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Trade Route Established

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We’ve had all sorts of luck having things shipped to us in Mexico, with most of it being bad. This January, we said goodbye to the post office box for good. (See Mexican Postal Service) and have sworn off Fed-Ex completely. (See Shipping Fiasco). It seemed that my dream of establishing a trade route where I can have hard to get items delivered was yet another impossibility.

However, there was hope. Remember way back when we had to renew our passports (See Renewing our Passports in Mexico) and the consulate used DHL for interior shipping? Well, if you don’t, we were able to have the passports delivered to the local office and pick them up there (with proper identification of course) and that saved us all sorts of headaches.

So when Amazon Mexico opened its virtual doors, I was delighted to discover that they too used DHL as a shipping service. YIPPEE! Now, Amazon Mexico does not have the same inventory as regular old Amazon and there are some price differences, but they do have free shipping for purchases over 500 pesos. And that’s just dandy!

DHL

It was time to test it out. I wanted to order a Kindle for my son because although we have one, I don’t share well. Have you ever tried to share a kindle? It’s like two people reading the same book at the same time. It just doesn’t work out. Amazon Mexico had kindles in stock. I went to order one and ran into a glitch. Amazon does not take PayPal. Well, of course, they don’t. It’s owned by Ebay. Unfortunately all my ill-gotten and well-gotten gains from online work (See Failing at your own business–Freelance Writing Essays, Freelance Test Writing, web design) were stashed in my Paypal account. I could transfer that money to my husband’s account and withdraw it, but since Amazon is an online business, there was no store I could go to with my pesos for the purchase.

So your question is why I wouldn’t just use a debit or credit card, is it? Amazon accepts those forms of payments without problems. Well, banking is another one of those things that gets complicated without an address. We had been able to open a savings account using my husband’s mother’s address once upon a time, however as she is no longer living and no one in the family is currently living at that address, we haven’t been able to present a verifiable address to the bank in order to open a checking account. So no bank cards for us.

What I needed was a go-between, someone to whom I could send Paypal money and would place the order for me at Amazon Mexico. No sooner thought than done. I had recently finished a web redesign job (See Failing at your own business–web design) for my friend in Tennessee. She agreed to order the Kindle in lieu of payment. Awesome! I had found my purveyor of fine goods!

As the Amazon Mexico site is all in Spanish (because no one would speak another language in Mexico right?) it took some doing for her to get it ordered and the shipping address set up. I decided to try and have it shipped to the school that I work at, which is just a few blocks from the DHL office. I figured it wouldn’t be too hard for them to find me. My friend placed an order for the Kindle.

The bank rejected her order. I thought it might have been a name change issue as she has recently remarried, but it wasn’t. The bank called her the next day to say that they had detected a fraudulent online purchase (because no one in the US would use a Mexican site to place an order right?) So she got that straightened out and hit send again.

This time, there were no problems. Amazon Mexico sent a confirmation of order received and an expected delivery date of 2 days later. As I was in my classroom all day, I let the secretary know that a package would arrive for me. She signed for it and brought it to my room. The Kindle had arrived!

It looks like I’ve established my trade route without having to resort to camels!

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Shipping Fiasco

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Fed-ex Moroleon

So with my ill-gotten (See Failing at your own business–essay writing) and legitimately gotten gains piling up in my Paypal account burning a hole in my virtual pocket, I decided to do some online shopping. First I went to Shop Amazon , however, nobody wanted to ship to Mexico and Amazon.com.mx, well had nothing that I wanted. So I went to Ebay Mexico. And yep, they’d ship it to me. Since the last time I used Ebay, oh some 8 years ago, they had started this global shipping program that would ship anywhere in the world. Sounded great! As it turns out, I apparently live in a parallel universe, but I was unaware of that until the shipping nightmare began.

I bought myself some pants and my husband an MP4 player. The shipping fees were incredible–and not in a good way. The jeans were $205 pesos and shipping was $391 pesos more. The MP4 was $617 pesos and the shipping added another $299 pesos. Well, the global shipping program said that there would be no surprise import tariffs at the border, so what the heck. I had the moolah and I spent it.

A week later, I also ordered an archery set for my son. Shipping doubled the price yet again. The archery set was $630 pesos and the shipping was $638 pesos. I thought it worth it because the only archery set we found here was over $2500, therefore, $1200 was a real bargain. And I sat back and waited.

About a week later, I checked on the shipping status—and low and behold, the first two packages were at the border. Yippee Skippy! Not long now! So I waited another week and checked the shipping status. I saw that a delivery had been attempted, but had been incomplete because the “business was closed or client unavailable.” Now, that seemed strange. I figured they’d try again the next day, and they did but found the address “undeliverable.” Now I started to worry. After three days of out for delivery but not delivered, I tried to contact the sellers to see if they had any information that might be useful. Ebay wouldn’t let me. My email was sent to Ebay customer service and my claims put on hold until January 6th. I wrote again and specifically asked if they could tell me who the carrier was from Morelia to Moroleon so that I could contact the company, meet the driver or pick up the packages at the facility in Morelia. Graciously, Ebay allowed that I could do that and that the carrier was Fed-ex.

OH! That explains it! I had listed our apartado (post office box) as our address since La Yacata has no street names. I had never had any issues before as the packages had been sent regular mail, which of course arrives at the post office box with no problems. When we had to use DHL for our passports (See Renewing out passports–DHL) we had the package sent directly to the office and picked it up from there. So my hope was to contact Fed-ex and pick up the packages that were “in transit” at the distribution facility in Morelia. According to MapQuest, it was 50 minutes from Moroleon, completely drive-able.

So then began my quest to contact Fed-ex. I spent hours attempting to contact someone in customer service. Of course, I expected a wait since it was right before Christmas and all, but really, hours? Then I finally was able to contact someone who regretfully told me that the Global Tracking number I had was not a Fed-ex tracking number, therefore, Fed-ex couldn’t track it. So I contacted Ebay customer service again and asked for the Fed-ex tracking number. I didn’t receive any response. So I tried contacting the sellers again to ask if they by chance had the Fed-ex tracking number, and they didn’t.

Meanwhile, the third package was winding its way down. I saw on the tracking form that delivery had been attempted. I had exhausted all my options for package recovery by this time. However, miracles of miracles, Fed-ex called me after Christmas to request a different address for delivery. The impatient young lady accepted the address and clumsy directions I gave to the school where I work. I said I would be there awaiting the package.  She said would it head back to Moroleon that afternoon. I asked about the other packages.  She knew which packages I was talking about but said that there was nothing she could do.  I waited 5 hours at the school that day. Nothing. So the next day, I came back to the school.  While teaching my classes, being the only teacher there as this was Christmas break,  I had to lock the door but left a big ol’ sign on it that read “Fed-ex–toca la puerta fuerte” (knock loudly). And wouldn’t you know it, Fed-ex came and went while I was in class, leaving a tracking and contact number. Talk about annoyed! I called the contact number, which was local and the nicest man answered the phone. He was sympathetic to my dilemma. He said that he could ask the driver to leave the package with him at the office 4 blocks from the school and I could pick it up tomorrow at 9 am. That would be perfect!

So the next morning, I went over to Queretaro street and lo and behold, there was a Fed-ex office! Imagine that! The same pleasant man was there and was able to hand the package right over to me. He couldn’t do anything about the first two packages as I didn’t have the Fed-ex tracking numbers and he was sorry about that. He said the office has been there 4 years, but I found no listing for it when I did my desperate Google searches. Had anyone from Fed-ex called me about the failed delivery of the first two packages instead of allowing them to endlessly circulate in the delivery truck, I could have made the same arrangements and everything would have been hunky-dory.

January 6 came and Ebay declared the packages lost and issued me a refund as a “courtesy”. Well, thank you very much, kind sir. I was dissatisfied overall and won’t be using Ebay again. I think I was mostly disappointed because I had this vision of being able to receive items that just aren’t available in our area via mail delivery. Sort of like my own private trade route. Sigh. It just wasn’t to be.

I was also frustrated by the globalization of the global shipping program. I ordered products from Iowa and Florida. The customer service agent was in India. The Fed-ex driver and brisk customer service representative were in Morelia. But not until I was able to contact a local person (the Fed-ex employee four blocks away) was I able to complete the process. My problem wasn’t their problem. The sellers didn’t lose out as I had already paid for the items. The Indian customer service representative still got paid whether or not I received my items. The Fed-ex driver and snooty customer service rep also were paid whether or not I got the shipment. Ebay’s loss in refunding me my money was a drop in their earning conglomeration bucket.  The location of my items was only important to the local guy, someone I might theoretically meet again on the street in our town. That’ll teach me.

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