Friday, January 02, 2009

Fadi Ghandour and Aramex, I owe you an apology! Outrageous Customs Charges Seem To Be The Norm...

Okay, so I just read Hani's blogpost about his videos and Kinzi's experience with customs for her kid's Christmas gifts and I finally understand a couple of things that happened to me recently. I'm going to completely overlook Hani's comment about his understanding that the customs are higher in December to discourage Christmas gifts as I think we all know where I stand on the hidden discrimination that seems fairly widespread...

But, about a month ago, I had an emergency and needed to order new Clinique make-up. This isn't because of the outrageous mark-ups (although I'm sure they would be), it's because of the literal unavailability of a shade I can wear (you may recall they carry shade number 22 and I wear shade number 01). I used Aramex Shop and Ship because it's the simplest way to get things here. When the package finally arrived, the cost for the shipping was 13JDs. Outrageous! The last time I did this, the shipping was 5JDs, which I thought was a load of hooey given that the package weighed a sum total of less than 1/2 pound. But, I think maybe I owe Aramex an apology for the bid vibes I was sending them. If Hani paid ridiculous customs on his package of videos, is that why my bill this time was so high? Man oh man... If so, Fadi, please consider this as a very public apology. If not, then your pricing structure is outrageous, teehee. However, if it was due to customs, then Aramex needs to be clear on what the cost is for. If I am not told differently, I have no choice but to assume that the total amount is shipping, right?

But, the bigger issue was the package the Beans received from Meme in October. It was two boxes full of things bought at the Dollar Tree (well, except for some more Clinique that she had bought a month earlier and failed to send). Customs decided it required 35JDs in customs. So much for receiving little bits of home. I guess we'll go back to the begging and hoping that friends and relatives will bring back stuff in their suitcases. I only hope they don't get dinged at the airport...

It leaves me wondering, what is the strategic mandate for the customs department? Is it to penalize those of us who are unable to find items in Jordan? Is it to spur local business by forcing everyone to accept sub-standard substitute products? Is it to make those miserable who have loved ones outside Jordan who want to send a little something home? What EXACTLY is their intent? Because their policies should follow their intent. Perhaps one of our awesome blogging community is in the same ahil as the new Director and can ask him. Because someone, somewhere has gone overboard. When you charge average people for receiving goods that are clearly not intended for resale, you're just plain going too far in my very humble opinion. I'm not making money on it, it's just something to make our lives a little easier. In fact, given the awful break-outs I have without my makeup, customs should be paying me to WEAR it, teehee...

Happy highway robbery!

15 Comments:

At 7:27 AM , OpenID nizars.com said...

I think the main goal of customs besides governments income to pay its costs is to protect the local market.

Think of it this way, if there were no customs, people will import more goods into the economy because it will be better/cheaper than to buy locally.

This will make it harder for the local markets to sell/make profits/pay taxes and in general function and turn the wheels of the economy.

Which in the long run would affect all the citizens and investors pockets.

I agree that the customs are pretty high in Jordan, they should be a lot lower than that, specially the private owned imports.

 
At 8:04 AM , Blogger Hani Obaid said...

MB,

Exactly I was so surprised when the Aramex customer service person told me very casually that this is to be expected since it's December!

My colleague who has been ordering from Aramex for several months also advised everything he ordered in December uncharacteristically got custom charged.

yes, 110% customs is really overboard for DVDs :(

Of course we're supposed to thank our lucky stars since places like Virgin sell the same DVDs at a 300% markup. Some people claim it's an agreement between the businessmen and Jordanian customs. i.e. make the customs so expensive that people will have to buy the local stuff. I don't know, but it really sucks especially that you don't know how much customs will make you pay until your package gets to the airport.

 
At 9:59 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Nizars, I might even buy your argument if all of the items charged at such high rates were available in the local market. The reality is that with only shipping charges, it costs more to bring something over than to simply by locally if you can. But, then, I think protectionist tariffs are only hurting the consumer in pretty much every instance (in other words we pay more for substandard products because competition is prohibitive...). And, if I have to overseas to get better quality, then perhaps that's an issue the government should tackle before they charge an import duty. Force business to give a money back guarantee for 6 months on every item. Then, maybe, I'd be more inclined to buy locally. The clothes I've bought the Beans in Jordan rarely last more then 3-4 wearings. Compare that with my clothes from the US that have lasted through all three Beans, literally...

Hani, terribly sad. It certainly does push towards buying the locally available 1JD versions doesn't it? For me, again, I can't find most of the movies the Beans are asking for. Another item to add to te list of friends coming out this way...

 
At 11:29 AM , Blogger maroo said...

omg !! 3 days ago i was about 2 make an order from sears for some awesome coats and sweaters for me and my sisters .. the total amount of my shipping bag was 498$ ,, el muhm when i was about 2 send the link 4 dad to put his credit card number, i accidentally checked my blog and i found hani obaid's post .. i was really shocked and disappointed ..
i felt lucky coz still i didnt make the order and disappointed coz i wanted my things sooo bad !!
sure i didnt make it coz 37sabatkom r7 a5lee dad ydfa3 more than 900$ 4 nothing !!!
BUT my big question is will that 110% tax will stay after December??!!!
asln the sale will finish at 3/1 :( :( im soooooo pissed :(

 
At 1:34 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Hate to say it, but while the amount might go down some, it is still likely to be outrageous. I got my shipments in October and they were high. It all depends on what they decide the value is and the percentage they want to charge. So, who knows... Sorry you're facing the same issue we have. The Beans are just wearing last year's coats (okay so the arms are a tad short...) to avoid paying huge amounts for crappy quality locally.

 
At 12:10 AM , Anonymous UmmFarouq said...

I once was asked to pay 36 JD for CDs that my sis got free on boxes of cereal and had saved for the kids. Ha!

Come to think of it, we nearly have to pay 36 JD for cereal.

 
At 12:51 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Umm Farouq, indeed, we do seem to pay about 36JDs for cereal don't we...

 
At 6:13 AM , Blogger Nicole said...

Have you ever gone over the boarder to Syria by car? The interesting thing is that the Syrians could care less what you bring into Syria or out. It is the Jordanians who are dumping the entire car on entry to see what you have in there. I mean, if you went to Syria, you are sure to buy something. What is the paranoia. They should be checking those nutty taxi drivers who buy loads of cigarettes on the way in and the way out. There should be a rule about that...

 
At 6:18 AM , Anonymous Faraj Bassil said...

Dear All, we thank you for bringing this issue for discussion & would like to clarify a few points;

Aramex Shop&Ship shipping charges changed in July 2008 to become JD 7.50 for the first 1/2 kg & JD 6.00 for each additional half Kg.

In case a shipment is held in customs & requires a formal customs entry transaction, our fee for customs clearance is JD 15.

As facilitators of Trade, Aramex works closely with all Government Entities & Regulators in continuous attempts to meet clients expectations & offer the highest quality service. We shall take all the comments mentioned by the contributors to this blog to our regular meetings with customs & exert every effort to make personal internet shopping a pleasant & cost effective experience.

Posted by Faraj Bassil - Aramex Jordan Country Manager

 
At 7:12 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Nicole, I can imagine. It's kind of like the US where the limit something like, what $2000. Under that, why should they care? But, I'd imagine the revenue dip would put Jordan out of business?

Faraj, thanks for your response. I appreciate that you guys are taking the time to hear us. It sounds like maybe 1/2 kg is REALLY light (you know all of the measurements here are like funny money to me). At any rate, I do appreciate your taking our concerns to customs. Next, could you revisit your pricing ;). It's a bit prohibitive except in case of emergency for me :(. In all seriousness, keep up the good work.

 
At 7:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

By making people pay high custom taxes for their personal items will soon result in very low revenue for the Customs Dept. People will simply stop ordering online, and they are the ones who will be out of business before they know it. My point is, I hope they look at the matter in the long term, how it will effect them, and hundreds of other employees who depend on people like us for their livelihood.

 
At 9:00 AM , Blogger Hani Obaid said...

Mommabean 1KG = 2.2 pounds

so i think that comes to about 7JD per pound

I should mention it used to be about half that at one point but was increased due to rising oil prices. It seems like many companies it did not restore it's prices to normality when the oil prices dropped again.

 
At 3:43 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Anon, I agree. I know that the high customs and high shipping chages definitely impacted how much Christmas shopping I did on-line (none).

Hani, thanks. That'll stick in my mind for about 1 second, teehee. I am very frustrated by oil dependent industries taking advantage of the rising prices to double theirs and then not bring them back down when prices fall. But, what can you do?

 
At 6:50 AM , Blogger Led Zeppelin said...

It seems many bloggers have had bad experience with this..and I thought I'm the only one who suffered from the extremely high custom fees rip off,and deciding not to order online anymore.

Myth: if you order an electronic device,a mobile phone..etc, you will get customed.

Fact: Every single box gets customed, even if you get a box full of feathers,they will value it and charge you a huge amount!

my experience is long and very frustrating with online orders,but I will tell you this.

1. They get a stream of cash from this, and their motives are most definitely GREED!
Last time I checked the customs were mainly to fight smuggling and illegal activities,to regulate importing commercial fees,but Not to charge the ordinary individual for a personal box,be it bought online or sent be a relative!

2. They view us as luxury high class ppl for using such a luxury feature in life..MAIL-BOX, instead you should head down to the local market and buy any china 3rd rate item you need and keep your mouth shut, or else they will rip the hell out of you.

3. After many orders I have learned a few tricks, Note that I don't use aramex or fedex, only direct online purchase to my mailbox,therefor these tips are used when I go downtown to personally clear my box from customs :

A) Avoid getting any box in the mail.

B) If you have to get the box, make sure you know the value (online receipt) included in the box and try to ALTER it to a suitable amount before it is sent.
Most USA online retailers are honest and won't do that,but some do, Another way is to ask not to include any receipt at all, and maybe you will get lucky and the customs guy without price knowlege will value your item at $50 while its real value is $100

C) I checked this in late 2008,and don't know if it is still active now,that is if you are a Jordanian, you are entitled to a customs fee bypass once every 6 months at a box value of 50 JD.
Of course they never mention this to you unless you go to the managers and the officials and show them that you refuse to get ripped off,then they show you this "hidden" feature.
This is to be used only by the person who's name is mentioned on the box, so get a Jordanian name on the box..and send the poor guy to customs :)

D) a Box will get customed, but a small parcel package or an envelope bubble parcel will most likely pass and come to your mail box, so check the available shipping options as I have received DVDs this way and always found them in my mailbox.


I hope this will help some in their online ordeal orders!

 
At 7:13 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Led, it's clearly not just you. I agree that customs' focus and mission seems to be different than what I would expect. But, I guess if His Majesty is happy with it, then so be it. We were aware of the limits after a contentious conversation with El 3atal and the customs guys at the post office in the balad. However, they don't really tell you how much value they're putting on your shipments unless they're cahrging you customs on it. That's annoying. So, I'm just going to tell MimiBean no more packages through the mail (I already gave her the mailer envelope that looks like a book suggestion, but she just wants to send more interesting things...

 

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