Friday, January 23, 2009

That was one EXPENSIVE package!

The package I was expecting from my daughter finally arrived. And was held up by customs at the main post office in the provincial capital. So this morning the hubby dropped me off there while he took care of other business. He could have done a lot in the ALMOST TWO HOURS that it took me. I grabbed a number. I was 87. They were on #75. Not too bad, I thought.


About an hour went by and the lady I was talking with told me they'd called my number.

Wrong. They were only on #82. More waiting.

I decided to stand closer to the action and it was interesting to see people moving back and forth between postal workers. I finally figured out that one man signs you in, then you wait. Another man finds your package and asks if it's okay to open it. [I wonder what would happen should someone say no? Hmmmm.] Then you wait some more. Until another man fills out the paperwork. People, there was nary a computer in sight. Or even a typewriter. Everything was written out longhand.

And there were numerous papers involved in the process. Each customer is signed in on one form, there are tax forms in triplicate, and another paper is attached to them, and when you finally get your package you have to sign it out on another sheet.

When my number was finally called I knew the drill.

But that didn't make it any less painful. I ended up paying 55 pesos in import taxes. For a book, several packets of dry Ranch dressing mix and Goya seasonings, zip lock bags and some kitchen scrubby pads. And let's not forget the 13 pesos they charged FOR STORING MY PACKAGE.


The charges seem arbitrary. My language tutor shelled out even more for a package her daughter sent from Colorado, where she's an exchange student. True value matters nada.

The hubby just grinned when I told him. He thinks it's good for me to have this experience. I'm pondering that.

As Americans we have no clue. Absolutely no clue what it's like for those living overseas. I get it now, those conversations with missionaries who discouraged me from sending them packages. I thought they were a little ungrateful, you know? But if they're having to spend hours retrieving the package and pay huge import and storage fees, it's just probably not worth it. At least that's how I feel at this point. This ended up being one very expensive package! I paid a total $22 U.S. to pick up my package. And that doesn't include the gas into the capital or the time spent at the post office.

The daughter has sent books before and those came through without a problem. So I'll be able to have the occasional book sent -- or piece of fabric ☺ -- but no more bulky items that cause a package to get flagged by customs. Lesson learned.


Mari said...

This reinforces in my mind how spoiled we are. Waiting in line and then paying for a package that has already had shipping paid for is not what we are used to!

Anonymous said...

Now you know: Why "aduana" was one of my most dreaded words, why someone got a free washer/dryer from Grandpa and Grandma Hoyt back in 1960 (the protective tariff was so huge and the "coima" so unethical that Grandpa gave up and left the merchandise and learned a lesson), why Argentina has no incentive to improve its products (no competition), and why I love Argentina with all my heart only when I do not need to deal with government offices. By the way, did you notice that the same practices carry over into the consulates in the USA? (especially the practice of not replacing a fluorescent bulb when it burns out. The last time I went to the consulate in Miami, I believe 50% of them were inoperative.)
But oh what wonderful people are hidden behind the curtain of bureaucracy (or "burrocracia" as Don Juan diNardo used to call it)

rita said...

Expensive, but great blog material!

Ma Hoyt said...

I'm feeling better all the time about not sending you a Christmas package.

Perhaps if you paid people not to send you things, life would be even more rewarding :-p

Debbie said...

Wow. You are right - I had no idea. What frustration.
Have you made the Ranch yet?

tina in thailand said...

Yes, the tariffs seem completely arbitrary here too. Most of the time our packages are delivered OK with no problem, and then every once in a while we have to pay customs, usually on the boxes without anything of value.
We have been told that sending through the US Post Office is less likely to be assessed a customs fee than if it was sent through something like FedEX or UPS. Not sure if that holds true for you not, but may be good info.
And don't worry about those elephants we were riding. They are well trained. Each elephant has one trainer, a mahout, and those two become 'partners', if you will. That mahout will work with that elephant until it retires, no one else will. They do form a relationship and trust their mahout. These elephants are much safer than those wild ones on the range in Africa. :)
Thanks for the comment. Hope you enjoy your ranch dressing 22 dollars worth!