in Chinese Customs. For what that is worth to you it at least tells you that customs departments aren't too quick to communicate with USPS. My story ended good and the Chinese buyer got his 2000 dollar Rolleiflex, though I went through some nervous time.
    Dennis
     
  8. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    Dan, I'm not sure where you've come up with that from but I'll just leave it alone. I suppose you might be refering to my reactions to Light Impressions fraud or the discontinuation of various films given that those are pretty much the only things I've voiced any level of concern about in the forums. I wouldn't call an emotional investment in my money and in discontinuation of products that I use every day as a working artist "hysteria". Perhaps I'm more reactionary then you but I take what I do, my money, and my materials seriously. I work hard for my money and I use my cameras every day of my life so I think a little concern is more then acceptable when I've just spent a large sum of money (large in my terms) on a camera that I need and will use everyday which is floating somewhere in package limbo and no one can tell me where it is. Either way, I digress.

    Consumer Reports can say what it wants but it doesn't change the fact that an overwhelming porportion of those who use the service regularly are dissatisfied with it's performance. My comment was also focused toward USPS's lack of tracking which I don't think anyone denies, including USPS. The tracking service is sub-par and the lowest ranked of all the big four carriers. It is also not true movement-by-movement tracking that tells you the lasts stop, movement, and location of your package. USPS has lost packages of mine, UPS and FEDEX have not. Thats my experience which is different then yours. They're both valid experiences. Simply watching the news over the last couple of days makes it clear that they all have their flaws an inefficiencies. No one is arguing that.

    mwdake and dpurdy, I've had similar experiences which is why I have a level of concern. I think there is always some level of concern involved when shipping or receiving high vaule items (at least high value in personal terms). This is the root of why I posted my inquiry i.e. to get people's insight based on their experiences in these kinds of situations. My hope is that its just slowly making its way to me and is caught up in the holiday chaos. It still concerns me that CTT records show that the package was shipped on a flight to the US (with flight and reference numbers) but it has not been scanned in somewhere in the US so that someone would know where it is. But as dpurdy mentioned above, for all I know customs could have it and they may not have the best lines of communication with USPS. At this point I'll have to wait and hope that it surfaces within the delivery window.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2011
  9. M. Lointain

    M. Lointain Member

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    This is a brutal time of year for anything being shipped. Imagine all the people sending things to relatives overseas and imagine the massive pileups in all of the customs around the world. I feel sorry for those guys. I am afraid that you will be waiting a while on your camera but it will surely eventually show up. In the future whenever you get something expensive like that it pays to have it shipped Express even though it is more expensive. I personally have never had any problems with the USPS. I actually prefer them over the alternatives.
     
  10. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    Yep, I agree. Talk about an increased work load. Also, I though it was being shipped EMS. My understanding was that CTT is just the name of Portugal's post and that the package would be sent EMS through them. Lots of lessons being learned. Definitely wont be having stuff shipped around the holidays next year.
     
  11. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    Thanks to everyone for you experiences and perspectives on this. I'll hope for the best with the delivery of the package.
     
  12. frotog

    frotog Member

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    From years of shipping internationally on ebay I've learned a lesson - never use USPS (or the country of orgins postal service) for anything of real value. Different countries use different data systems for tracking which means it's a crap shoot to have your package arrive safely and on time (or at all). Next time use a private international courier like fed-ex - they have a unified tracking system, better insurance and more accountability. Good luck with this one!
     
  13. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    Don't rule out US anti-terrorism measures interfering with the shipment.

    I sent a lens to a US buyer just after some scares with cargo planes carrying want-to-be bombs. This lens was as it turned out later literally shipped to the US. It spent a long time in between parties and didn't arrive until after a month.

    Not saying this is the case with your shipment, but IME these US anti-terrorism measures are not always communicated well (for good reason perhaps) and therefore may interfere without you and others knowing.
     
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  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't start worrying about shipments from Europe to the US for about 3-4 weeks. 10 days is pretty typical, but anything that might get stuck in customs, particularly around the winter holidays, could get waylayed for another couple of weeks. Some international postal systems have tracking that dovetails between systems. For instance, you can send Global Priority with tracking to Canada or Germany and then track it on the other side, and I would assume there are reciprocal arrangements in the reverse direction for systems that are compatible in that way.

    National postal systems are very commonly used for high-end goods, like diamonds, because the insurance mechanisms are easy to use, and it is possible to send registered international packages with stamps on all the seals to make it easier to detect tampering. Good enough for diamonds, good enough for cameras, I'd say.

    That said, for countries where there is good reason to have some doubts about the postal system for particularly costly goods, I've used DHL or FedEx just to avoid the three weeks of limbo not knowing if it's going to make it. If the value of the item is less than a few thousand dollars, it probably isn't worth paying for international express courier service.
     
  16. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I also find the USPS tracking system to be slow in updating. But I haven't had a problem with delivery of goods. I'd say every shipment I've made in the past year, whether first class parcel or priority mail, domestic or international, has been within the advertised delivery window. And no problem with damage. I'll accept the inconvenience of tracking not being promptly updated for the significantly reduced cost. And that's before the recently announced UPS rate hike.
     
  17. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Hey folks...

    For those bashing the USPS, consider the fact that they handle about 1/3 of the total postal volume in the world. I think they do a pretty good job.

    I get numerous packages via USPS every week. In fact it's the only package delivery service I use.

    I've found their tracking information to be accurate. It sometimes lags actual movement by a day or so, but so what?

    I use a little branch PO, and their tracking even distinguishes between arrival at the local sorting facility, at the main PO, and at the branch.

    - Leigh
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2011
  18. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    With this in mind I should add to my previous post...

    It was not my intention to say they have a bad service just that their tracking is a little less than adequate. My stuff always arrives safely in both directions. I think the USPS does a great job and it irks me when they talk about cutting service due to funding problems.
     
  19. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Hey now! Read carefully...I still use USPS for all domestic and any international packages of low value. My point is that only the privately own couriers like fed ex have continuous tracking in international exchanges and a true signature confirmation service that meets the requirements for paypal's seller protection. So if you send something overseas via USPS and the recipient claims INR, you'll have no recourse to prove otherwise and paypal will side with the buyer. Next time you look into using USPS to ship international notice that no matter how deluxe the service, signature of recipient is not offered. Same thing goes for packages coming into the states, delivered by USPS. This makes fraudulent INR cases in international exchanges a slam dunk con for anyone aware of paypal's buyer protection policy. Of course if you're the recipient and the package is truly INR then you will eventually get your funds back from paypal - nonetheless, it's a PITA from the buyer's perspective as well.
     
  20. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    Exactly. No one is bashing anything. People are providing their personal experiences as I requested. My primary problem with USPS is the lack of real tracking. Perhaps the minimal service they offer is good enough for some people but I prefer to track the day-to-day movements of my packages to the doorstep. That gives me a greater sense of security. In this situation I am without that security and I am left hoping for the best. This was not an ebay purchase but I did pay using PayPal so I suppose I'm still covered by PayPal...I hope.
     
  21. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    For Registered mail into the US a signature is required at the delivery address.
    Registered going out of the US is handled by the receiving country's postal regulations.
    In the US a registered piece of mail is handled separately and kept in a secure location until being delivered.

    It isn't cheap!
     
  22. frotog

    frotog Member

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    We're way off topic now but just for the record...USPS does not meet the standards necessary to protect the seller from paypal's INR claim or SNAD claim. Their international registered mail is a joke. Not only is it not available in most countries outside of the US but it does not require a direct signature from the recipient - it's merely an indication that the package was dropped off. Furthermore, there's no guarantee that the carrier in the recipient's country will fill out the forms and put the info back into his country's postal system computer network. In any event, for items worth more than $250 international registered mail does not satisfy the requirements necessary to cover the seller's butt. Best bet is to pay the extra cash for an international carrier with a homogeneous track and confirm service that includes an electronic signature (think UPS, FEDEX, DHL). As a frequent seller to foreign countries I've personally confirmed this in a conversation with a manager from Paypal.
     
  23. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    How much is typically the difference for international shipping from the US between using USPS and one from UPS, FEDEX, DHL? Say US to Europe, Japan or Australia.

    In 'my' country the difference between TNT (sort of USPS counterpart) and UPS, FEDEX, DHL is *huge* (100 euros or so difference), if you're an ordinary private consumer sending just one package a month.
     
  24. frotog

    frotog Member

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    You're right - it is a huge difference. On the order of 3x. But when selling a several thousand dollar item it's worth it to both parties involved. However, with ebay now placing surcharges on shipping costs in addition to the final value fee and with the added cost of paypal's international money transfers, I'm seriously reconsidering selling internationally. If you haven't scared potential buyers off with the high shipping cost, you'll end up taking a 15% hit in transaction fees. You just can't win...
     
  25. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    frotog, have you considered setting the starting bid at the least you'll accept for the item plus shipping fees plus 15% of that total? I haven't sold on eBay for several years, when I did always set the opening bid so that if the item got only one bid I wouldn't feel sorry for myself. There's no reason to set yourself up to lose.
     
  26. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    I agree that increasing fees as well as changes in shipping options of various mail carries is making selling internationally a bit more of a challange. I just sold a tenor saxophone a week ago to a gentleman in Greece. Getting this thing shipped was a bear. I've sold and shipped many saxophones internationally in the past but it's been a couple of years and shipping this time was a bear. This is a very high price item and the only services that would ship it insured for its full value were UPS and FEDEX International but between the size of the package and the insurance the shipping rate would be about $450. The buyer opted to sign a shipping liability realease and have it shiped USPS Express Mail which in the past would have insured it for up to $2500 but that has changed. Now maximum shipping insurance to Greece is $650, a significant difference. In the past they would not have shipped the package Global Guaranteed but now they would accept it but the cost to ship would be over $500. This was the last of my saxophones so I don't have anything that large and valuable to sell anymore but if I did I would probably seriously reconsider shipping internationally.

    As a follow up to my original post. The Leica package arrived yesterday! Interestingly USPS's tracking still says the package hasn't arrived in the United States yet. I'm so happy that I don't have to worry about it anymore (a welcome end to my "hysteria") but sure enough USPS's tracking as usual has no relevant connection to the actual movement or delivery of the package. That may not be that big of a deal to some others but I still think that is hugely problematic when dealing with high value items. Of couse the obvious solution is what many have echoed in this thread, just pay the higher cost for the shipping service that provides what is needed. I'll gladly do that in the future.