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Thread: Stuck in customs

  1. #1

    Default Stuck in customs

    I recently purchased my first irish bouzouki from thomann, and its stuck in us customs. Thomann hasnt been the most responsive to my emails. I recd notice from ups customs lady with some forms checking for formaldehyde and forwarded it to them. Has anyone ran into this problem and how did you remedy it?
    Thank you
    Neil

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  3. #2
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    Good ole UPS. No comment on the service.

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    Registered User mingusb1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    I had a mandolin shipped last spring from Canada to the US by DHL. It was a nightmare. It was held in customs and they didn't inform either me or the sender until it was too late and it was returned to sender. They promptly sent it again and it again got held up and nearly was sent back a second time but for me spending hours (really) on the phone with about a half dozen DHL reps working with them to get it approved. It took 2 months to get it.

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    MerryBlacksmith Bernd Bannach's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    Hi Neil, a some years ago I sold an octavemando from germany to the us. A nightmare was it. Stuck in us customs for two month without information where exactly it is.
    Could have been in the ocean of flying through the air. DHL did nothing. In the end the mando arrived and in good condition.

    Bernd

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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    How long have you been waiting?

    I purchased an Irish bouzouki from Thomann two years ago.
    I had a tracking number and could follow its shipping progress.
    It scooted right along until it landed in Chicago.
    It fell out of site for 3 weeks.
    Postal service couldn't find it their shipping records.
    It was apparently stuck in Customs.
    After three weeks, the local post office called. It arrived safe & sound with no explanation of where it had been for the past three weeks.
    I joked with the post office that customs apparently confused Bouzouki with bazooka.

    Joseph Baker

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    To be fair, Customs can be arbitrary. I lived on the border, and was in cars that were searched, probably because they happened to be #25 or some such thing, and I've been in cars that breezed through. Buses crossed between Windsor and Detroit regularly -- every hour or half hour -- and passengers got the same treatment. Even people who crossed the border daily for work were sometimes searched thoroughly so that they wouldn't be tempted to take advantage of their routine for smuggling. This was decades past, and I found it worst coming home to Canada. I'm sure Americans found it the same returning to the US, as countries are more concerned about what comes in than what goes out, a primary concern being the potential smuggling of millions of dollars worth of consumer goods for personal use. Shipping across borders is similar. I've had simple American orders delayed while other orders zipped across four borders from the mideast to Canada in two or three days. Shippers lose control at Customs.

    By the way, a great many people on the border were small-time smugglers anyway, not declaring the bargains or banned products (e.g., Cuban cigars from Canada to USA) bought on the other side.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    Neil, not much you can do with US customs - I have discovered through my work for a US firm exporting heavy equipment to Asia & Europe that they are a law to themselves and even if they've held your stuff by mistake, they won't accept any blame, or even feel any need to respond to questions or attempts to communicate.

    UPS should at least push on your behalf and all you can do is push on UPS.

    Thomann will have exported plenty to the US before and if the formaldehyde is a common issue they or their freight forwarders will know how to deal with it.


    The maddening thing is that customs can be arbitrary and impound a shipment for something that's never been an issue before, or simply because some newly-promoted officer misinterprets a customs code or something like that. You may never know but you should eventually get your instrument.
    Bren

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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    Customs, especially for items arriving through NYC, can be a black hole. I've had various purchases go into Customs and remain there for well over a month before returning to the USPS package stream. One item was a book from Russia. Hard to imagine why they'd hold it for a month and a half; I suspect incompetence.

    And these experiences were <Removed by Moderator. Posting Guidelines>. I'm currently waiting for a parcel from the Netherlands that was handed in for shipment on October 7. It took a month for it to reach the status of "enroute to country of destination" and it's been traveling for three weeks so far, and is still in between origin and destination. I expect to receive it before the first of the year, but perhaps I'm being overly optimistic.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Nov-26-2020 at 3:38pm.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    Possible "urban legend" story: Gordon Lightfoot was touring in the US, had some guitar problems, got the guitar fixed while on tour, returned to Canada. Got busted by Canadian Customs for smuggling guitar repairs into the country. I guess one needs to declare any service that enhances the value of the possessions you declared when you left the country...?

    Certain government agencies are given great discretion to be arbitrary, with only minimal oversight. So, things happen. On the other hand, we've been tending to reduce staff in many of our enforcement agencies, so workload per person increases, pressure rises.

    Have others noticed any difference from the way packages sent through public carriers -- USPS, Canada Post, etc. -- are treated, as opposed to private firms like UPS? My limited experience in purchasing a Waldo mandocello from Canada -- which would definitely have to be certified to meet CITES guidelines, I'd think -- was a smooth and fairly speedy delivery via USPS.
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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    Well I recently received my Custom Apitius Rosine F-5 from Oliver-What a mandolin but DHL was a hassle, it was about 2 weeks in limbo-they lost the Lacy Act Form so Oliver had to fill it out again and I had to resubmit as it was a day away from going back to him in Canada! Well it arrived at the POffice and well it looked like a forklift hit it and it went through the box and the popcorn was falling out and you could see and feel the case-I was devastated as I thought the worst. The Post Master took photos of it and me holding the box! I waited all day to open her up and I don't know how but the forklift tine must've went through the handle so no case damage or mando damage! I sure was in a panic for hours before opening! It would've been a bummer if it got hit straight on and went through the middle!

    One never knows in shipping what can happen till it does! God was on my side and watching out for me like he has done my whole life! I'm very blessed and grateful!

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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    I've had items stuck in Customs for 6-8 weeks, <Removed by Moderator. Posting Guidelines>. Once an object enters Customs, there's no way to find out what's going on. No sense hassling the sender; we're all helpless in the hands of bureaucracy.

    FYI, things coming thru Customs on the West Coast are handled much more swiftly than those passing thru NYC.

    Additionally, mail carriers all over the planet are moving slower than ever. A recent order from the Netherlands took four weeks to go from the original sender to the point of shipment, then three weeks to get to the US. Not it's in NYC Customs. I may see it before the first of the year.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Nov-27-2020 at 6:25pm.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Possible "urban legend" story: Gordon Lightfoot was touring in the US, had some guitar problems, got the guitar fixed while on tour, returned to Canada. Got busted by Canadian Customs for smuggling guitar repairs into the country. I guess one needs to declare any service that enhances the value of the possessions you declared when you left the country...?

    Certain government agencies are given great discretion to be arbitrary, with only minimal oversight. So, things happen. On the other hand, we've been tending to reduce staff in many of our enforcement agencies, so workload per person increases, pressure rises.

    Have others noticed any difference from the way packages sent through public carriers -- USPS, Canada Post, etc. -- are treated, as opposed to private firms like UPS? My limited experience in purchasing a Waldo mandocello from Canada -- which would definitely have to be certified to meet CITES guidelines, I'd think -- was a smooth and fairly speedy delivery via USPS.
    I haven't heard that one, but it sounds like legend to me, though the Canadian government may have some rarely enforced rule to prevent folks along the border from going to the States for car and machine repairs. I've never been questioned about the cheaper American gas in my tank, even when I filled up in Maine, within sight of Canadian Customs. However, I fear that one of these days, there'll be a scale at the border and my car will be weighed leaving and returning to see if I gassed up. In Lightfoot's case, I'd question whether the guitar repair enhanced the value of the instrument he left Canada with.

    I can't help you with your query. I don't ship a great deal and usually use Canada Post when I do. The results are uneven. I've also had differing results when I've ordered items where the shipper used couriers. I think any company that gets really big, whether public or private, has considerable room for error, misplacement, theft, and bureaucratic inefficiency.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    I ordered a carving axe from a seller in Great Britain because his price was a third the price of the “exclusive distributor” of the same axe in the US. I received it in a couple of days including the stop in custom in San Francisco.

    I shipped a piece of tapestry from Hong Kong during a visit. It was never released by customs. All of the letters and phone calls in the world did not help and no one ever explained the hang up.

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    Registered User BBarton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    I suspect there is a never-ending littany of problems folks have had with instruments and customs of various countries. I shipped a mandolin (US made) from Canada to USA via UPS, and it was held up for more than a week in US customs. The mando had a bit of abalone inlay on it, and UPS called me up and advised that customs wanted to know what species of abalone it was! Didn't have a clue, so called the builder in the US and asked him -- he didn't have a clue either. Eventually the UPS agent negotiated with customs about it, and it was finally released and sent on its merry way. I thought the UPS agent handled it well (BTW, I'd never ship DHL).

    More recently, I shipped a vintage tenor banjo tailpiece via airmail post to Ireland for repair -- it didn't show up for over a month -- apparently languished all that time in Irish customs. After it was repaired, it was mailed back and arrived in two days, no holdup at all in Canada! So, one never knows...

    I've heard the Lightfoot guitar story before too!
    Too many instruments...too little time

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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    I shipped a rim and neck to Canada a few years ago via UPS (requested by customer)... UPS notified me that the customer refused excepting because customs tacked a $200 fee on the parts (originally $150 with shipping)... #1 choice - he pay... #2- I pay... #3- would go into limbo... felt so bad for customer....
    kterry

  19. #16

    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    I haven't heard that one, but it sounds like legend to me, though the Canadian government may have some rarely enforced rule to prevent folks along the border from going to the States for car and machine repairs. I've never been questioned about the cheaper American gas in my tank, even when I filled up in Maine, within sight of Canadian Customs. However, I fear that one of these days, there'll be a scale at the border and my car will be weighed leaving and returning to see if I gassed up. In Lightfoot's case, I'd question whether the guitar repair enhanced the value of the instrument he left Canada with.
    Actually the law about that is pretty simple. You are potentially liable to pay tax and duties as applicable on upgrades or repairs done to your Canadian vehicle UNLESS they were necessary for the safe and functional operation of the vehicle. Popping over to Massena for a couple of hours and coming back with 4 new tires is non-exempt. Gas of course is, so is a brake job ornew water pump on your road trip.

    I rarely order cross—border instruments despite my daily perusing of the Classifieds here. But I do order strings and accessories a lot. A thing most shippers of these items seem to know is that small shipments up to $20.00 are exempt from duties and taxes. Which doubtless is why every package of strings I get from US is listed as $20 on the exterior sticker. And doesn’t have an enclosed invoice saying different. Once though I got a $400 preamp with $20 value listed...it got held at customs, they made me come in and show them an actual receipt for the $320 I paid, cost me $42 tx plus a trip into Ottawa to receive it. The shipper should have just put the real price on because they’re not as dumb as they look at Customs, even though they don’t worry about strings.
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    Mandoline or Mandolin: Similar to the lute, but much less artistically valuable....for people who wish to play simple music without much trouble —The Oxford Companion to Music

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    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stuck in customs

    I had no issues 3 years ago when I shipped a Kentucky KM1000 to Ireland via USPS. I did the, "ship to a friend" thing with PayPal and everybody was happy and the mandolin got there in time for Christmas.

    Lucky me? I guess so...

    Billy
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