Soliloquy in an International Cloister

Watch your step as Brother Lawrence takes you inside the monastery walls of a five hundred year-old international order. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had ignored your hormones and joined the monastery.

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Location: Rome, Italy

03 March 2007

State-sponsored robbery

When I moved to Rome last year, I decided to send two boxes of stuff, mostly books and CD's, that I could not fit into my suitcases, nor could I live without. Seriously, how long could a person last without a dose of "Who's Next" now and again? One of the brothers told me he had a friend (first red flag) who worked for a well-known freight company, whose name I shall disguise as F***x, and that this friend could send the packages to me free of charge (second red flag). Before leaving on October 20, I informed said brother that the boxes were in my office, and were ready for delivery.

On my next trip to the States in December, the boxes were in my office, ready for delivery still. This was not entirely bad since it allowed me to further refine my selection process [Bible? No. Prayer books? No. Guide to Rhyming Cockney Slang? Most definitely!] I placed one box, ready for delivery, outside brother's door. Before returning to Rome on January 1, the box was gone—supposedly delivered to his friend at F***x.

By February 1, the date of my next trip to the States, I had not yet received the box. Brother called his friend, who apologized for the delay. Post 9/11 rules necessitated listing the contents of all packages in detail, along with each item's value. I'll admit that I have never worked for an international freight company, but it seems to me that this is something you might want to tell your customers BEFORE taking consignment. F***x friend helpfully itemized the contents of my box (without my knowledge or permission, I might add) and gave ridiculously high values to everything. $10 for a Mariah Carey compilation CD! WTF?! Then he puts everything into a new box twice the size of the old one, you know, to better attract the attention of the customs agents.

The final tab? For a box whose contents was nominally worth $677.50, but in reality probably worth much less, I had to pay €166 in Italian duties and value added taxes. Oh, and did I mention that several of the items had been purchased in Italy, where I already paid the value added tax on them? So much for "free" delivery.

6 Comments:

Blogger Open Grove Claudia said...

I'd be mad too. I would have shipped it for you but I was so boggled by all the advice, and wine, that I forgot to ask about the boxes. Sorry. I can only hope that having a few tunes will cheer you...

And maybe for Christmas, I should get you an IPOD which would have cost less....and an itunes card.

04 March, 2007 20:34  
Blogger sognatrice said...

I think I found you through the Expat-Blog list, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I'm also an expat in Italy, and I empathize with those shipping charges. The worst part about it, other than paying double, triple what a package is worth, is the fact that it's seemingly completely random as to which boxes get nailed. I'm enjoying your soliloquy, btw :)

05 March, 2007 21:09  
Blogger The Moon Topples said...

Sorry to hear about the shipping problems. It seems wrong to have to wait so long and then spend so much just to hear some of your own music.

Just wandered in here. I quite enjoy your blog. I'll be back to read more.

06 March, 2007 07:15  
Blogger BroLo said...

Thanks for the consoling words, everyone. This is probably one of those moments that I'll laugh about some day. Or maybe not.

06 March, 2007 10:36  
Blogger goodthomas said...

It may take a while for that reflective giggle.

I remember a fortune cookie once with the wisdom from Confusious that said, When you get cheap food, you often get what you pay for.

Love your blog.

06 March, 2007 18:29  
Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

That's a steep bill for a freebie.

I hope you didn't take a vow of poverty. I would hate to think that Mariah Carey was still loitering, unclaimed, at Rome F***x.

08 March, 2007 08:56  

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