Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The most expensive shoes in the world...or Don't mess with Turkish Customs

Who would have thought hey? Simple Birkenstock for my preggie feet going for 29,95 Euros on They would have cost me less if I had flown to Germany and brought them back to Turkey myself!

Until this incident, I had had no trouble having books from Amazon & Nespresso coffee delivered to my door here in Izmir. At most I had to pay a few Liras for postage.

I had heard stories of people who had ordered vitamins or food supplements from abroad, being asked to explain exactly what the package contained at the post office. No surprise - anything edible is always suspect.

But Birkenstocks? Really.
How are they any different from books? They are lighter & cheaper and they were ordered from Germany as opposed to the UK. And probably my mistake was to have them delivered by DHL - which was free by the way, since my order was for 5 pairs.

What happened? Well, they got stopped in Istanbul. DHL called me and told me they were at customs but that I could clear them.

-Agh, how does one clear customs?
-You must come here.
-Oh. Only I don't live in in Istanbul, but in Izmir....

-You can clear them in Izmir, do you want them sent to Izmir?
-Well, yes, my order was supposed to be delivered to me at my door in Izmir.
-We need you to pay 115ytl for the plane transfer and send us proof of payment and the transfer application form by fax.

Anyway, after being assured that all I needed to do was transfer the dosh and send back their application form for the shoes to arrive the next day, I figured that: a) sending them back to Germany was going to cost me at least as much and b) get them to me much later (especially if I had to have them re-sent to Geneva).

I'll spare you the details of:
-10 phone calls to customer services referring me to
5 different phone numbers of which only the last one worked
-as many emails
-no information as to which of the 3 airport terminals I was supposed to go to to claim my stuff
-a mountain of paperwork & "to and fros" from the customs office, the cargo office, the Turkish Airlines office...
-paying more dosh to cover handling fees, tax and photocopies of my passport and resident permit
-being insulted, hung up on and scolded
by customs officials ("don't debate with me!") for asking why I had to pay out more money when I had already paid X amount and had been told that was all
-and finally being saved by bureaucratic overdose by a broker who was no doubt afraid I was going to go into labor right there in the customs office if I didn't calm down...

A bloody nightmare.
I can assure you, if ever you are told that your goods have been stopped by Turkish Customs, (which basically seems to have a lot to do with luck, not with the declared value or weight of your parcel) don't hesitate for a second- send them back! Whatever your goods, they are not worth the time, energy, money you will need to recover them.

Better book yourself a plane ticket to go and pick them up yourself and enjoy a weekend trip to somewhere nice as well!

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