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Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Old Apr 23rd 2011, 10:58 pm
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Default Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Well, the time came for us to ship our stuff from the UK to the US (London to LA). Luckily we had no furniture to ship (our flat in London is rented and it came furnished), so it was just 6 medium-sized boxes (roughly 19X19X17 inches), 244 lbs total weight, all personal effects. We packed the stuff ourselves using the DIY boxes we bought at our local Mailboxes Etc. so we didn't need any packing services.
We got quotes from all the big courier companies, all significantly more expensive than what we were looking to pay. For this reason we decided to go with Parcel2Go which (I don't know how they can do that) was able to offer us the service at half the price, still with the same big courier companies.
Would I recommend them? Yes, based on the price. No, based on the service. Read below and you'll see what I mean.

So, with Parcel2Go you can go online, give the destination, the dimensions and weight of the boxes and they'll come up with an instant online quote for each company they work with that serves your destination. We picked the cheapest option which was DHL Worldwide for £485. The booking and payment were done online and we were promised next day pick-up. I also received an email confirming my booking and payment and thought everything was OK. The email contained the labels I had to print out for the boxes (that's what you get when you book the cheap service ) and the customs forms I had to fill out.

Unfortunately, not even 10 minutes after the booking, I got a second email informing me that "the courier had rejected my booking" due to some system error. The same email stated that I would be receiving another "booking request" asap, but if I hadn't heard from them by 11am the next morning(!!!), I needed to contact them immediately as "my pick-up would not be taking place that day". I thought "what the [email protected]@l" and rushed back online to find a phone number for their customer service. Unfortunately all they had online was an instant chat, so I had to use that instead. The person on the other end introduced themselves with an English name, but judging from their poor grammar, they probably weren't native, and they may not even have been in England. I explained the problem and the assistant assured me that they re-booked my pick-up for the next day. Later on I noticed that there was a phone number on the labels they emailed me, so I used it and spoke to someone who confirmed that my booking had gone through this time. All ok then - or so I thought...

As expected, they don't give an approximate timeslot for pick-up, so the courier from DHL would come by any time between 9am and 5.30 pm. We were ecstatic when they came at 12 noon, but our happiness didn't last long. The DHL driver had no idea what he was picking up and when he saw the boxes he said he had no room in his van plus these were "heavy shipment" so it wasn't his job. Turns out that Parcel2Go had failed to inform DHL of the number, size and weight of our boxes. So, to our disappointment, we had to reschedule. It was Friday, so pick-up would have to wait till Monday. We rescheduled for Monday, this time directly with a DHL phone number, and gave them the exact weight and dimensions.

Monday came and once again we had to stay at home and wait for DHL not knowing what time they'd come. The door bell rang at around 2pm and to our great surprise, the same guy who had come on Friday showed up. Once again the same story - he wasn't the right person to pick up a heavy shipment etc. etc. We immediately rang DHL after he left, and luckily they said that a "heavy shipment" driver was indeed coming that day and that he was on his way. Now why the other driver also had us on his route, it's still a mystery
So finally the "heavy shipment" person came at around 4pm on Monday. My husband had to carry most boxes downstairs with him, as our building is old and without lifts and we're on the second floor, and he said that in buildings without lifts shipments need to be on the ground floor. Needless to say, nobody told us that, although we did tell customer service that we were on the second floor - nobody asked us if we had a lift in the building
At least the boxes were gone - phew!

24 hours later, our tracking had still not appeared online. We rang DHL and they told us to call Parcel2Go, as the original booking was done through them. Not surprisingly, Parcel2Go couldn't track our package in their system either, so the person we spoke to promised to speak directly with DHL on our behalf to track the shipment via "alternative means" and call or email us with an update by the following day. We never heard back since! Luckily my husband thought he'd try DHL USA and they were able to track it for us by using our name and destination address. Turns out the tracking number we were using (the one that was on the labels that Parcel2Go emailed me in the first place) had been replaced by another tracking number, possibly after the pick-up date was rescheduled. But (not surprisingly at this point) we were never informed of this new tracking number. At least we now had the right tracking reference and we were able to track our boxes online.

The assistant from DHL USA had said our boxes were due for delivery on Wednesday (Pacific time). Unfortunately, one more hurdle had yet to happen, as our shipment stayed stuck in Ohio for almost a day because of a tornado warning in the area on Wednesday, so it actually ended up being delivered on Thursday at 11am Pacific time. The good news is that after this unbelievable ordeal, where each step of the process presented us with a new problem, our boxes arrived at my mother-in-law's house in LA safely and in one piece .

I hope my review is helpful to those of you currently looking at shipping from the UK to the US. Like I said, Parcel2Go's price was pretty much unbeatable, however their service was very messy and scrappy. I don't know if the service would have been better had we gone directly with DHL. But because we weren't prepared to pay as much as the other courier companies were quoting (anything between £900 and £1,600) we had to make-do with what we got for the money we paid. I suppose all is well that ends well at the end of the day
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Old Apr 24th 2011, 8:42 pm
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Default Re: Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Quite the ordeal, glad it all worked out for you though
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Old Apr 24th 2011, 11:32 pm
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Default Re: Shipping experience London to LA- a review

I'm curious if they offered you any kind of insurance on your stuff. Or would you have been screwed if they had lost something?
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Old Apr 25th 2011, 8:24 am
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Default Re: Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Originally Posted by Lakersdarge View Post
I'm curious if they offered you any kind of insurance on your stuff. Or would you have been screwed if they had lost something?
The price we paid included only basic insurance of £50 from Parcel2Go in case of damage or loss. Then on the labels we printed out it said that DHL USA was liable for $100 in case of damage or loss, according to their standard terms and conditions. If our stuff did arrive damaged or if they were lost, I don't know which insurance would kick in (or if both would). Glad I didn't need to find out (I suspect it would have been a mess too!).
We had the option to purchase additional insurance if we wanted, but that would have cost us an extra £250 or so, and since we were only shipping used personal effects of a total value of maybe £500-£600 altogether, we thought we might as well go with their basic insurance.
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Old Apr 26th 2011, 9:04 am
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Default Re: Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Given how little you were sending, and the need to have your things quickly rather than 6-8 weeks later (I'm assuming this is why you chose an air rather than a cheaper sea route), it might actually have been cheaper and less hassle to just take the lot as excess baggage on your flight.

On an economy ticket, BA charge £32 for the first extra bag and then £72 for each additional bag. The weight you shipped would have needed 5 extra cases so about £280 assuming two people flying.

Appreciate that's not particularly helpful to you, but thought it might be useful for others who come across this thread.
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Old Apr 26th 2011, 5:42 pm
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Default Re: Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Originally Posted by fashionista View Post
Given how little you were sending, and the need to have your things quickly rather than 6-8 weeks later (I'm assuming this is why you chose an air rather than a cheaper sea route), it might actually have been cheaper and less hassle to just take the lot as excess baggage on your flight.

On an economy ticket, BA charge £32 for the first extra bag and then £72 for each additional bag. The weight you shipped would have needed 5 extra cases so about £280 assuming two people flying.

Appreciate that's not particularly helpful to you, but thought it might be useful for others who come across this thread.
problem with excess, it all entirely depends on how busy the flight is, if busy they might not take the excess baggage so you'd be in a spot of poo.
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Old Apr 28th 2011, 8:40 pm
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Default Re: Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
problem with excess, it all entirely depends on how busy the flight is, if busy they might not take the excess baggage so you'd be in a spot of poo.
Hmmm - I'd kind of assumed that if you'd booked and paid for your excess baggage in advance, they'd make space for you, but that's a good point! Fingers crossed I don't have that experience when I turn up at the airport tomorrow!
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Old Apr 29th 2011, 12:08 am
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Default Re: Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Originally Posted by fashionista View Post
Hmmm - I'd kind of assumed that if you'd booked and paid for your excess baggage in advance, they'd make space for you, but that's a good point! Fingers crossed I don't have that experience when I turn up at the airport tomorrow!
So how'd you get on?

And here's a link to my "shipping" (airfreight) experience:
http://britishexpats.com/forum/showt...ght=airfreight
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Old Apr 30th 2011, 3:59 pm
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Default Re: Shipping experience London to LA- a review

All went very smoothly. We took 5 suitcases and 1 large musical instrument. Total cost £80, no concerns over space. And (on an unrelated note) possibly the nicest CBP guy ever at SeaTac who even apologised for the length of time it took him to sort our paperwork!
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Old Apr 30th 2011, 4:44 pm
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Default Re: Shipping experience London to LA- a review

Originally Posted by fashionista View Post
All went very smoothly. We took 5 suitcases and 1 large musical instrument. Total cost £80, no concerns over space. And (on an unrelated note) possibly the nicest CBP guy ever at SeaTac who even apologised for the length of time it took him to sort our paperwork!
Very cool, glad it all worked out!
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