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