If you’re shipping stuff to Thailand tricks of the trade can be useful. Here’s a useful story, courtesy of client and friend Bill Spaulding, whose ‘stuff’ came from around the world to his doorstep thanks to Alan, our miraculous shipping manager. Here’s Bill’s story, in his own words:
A couple weeks ago, Alan and crew delivered both of my two shipments. One from Naples, Italy, and one from San Diego, California. Here’s how the experience went.
After you introduced us, he and I exchanged a few emails. As luck would have it, I was to be in Chiang Mai a few months later. I asked, and he agreed, to meet. I guess I’m more than a little old fashioned. Whenever possible, I prefer to do business with people not faceless corporate entities. So I took him to lunch.I felt this was important because I would be trusting him with what’s left of my worldly possessions, after selling off most of what I had. Not only that but he would be sending them to the other side of the planet from where they were currently taking up space. Lunch was delicious and I felt great comfort and confidence in trusting him.
He made no sales pitch, just gave me the facts of how things are. For example, I had said that I’d be packing things up. He told me not to bother and for three reasons, any one of which was sufficient alone. One, packing is included in the price regardless, no discount for self-pack. Two, insurance claims are harder to prove if something is “packed by owner.” Three, when the shipment arrives at Bangkok and Customs sees the paperwork marked as “packed by owner” they inspect it far, far more carefully. I was relieved not to have to buy boxes and tape and so forth. He said that unlike domestic US shipments, international shipments are charged by volume alone. We agreed to stay in touch and communicate more often as the two shipping dates, Italy and US, approach.
The first shipment was to be from Naples. A date in April of this year was selected and confirmed. The crew from the local agent showed up either on time or maybe even a little early. The only control Alan had over that was knowing who the local agent should be. Excellent choice. The crew leader spoke more than enough functional English. They went like gang busters. They were polite, efficient, very careful, and thorough. Alan had told me to put the stuff to ship in a pile. I actually made two piles, definitely going and optional if there’s room. The crew leader told me there’s plenty of room in a couple not-full boxes. All my optional stuff got sent.
The second shipment, from San Diego, had a couple date changes. Because I had left California on short notice when my employer transferred me to an overseas post, I threw nearly everything that I couldn’t dump quickly into storage where it sat for five years. When I returned to the States, my major priority was to sort through that seemingly endless array of boxes and things. I did get rid of most everything and it took quite some doing. I had anticipated starting the sorting after resting a bit on my return. Alan told me it would be less expensive to store my stuff in Thailand than California. True statement. so I jumped in with both feet and got it done ahead of the original schedule. Alan was more than very accommodating on the several date changes.
The California agent and crew were also efficient, polite, very careful, and thorough. These folks showed up an hour early. Another good choice of selecting the agent. I do have one comment about them which was that I would have preferred this crew to be three rather than two. No problems, it all went well. There needed to be a fair amount of coordination with the local agent because a shipment of household goods as large as mine requires a separate FEIN (one’s Social Security number is an FEIN).
The Italy shipment arrived in due course. It departed in April. I forget when it arrived but it was well before I did. The US shipment departed in August and arrived Bangkok the first week of October and was transshipped immediately to Chiang Mai to join the Italy shipment. I arrived Chiang Mai the same week.
Alan stored everything at his facility until I was able to locate and fit out a home. That process took about six weeks. That was another one that required changing dates more than once. Alan was more than cheerfully accommodating with each change. On delivery day, he was there to help. And he did help. He had a crew of five to off-load my things into my house. And Alan carried boxes, too. All I needed to do was to say, this box here and that box there.
Some random bits.
US Customs inspected my shipment before it left California. Customs required the container be transported to their facility and returned after the inspection. Customs did a thoroughly crappy job of repacking the boxes they opened. It added a fair amount to my total bill. It’s nothing that Alan can control or influence. In fact, he was not notified about the inspection until after it occurred and had caused the container to miss its original boat. Yes, we missed the boat. We got the next one. Or the one after. This is no reflection on Alan. I mention it as a cautionary tale for what someone may choose to ship.
Nothing I’ve unpacked shows any signs of damage due to packing by Alan’s agents or from shipping. The only evidence of any damage is directly attributable to US Customs. Everything from Italy arrived intact. It was not inspected on departure.
Throughout the entire process, Alan was patient, pleasant, forthcoming, polite, and accommodating. No aspect of the process was too tedious for him to explain even though you could tell he’d given this explanation about 1003 times. Not suggesting impatience or condescension, rather that he knows his stuff. He’s got the answers.
Alan also worked diligently to keep prices reasonable and avoid extra charges.
I was sufficiently impressed with Alan’s performance that I have already recommended him to two friends, one of whom has already done a shipment and was quite pleased with him.
Alan can ship from anywhere to anywhere, including across town within Chiang Mai and from Ikea in Bangkok to Chiang Mai. All that’s handy to know.
He also will remove empty shipping boxes and packing material for recycling.
Do it whichever way you think we’ll have more credibility for the benefit of the newsletter and your business.
There was one other item to the review I left out. I paid zero duty. I could have been on the hook for thousands. I paid normal, minimum customs fee. No duty on either shipment. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
He made no such assurances in advance. Indeed, he gave no hint. I omitted this because I did not want to imply something he cannot guarantee.
Shipping stuff to Thailand tips of the trade: do you have any tips?