Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Strange Case of the Missing Trunk

Before we left California - in October - we collected a lot of donated office supplies and school books to be used here in Cambodia at the school. We bought a ‘steamer’ trunk, packed everything up tight and shipped it over here from Los Angeles. ‘

We thought that since the case weighed in at about 100 pounds it would be cheaper, albeit longer, to ship it by boat than pay the excess baggage and bring it by air.

Well, I won’t make that mistake again………..

The ‘box of books’ finally arrived in Phnom Penh, via Sihanoukville, Singapore and God knows where else, on 15 December. We have been trying to get it out of customs ever since.

We’ve provided the freight forwarder with

  • copies of our passports,
  • copies of our visas,
  • letters stating that we work at the Cambodia Landmine Museum,
  • copies of the NGO certificate from the Cambodian government,
  • copies of the Museum’s certification from the Cambodian Mine Action Authority,
  • copies of the bills of lading for the shipment,
  • copies of the commercial invoice declaring the value of the goods at $75 (they are all used stuff remember),
  • an inventory of everything in the box,

We are still waiting to receive the goods. Every time we have provided one piece of paper, it generates more paper.

HOWEVER – we have received a bill for clearing our donated school and office supplies - $814.45.

Here’s how it broke down:

- Camcontrol permit: $60

- Customs Permit: $210

- Customs Clearence $250

- Trucking fee $65

- Insurance $30 (remember – the stuff is worth $50)

- Camcontrol duty $10

- Warehouse fee $15 (because we didn’t clear it fast enough)

- VAT $65

- THC (?) Charge $6

- CFS Charge $5

- Scanning Fee $4.50

- Toll Fee $4

- Delivery Order $5

- Doc Fee $15

- CO-Load Fee $30

- Agency Fee $30

- Tax $9.95

We could have eliminated the VAT if we gotten a letter from a VERY senior government official stating that our NGO exists. Now this official works for the same agency that certifies us and from whom we provided copies of the certificate. We had to have a letter, I am sure in both Khmer and English stamped by his office with his thumb print on it. I am quite sure he would have very pleased to have gotten THAT request.

Sheesh…next time I’ll pay the excess baggage. My whole plane ticket only cost $350.

Messed up my budget for the month.

Babu in the freakin’ jungle…….

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