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Editorial

Package Shipping From USA To Russia? 222

Posted by Cliff
from the mired-in-red-tape dept.
Pavel Koshevoy wrote an impassioned plea to assist him in figuring out how to ship a package to Russia. You would think that UPS would be able to do this with no problems after seeing all of those commercials on TV, right? Wrong. It appears that if you want to send a package from the U.S. to Russia and you its destination isn't to Moscow, Nizhnij Novgorod, Krasnodar, Novorossiysk, Togliatti or St. Petersburg, then you might be lucky to get a 1 pound package thru. Of course the highest value package UPS will accept is $100. If this sounds fishy to you, then you might want to read the whole story from Pavel, below.

The following words are from Pavel Koshevoy:

About a month ago I got an e-mail from a friend of mine in Khabarovsk, Far East Russia. We were classmates until about 5 years ago, so we brought each other up to date on what we are up to. He recently got his diploma in CS so I asked him if he had a chance to play with Linux. He hadn't and was unwilling to install it because of the shortage of diskspace on his Win98 box. So, I decided to put together an upgrade package for him and did so from new and used parts (total value about $300). Now...how do you ship it?

After talking to DHL with unsatisfactory results, I decided to try UPS. I called them up and ask whether I can ship a $300 package to Khabarovsk, Russia, and be able to pay the duties on that myself. They said yes and set me up with a UPS account which costs $45 a year (to do this with DHL, you have to be a business, no exceptions). Not bad, I thought, so Aug. 22 I shipped the package (after spending hours filling forms, of course) and happily send a tracking number to my friend telling him how he could track it over the Web.

Two days later I check up on the UPS tracking Web page and discover this:

Aug 24, 2000 6:51 P.M. LOUISVILLE INTL, KY, US TRANSFER NOTIFICATION FOR INFO FOR DELIV
5:00 P.M. MOSCOW, RU VALUE OF COMMODITY EXCEEDS LIMITS
3:28 P.M. MOSCOW, RU VALUE OF COMMODITY EXCEEDS LIMITS
2:59 P.M. MOSCOW, RU DESTINATION SCAN
2:59 P.M. MOSCOW, RU FORMAL ENTRY REQUIRD FOR HIGH VALUE SHPT
1:20 P.M. MOSCOW, RU VALUE OF COMMODITY EXCEEDS LIMITS;EXCEPTION RESOLUTION NOTIFICATION-OPEN

So, I call UPS and ask them about my package? The operator tells me that there seems to be a restriction on packages going into Russia, that the value of the package has to be under $100 when it is shipped anywhere except 5 cities: Moscow, Nizhnij Novgorod, Krasnodar, Novorossiysk, Togliatti and St. Petersburg. Packages sent to these five cities can be valued as high as $10,000. Later, another UPS rep calls and tells me that the package is valued over $100 and will not be accepted, and wanted to know if I would pay $164.25 to get it back. Eventually I convince UPS to return my package free of charge, however there was still the question of the original $184.25 charges from UPS for the shippment. Until today (2000/09/13) this was still up in the air. I would call UPS and complain, they would put in an urgent message to my account executive, and nothing would happen. This went on for two weeks. When I finally got a real person who could authorize a refund, she was not willing to do it for the full amount. She claimed that since I had a UPS account, I was responsible for knowing about the $100 limit, never mind that I opened the account with one goal in mind - to be able to send the package and pay the duties so that my friend wouldn't have to. However at this point I was too frustrated with them, so we agreed to go 50/50.

Then she sent me an e-mail which wound me up even more: the $100 limit includes the shipping charges.

This is the first time I was ever told this. Up until now I was going to split my package into three packages and resend them separately. You have to realise that the lowest shipping cost to Russia is $77.50, and that's for a 1 lb. package. Plus, there is a $20 surcharge for shipment to Russia for a total of $97.50. With the $100 restriction in place the value of the package must be at or below $2.50! Something is clearly very wrong here.

Effectively, UPS cannot ship packages of any reasonable value higher than $2.50 to any cities in Russia except the five I have mentioned, Furthermore, when looking through the UPS RATE AND SERVICE GUIDE I could not find anywhere mention of this restriction. No, instead, Russia is put in the same category as Norhtern Mariana Islands, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Solomon Islands. Do all those destinations also have the same restriction on the value of the package?

So, I insisted on the full refund, and I've got it with a warning that this is a one-time deal and they will not do it for me again. Even though I've got my money back, I am still upset at UPS over the grief they put me through. I opened an account with them just so I could send this package and pay duties for it. Their service guide should not even list Russia as far as I am concerned. Even more puzzling is the exception that they have made for the other five cities.

I still want to send this package to my friend, so if anyone has any ideas I would like to hear them, please.

Sincerely, Pavel (Paul) Koshevoy

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Shipping From US to Russia via UPS? Forget It!

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:32AM (#779545)
    People also don't feel like anything can be done. What would you have done in Kosovo? East Timor? El Salvador? Afganistan? Chechnya? Iraq?

    We've learned that sending troops into a fucked up place usually just results in a fucked up place with a lot more guns, violence and destruction (Kosovo, El Salvador, Afganistan, Chechnya).
    We've learned that imposing sancions on a fucked up place just results in a very poor, fucked up place (Iraq).
    Sending aid to a fucked up country just results in the leader getting more power to fuck up the country more (every African country).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, 2000 @12:03PM (#779546)
    If you check the US Post Office's list of prohibitions for mail services going to Russia, you might very well think the DMCA is tame.

    ...And a typewriter a computer ain't.

    http://ircalc.usps.gov/prohibitions/Russia.htm

    Prohibitions for Russia
    Perishable infectious biological substances.
    Perishable noninfectious biological substances.
    Radioactive materials.
    Firearms and ammunition, explosives, combat weapons.
    Printed materials, plates, negatives, developed films, photographs, movies, video recordings, magnetic computer information storage media, manuscripts, records and other sound recordings, drawings and other printed materials, and forms of plastic art politically or economically damaging to the country.
    Pornographic, vulgar, and erotic materials.
    Russian and foreign currency, government securities and Russian lottery tickets, Russian Vnieshposyltorg and Vniesheconombanque checks.
    Eurocheck system forms and access cards.
    Undeveloped movies and photographic films, photographic plates and paper.
    Eggs, honey, pollen, wax, honeycomb.
    High frequency radio-electronic devices (transmitters and receivers) regardless of strength, high frequency ultrasound equipment, and generators for industrial, scientific, and medical use, and location detection devices used to measure transportation speed.
    Copying/reproduction equipment (with the exception of typewriters).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:36AM (#779547)
    Hardware prices (wholesale) in Russia and other former Soviet Union countries are the same as in the U.S. When visiting Ukraine I was told this by someone who runs a small PC outfit. Given this, I'd avoid the headache and send/wire/transfer money.
  • by superfly (76) <grant@antiflux.org> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:42AM (#779548) Homepage
    I looked at your auction page and it doesn't have your full username (ie, the 12 characters that Slashdot cut off). Wouldn't that (and the story about how it came about) boost the price?

    Well, maybe not. But it would be interesting.
  • by Pathwalker (103) <hotgrits@yourpants.net> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:01AM (#779549) Homepage Journal
    I've stopped using UPS entirely for one simple reason:
    You can't pick it up from the depot if you aren't there when they stop by.
    At least with FedEx you can always go and pick it up that evening.
    --
  • by Pathwalker (103) <hotgrits@yourpants.net> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @12:58PM (#779550) Homepage Journal
    I actually picked up a package at their depot once. The trick is not to ask if you can pick it up, you tell them you need to pick it up that night.

    Tried it a couple of times - no luck any time. I don't know anyone who has managed to do it with the UPS depot near where I live.
    --
  • by scottm (288) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:06AM (#779551)

    The saying is

    "Eat your cake and have it too"

    It makes a lot more sense when you think about it (:

    And isn't it "capish"?

  • by Paul Crowley (837) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @11:44AM (#779552) Homepage Journal
    I seem to remember it was the above. I don't know what his previous login was or why FascDot killed it. But FascDot also chopped off "Ungrounded Lightening Rod"'s rod... suffice to say that Slashdon'ts mistakes are educational for anyone else wanting to do reputation management...
    --
  • by CaseyB (1105) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:22AM (#779553)
    Just make sure that Tom Hanks [imdb.com] isn't the delivery guy.
  • by CaseyB (1105) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @01:41PM (#779554)
    The theatrical trailer puts it closer to the mark -- the plane crashes as he's returning on a FedEx flight from Moscow.
  • by Frodo (1221) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:43AM (#779555) Homepage
    Mostly, if you order from overseas and US supplier agrees to send them overseas, and agrees to accept non-US credit card - which is increasingly hard thing to find, last time i tried 80% of the shops refused to accept non-US credit card - when everything here is OK your send it by air post and hope nobody steals it in the way. You do it in any case, because if just shipping via UPS is going to cost you $100 starting price, what the heck you should buy so that it would prove itself? A car? A house?

    And yes, there are places on this planet where people can't order things online from the US. You'll be terribly surprised, but they manage to live without that :)
  • by MoNickels (1700) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:01AM (#779556) Homepage
    Don't use Mailboxes Etc. Even shipping from New York City to myself in Paris they got the information wrong, costing me $90 extra in customs fees. You have to declare ZERO value, in any case, no matter what the destination, just to avoid problems with customs on the other end.

    Your best bet is to fly over and include the goods in your carry-on luggage. It's the only guarantee.

  • by Malc (1751) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @07:46PM (#779557)
    That reminds me of a song by New Model Army... but they were refering to the UK. How many countries really do consider themselves the 52nd state?!
  • by Malc (1751) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @07:47PM (#779558)
    The USPS web site didn't like that when I tried to do a look-up based on zip.
  • by Malc (1751) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:24AM (#779559)
    It's hard enough getting US supplies to ship to Canada, let alone more "exotic" locations. Great White North - far east Russia... they're close to each other aren't they?!! ;)
  • by copito (1846) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:36AM (#779560)

    Q: What do you think about American Culture?
    A: I think it's a good idea.
    (adapted from Ghandi)


    It's more forceful as
    I think it would be a good idea (the original form when he was asked about Western Civilization).

    --
  • by Evangelion (2145) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:29AM (#779561) Homepage

    That's not the problem. The problem is that somewhere along the line, it's going to get stolen if it even looks like it has commercial value.

    --
  • by Evangelion (2145) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:40AM (#779562) Homepage

    Nah, all the pirated software over there comes on CD =)


    --
  • It's a simple question of how to get a parcel sent reasonably safely and resonably frugally to East Podunk, Russia (or Paraguay, or rural Vietnam, or Sierra Leone, or Uzbekistan, for that matter).

    My girlfriend works for an international courier, and one of the places they occasionally deliver to is a small island in the South Pacific (I forget which one). The official delivery method is to dump a box on the beach. At some point in the next week or so, a local "postman" will come and pick it up, and take it to the intended recipient. You'll find that even technologically backwards countries have evolved reasonable efficient processes for getting things done, even if they sound unbelievable to the western world.

  • by Zemran (3101) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:22AM (#779564) Homepage Journal
    Whenever I send packages to Russia (about 8 per year), I always use the postal system and lie about what is in it. OK, I am in the UK and we have a working postal system that doesn't shoot people but the theory is the same. If I send anything of value I claim it is a book with a value of £5. The package is always a solid jiffy bag with crinkly cardboard to stiffen it, so no one would know the difference. If you say what it is inside it will get stolen. If you say it is a book they don't care. As yet I have not lost a package but I accept that I could. I am prepared to risk losing the occational package as no one will get into trouble, it will just get stolen the same as it would if I wrote the truth on the customs declaration.
  • by mauriceh (3721) <maurice@nOspAM.harddata.com> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @07:31PM (#779565) Homepage
    In most countries, the REAL international air courier is DHL.
    For example I was in Kenya and Tanzania this summer.
    DHL depots on most towns.
    Same applies in most places.
    DHL is the original and still the best worldwide courier.
    UPS outside the USA mainly sucks.
    Ever try collecting on an insurance claim for lost or damaged goods with UPS?
    I have..It takes months.
  • by boinger (4618) <boinger@nOsPaM.fuck-you.org> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:06AM (#779566) Homepage
    I believe the lyric is "...we don't need the key we'll break in..." not "...break it..."
  • by maxic (5853) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:03AM (#779567)
    I used USPS Express Mail to send a few packages to my relatives in Kharkov, Ukraine. Every single one of them arrived within five days, it cost me about a quarter of what UPS/DHL/FedEx would ask, the declared value was higher than $100 (can't remember the exact numbers, sorry), and my mother just had to go to the main postal office of the city to get those packages (not a single incident with customs). On the other hand, when I was living there, I bought a few books at bn.com, and getting it through the local customs was a major pain (bn.com was using either DHL or FedEx).
  • by Kesha (5861) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:50AM (#779568) Homepage
    Actually, it would be interesting to see if a sort of package encapsulation is possible (analogous to IP tunnelling). So, I am quiet sure that UPS and FedEx both have offices in Moscow. They could encapsulate my package and send it to Moskow, where it would then be opened and my package inside would be routed to the final destination. Cool idea, maybe I should tell them?

    On the other hand this is probably illegal according to the Russian law, right?
  • by "Zow" (6449) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:59PM (#779569) Homepage

    Okay, even if you aren't very religious yourself, bear with me.

    The pastor of our church just left us to go do missionary work in Kurdzadistan (sp?). I got to thinking about that after seeing the post recommending that you label the box as books about democracy. That would seem kind of suspicious to me as a "customs" agent and I might be inclined to peek inside and check. On the other hand, churches are sending packages to some of the most far flung parts of the world all the time so. . .

    Arrange with a local church to ship the equiptment in their name to an affiliated church near your friend. Label the box Religious Materials: Bibles, Pamphlets, Hymnals, etc. If you want to be really cheeky, mark the value as "salvation". They must see that sort of thing coming into Russia all the time since the fall of the central communist party.

    And you can actually line the top of the box with Bibles, which will serve a dual purpose: 1. it will reassure anyone who has a peek that the contents are actually religioius materials and 2. it'll probably help the church. The bibles will have to be in Russian of course, but I'm sure that your donation of them and the associated cost of shipping will be a welcome gesture to the church in return for their help.

    Personally, I kind of like the idea of labeling computer parts as religious materials. After all, Someone had to invent solid state physics. . .

    -"Zow"

  • by hatless (8275) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @12:28PM (#779570)
    As y'all go around moderating up all sorts of conspiracy theories and wacky schemes and bad ideas (like declaring zero value on a $300 package), this person is right and gets marked as flamebait.

    Yes, folks, here in the real world there are sometimes correct answers. In response to rampant theft and corruption, most parcel-delivery companies either charge insane rates (DHL) or simply refuse to deliver to all but the most accessible, modern Russian cities (FedEx, etc.). In response to this, thousands of small courier companies have sprung up. They operate out of storefronts in immigrant neighborhoods. They advertise in emigre newspapers and on the web. They rent container space on ships and hire local delivery people. They send small, urgent packages with couriers. They get stuff delivered. Usually with 95% of DHL's reliability at half DHL's price.

    This isn't a coding challenge with points awarded for the cleverest theoretical solution. It's a simple question of how to get a parcel sent reasonably safely and resonably frugally to East Podunk, Russia (or Paraguay, or rural Vietnam, or Sierra Leone, or Uzbekistan, for that matter). And the way most private citizens do it is through these small delivery companies.

    Give the /. community any topic, even a nontechnical one like this, and hundreds of people who don't know a damn thing about it will spout off all sorts of bilge, apparently. Heaven forbid anyone here acknowledge that they simply don't know.
  • by llywrch (9023) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:41AM (#779571) Homepage Journal
    >One thing that nobody seems to have noticed/mentioned is that most airlines also do package shipping as part of their regular service.

    But make sure the airline's not Aeroflot. (At least based on the reputaiton I've heard . . .)

    Geoff
  • by Juggle (9908) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:08AM (#779572) Homepage
    I'm starting to think that UPS actually has no clue what the hell they're doing when it comes to international shipping.

    I recently setup a full e-commerce site for a client who was located in Mexico. His site is run out of the US and his credit card processing is done through Bermuda but all his shipments come direct from the manufacturer in Mexico. Most of the comapnies we had to deal with had no problem understaning this....but not UPS.

    We wanted to use some of the tools UPS has been hyping for e-bussiness. Specifically we wanted the tools for calculating shipping costs, estimating shipping times, generating tracking numbers, and for integrating shipping with your existing site. But after nearly two months of e-mail and phone calls I still had not made any progress getting these tools from UPS.

    On thier website the say they have to licences availabe a developer licence which gives you full access to their tools so you can use them with all of your clients. And the end-user licence which must be filled out and applied for by the company doing the shipping. I filled out the form for the developer license explaining that I had a number of clients who were intersted in using these tools and that at least one of them was located in Mexico. I got back a form letter saying that perhaps the end-user tools would be better for me.

    I e-mailed their customer support saying that the end-user tools really weren't a solution for me since I wasn't about to have all of my clients go to the UPS website and register separately. I never received a reply. Nor did I receive a reply to the second or third e-mails sent at weekly intervals.

    On the phone I was told "Just fill out the form on the website and someone will get back to you". Even after I explained that I had already done that and that my e-mails were being ignored. Finally a rep told me that there really was no such thing as the developers license and he had no idea why their website (Which had been redesigned a week earlier) still had references to it.

    Eventually their rep directed me to a different page and told me to fill out the form there with my clients information and that I would get a username and password to download the tools with. But on that page Mexico was not a choice for country of origin. I told the rep this and he said "Oh don't worry just fill out that form". When I told him I would have to enter incorrect informaiton to do so he told me "Yeah, just fill it out.". I then asked point blank "So you are telling me to lie on this form graning me legal permission to use your software? You really want me to enter false information and lie about the country of origin?". Of course he came back saying "oh no, I can't tell you that".

    Finally after his local rep in Mexico had ignored him for almost 2 months my client managed to get an address out of his local rep which would allow you to register from Mexico. But only for the tracking tool none of the others.

    And then to rub salt in my wounds the next three packages I received shipped by UPS all arrived heavily dammaged. I e-mailed customer support at UPS with a polite letter explaining all the problems I've had dealing with them and saying that receiving three heavily damaged packages in a row was the final straw. As a consumer I was going to vote with my money and no longer choose UPS as my shipper. Two weeks later I received a phone call from UPS appologising but saying they needed my shipper ID number to register the complaint. At which point I explained again as I did in my letter than I am not a shipper I am a consumer who often chooses UPS as a shipper when I order through the web or mail-order because of their price and usual quality of service. Apparantly this was too much for the rep to understand as she appologized and said she'd have soneone else contact me.

    The next person to contact me again required a shipper ID! Finally after 10 minutes on the phone trying to explain the whole thing I said "Look this is silly. I don't have the time to waste on this. Just tell your manager I'm upset because you've consistantly done a bad job and that UPS just lost a customer".

  • by xyzzy (10685) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:43AM (#779573) Homepage
    Look, you're missing the obvious. Self-insure your package. Declare the value of your shipment to be $0. Now, this may get your shipment in hot water with customs people, but I tend to doubt it. All this will end up meaning is that if the shipment is lost, broken, or stolen, you will have to pay for it yourself. But it's only $300, it's not going to break the bank or anything.

    Also, does your friend have any friends or relatives in Moscow or any of the other cities?

    I've shipped computers (usually laptops) internationally before and have found that declaring value only raises stupid questions. Once I was sent a laptop (purchased in the US) from Austria, and it was held up in NYC for 3 days by customs because the sender declared a value of $3k or something and there were issues of duties. Totally absurd -- as if someone would avoid customs duties on an IBM Thinkpad by buying it in AUSTRIA and having it FEDEXed priority overnight to the US!
  • by Natedog (11943) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:02AM (#779574)
    After taking a cold war class this summer (part of my GE I've been avoiding) from a guy that has spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe and Russia two things come to mind.

    1) Russia's economy is very unstable right now and this may be the result of protectionist legislation. (but we all know that protectionist legislation isn't really to protect suppliers, rather its to allow the government to have its hands in international comerce)

    2) Russia has long been based on client-patron relations (ie bribes). This isn't really a bad thing (as we in the west often see it) and it happend all through the Sovient Union and even before the revolution (for example, read "War and Peace", based on real characters and events). And even after the "fall" of communism (which the USSR never really was) not a lot has changed in Russia as far as how things work (BTW - as far as "the way things work" not much has changed since before the revolution) So its very possible that Russian customs has this restriction in place to require companies that ship to Russia to appeal to a patron in Russian customs (ie bribe them) in order to get their packages through. I know this sounds foreign (but it _is_ a foreign culture) and things like this don't get documented, but they never have or will be.

    So my guess would be to ask your friend about how to get the package in - he just might have to talk to some people or have it sent through a local carrier.

    But take this with a grain of salt. This is based on my instructors experiance (and I'm not he) and what he taught so I'm just taking his word for it. If someone in Russia would like to confirm or reject any of this please do - I'm always glad when I can say a prof is wrong about something!
  • by Omar (12533) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:33AM (#779575)
    A quick look at their website doesn't reveal any sort of restrictions to Russia. Might be worth a try? Take a look at FedEx's international service restrictionsinfo [fedex.com].
  • by kevlar (13509) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:24AM (#779576)
    Well first of all we're talking about a TV, and secondly I was loosely quoting the article.
  • by kevlar (13509) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:23AM (#779577)
    You're dodging the issue. The article inflated $100 -> $10,000.
  • by kevlar (13509) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:34AM (#779578)
    You're missing the point. It would cost $10,000 there, and you would _not_ be able to ship it because the damn thing will be stolen... I'm sure its hurting their imports considerable too... otherwise there wouldn't be such a deman.
  • by kevlar (13509) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:22AM (#779579)

    This is because there's an extremely large black market in Russia. They won't accept anything above $100 because it'll get stolen, and then UPS has to pay for the insurance.
  • if your karma actually is changing this much, that's even funnier, as they apparently _can_ be bothered to fiddle with the back end, when I'm sure a simple request to not sell would have sufficed. (?)

    The silliest thing about that is it seems to be staying postive...you'd think they'd just give a Mr. T style bitchslap to maybe -10000...

    I'd stop coming back if this place wasn't so funny.

    Really! All the popularity (and the stupidity that naturally follows) has made Slash wackier and almost more entertaining than USENET. ;)

    --K
    ---
  • by Dredd13 (14750) <dredd@megacity.org> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:31AM (#779581) Homepage
    From FedEx's web site, it looks like they'll ship there, overnight. They don't seem to make any mention (that I could find) of restrictions on what city, etc., just that they will deliver to the Russian Federation, a 5-lb. package for about $180 or some such.

    More expensive, but it seems like it'd work, and I'm almost certain FedEx paperwork has a checkbox for "charge duties to this account #" on it... setting up a Fedex account for personal use is easily achieved (I think I might actually have TWO of them *grin*)

    D
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @01:27PM (#779582) Homepage
    DHL invented overnight shipping -- contrary to popular belief (g).

    They've been doing it since the 30s or 40s as I recall -- fedex and others didn't jump in until decades later, and that's why their international capabilities still lag far behind DHL.

    I think DHL used to do a lot of government/big business stuff exclusively, which is why a lot of people don't know about them. Fedex and UPS did a good job selling the service to the "general public" (including small businesses), and they got the financial rewards for it.

    But for international, DHL can still get a package delivered an order of magnitude faster than fedex/UPS...

    I'm an investigator. I followed a trail there.
    Q.Tell me what the trail was.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:11AM (#779583) Homepage
    And you won't get any of this stupid screwing around like you describe either. They know what they're doing, they don't toss stuff on the next plane going that direction and hope for the best :)

    Yes and no -- you're right that DHL is best for overseas shipping, but it still is pretty crappy. They subcontract to local folks everywhere (that's why they're better -- they've got 50 years worth of international contacts, not 20) so you're still at the mercy of the locals.

    We had a $3000 computer held up in "customs" in Ecuador last year -- our rep went to pick it up from the shippers, and the local shipping company said they needed $2000 CASH or they wouldn't hand it over. We spent 6 months fighting with DHL to have them bring it back to us (similar to this guy's UPS experience -- they want to charge you to return the package!?).

    I'm an investigator. I followed a trail there.
    Q.Tell me what the trail was.
  • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@earthlink . n et> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @11:06AM (#779584)
    This is about the experience of computers living in the world (well, reverse your choice of words). Nerds don't only/all use Linux. Or even BSD.
  • by gatkinso (15975) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:29AM (#779585)
    ...he can clear out some temp files, delete some old games, and install a minimal installation of Linux over the net.

    I am guessing he is loathe to delete any of his pirated software for which he has no installation media.

  • by GC (19160) <giles@coochey.net> on Friday September 15, 2000 @12:28AM (#779587)
    I can't imagine how this qualifies as front-page News For Nerds

    The fact that you are reading and posting a comment to this story almost makes your statement a self-referencing paradox.

    It's a discussion!! It's an intelligent discussion!! what more do you want?
  • by GC (19160) <giles@coochey.net> on Friday September 15, 2000 @12:33AM (#779588)
    I think you'll find that he already had the hardware. Old throwaways from previous upgrades I suppose.
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:44AM (#779591)
    Now my Karma is taking on random values every 15 minutes or so. Taco: If you come to your senses, realize that this is no different than selling an RPG character [slashdot.org], and decide to replace my Karma to where it was the value was "607".
    --
    Linux MAPI Server!
    http://www.openone.com/software/MailOne/
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:20AM (#779592)
    I'll throw in the full story for free to the winner.

    Interesting sidenote: My karma is now 32676743. Yes, really all those numbers. Looks like somebody tried to bitch-slap me and overshot....I guess Taco, like Microsoft, doesn't like his products sold on eBay.
    --
    Linux MAPI Server!
    http://www.openone.com/software/MailOne/
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:19AM (#779593)
    Are Russians (except those 5 cities) totally unable to order merchandise (online or via catalogs)? I doubt it. Ask your friend how things arrive and then you'll know how to send.
    --
    Linux MAPI Server!
    http://www.openone.com/software/MailOne/
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @11:45AM (#779595)
    Someone earlier posted about using a package filled with something else to wrap around your real package. What you can do is go to a library sale or used bookstore that has lots of .10 romance novels, and stack them in a layer on top of whatever you're sending. Then use USPS and ship it book rate - just a few months ago I shipped a big 6lb box of fifty paperbacks to somewhere in Russia for about $40 I think (possibly less).

    As others have said, the trouble lies in announcing that you have something that is worth taking a peek at. Even if someone with ill intent in customs opens your package, if the first thing he sees is "The Temporary Torrid Affair" and it's ilk, he'll probably send it on.

    Of course, the real question is where I can get my hands on some of these low priced goods that the Russians are stealing. I could use a $10 Thinkpad or an E10k for the chilly winter ahead.
  • by binkley (25431) <binkley@alumni.rice.edu> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:51AM (#779596) Homepage
    My recently Americanized Russian wife says:

    I totally believe it. You could suggest to that guy to find the russian
    community in his town - I'm pretty sure Louisville has one, and they
    usually have some private package shipping service going on, for nominal
    fee. It originated when things were bad with food in Russia, and lots
    of Russian stores in the states started offering food packages to
    Russia. I've certainly seen ads here in the Houston store about sending
    anything over.
  • by generic-man (33649) on Friday September 15, 2000 @07:38AM (#779602) Homepage Journal
    Airborne Express is the reason that I stopped buying from MicroWarehouse (and all other *Warehouse stores). They advertised "$7 overnight shipping" which was true. However, Airborne always outdid themselves with sheer acts of stupidity.

    Here's how it would work: I would be at home when the package was due to arrive. The delivery person would walk up not to the "front door" (where the big WELCOME mat is located, and there's a bell on the side) but the kitchen door. After tapping on the screen door we have, he would give up and go next door. He didn't even leave a note saying that the package was delivered next door -- I had to call their customer service number and have them tell me over the phone.

    They once left a package next door right before my neighbors left for a trip to Scandinavia for a couple of weeks. Thank heavens I called Airborne first.
  • by brokeninside (34168) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @11:26AM (#779603)

    Hello update()

    I'm glad you and I see eye to eye on much (like /. has way to many flamebait topics).

    Nonetheless, the front page of Slashdot is a scarce, valuable resource and it seems to me it should have a higher threshold than "vaguely interesting tidbit of information".

    Personally, I think if a topic is even only vaguely interesting, its good enough for /. I'm sure that others disagree. And that's fine with me. Others don't have to read the article if they don't want. Every day, the majority of stories on /. I don't even bother to read because they don't interest me in the slightest. And sometimes when bored I read them anyway because some rather interesting off-topic discussions have a tendency to pop up.

    With a community the size of /. I'd rather see more stories than less. When K5 [slashdot.org] was going, the sheer number of stories was detrimental because of the small size of the community and having that many stories dilluted the number of discussions of substance. OTOH, /. has surpassed that threshold years ago. I'd wager that /. could chunk through close to a hundred stories a day and still have good discussion threads (and possibly better since *in theory* the trolls would be dilluted).

    Anyway, I know that you weren't trying to be mean, but the number of "WTF is this doing here?" posts were getting on my nerves and yours had the misfortune (?) of being one of the earlier ones, so it was the one I responded to.

    have a day,

    -l

  • by brokeninside (34168) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:45AM (#779604)

    And I don't even the remotest desire to ship anything to Russia.

    The defining point of a nerd is a thirst for knowledge. Discussions such as this broaden my understanding of the world.

    And to be hones, I'd rather see questions such as this than 3/4 of the .mp3/napster or kde vs. gnome stories that have posted almost daily for the past three months. Its amazing how the exact same flame wars erupt with each one.

    of course, YMMV...

  • by slickwillie (34689) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:46AM (#779606)
    I sent a small package to Estonia (formerly part of the Soviet Union, for the geographically challenged) earlier this year. UPS charged me about $85 to send it, which I paid for at the counter. Then they lost my check and kept sending me bogus bills. Finally they sent it to a collection agency, even though I sent copies of my cancelled check and check register. It cost me about $100 worth of time and personal expense to resolve it, which of course they refuse to reimburse.

    They have the most screwed up phone system I have ever encountered, even worse than Microsoft support. Each time you call in you get a different CITY, never mind a different person, and no one can communicate with anyone else. The bills came from somewhere in Nevada, and included a phone number, When I called, I got someone in the South, and she didn't have access to the billing records. Stay away from UPS. Use DHL.
  • by slickwillie (34689) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:38AM (#779607)
    Tried going via USPS? I bet the are a lot less expensive.

    They are a lot less expensive, and a lot slower. Plus once it gets to Russia you depend on the local post to deliver it, which is an iffy proposition, especially it is anything of value, since it will most certainly be opened.
  • by slacker990 (35417) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:32AM (#779609)
    This is actually a very good idea, (I was going to
    introduce this one myself, but j0el beat me to it!).

    However Alaska Air (West Coast Airline) flys into Khabarovsk, and they have an airfreight service.

    Another idea would to be to contact some of the companies on this site:
    http://bisnis.doc.gov/bisnis/country/rfe-usco.ht m
    who have a business presence in Khabarovsk. They should be able to give you an idea on how to get something shipped there.

    Keep in mind the information on this site
    http://bisnis.doc.gov/bisnis/country/9902khab.ht m
    regarding customs regulation and importing stuff.

    Good luck.
  • by thogard (43403) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @01:57PM (#779614) Homepage
    A useful trick is label the stuff as non-working.

    If your going to devlare value of "0", a quick letter saying "heres the junk you want, I hope you can fix the... and I don't know why you wanted this other junk...we miss you...." works great if you throw in some other lightweight junk (old teddybears work great for padding) but the letter has to be easy for customs to read so its got to be in the local language.
  • by laetus (45131) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:36AM (#779616)
    "Contents: Textbooks
    1. Democracy and the Mass Media : A Collection of Essays (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Public Policy) by Judith Lichtenberg
    2. The Economics of Transition : From Socialist Economy to Market Economy by Marie Lavigne.
    3. The Merger : The Conglomeration of International Organized Crime by Jeffrey Robinson"

      Then put anything you want in the box and ship it. No one at the border will want to touch the thing. Heh.


    EMUSE.NET [emuse.net]
  • by jovlinger (55075) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:35AM (#779621) Homepage
    the funniest part is how your side is all we get; not that I'm doubting your side, but rather remarking that for a "community" website, those in charge don't seem to participate much in discussion.

    if your karma actually is changing this much, that's even funnier, as they apparently _can_ be bothered to fiddle with the back end, when I'm sure a simple request to not sell would have sufficed. (?)

    I'd stop coming back if this place wasn't so funny.
  • by jgennick (59014) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @05:08PM (#779623) Homepage
    I echo this. I had the same problem a few years back sending things to Ukraine. Most packages that I mailed simply vanished into thin air. None of the package services like UPS or FedEx were of any use. I ultimately ended up using a couple different private delivery services run by people of Ukrainian descent. They turned out to be rock-solid reliable, of reasonable cost, and quite fast. I was sending collectible coins, and they always got through using those services, but never with the postal mail.

    It was interesting though. We take sending a package for granted in the U.S., but in much of the world it's a major logistical problem.

    Jonathan
  • by zorgon (66258) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:42AM (#779625) Homepage Journal
    Pavel, ask your friend to contact a local forwarding company that can clear items through customs and ship them from the port of entry to other points within Russia. Sadly this is not cheap, but they will (if they are reliable) handle the, umm, details. There HAVE to be companies that collect foreign goods at Moscow and ship them via the Trans-Siberian Railroad. In other 3rd world places I've had to ship to, however, they take a big cut: $50 for paperwork .... more for storage ... then the shipping/delivery ... It's just bribery with invoices so it's legal. Usual risks apply of course, I guess if they swap rocks for computers at the airport there's almost nothing you can do... good luck

    WWJD -- What Would Jimi Do?

  • by themurray (78325) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:04AM (#779631)
    Just shows what the communism does to a country after falling due to draining the country's resources like a locust plague for their militarization against the west. The biggest problem was that they did not get rid of the old communist politial bosses out of power to allow a real economy to replace the patchwork now. Putin is a Stalin wannabie, but does not match up with that criminal leader. Unity through the grave is not a government slated to latest beyond the leader.

    It does not surprise me that your having trouble send to russia your package, but I expect with in 5-15 years that russia will fall completely after they are living in early 20th conditions. It is a shame that the russian is unable to kill the communist stigma and become a responsible to their people after the huge mismanagement by the old government.
  • by daniell (78495) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:57AM (#779633) Homepage
    Absolutely; DHL is great, they could deliver to dubai in the UAE 10 years ago in a couple of days rather than the months it takes to normally get/send stuff.

    So, I suggest going to town hall, and registering a virtual company (I believe that's what its called). Its basically a name that's like to your name; then you open a bank account to accept money in that name or pay in that name. The IRS will probably want to set it up with a unique tax ID, but then perhaps that's not necessary since a virtual company is not limited in anyway. (i.e. you are personally liable for the operations of that company, which is okay for a small thing).

    Then go to DHL and get them to do it right with this company name.

    Alternatively, The Island of Nassau in the Bahamas has this deal that you pay them money yearly to have a corporation, they officially give you an employee that does the local paperwork, and a plaque on the wall of a building (that looks like its made of plaques). But this is costly, and only really necessary if you need incorporation for yourself, which I don't really need... but I found its available so... I don't know how to contact them and set this sort of thing up though, sorry.

    -Daniel
  • by Baldrson (78598) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @11:52AM (#779634) Homepage Journal
    Before the one-click patent fiasco, I ordered "October Sky" (with script) as a gift from Amazon when the VHS firt came out and sent it as a gift wrapped present to some friends in Russia. After a while I inquired and discovered that they had the package delivered but were unable to receive it because taxes were due on the package that exceeded their monthly income. Amazon had declared the actual value of the VHS tape ($120) for purposes of customs, and there is a huge tax placed on such "imports" which must be paid by the recipient.
  • by quigonn (80360) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:27AM (#779636) Homepage

    The problem in russia is that the country is *SO* big and there are hardly any concetred roads. Especially in the hinterland for people it's almost impossible to get to the next big town: the whole country lacks public transport.

    And there will be risks (e.g. transport vehicle could get FUBAR because of the bad roads) that UPS simply can't ignore.

    The whole issue is (unfortunately) quite a good example that russia still has to wear the USSR's legacy. :-/

  • by jerdenn (86993) <jerdenn@dennany.org> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:17AM (#779642)
    Man, I _just_ got off the phone with UPS myself. They said that they had delivered a package (a CD-ROM drive) to me last week, and that I had signed for it(I was out of town all week). When I told them that that was impossible, they finally discovered that they had delivered it to *another house two miles away!*

    Now they are saying that they are going to go back and try to get the package back..!

    UPS sucks.

  • by bill.sheehan (93856) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:20AM (#779645) Homepage
    It's not always possible to send packages to the listed cities. I've a friend in Nizhny Novgorod, and ordered him a copy of a Linux distro from LinuxMall. It was held in Moscow, and he was notified that he'd have to travel to Moscow to pay duty and pick it up! A later copy went through. We just sent some foodstuffs (nuts, dried fruit) and a few books and crafts for their children. The package was torn open, but at least it arrived. Russia is no longer communist, but it's not a democracy. It's a kleptocracy. -- Bill "A blessing for the Tsar? Of course! May God bless and keep the Tsar... Far away from us!"
  • by Molina the Bofh (99621) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:42AM (#779648) Homepage
    I live in Brazil and we had a recent problem with UPS. My mother is the president of a non-profit organization for fighting a rare genetic disease [doencadewilson.org], called Wilson's Disease.

    This association gives medicine against this disease for free to people who cannot afford it, to keep them from dying. Its money comes from donations.

    Well, we imported some boxes of this medicine, from US to Brazil. Unfortunatelly we chose UPS. When the medicine was sent to UPS, it was sent as "prescription drugs" in the UPS bill,so it was very clear it was medicine.

    Medicine, in Brazil, has no customs taxes. UPS knows it, for sure, as this can't be the first time they deliver medicine.

    Guess what? BEFORE the product even arrived to Brazil, UPS had already paid customs a total of US$ 1660. This even before customs asked for this money. When the medicine arrived, customs noticed it was medicine and didn't charge anything. But, oops, UPS had already paid for that. They probably do this to expedite things.

    What happened next is that UPS wanted to be reimbursed for this money, so they were not allowing us to get that medicine box.

    Lots of phone calls to the Brazilian UPS branch, to no avail. They simply said they'd keep the box till we refunded them.

    As people could die without this medicine, and negotiations with UPS were resulting in nothing, the association had no choice but to borrow money to pay UPS, as it was urgent, and we intended to negotiate later.

    Now we're asking UPS to refund us, from this money they charged us because of their mistake.If they don't refund us, we're going to the press, both here in Brazil and US, and show everybody what happened, what probably will cause far more damage for them than $1600.

    I even registered this site [cuidadocomups.com.br] (that URL translates to something like "beware of UPS"), that has no content yet, but will be dedicated to showing this and other UPS errors, in case they refuse to give the money back.

    It'd be nice if you post here on Slashdot your problems with UPS, so I can put the messages on this site. You can also e-mail me [mailto] the problems you had, if you wish. If the site goes up, I'll use them.
  • by zpengo (99887) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:24AM (#779649) Homepage
    Based on how everything else in Russia works, you probably just have to do a little lubrication of the machinery. I've never been a big fan of bribery, and I don't necessarily recommend it unless you know what you're doing, but that may be what is required to get that package through.

  • by xmedh02 (100813) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:16AM (#779650) Homepage
    Catalogue (or even online) shopping is not as common in post-communist countries, and when it happens, it's *domestic* mail..
  • by Rizz0 (101760) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:22AM (#779651) Homepage
    I have had some success with shipping goods to the former Soviet Union. Granted, this was in 1996 and I was shipping to Kiev, however this approach may still have some effect. Just remember three magic words - No Commercial Value. Of course, it also helped that I was doing this through a business, so I was able to use DHL.
  • by Kagato (116051) on Friday September 15, 2000 @06:24AM (#779659)
    In many countries service is Subcontracted. Even in the US this is true in many cases. To further the problem dealers are given pretty sweeping powers for having parts reassigned to a different machine. Where there is some under the table cash there is a way.
  • by Kagato (116051) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:24AM (#779660)
    A while ago I worked for an American Company that was rolling out new servers to all their locations world wide. One of these servers was a rather high end IBM RS/6000 Unix box. Since the company in question sends items to russia by the Metric Ton getting it there wasn't a problem. What was the problem was when the computer was uncrated we found that the computer had been replaced with some large rocks while it went through customs.

    Even if your package had made it into customers you'd have a 50-50 chance of ever seeing it again. You're friend is screwed. You're better off wiring US cash and letting them buy it locally.
  • by small_dick (127697) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @06:00PM (#779667)
    have you talked to the USPO? they can probably get it to russia for cheap.

    doesn't russia have a postal service? they have frickin' stamps, they must have a postal service. maybe you can find someone reliable in moscow to forward the package once it's there.

    the biggest problem is the rampant corruption and organized crime. Russia is worse now that Chicago was in the 1920's. It's doubtful a package would ever reach the outer areas.

    I had some russian instructors at my university and they stopped visiting the homeland after being robbed and having their rental car stolen on their last trip.
  • by kd5biv (129563) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:48AM (#779668)
    .. they make *Mexico* look organized. ;-)

  • by fl1t (129930) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:52AM (#779669)
    Absolutely! I used to manage international shipping for a computer mail-order store, and dealt with DHL every day. (Wonderfully simple job really--I sometimes miss it...)

    I've sent packages to everywhere you can legally send things, and then some. DHL always came through. They are even very good about working with Interpol to track down the organised crime rings that steal high-value packages. (At one time, every Mac we sent to Saudi Arabia disappeared along the way.) You can also tag a high-value or fragile item so that it will be handled by one person only at each hub.

    BTW, in "third-world" locations, DHL contracts with local companies to handle the actual deliveries.

  • by -Nails- (135059) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:30AM (#779672) Journal
    Wow, I love it how no matter how short the full text of an article or question is someone still manages to NOT READ IT.

    It clearly says in the text of the question "to do this with DHL, you have to be a business, no exceptions"

    Honestly why do people make comments without reading what they are responding to?

    -Nails-
  • by Ron Harwood (136613) <harwoodr@nOsPAm.linux.ca> on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:24AM (#779674) Homepage Journal
    ...or is that just not viable?
  • by zyqqh (137965) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:20PM (#779675)
    Being an ex-native of Nizhnij Novgorod, I can shed some light on why those 6 cities get special treatment.

    Moscow and St. Peterburg are trivial -- the two metropolises are far larger than any other city in Russia, have the highest density of foreigners, economic activity, etc.

    Nizhnij Novgorod and Togliatti, both noticeably smaller, are the sites of two major automotive factories, which entails (1) a lot of economic activity, (2) increased foreign ties, and, most importantly (3) much more mafia interest. Obviously all 3 have their say.

    Krasnoyarsk and Novorossiysk are a bit more of a suprise, but presumably this links with their raw materials industries, which scores on the same 3 points as above.

    Does this excuse UPS behavior? No. But definitely goes to show that the local distribution of power has serious effects on the operations of a US company. Hrm....

    And for the record, in terms of population, Moscow/StPetersburg/NN are the top 3, but the other 3 are minor towns that aren't much more important than most US county seats.

  • by thylacine (147252) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:47AM (#779685)
    My wife is Russian and we regularly send items from food to perscription drugs to Yoshkar-ola,500 miles east of Moscow. and we us the U.S. Postal services. As long as the package is registered the Russians will not steal it. For computer parts or medicine use American Express. We have even sent $500 this way! It ussually arrives in under 7 days. For bulk items like food or books ship it by sea. It will arrive in two months. However do not insure anything for more than $99 dollars. If your item is insured for more than 100 then the customs agents will charge the recipients %35 of its value.
  • by j0el (154005) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:40AM (#779690)
    Try air freight via Aeroflot with enough insurance to cover it. They fly from Moskow to Khabarovsk every evening. You may need to find a freight forwarder in New York to handle the customs forms.
  • by Snocone (158524) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:38AM (#779694) Homepage
    Anyone who actually does business in third world countries (and yes, Russia outside those five cities does qualify) will tell you that DHL is the most competent service by a great deal. Anybody can fly a box to Stuttgart, it's when you need to get something to darkest Sierra Leone that you see who really knows what they're doing :)

    So jump through whatever hoops there are to use DHL, and you'll have at least as good a chance of getting your stuff where it's supposed to go as you will with any other service, you can be quite confident of that.

    And you won't get any of this stupid screwing around like you describe either. They know what they're doing, they don't toss stuff on the next plane going that direction and hope for the best :)
  • by kruczkowski (160872) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:52AM (#779697) Homepage
    My mother mails packages to Poland via a private companies. True there trustworthness might not be the best, but every package arives. You can find these people near you local Polish/Russian church.

  • by cajun603 (169129) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:09AM (#779698)
    No, I am not making a "spy" joke. A very close friend of mine has a tiny little import/export business of her own to/from some isolated parts of the former Soviet empire. Socks, sweaters, gum, candy that sort of thing. Her boyfriend has been in the business for a few years, and travels back and forth between the US and Russia quite often. Perhaps you could poke around the local Russian immigrant enclaves and find some Russian-branded products and work your way up the distribution network until you find the entrepeneur running the thing. He or she would probably be willing to strike a deal to hand-carry your goods to a trusted courier in-country at the other end, and he/she also knows how to get through customs. Another couple I know, retired from running *the* biggest (legal/non-govt't) import/export business in the early to mid 80's brought back thousands of dollars worth of jeweled boxes and whatnot from Russia without problems. The secret? Put all the clothing, underwear, etc. into one suitcase and all the valuables in the other and make sure they get the "clothes" one first. Helps if there's some lingerie in there, embarrasses the customs guy and they don't want to open the other one...

    -cajun
  • by jerkface (177812) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @11:24AM (#779704) Journal

    This is a country which never even flited with capitalism until now and is actually flourishing with the most fundamental, unregulated, unfettered capitalism at in its purist form.

    Russia is not flourishing. For the most part the economic trend in Russia has been a continuation of the downward trend established in the 80's, and the demographics (such as life expectancy) are reflective of this fact.

    Russia's economy is not characterized by "unregulated, unfettered capitalism ..." As for regulation, I have heard anecdotally that the law would require an individual to go through 13 separate bureaucracies just to start a business that sold socks. What's really going on is that Bureaucrats make a living by asking for bribes; regulations exist in order to give government employees something to be bribed to overlook. Just as in other countries, organized crime specializes both in corrupting the government so that things can actually get done, and outright protecting people from the law. It is now true, and has probably been true for many years, that most of the production that goes on in Russia is against the law. That's how heavily regulated business is in Russia. Some of the other former Soviet republics are about as bad.

    Capitalism means, among other things, "private ownership of the means of production." From what I've explained so far, you can imagine how little private ownership means when you have to bribe someone in order to exercise your property rights. Another complicating factor in the fictitious transition to capitalism is that when Russia privatized many of its state owned enterprises, they did so by a process which often involved bureaucrats giving favors to well-connected aspiring industrialists in exchange for bribes. This process is more plunder than it is privatization.

    Organized crime in Russia is in part an offshoot of the old communist government. The mafia is heavily composed of ex-KGB types as well as factory manager-bureaucrat-politician types who used to be in charge of production and distribution in the communist days. The communist kleptocracy lives on, it just no longer bothers to put a veneer of justice on its activities.

    It may be true that many Russians are honest, hardworking, and intelligent. It's not clear whether that will matter, given that the bad guys are the ones with all the guns and the political power. In the meantime the average Russian must tolerate the pilfering behavior of the customs officials who decide what is allowed to go into the country.

    The American media do not cast a sufficienty ugly pall over our view of Russia, as evidenced by your impression that the country is flourishing and experimenting with capitalism. Again, Russia is going downhill in so many ways (and they still can't keep peace with their neighbor states). Russia is still nothing but a dirty, backwards corrupt third world kleptocracy, distinguished from other such countries only by its wasteful space program and its gigantic stockpiles of nukes.

  • by xjosh (181149) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:30AM (#779706)
    Regarding picking up UPS shipments:

    I always have things sent to the local UPS customer counter in my name and marked 'HOLD FOR WILL-CALL'. I stroll in and pick it up when the web site tracking indicates it has arrived.

    xjosh
  • by YankeeDoodleJoshi (181764) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:13AM (#779707) Homepage
    1) First of all, is this hardware something you couldn't buy in Russia? It may be better to just wire your friend money (Western Union is one good way.... another is getting a one time bank account and just send them an ATM card to fish out the money) to get it rather than go through the hassle of sending heavy packages to Russia. If the hardware requires any sort of electrical power (as in external hardware) they would have to get an electrical adaptor to use it anyway so they're better off getting money to buy it themselves.

    2) Did you try FedEx? I've used it on occasion and everything made it through intact. Of course, I wasn't shipping anything of high value, but everything made it through just fine. The box was opened by customs (as everything is), but since the person I was sending it to was in St. Pete, they just had to go to a local FedEx office and it was there waiting for them. If you send it through regular mail there is no guarantee there would be anything IN the box once they got it - I'd say FedEx is more trustworthy than their local postmen and with FedEx it never enters the wretched local post office system. Only thing is I'm not sure if they have a location in Khabarovsk. But does UPS actually have a LOCAL office there????

    3) I don't know if there is any large Russian population in Louisville, but if there is, you might be able to network a deal with some people if you feel you can trust them to act as couriers in an 'underground railway' sort of delivery method. This is something I've used on occasion as well if I knew someone actually going to Russia. Khabarovsk is probably not the most likely destination but you never know...

    4) Perhaps you can find some way to get it through to Khabarovsk from someplace in the Far East like Japan - they have much more direct traffic to Khabarovsk than most European countries and the US and there might even be a service that does that.

    Whatever you do, don't send it through USPS. Anything heavier than a letter gets opened - especially around the time of any type of holidays when the postal people can expect relatives from abroad to be sending gifts via mail...

    Just my two kopecks...

  • by sulli (195030) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:51AM (#779711) Journal
    I'm told by friends who've used DHL that they are very good at getting through difficult customs situations. I think they're pretty damn expensive, but it may be worth it.

    sulli

  • by sulli (195030) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:01AM (#779712) Journal
    I found it Insightful! But I'm not a moderator yet.

    Seriously, this is a good question. Many of us are, have been, or will be in a position to work with people overseas. So this is good knowledge to acquire - exactly what Ask Slashdot is about.

    sulli

  • by mentin (202456) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:24AM (#779714)
    I don't know, why you failed with DHL, both DHL and FedEx ship anything without a problem.

    Anyway, I would not declare high value, because your friend will have to pay customs based on your declared value (may be this is the reason it failed with UPS) - this will make upgrade too costly for him.

    But even better solution would be to send your friend money with Western Union, and he can buy upgrade himself - computer hardware is cheaper in Russia (except notebooks, maybe).

  • by skoda (211470) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:01AM (#779718) Homepage
    Be careful with Mailboxes Etc. They are *very* expensive! Get a price before handing them anything to be packaged or shipped. If they package something for you, then tell you their exhorbitant fee, you're stuck -- you have to pay 'cause they've got your stuff (as my brother-in-law learned recently).
    -----
    D. Fischer
  • by Vassily Overveight (211619) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @11:36AM (#779719)
    So, I suggest going to town hall, and registering a virtual company (I believe that's what its called). Its basically a name that's like to your name; then you open a bank account to accept money in that name or pay in that name. The IRS will probably want to set it up with a unique tax ID, but then perhaps that's not necessary since a virtual company is not limited in anyway. (i.e. you are personally liable for the operations of that company, which is okay for a small thing).

    This sounds like a lot of trouble to get one package sent. I'd just go find an existing business and pay them an extra $20 to get them to let you use their business name as the originator. No doubt they'd want to make sure you're not shipping drugs or something, but you can package the stuff in their presence to allay that fear.
  • by Vassily Overveight (211619) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:31AM (#779720)
    Just a thought: go to an outfit like Postal Express or Mailboxes Etc. They do shipping thru businesses like DHL and Fedex, and might have a relationship that would allow it through. Another thought: there is a 'general info' number for queries to the U.S. gov't in the phone book. Call it and ask what office could handle a question on how to ship goods to Russia. They should be able to refer you to someone. I once had a question on what power standards were used in Lituania and I got through to someone who could tell me using this method. Thought 3: check with an airline that flys to Russia. It's just possible that they might be able to handle shipping some items for pickup at the freight office of a local airport. I've never tried this overseas, but it's worked for me within the U.S.
  • by cprael (215426) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:00AM (#779725)
    One thing that nobody seems to have noticed/mentioned is that most airlines also do package shipping as part of their regular service.

    To do this, your friend needs to find out what airlines service the local airport. Once you've got that list of airlines, contact them, and see how they would like to handle shipping a small package (that you're willing to have opened/inspected in your presence) to that city. You may have to arrange to have it shipped to the US/EU offices of that airline before they can get it on a plane, but it is doable. Once it arrives there, your friend just needs to go down to the airport and claim the package.

    I don't know what the charges would be for something like this - the last time I did it was in 92, and that was just to San Diego. But I know it (generally) can be done.

  • by byterbit (215485) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:47AM (#779726) Homepage

    I too have been burnt with sending packages.

    People of the US, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand are spoiled when it comes to their postal system. I have found that every other postal system in the world, excepting the above, is staffed by extremely low paid civil service workers who make a living off of their mail. The horror story of trying to ship a 5 pound package to Vladimir-Suzdael I will not repeat.

    For a solution, can your friend get to a port? You can try to have a shipping (as in wet) company carry the package. Sometimes the crew or captain will carry something for a small renumeration (bribe). You may even get lucky if you friend can get to a port served by Maersk or SeaLand. (Actually, I think they merged now. Talk about a Trust/Monoply!)

    You may also be running afoul of archaic importation laws. The value of the Ruble compared to the US Dollar is pretty severe, and with a new nationalistic government they may have strict import quotas.


    Matthew

  • by update() (217397) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:22AM (#779727) Homepage
    I can't imagine how this qualifies as front-page News For Nerds (was it the passing mention of Linux?) but if you live near a city with a Russian immigrant neighborhood, a walk down one block should take you past multiple signs advertising shipping services for goods and money.

    If you're in Kansas or something, maybe somebody living near Brighton Beach or West Hollywood could look out the window and give you a phone number to try?

    Cliff, I can't find my car keys. Could you post an Ask Slashdot about it?

    ---------

  • by update() (217397) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @10:58AM (#779728) Homepage
    I hadn't intended this to be a "Slashdot sux " post -- I mean, I did offer what I think is a good solution, and one that's been endorsed by a Russian below [slashdot.org].

    And I agree with you about the "thirst for knowledge". I'd never heard of Togliatti [volgagirl.com], let alone known that it's a major city whose female inhabitants are eager to meet a foreign husband. (No disrespect meant to Togliatti, that was the only web page in English I could find about it.) And I agree about the worthlessness of recurring flamebait topics.

    Nonetheless, the front page of Slashdot is a scarce, valuable resource and it seems to me it should have a higher threshold than "vaguely interesting tidbit of information". To me, this question has nothing to do with technology, except that the object involves happens to be a computer, is extremely specific and is much more appropriate for Usenet, IRC or a Russian discussion board. I've got to think there's something more relevant and valuable in the submission queue.

    Wow, Flamebait=1, Insightful=1, Interesting=1, Informative=1, Funny=1, Overrated=1, Total=6
    I haven't received moderation like that since my post in one of the "MS sues Andover" stories scored 8 of 10 categories.

    ---------

  • by update() (217397) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @11:39AM (#779729) Homepage
    I have to say, I'm surprised to see so many people expressing enthusiasm for this article.

    This is about the experience of computers living in the world (well, reverse your choice of words). Nerds don't only/all use Linux. Or even BSD.

    First of all, the question was, "How do I ship an object to Russia. The fact that the object in question happens to be a computer doesn't make it a question about computers. Second, I've got to think this story is only here because it mentions Linux. Do you think if someone had written in asking, "My friend needs a new PC so he can run Windows 2000. How should I send it to him?" that would have qualified as News for Nerds?

    ---------

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:04AM (#779730) Homepage Journal
    Look for the Washington address at the bottom [memopile.fi]

    TCL [tclog.ru]

    Search some of these other things Google locates [google.com]

    The key is not that you are shipping a parcel, but that you need Logistical support, which is the business of moving goods from point to point and handling customs issues for you. This is what Logistics companies do best, hopefully you can find one which will help you with Small-Pack (a single parcel.)

    Good luck.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @09:15AM (#779731) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that you and too many other people don't understand Russia. This is a country which never even flited with capitalism until now and is actually flourishing with the most fundamental, unregulated, unfettered capitalism at in its purist form. Only after Putin, or his successor, puts an enforced system of law in place will it resemble the west, then they can winge on about IP, monopolies, etc.

    Fortunately, there are lots of good, honest, hardworking and intelligent people in Russian and something good will arise from the ashes. The signs are there if you can pierce the ugly pall american media casts over lands in central asia.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @08:52AM (#779732) Homepage Journal
    Based on how everything else in Russia works, you probably just have to do a little lubrication of the machinery. I've never been a big fan of bribery, and I don't necessarily recommend it unless you know what you're doing, but that may be what is required to get that package through.

    and how do you propose Pavel does this? The honor system? Staple a bunch of $10 bills to the box and put a note on the outside, "Please remove your bribe and pass this package of absolutely no value on to the next carrier"

    I'm sure there are better ways. Many shippers have partners within other countries. You may have to do some research to find them, starting with the good old USPS. Also, check with airlines as they often will accept packages (your friend may have to go to the airport to pick it up) as air freight (pretty reasonable, too.)

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @11:53AM (#779747) Journal
    I can understand his frustration, but shipping to Russia isn't a problem at all if you understand the system. I used to work for a forwarder and we sent a container full of crap to the Radisson Hotel Moscow almost every other month. The reason most people have trouble shipping to Russia is that basically anything of value is likely to disappear enroute. Shipments of liquor and other high-value commodities are typically escorted by bonded thugs riding shotgun to prevent theft - which is only marginally better, since most of the bonded firms are mob-run anyway and if they like what you're shipping they'll take it themselves. UPS can get a 1 lb package to Khaborovsk for about $85, excluding duties and taxes. The key thing is that you can't INSURE it. That's the limit he was hitting - when she said "the insurance includes the freight" that's normal in the shipping business. I mean, if you ship your goods to somewhere and the ship sinks, you want the insurance to pay not only to replace what's gone, but ALSO to pay the shipping charges you'd be assessed, wouldn't you? That's typical. So if you refuse insurance - i.e. don't declare a value for your goods and put "value for customs purposes only" on the proforma invoice, they won't charge you insurance. Of course, you're screwed if the stuff disappears, but that's shipping in Russia. Note that Russia does NOT have a personal goods/gift exemption so you will be hit for duty charges equal to the legal duty plus whatever bribe the UPS office had to pay for that package to go through unstolen (by the customs officials, at least). You need more help, just email me. -Styopa

The 11 is for people with the pride of a 10 and the pocketbook of an 8. -- R.B. Greenberg [referring to PDPs?]

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