RICO’S Digest – Making online purchases to bring what you want from the United States involves the use of a package forwarding business. Aeropost, a Miami-based company with over twenty-eight years of experience, is one of those.
A service I have been using for more than two decades. Some of you will also know this company by its former name, Aerocasillas, when they were first on the second floor of the Chinese restaurant, next to the Yaohan supermarket (now Mas x Menos), in La Sabana.
The process is simple. You make your online purchase at say Amazon or Ebay, or through Aeropost’s own portal. The company provides you with a Miami address and contact information for the shipper, and once received (in Miami), it is then forwarded to Costa Rica for the respective inspections, customs evaluation for payment of duties and taxes and finally to be picked up at the nearer Aeropost store or delivered to your home or business.
Aeropost charges for this. It is a business. It bills for freight, fuel surcharges, warranty/returns program, and customs service. Then there are government fees, such as customs duties and import sales tax depending on the item, its defined customs category, value, etc, etc, etc.
Aeropost takes care of it all. You get a final price, broken down, to receive your package. As I said earlier, simple. And pretty quick most times, an item reaching Miami is pretty well in Costa Rica and in your hands within days, a week at most. Even in these times of pandemic.
I have always had faith in Aeropost. I am sure many others who have been around with them do also. I can’t recall the number of people I have recommended Aeropost over the years.
But that faith, in that this company looked after my best interest, keeping their costs low and more, dealing with the customs duties and taxes people. Until now.
This is not a gripe session. Let me tell you my story in the hope that others will learn from my most recent experience, but most not to make the same error of putting my blind trust in this company.
In July, I purchased a portable gas pizza oven from Ooni.com. They are a wonder for making pizza. I have been using it for my new business venture a pizzeria movil, currently in the Santa Ana farmer’s fair (feria de el agricultor) on Sundays.
Last week, Ooni announced a price increase effective on October 1. Given my small venture is picking up steam, I purchased a second oven before the price increase. Being the same item, price, size and weight of package, I knew exactly what charges to expect.
However, that was not the case. The bill for this purchase was US$51.91 more. Looking over the two invoices I see where the difference is, customs duties and import taxes.
In July, the charge was US$120.88, now, less than three months later, US$172.79. A mistake, I am sure. A mistake that Aeropost, investigating my claim (case number 1936-9985) was an error to which they admitted.
Great. But my bill is still US$307.65 and not the US$255.74 as it was in July and they now said should be the case.
Spending almost 30 minutes with customer service to get this resolved before I head to the store in Santa Ana to pick up my package that was delivered early in the morning, I could not get anywhere in getting the final invoice cost changed.
I was told, in a very complicated explanation, that for me to receive the package I would have to pay the US$307.65 and then would be issued a credit/refund forthwith once their “sistema” (system) was updated.
So close, yet…
“Can this be resolved at the store,” was my repeated question, to with, I was told yes. But to my surprise that was not the case.
Adriana Herrera, who manages the Santa Ana store remembered my July purchase and did her best, messaging and calling the people at headless-quarters, but to no avail, she would have to charge me the higher amount and then I would have to wait for the credit/refund.
I made one last call to headless-quarters, another customer service rep who shared my frustration, but it is what it is, I was told.
I paid. I have yet (now past 10 am) to get a message from anyone as to my credit/refund. Hey, I paid, I must be happy.
So, here is my message: I would have never questioned, complained yes, the higher customs charges had not paid a lower amount only weeks earlier.
I would have never questioned the workings of Aeropost, would have continued blindly to believe they were working in my best interest.
My question now is, how many times have I been overcharged – robbed maybe a better word – in the past? And the packages currently on the way?
Take note Aeropost.