So as promised here’s the report. I ended up having the new backpack shipped to Hubud in Ubud, Bali. The company shipped it via UPS and it sailed across the world in 2 days until it landed in Jakarta. Here’s what happened next…
First the bag simply disappeared from tracking. With UPS, packages should be scanned every day even if they are sitting in a warehouse. After 4 business days of nothing, I contacted the shipper (company I bought the bag from) they promptly filed “a lost package exception” arguing that with no scans for 4 days the package was effectively off the grid. Uh oh…
Meanwhile I made about 8 different calls to UPS HQ and UPS Jakarta. The contact info from HQ was incorrect and some of the numbers listed on their website for Jakarta office didn’t even have the right number of digits :-/
I finally connected with someone who told me that the Exception had been filed and they need 8-10 business days to “resolve the exception” … I asked “You mean 8-10 days to find my package?”… “Yes.”
Mega-bummer. For some reason I just didn’t trust that process so I called Jakarta again the next day. This amounts to sitting on Skype and hitting redial between 15 and 22 times before someone will pick up. I got ahold of someone who, now roughly 10 days since the package arrived in Jakarta, said, “Oh, we need a proof of payment from you because customs disputes the value listed by the shipper.” They claimed they had trouble finding my contact info even though I gave them my email, US mobile, Indo mobile and the number of Hubud where they could leave a message to 4 different people already.
Whatever. I emailed them a PDF of the Paypal receipt, they submitted it to customs and we waited 4 days.
So customs… I knew I would have to pay customs but there is literally no way to pre-determine the amount you will have to pay, it’s just determined on the spot by some negotiation between a local broker (hired by UPS) and customs. As far as I can tell there is no dispute mechanism.
Customs came back, a whopping 42% of the total price of the backpack. Ho-Ly Crap. But there was nothing I could do at this point, either I paid or I don’t get the backpack. The package made it from Jakarta to Ubud in 24 hours. I had to wait at Hubud and pay the delivery guy small fortune in cash to receive the package.
On the whole I would recommend not having anything of value shipped to you in Indonesia but if it’s necessary, hopefully this will give some idea of what to expect. About 2.5 weeks of delay, >40% custom duties and taxes and several hours on Skype.
So what was all the hassle about? The Outlier Ultrahigh travel bag. I’m glad I bought it when I did because it’s sold out now and it is freaking amazing, but what an ordeal!