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BEWARE US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION


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RetiredNavyGuy

Okay. This is partially a rant and partially a warning. Hopefully I posted it in the right forum.

 

When I moved to the Philippines this last September, I shipped 3 Balikbayan Boxes. I have shipped BB's many times before, and was very careful to wrap and pad anything that might get broken. I received them this week.

 

TWO OF THE THREE BOXES HAD GREEN TAPE STATING THE BOX HAD BEEN OPENED AND EXAMINED BY THE US CUSTOMS AND BORDER SECURITY. I don't know when, or why, US Customs has decided it needs to open and inspect OUTBOUND shipments. (Maybe for the same reason TSA has decided it needs to terrorize outbound airline passengers, who knows). HOWEVER, when the finished their examination, they did not repack the boxes the same way they had been originally packed! In fact, it looked like the just shoved stuff back in the box however they could make it fit. Padding? Protection? Now non-existent. I don't want to be accused of making wild, unsupported accusations, so here are the details.

 

Box 1

 

Contained a laserjet printer, high speed blender parts, numerous food items and other miscellaneous stuff, including a few family pictures. The printer was wrapped in a blanket and sitting on a pillow. I had removed the toner cartridge, SEALED it in plastic, and wrapped another small blanket around that. The food items, mostly spices where all in ziplock plastic bags. The blender parts were wrapped in clothing. The pictures were wrapped in bubble wrap and then clothing.

 

When I received the box, the printer was no longer sitting on a pillow, nor was it wrapped in a blanket. As you might imagine, MOST of the plastic casing had been broken...at least parts of it beyond a superglue fix. In addition, the tan printer was now black because the printer cartridge had been removed from the sealed plastic, and somebody was thoughtful enough to wrap a plastic garbage bag around it. Yeah, right! THE ENTIRE BOX has toner all over the place. It is clearly down in the printer, several pieces of clothing are now partially black (will try having them cleaned buy I'm not holding my breath), spices were tossed loosely about the box - in some cases because the ziplock bags had been opened and not resealed, but at least 2 ziplock bags were completely gone! The pillow and the blanket from the laserjet were stuffed down in the opposite corner from the printer. At least the pillow was also in plastic, so its still usable. The glass in every single picture frame was broken and about half the metal frames were bent. At least the pictures themselves weren't damaged. The blender parts appeared to be about the only thing they didn't screw up.

 

Box 2

 

Contained a full-size tower desktop, wrapped in a blanket, and a full keyboard placed at the front of the tower as protection for the disk drives (I figured a keyboard would be cheaper to replace than disk drives.) There were also some miscellaneous computer accessories - blank CD's and DVDs, sleeves, plastic cases, computer paper, and a small inkjet color printer still in the original shipping container. Miscellaneous pieces of clothing were wrapped around these items for protection. There were also some additional food items including some still sealed cocoa power, in ziplock bags, and a still sealed canister of ground coffee.

 

This box had the Customs tape on the BOTTOM of the box, so the geniuses had to have opened the box upside down. When I opened this box, the top of the computer case was badly dented, and the entire front of the computer was pushed in...to the point that the disk drives were laying loose in the main housing. However, the keyboard was no longer wrapped, but otherwise UNDAMAGED. All the cocoa power containers and the coffee canister had been opened (it looked like a knife just cut across the seals diagonally.) As you can guess, there was coffee and cocoa powder everywhere. Again, the box looked like they had just stuffed stuff back in the box without caring how it was packed. NOTE: THIS WAS BEFORE IT WAS LOADED FOR TRANSPACIFIC SHIPMENT...how stupid can these people get?

 

Okay, the warning. It appears that no matter how carefully you pack a Balikbayan Box or how well you try to protect the contents, US Customs can open the boxes and WILL NOT make sure it is repacked properly for shipment. I might also add, who knows what they are looking for, what they might confiscate, or whether you might find the PNP at your door responding to a request for your arrest from the US Government. As a result, this is probably the last time I will ship any BB's into, or out of, the US. It would have been cheaper to pay the excess baggage charges - and that assumes the printer can be repaired.

 

I will admit, these boxes - all three of them - did not look to be in as good of shape when I received them as other BB's I have shipped. However, there is NO WAY this kind of damage could have been caused by REN if the boxes had not been opened and then carelessly closed up again by US Customs.

 

The kicker...since this was our great government, the agents are immune from any adverse action, and I would be willing to bet a lot of money that my damage claims will be denied as well.

Edited by RetiredNavyGuy
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AND WHAT HAS ALL THIS TALK ABOUT JEWS, ISRAEL AND ANTISEMITE TO DO WITH BOXES OPENED BY US CUSTOMS ????????????????

TheMatrix

Perhaps that particular shipper is being watched by the Fed for some unknown reason. Can you tell us which shipper you used? In the past two years, I have shipped 56 boxes and none of my boxes have been checked by either the U.S. or Philippine Border Patrol/Customs. knock on wood.

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RetiredNavyGuy

Perhaps that particular shipper is being watched by the Fed for some unknown reason. Can you tell us which shipper you used? In the past two years, I have shipped 56 boxes and none of my boxes have been checked by either the U.S. or Philippine Border Patrol/Customs. knock on wood.

 

The shipper was REN. Sorry, tom_shor, but you haven't responded to me PM so I'll let it all hang out.

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TheMatrix

Thanks for the heads-up. I had no ideal that U.S. Customs cared about outgoing items. Sounds like they were looking for something, or it could have been a random search. Who knows? Perhaps your spices tripped up the dogs and they had to open them. Did you have some stinky herb in those boxes?

 

 

 

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Edited by SteveMatrix
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I carefully packed and padded a 32 inch LCD TV on one occasion and a Laser Printer on another occasion as checked baggage on commercial airlines from the U.S.. The TV was flown to Davao. The printer to Cebu.

 

Neither piece of electronics survived the trip.

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RetiredNavyGuy

I carefully packed and padded a 32 inch LCD TV on one occasion and a Laser Printer on another occasion as checked baggage on commercial airlines from the U.S.. The TV was flown to Davao. The printer to Cebu.

 

Neither piece of electronics survived the trip.

 

Up to now, I've never had a problem with Balikbayan Boxes. I just got a response from the rep in Arizona and he said Customs has just started checking some outbound boxes with all the shippers, but he has no idea why.

 

If you felt like I do right now, I'm sure you were more than a little irriitated when your electronics didn't make it.

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RetiredNavyGuy

Thanks for the heads-up. I had no ideal that U.S. Customs cared about outgoing items. Sounds like they were looking for something, or it could have been a random search. Who knows? Perhaps your spices tripped up the dogs and they had to open them. Did you have some stinky herb in those boxes?

 

 

 

-

 

Nothing out of the ordinary, no stinky herbs. tom_shor just answered me and said this customs thing checking outbound boxes just started, and it is being done on all the shippers. I'll stop right there, otherwise I could drift over into another thread that I have quit posting to.

Edited by RetiredNavyGuy
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Thanks for the heads-up. I had no ideal that U.S. Customs cared about outgoing items. Sounds like they were looking for something, or it could have been a random search. Who knows? Perhaps your spices tripped up the dogs and they had to open them. Did you have some stinky herb in those boxes?

Ill bet they smoked his oregino! :)

 

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tom_shor

Perhaps that particular shipper is being watched by the Fed for some unknown reason. Can you tell us which shipper you used? In the past two years, I have shipped 56 boxes and none of my boxes have been checked by either the U.S. or Philippine Border Patrol/Customs. knock on wood.

 

The shipper was REN. Sorry, tom_shor, but you haven't responded to me PM so I'll let it all hang out.

 

Sorry. I was out of town for Thanksgiving.

 

I talked with our main office last week about some delayed boxes and they told me then that Customs had opened several containers. Not just REN but several other carriers as well. They also delay the shipment two to three weeks when they do this.

 

I will contact my main office again and see if claims can be filed against Customs. There is insurance on the boxes but mostly it covers loss.

 

Several carriers in the past have gotten into hot water with Philippine customs because people tried to put guns in their boxes. REN was not one of these but US Customs may be responding to complaints from the Philippine government. This is just speculation on my part.

 

Sorry again Robert I will PM you when I hear from the LA office.

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Now you have me worried about the 3 I shipped a few weeks ago. They are due to arrive early January. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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tom_shor

Now you have me worried about the 3 I shipped a few weeks ago. They are due to arrive early January. Keeping my fingers crossed.

 

You are probably ok. They checked two of our containers then no more since.

 

Looks like it is just a random thing. They do check all the shippers periodicly. According to the office the last time we had any checked was 3 years ago. So it doesn't appear to be a new regular thing.

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Probably unrelated but this trip my dive bag was searched for the first time. Not sure what they expected to accomplish, it has knives and such but ... it's supposed to have those.

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Guys, whats the situation with the Philippine customs? Do they open the boxes, too? Make a mess inside? Any experience?

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There is no excusing this outrageous behavior. Government is supposed to protect the life, liberty and property of its people. But now they are your master. I'm glad I already moved here and won't have to deal with those tyrants anymore.

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TheMatrix

Now you have me worried about the 3 I shipped a few weeks ago. They are due to arrive early January. Keeping my fingers crossed.

 

I don't think you have anything to worry about. I still think it was isolated with REN. He mentioned other carriers having the same problem, but he didn't mention other names. I just called Atlas Shippers, which is one of the biggest, and they said they haven't had any issues like this.

 

Next, taking 2-3 months to receive your boxes is unreasonable. Is REN saying that Customs held your boxes for 45 days? Strange!. Atlas always gets my boxes to me within 4-5 weeks from California at $45 each.

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