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Thread: Another international shipping dilemma ... advice please?

  1. #1
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Looking for information/advice from anyone in the UK.

    For the second time this month, we've had a package returned to us from the UK. On the outside of the package it says "Not Called For". This means the customer was not home when Royal Mail tried to deliver it. Presumably a notice was left for her, to tell her that there was a package waiting for her. The notice should have been left on August 22, and the package was apparently at her Post Office until October 13th, when it began its return journey to us.

    UK quilters... is Royal Mail generally good about leaving those notices advising you that you have a package? How much of a chance is there that a notice was never left?

    Ready for the twists and turns of the saga? On October 2nd this customer e-mailed us to tell us that she had not received the package, though she had received our e-mail notification that we had sent a package back on August 12th. We responded by telling her (again) what the package number was, and suggesting that she check with her local Post Office to ask if they were holding a package for her. She e-mailed us again on October 6th to say that she had checked at the Post Office and they did not have a package for her.

    Something's not right, because I have the package in front of me now and it was stamped by Royal Mail as being returned on October 13th!

    UK people, does this sort of thing happen a lot? What have your experiences been?

  2. #2
    np3
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    Power Poster np3's Avatar
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    This is actually kind of sad. The costs over there are so high and the opportunity to buy fabric here and have it shipped is a good one. And then things like this happen.

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    In my area the postman will usually try various neighbours to see if someone is in to take the package, they put a card in your door to let you know where it is, whether back at the sorting office or the neighbour..If at the sorting office you can either pick it up yourself or it can be re-delivered on a day to suit you. This should happen in all areas, if there is a complaint it has to be made by the sender at their post office, what happens when that is oversees I don't know. Normally they only hold it for 7 days so they went extra for your parcel. They are usually very good at returning packages to the sender if not delivered. I cannot think of a reason it wasn't delivered. I wonder if the lady is going to her post office for it and not her local postal sorting office which is where it goes back too. May be worth checking with her. pm me if you need any further help, I will do all I can to help resolve this for you.

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    Sorry I have just re read your thread... If the lady went to the post office they will not know where the parcel is, she needs to contact the sorting office.

  5. #5
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    When we send packages from our school (which is pretty regularly because of the International Baccalaureate program), we no longer send them via USPS. Rather, we use UPS. USPS has pretty much told us that they have not way to track packages when they leave the states, regarless of the mailing method. UPS, on the other hand, will track at all times at no extra cost. This is true whether we are sending the package to the UK, South Africa, or any other country that you can name.

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    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I would take a picture of the package showing the stamped return and email it to her. It wasn't your fault, you shipped it. If she wants it reshipped she will have to pay postage again. She can sort out what happened with her postal service. There is nothing you could have done about the package being returned.

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    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    I don't think that Royal Mail would have left the package with a neighbor, because there was 11.79 GBP in fees/VAT due. (That's about 18 USD.)

    We learned years ago not to use FedEx or UPS for international shipments, because if the customer refused to pay the fees, WE would get stuck with it. And their fees are higher. Yes, you do get great package tracking, but at quite a cost.

    Trouble is... we had to pay our mailman $13.45 when he brought the package back to us!

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    my mom lives in england, for over 25 years, i have Never had a package come back to me,ever. i sent them over at birthdays and holidays. don't know what is going on.

    edited to add: we have always shipping USPS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Favorite Fabrics
    I don't think that Royal Mail would have left the package with a neighbor, because there was 11.79 GBP in fees/VAT due. (That's about 18 USD.)

    We learned years ago not to use FedEx or UPS for international shipments, because if the customer refused to pay the fees, WE would get stuck with it. And their fees are higher. Yes, you do get great package tracking, but at quite a cost.

    Trouble is... we had to pay our mailman $13.45 when he brought the package back to us!
    I still feel the problem could be that she went to the post office.... over here that is where you post the parcel, buy stamps etc, but not where you pick up parcels.. that will be the sorting office and it is the only thing they do. The other thought of course is that she may have not realised she had to pay for it to be delivered over here and didn't want to pay... I would not have known if I had not read this board.

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    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    [quote=loopywren
    The other thought of course is that she may have not realised she had to pay for it to be delivered over here and didn't want to pay... I would not have known if I had not read this board.[/quote]

    That had occurred to me too...

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    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    I had similar happen here in the US!!! I finally went down to the postmaster and had a "come to church meeting"....meaning I had a SERIOUS talk with him. Haven't had the problem since!!!!

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    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    I am presuming that your customer paid for the shipping in the first place, so if there was then an extra fee to pay, it would have been because there was a customs fee (tax) involved.

    When I had a small business, the first time it happened to me I was quite shocked, as I had no idea that this might happen. I had ordered a fair amount of cotton (quilting) fabric, and there was an import charge levied on the parcel, that cost me about 50 at the time. If I hadn't been there to pay it when the postman arrived, I have no idea where it might have gone - possibly back to Customs and Excise, rather than the local sorting office.

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    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    I've had such negative experiences shipping out of the US, that I simply won't do it anymore:< I know this doesn't help you, but in the future is the business really worth all this extra angst, time and money?

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    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace
    I've had such negative experiences shipping out of the US, that I simply won't do it anymore:< I know this doesn't help you, but in the future is the business really worth all this extra angst, time and money?
    Well... to certain countries, no. But to the UK, definitely yes.

    For instance, Turkey. Shipped one package there, and it did not arrive. So we put in an insurance claim. But we won't ship there again!

    We learn by doing, I guess.

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    I agree with loopy Wren and think your customer went to the Post Office and not her local sorting office. Royal Mail are usually good. Also it depends a bit on where your customer lives - if the area is a bit dodgy the postie probably wouldn't leave a package with a neighbour, or hidden by the back door as they might do in a nice area (they don't want to have to carry the parcel back with them do they!) Please don't give up sending abroad, you guys seem to have such lovely choices of fabrics.

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    Yup, UK customers need to check for packages with the sorting office, not the post office.

    In my experience Royal Mail is pretty good at leaving notices - I've received dozens and dozens of packages, and only two cases I can remember where the package was waiting at my sorting office and I hadn't had a notice telling me about it. I always double-check with the sorting office before I give up on a package though... :)

    If the value on the customs form is above $25 or so (the exact threshold changes as currency conversion rates fluctuate), the package goes through customs to be assessed. This means a delay of approximately 3-4 weeks. The package then isn't delivered to the recipient's house at all. It is sent directly to the sorting office and a "green" notice is mailed to the recipient (ordinary notices are red), which states that the package is at the sorting office and a charge will be payable. (Import duties, plus a hefty Royal Mail handling charge of approx. $15.)

    In either case (recipient not home or import charges payable), the sorting office will keep a package for three weeks before it is returned to the sender.

    It's mostly reliable in my experience, although human error is always possible...

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    Thank you for that salmonsweet, it helps to have this knowledge, Please you ladies over there, don't stop sending to us. I am longing to start ordering from you, but am holding off until this is more sorted. It appears we have custom charge and a Royal Mail delivery charge, the latter is not on really as you have already paid shipping but there it is. Apparently if a friend sends you stuff and therefore lables it a gift we do not pay any charges over here.. this, of course, does not apply to a shop though. I do not know that 100% for sure though, a lady on the board tells me it is so.

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    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cornish Maid
    I ... think your customer went to the Post Office and not her local sorting office.
    I would not have known that there was such a thing as a sorting office. We just have ... the Post Office. One place to check.

    Is it common knowledge in the UK that parcels would be at the sorting office? Or that there are two kinds of places that handle the mail? (I'm not even sure that I'm saying this well or clearly.)

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    Super Member kim_s's Avatar
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    I don't have anything to add but I just wanted to say I'm sorry that you (and your customer) are going through this. Kudos to you for offering international shipping even though it can be problematic at times! I know our international friends appreciate it! Good luck in the resolution!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Favorite Fabrics
    Quote Originally Posted by Cornish Maid
    I ... think your customer went to the Post Office and not her local sorting office.
    I would not have known that there was such a thing as a sorting office. We just have ... the Post Office. One place to check.

    Is it common knowledge in the UK that parcels would be at the sorting office? Or that there are two kinds of places that handle the mail? (I'm not even sure that I'm saying this well or clearly.)
    Yes there are two, the sorting office is exactly what it says, it is where the mail is sorted for delivery to our houses, into a letter box or for parcels in which case they knock at the door. If a parcel is not able to be delivered it is taken back to the sorting office and a card is put in your door. You can then collect it or arrange for re delivery to your home.These are government run at the moment and though there will be one in your area it may not be in your town, and they are not open as many hours. The post office is where you buy stamps, get tv and driving licences and the such like,these are inside shops of one sort or another, newsagents or supermarkets for example they are privately run,there will be several in each town and often in villages too. Hope this helps clarify things. Forgot to say that the card in your door tells you where to collect your parcel, the times it is open and a phone number if there are any queries, so there is no excuse for someone not knowing what to do or where to go, as the post office is private and you can post a parcel there you cannot pick one up.

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