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A shipping company from X-pole contact quoted me this:
Rp. 500.000 by SEA arrives approximately 4 weeks (USD37)
Rp. 4.320.000 by AIR arrives approximately 1 week (USD316)
I was told that this is a door to door service and there is no additional cost involved. There is no extra delivery or pick up charge and no extra custom tax charge. I naturally chose this option at first. However, after I made the payment the shipping company told me that they were not sure if they can deliver my package in 4 weeks as mentioned earlier. This was what they said:
"I'm very sorry but I have bad news for you. The ports in Indonesia is in a very unstable condition, red-light, I might say, thus importing any kinds of good will require uncertain time to be released from the port, both by sea and by air. I have asked some other tax and customs company but this situation is national-wide. I can't guarantee when the product will be able to be released….”
When I pressed on when can I expect to receive the package in this kind of situation, they told me that it can be in 2-3 months time. Despite being ridiculously cheap, I did not feel comfortable because they were not confident about the time-frame they can deliver the package. Two to three months is too long. What if the goods are still not released from the custom after that? And what if they are lost? Although the cost is way cheaper at Rp. 500.000 but the wait time and the risk of goods lost or not being delivered were not something I was prepared to accept.
They then recommended using the air-freight option and said that the package can reach Indonesia in 1-2 weeks and delivered to my house in 3-4 days. To compare with that, Fedex air-freight cost USD210 (Rp. 2.800.000).
I chose to use Fedex because it was cheaper than the other air-freight (Rp. 2.800.000 vs. Rp 4.320.000). Also, they are big and well-known - they should be reliable.
I knew that although Fedex is cheaper than the other airfreight but with the custom tax maybe it will cost almost the same amount or slightly more expensive. Angela told me that Indonesian Custom might charge USD200 - USD300 (Rp. 2.700.000 - Rp. 4.000.000) for clearance. That was the amount charged to the previous clients who bought a pole and shipped using Fedex. She said the high tax does not happen all the time, but it can happen.
At least I would feel assured that my pole and hoop will arrive safely and in timely manner. And, I naively think that I will be the lucky one that would not need to pay crazy tax. I did not have to in the end - but I had to go thorough a week of painstaking process.
My package was delivered by X-pole on Friday 23 October and arrived in Jakarta’s airport the following Monday 26 October. Fedex’s officer in charge notified me by phone and asked me to pay Rp. 1.017.170 (USD80) for custom clearance charge. The amount is only an estimation and is subject to custom approval. They emailed me the breakdown of the cost. It looked genuine so I transferred them the payment within 2 hours time and emailed them the receipt.
The next day they replied saying that I under declared the value of my package and quoted Rp. 2.739.170 (USD200) as the new amount of clearance charge. Again, it was stated that the amount is only an estimation and is subject to custom approval. I was worried by this time. I was worried that this will be never-ending and they will just keep increasing the amount of the clearance charge. I asked Fedex based on what source the Indonesian custom made the adjustment. They answered that the Indonesian custom keeps a record of goods price.
Anyway these were the difficulties I experienced during the clearance process:
- Difficulty to talk to the officer in charge. Me and the Fedex clearance officer communicated via email mainly and she cannot be contacted by phone. She can call me but her office number cannot be called back. I had to call to Fedex customer service to request for her to call me. She did not always call back.
- I would resolve to speak to the customer service because the officer was not contactable and I had questions or updates. But every time I called to Fedex customer service, a different person will serve. So I had to repeat my story and explain everything from the beginning. They were unable to answer my questions most of the time. Only the officer in charge can. They would note to ask my officer in charge to call me. However, sometimes she got back to me, sometimes she did not.
- Slow response. The officer only replied me the next day even though I would reply her email within 1-2hours time. This continued for one week even though I raised my concern about having to pay for the warehouse fee everyday. Their slow response was at my cost. However apparently nothing can be done to speed up the process or for her to reply me faster because the custom takes 24 hour to process every raised matter.
Hoping to find more information about Fedex INDONESIA and custom clearance process, I searched online and found many other unhappy customers. You can read 3 of them here:
The complaints were mainly about:
- High tax (as much as half of the good’s price, equal or more expensive than the good’s price)
- Poor customer service (having to repeat our case each time, hanging up the phone in the middle of conversation, unable to talk to the officer in charge of our case)
I paid less than the initial amount of tax in the end. But before that, these were the documents I had to provide:
1. A typed statement letter (no handwritten) of import goods with Rp. 6000 stamp duty (Indo: Materai) explaining everything about the import goods and payment process.
- What’s inside the package, what for, why did I import
- The website where I had gotten the pole and the hoop
These were some more issues I had with Fedex:
- I got returned emails saying that the emails were not sent because their inbox were full. This was very frustrating because if I cannot send them the documents they ask for, or answer the questions they asked, that means the clearance cannot be processed. It was not just taking longer time to receive the goods. It was also about the daily warehouse fee I would have to pay. I would try to call to customer service to notify them about the returned emails. As I mentioned above, it was frustrating to call to the customer service because I needed to repeat my story from the beginning and mention my warehouse concerns because it was always a different person on the line.
- My package was opened. The customer service said the custom might have opened it for inspection. My pole was damaged. There were dent and deep scratches. The dent means I have to get it fixed before the extension can fit in. The scratches have to be smoothen so that they do not cut into my skin
- I had to go through a lengthy process (another email after email, fill up forms, attach pictures) to just get them to take responsibility. After all those were done, they went quiet. They did not reply me anymore and I am mentally exhausted too. I feel like I am done with them and do not want anymore hassle with them. I got the pole repaired at my cost. The pole is usable but it cannot look as good as new.
My recommendation for shipping pole or hoop or any goods into Indonesia:
- Use DHL. An online shopper friend said DHL will be able to quote for the VAT of the goods prior using their service. You pay for it in advance and when the good arrive you do not have to deal with any more custom clearance charge. I have no experience with DHL myself but I will check out DHL if I need to import something next time. My friend also had positive experience with USPS.
- If time is not an issue and you can wait, use X-pole’s recommended shipping company. The sea-freight is very affordable at Rp. 500.000. However, please always ask beforehand if there is any other extra charges on top of the shipping charges. Also, confirmed approximate date of delivery and their policy in case of lost goods. The same goes for the air-freight. The air-freight quote is way more expensive than Fedex's, but it’s worth considering since you will not have to worry about the lengthy and time consuming custom clearance anymore.
- Check for any opened seal and packaging damage when the goods arrive. DO NOT just look at the top view or front view. Check the sides, check ALL sides before you signed that the goods are received well.
*Important point to note: There is no tax/ custom clearance charges for goods declared below USD50. However, Indonesian custom can check for themselves (online or their own records) for the price of goods.