I'm a German student who came to Bali to absolve one exchange semester abroad and I have a story to tell.
I studied one semester in London before I came to Bali. Therefore I was only for 2 weeks in Germany, which made me decide to sent my clothes, shoes and the like directly to Bali instead of carring everything to Germany first and then to Bali. I've asked the landlord of the guesthouse I've booked myself in if it's okay to send it to them before I arrive which was almost one month later (12.3.14).
I've compared and booked a parcel over the website Parcel2go.com. The supplier FedEx collected my parcel on the 17th of February 2014.The parcel arrived a few days later in Jarkarta, but till now I haven't recieved my own belongings. What happened?
I've received an email from parcel2go, informing me that my parcel has been hold by customs and I would need to pay over 400 $ custom clearance.
Immediately I disconfirmed and claimed that this can only be a mistake as you don't have to pay duty taxes for personal belongings which won't stay in the country. Because of the recipient wasn't only me they believed it was a gift for my landlord but I cannot sent it to myself if um not there yet so this was followed by week's of painful email exchange and phoning between me, my landlord, parcel2go, FedEx Indonesia and the customs.
First parcel2go was asking me for my flight ticket (return flight in July already booked) and the university letter which points out the end if studies in July. They forwarded it to FedEx and FedEx to the customs.
Then they asked for copy of my passport, boarding pass and stamp of arrivel which I've sent through 1 day after my arrival in Bali. More than a week later. my landlord recieved a call from FedEx Indonesia asking for those documents. It turned out that Parcel2go didn’t forward my email. I followed up again via email, asking why it failed but never received an email back. Maybe the contact person quitted or whatever but since then I haven’t heard from Parcel2go again.
After sending through the documents again via my landlord. Fedex requested a statement letter in Bahasa Indonesian. I filled it out together with my landlord and the Fedex currier collected it. After more than one week I called again. Fedex told me that it has been rejected by customs because it’s handwritten. But no one told us beforehand to write it on the computer. I wrote it again and printed it and they collected again. After more than one week I called again and they told me my landlord has to fill out the same letter too. And every time it took more than one week and it took ages to call someone as the custom department in Jakarta of Fedex Indonesia has no direct phone number. I have to call the local department in Bali to request a call back. Sometimes when they called back I couldn’t answer my phone because I was in University and they only try to call back once so the whole procedure starts over and over again. A really painful process. Apart from that I get different people every time so with every call I need to explain my story again.
So the first time I received an official bill was on the 16th of April. Almost exactly two months after the collection date. So even if I would have been able to pay the taxes I would have to wait two months for my personal belongings. I was really suffering because I only brought a small suitcase to Bali and in my parcel there is most of my clothes, shoes, and cosmetics. In the university we have to cover at least shoulders and knees so I had to buy some appropriate clothes because mine were in the parcel. I had to buy some medicine because mine is in my parcel. I had to buy new shoes because my pair is in the parcel. I had to buy some kitchen equipment and cosmetics and a multiplug for electronic devices just to name some examples.
Before I received the call and the bill from Fedex Indonesia customs company RPX, I’ve actually thought that I would have clarified this misunderstanding that this parcel is a gift to my landlord by sending through all the requested documents which clearly proof that I’m a student here for a short period of time and so on. So I was really shocked when I realized they want me to pay over 62% duty taxes (one of the highest rates) which are around 200 Euros in my case, for a parcel I’ve already paid 150 Euro for delivery cost. The amount is calculated on the insurance value (300 Euro) which I decided I want to have from the insurance should my items get lost or damaged but clearly doesn’t reflect the real market value of the items because they are all old and used. I’ve also disconfirmed that but they told me it’s always based on this value. It also took another week to get an answer because it was impossible to answer to the email as there was a delivery failure all the time because they used only outgoing call and email system. But for me it’s really difficult not to have it written down.
I tried to complain and to claim compensation to Fedex UK via phone for the long waiting time which no one told me before and also I don’t consider it as normal, but they refused to talk to me as officially Parcel2go is their costumer. Parcel2go has no service number so I need to chat with them in their service chat. I tried three times, but they didn’t want to hear about any customer problems, so when they didn’t want to talk anymore, they just closed the chat session without letting me finish my sentence. Also they claim that they have absolutely no responsibility for informing their costumers about any tax regulations or national laws, but I think it would have been necessary to at least request the documents beforehand to avoid a long waiting time or tell me about the waiting time. I made a public complaint on their Facebook page and after that, someone finally tried to listen to me. But instead of claiming a compensation from FedEx on my behalf, which was the purpose of my contact, they started writing me emails again and blackmailed me to pay the duty taxes otherwise they will request to abandon my parcel because the deadline for keeping it in the warehouse suddenly passed. But no one ever told me there’s a deadline and also a warehouse fee increasing for every day. Since now they still haven’t claimed any compensation on my behalf, neither tried to clarify with the customs that there is a mistake in the original commercial invoice. I’ve asked them several time for a contact person at customs or where I can go because I was already in Jakarta but they haven’t told me.
They only offered me to return the parcel for 400 Pounds to an address in the UK which is not valid anymore because I don’t live there anymore. I’ve asked them to send it to Singapore but they refused to. Apart from that it would cost even more to send it to Singapore which I also don’t understand.
I also wanted to report this case to the newspaper but I don’t have a lot of time because I’m a full time student here now and I need to focus on my studies here in Bali rather than trying to get my own items which is my right to have here!
In the meantime I’ve been to the Fedex Indonesia in Jimbaran but also there they don’t know what to do and no one can tell me a contact of customs directly in Jarkarta or where to go. The import department of RPX told me again that the recipient is not me and therefore it cannot be seen as personal belongings so I explained again that I couldn’t put only my name on the address when I sent it because I wasn’t in Indonesia when the parcel was delivered. Although I explained the same story over and over again many times in the last three months no one seems to care, listen or trying to understand. I also asked my professor from university to help me and she sent also the student enrollment letter and a confirmation from my studies in London through to FedEx but we haven’t heard back from them. The communication is really difficult.
The customs refuse to amend or change any of the taxes they charge me although they know it’s not right and legal. They are ripping me off for choosing to study one term in their country.
The main problem is that I’m not prepared for this as its usual not necessary to pay taxes for personal belongings which will be for personal usage only and won’t stay in the country. Also I cannot pay this huge amount because I’m a poor student financing everything by myself here and this is a lot of money. I will not have enough money to stay in Bali if I need to pay this. If no one helps me soon they will put my items away and I will never see them again. Even then I will need to pay the duty taxes so I will leave Bali with debts which I cannot pay back in near future so I don’t know what will happen to me. I have nightmares and problems to sleep because I’m so afraid I will never see my personal items again.
I don’t know what to do anymore or who to ask as I don’t know anyone here and my energy is nearly over.
I’m begging for help if anyone knows what I can do please help me!
Product or Service Mentioned: Fedex Delivery Service.
Monetary Loss: $250.