Here's the story of why I'll never again send anything overseas from China.
Last week, I had my box of xmas presents all ready to send, but wasn't able to go to China Post due to having a class and the post office closing. Michelle, kind heart and friend that she is, went for me with Lily to translate. No go. They wanted receipts.
On Saturday, I bought three different kinds of generic receipt pads, and the girls at work made some up for me, each doing a different one. Today, Katy and I hit China Post... and were there for 2 hours. The first time. The gritty details:
Issue number one: receipts. I had one that I'd kept, but only had the made-up ones otherwise. When I told them I'd bought half of the gifts in Chengde and Datong (a slight exaggeration) and when they saw (but did not read) the other receipts in my hand, they relented. Phew.
Issue number two: I couldn't use regular post. I had to send using EMS, Expedited Mail Service (I think). This brought about........
Issue number three: they wouldn't use the box I had. They, instead, had to charge me 35 yuan and transfer everything into a China Post box, which took 30 minutes for them to do since they tried to over-wrap everything in toilet-paper and half the things didn't fit back in their boxes. ... so then they had to undo the wrapping. Once that was done, I had to cut out the address stickers to place on the new box, the main one of which they half-concealed using China Post-marked packing-tape.
Issue number four: internet failure and translation issues from the info slip to the computer. As the lady (one of three involved, of course) was entering my info onto the computer, the internet went down. That's right: the whole thing. I'm sure you heard about it - Bill Gates was weeping, Google stock dropped 23.4%. (kiddin') Chinese ISPs are problematic at best. Also, apparently capital letters and clear writing wasn't enough to transition my personal information to the computer. They had to ask for the spelling. I'm not sure if they even looked at the slip in front of them with all of it written there.
Issue number five: a second visit. As a result of issue number four, I had to go back an hour and a half later, rushing to meet Katy at the school and taxi down there to make it before close so they could ship that night. Which meant I had to leave the parcel there in between. The place looked like the back room of a shady gambling parlour. They said if I took it with me, they'd have to re-open everything and go through it all... even if it was the same three ladies helping me. Weeeeeee
Issue number six: contents recording and translation. I had to write down exactly what was in there, and then try to remember what those things were. It ended up being 9 things (I hope), and Katy had to translate what they all were into Chinese for the packing slip. That wasn't too too bad, but I hope their assurances that a bag with two things in it count as 1 item are true... otherwise this box'll never make it out of China.
Issue number seven: it cost a small fortune due to having to send it via EMS and not regular post. Regular post is about 10 yuan per kilo. ... EMS is 85 yuan per kilo, or thereabouts.
To summarize: it took them examining everything in the box very carefully, false receipts, a new box I had to pay for, an over-abundance of toilet-paper wrapping and other packing silliness, contents translation, internet failure, three clerks, a chunk of my monthly pay, and over two hours across two visits to get it done.
I consoled myself with a few DVD purchases (I'm up to 110 DVDs, total). And now... to sleep I go, hopeful that around the second or third of January, the box will arrive in Canada in one piece, with all its contents.