How Do I Get My Stuff?

2011 Living in Mexico March 2011 Terry Sovil

By Roving Reporters from the March 2011 Edition

You really need something but you can’t get it here.

You look at the great pricing on the internet in the

USA. You’ll have to have it shipped. You already know the costs are high. The frustration level will be even higher. A weed whacker part is $12.00USD but shipping will cost you $40.00 making an overall purchase price equal to half the original cost of the whacker.

We run a business and some of our best suppliers are, unfortunately, in Southern California where a lot of dive equipment manufacturers are located. PADI (the Professional Association of Dive Instructors) is also in Southern California and all of our training materials come from them.

The local MBE (Mailboxes Etc.) will allow you to rent a mailbox with an address in Laredo, TX. Your mail is sent to Laredo, TX and then put in a pouch (big envelope) which then travels via UPS to Manzanillo. They have various plans for letters/packages based on overall weight and volume. They will also send from Manzanillo to Laredo, in a pouch. The Laredo office then stamps and mails the item via the US Postal Service (USPS).

The staff at MBE is fantastic and helpful but the actual service outside of their hands is dismal. I’ve never rented a box so really can’t speak to the incoming mail / packages delivery but I have sent individual pieces of mail. If you have truly critical mail you can send it overnight via UPS and it will arrive. You get the tracking number and can follow it so you know it made it. The cost is obscene. An individual letter in their bi-weekly pouch runs about 40 pesos or $3.25 US$. They will tell you it should arrive at the USA destination within 10 days but my experience shows the time closer to 4 weeks.

My personal mail is via a group in Livingston, TX (NE of Houston) called the Escapees RV Club. They serve people who have “escaped” and are traveling via RV.

They provide a USA mail address and also a domicile.

They bundle up mail and send it weekly. I get first class mail and certain magazines. It comes via regular USPS International Airmail and arrives within 2 weeks. I’ve never had a lost mail envelope. They can’t send packages however.

Package options are limited to UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS. I’ve had mixed results with UPS and FedEx. I’ve had nightmare experiences with DHL. Use one of these carriers and you’ll find that NAFTA doesn’t exist in the real world.

DHL is absolutely the WORST carrier I have ever used in Mexico or the USA. Every DHL shipment has been “stuck” in Guadalajara where they fail to communicate and outright lie about status. When it gets to your door the cost will be more than the quoted rate because the local office has added on charges for some reason they can’t explain.

My recommendation: NEVER use DHL for anything that will cross the border! DHL within Mexico has a better reputation but I won’t use them anymore.

Internally, within Mexico, Multi-Pack has been quite reliable. You get a tracking number and can get accurate information on where your package is via their website. If it arrives in Manzanillo and isn’t moving it’s an easy drive to their office (on Miguel Blvd “in front” of Yakitory). Just print the tracking information and circle the tracking number and they will produce it quickly.

A recent shipment from the USA gave me an opportunity to compare some costs:

Shipping from Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 to Manzanillo, Colima, MX 28860 for a 14.5lb box measuring 15”x12”x6”.

FedEx Priority (1) $166.69 USD
FedEx Intl (1) $145.70 USD
USPS Express Mail $78.00 USD
UPS World Wide Saver $190.86 USD
UPS World Wide $171.62 USD
Expedited (1)
DHL Express $169.67 / $153.97
WorldWide (2) online rate
1. Not including import 3. Never been
taxes. Even for didactic and charged an import
training materials! fee on any
shipment; very
2. The WORST shipping
company. Add an
outrageous import tax and
brace for the final actual
shipping cost when the
driver shows up – it will
exceed the quoted rate.

Packages sent to me via USPS Express Mail require a signature and have always made it through within about two weeks. I have NEVER incurred a customsfee of any kind.

Best option for small packages? Get someone to carry it down to you or drive it across the border for you!

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