My new MBP is locked up in customs

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by puma1552, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. puma1552 macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    I ordered a CTO MBP early last week. I live in Japan but since Apple won't ship internationally (get with the global generation, Apple...), the laptop was shipped to my sister in America. I then had her turn right around and pay $205 to overnight it to me via FedEx right back over the ocean. It was supposed to arrive today.

    Yesterday at noon it was scanned in at the Osaka facility, with a status of "in transit" and "Package ready for customs clearance" which I took to mean that it was en route to my place but the paperwork just needed to be filed with customs. I thought alright cool.

    Six hours later the tracking info updated as in the exact same spot, now with a clearance delay--it didn't move, and hasn't moved since. It is now 10:00 A.M. Thursday morning here in Japan, and has been nearly 24 hours since it moved. I was also told by my tracking update email that the reason was "A personal effects form or self-clearance is required" and that the recommended action was "Importer (me) must provide a country-specific form or self clear shipment".

    I called FedEx last night to see what the deal was and they told me it got held up because it was "personal effects", and they took my phone number so customs could call me. My sister emailed me a PDF of the fedex form she filled out, and everything looked good. Contents were described as "Laptop computer" with a value of $3000. The only peculiarity is that the FedEx girl crossed out the $3000 and wrote $1000 instead. Otherwise everything looked good, no mention of personal effects.

    I called again this morning and was told this time that they were being vague with the reason it's been held up in customs and that they weren't sure. I was then given the number of the Japan FedEx port to call to clear it up, but the number I was given seemingly doesn't work.

    So now my MBP that I have spent 205000 yen ($205 USD) to overnight is sitting in customs with no forseeable end. A complete waste of money, and I'm pretty irritated right now, as I really need/want this computer.

  2. zorahk macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2008
    North Korea
    This is kinda your fault as it could have been avoided by ordering from apple japan's site.

  3. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Also if she shipped the computer with the packaging it would obviously not be personal effects.
  4. amoda macrumors 6502a

    Aug 9, 2006
    Yeah, it seems like you made a very costly mistake.

    By ordering through Apple Japan you do pay a bit more usually but not that much more after taxes. I believe that the Japanese price includes the 5% tax, while the American prices do not (taxes varies but is usually about 7%).

    But now, after paying for shipping you might be liable to pay customs tax. I'm not sure what the rate is in Japan but can be pretty expensive in North America.

    So not only would it have cost about the same, maybe even less, to order through Apple Japan but you also would've had the darn thing by now!

    Oh well, live and learn right? Hopefully you're next purchase will go much more smoothly.

  5. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Right, which is what I don't understand. I never intended it to be personal effects; according to the FedEx lady I talked to, they wanted a copy of my passport to "prove I had been in America and had left it behind when I came to Japan" which simply isn't the case. I realize I'll have to pay import tariffs on it; I've done this before and I know what it costs--it's pretty nominal.

    Actually ordering in Japan would still have been more expensive. Factoring in the computer and Apple care, I would've been looking at nearly 380,000 yen, or nearly $4,000 USD--even after state sales tax and the $205 to ship it overnight, I still come out several hundred dollars ahead of having ordered it in Japan.

    Common misconception--electronics in Japan are NOT cheaper than American electronics, and this is not just a special case with Apple. Even Japanese-made electronics are nearly a factor of TWO times more expensive in many cases.

    Trust me when I say I built it on both websites first, and it was still cheaper to go through America.
  6. zorahk macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2008
    North Korea
    I never said it was cheaper. I said it was safer. I'm sorry but what you are doing is not 100% smart.
  7. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    What's not smart about shipping a package? Stuff gets shipped from America to Japan all the time. Makes no difference that in this case America was just an intermediate step between Shanghai and Japan.

    FedEx used the exact same box as Apple so the packaging didn't even have to change. It just so happens it got randomly stuck in customs, like thousands of other shipments. It's bound to happen to everyone at some point or another, intermediary country or not.

    Yeah this situation sucks as it's the one time I paid to overnight it, but I see it being no "dumber" than spending another $500 USD, IMO. I really only had two choices: order from Apple Japan and pay hundreds of dollars more in possibly in addition to shipping (I don't recall if it's free shipping in Japan ATM), or try to save several hundred dollars by just shipping it home and then having my sister ship it to me, just like any other box has been shipped in the time I've lived here. I think most people would do the same as I did. It just happens to be the one shipment that got caught in customs, unfortunately.

    When you live abroad, you may find through experience that doing things one way is better than the option that may initially seem better...

    And just FWIW, I've talked to "English speaking" Apple representatives who spoke very, very poor English, but that's quite common here. I didn't want to order a computer and have it come through not as desired.

    Unfortunate, but just the way it is.:cool:
  8. Sirus2400 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2008
    I'm in the same situation as you (American living in Japan). I did the same as you ordering from the American store, although I think you are exaggerating the price difference a little (unless you used an Education discount in the US which is a lot better than the one offered here). Anyway, in the future, I would suggest avoiding FedEx for shipping as they aren't very big here still, go with USPS for all shipping form the US and mark everything as a "Gift." Been living here for 3 years, order to the US and forward to JP all the time and have yet to pay a customs fee.

    One last thing, about the "English Speaking Reps". Keep in mind that you are living in Japan, and the official language here is Japanese. How well do you think the Apple sales reps in the US speak Japanese? Just be glad they speak any English at all, or order from the website where you can see what is going into your shopping cart.
  9. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Agreed. I did indeed use the education discount in the states, so the price difference is pretty accurate. I often use both the USPS as well as FedEx to ship stuff and have never had a problem with either. I simply went with FedEx so that the packaging could remain the same, as that's who Apple shipped the computer with. From now on though I likely will go with USPS.

    I agree about the English speaking reps, but nonetheless as people hired to be English representatives, they should have Grade 1 proficiency levels. As someone in the field who has students who've spoken English for six years and still can't introduce themselves and struggle indefinitely to read roman letters, the public English education system here is more than frustrating at times.

    If it moved out of Osaka and the tracking info is just delayed, I should have it tomorrow but I'm banking on Saturday, though I'll be in Himeji/Kobe all weekend.

  10. Sirus2400 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2008
    As an ex-English teacher, I feel your frustration. And it doesn't get any better as they get older. My friend still teaches in a HS and said that the students were re-taking an oral test that they had at the beginning of the semester to track their improvement. The exact same test, word for word. The all got higher grades as a result of the Japanese assistant lowering the standards for grades. When she confronted the assistant, she said "well, it can't be helped" (in Japanese, shyouganai ne).

    I used to live in Osaka too! Where you at man?
  11. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    The the English education system is one designed solely on getting them the ridiculously low passing mark on entrance exams, not designed to teach them a single word of English. Sad, really.

    I'm actually in the northwest part of Hyogo-ken, about four hours from Osaka and three hours straight north from Himeji. Hoping to move to Kobe/Osaka/Tokyo/Kyoto next July.

    I got the laptop today, and customs didn't open the Apple box. So far my initial quality checks result in an absolutely perfect MPB.:)
  12. Sirus2400 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2008
    Yeah, I'm all the way down in Nagasaki now, but I get up to Osaka every once and a while.

    Glad to hear you got your MBP safe. Did you end up paying any customs fees?
  13. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Nagasaki is a nice place; love the Dutch area.

    Oddly no I didn't. They delivered it to my desk when I was at class:confused:

    So far the MBP looks beautiful, but I still have many other things to check quality-wise...forgot to check for a light leak, fingerprints behind the glass, dead pixels, etc. The screen is an 85, and has nice blacks from what I can tell compared to that one pic with the comparison between the 84 and 85...might try a calibration anyway since everyone says much can be gained from doing so.

    Just hoping it passes all of my checks when I get home, but glad so far to not have crooked keys or anything like that.

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