I have to admit one of the things I miss the most about the United States is the U.S. Postal Service. The efficiency, ease, and cheapness of using priority flat rate mailers seems like a long ago dream or a story that someone made up about a perfect world. Since coming to Morocco, I have refused to use the post for anything. I just look in the post office and I know that whatever I encounter will be a nightmare.
Confirming this are the few packages that have managed to find their way to Hanane or me here. When I needed paperwork for work, my mother was kind enough to send them, it took several weeks and cost considerably more than it would have for me to get them forged here in Fez. And mind you, that is coming INTO Morocco using the USPS as a starting point….the other way…brutal nightmare, I’m sure.
Last summer, I sent Hanane a laptop from the U.S. I made sure to not put a value or insurance on it because I had the feeling that customs might rape us when it arrived. Postage by good old priority mail via the USPS was around $50. When it arrived, Hanane had to pay a whopping 1200 Moroccan dirhams to get the package out of hostage at the post office. That was about $180 at the time. To put that in perspective, the netbook I bought at the time in the U.S. was $290, so the shipping alone was just $60 shy of buying a new netbook.
Now we’ve got a new postal nightmare unfolding. Hanane wanted an American wedding dress and even though I still think weddings are a big waste of time and money, I want her to be happy. I mentioned the idea to my mom and she generously offered to shop around to find the right dress for Hanane. A flurry of emails between the two of them, lots of pictures, descriptions, and finally they narrowed it to two dresses. My mom also got shoes, veils, and all this other stuff and even threw in some Maple Syrup for me along with a big bag of skittles. She bought both dresses and boxed them up. Before I was able to warn her about the customs trap, she had sent them witha declared value of nearly $1000, extra insurance in case something happened along the way, and then very considerately forwarded the receipts for insurance etc to us.
Well, you can guess what happened….the boxes arrived and the post office sent a tarif/duty due receipt for nearly $400 in order to claim the boxes. Shit.
At the moment, we just moved into a new apartment in Fez, just got back from our little Tetuan holiday, just got married with all the paperwork (and payment) that was required, and frankly, we just don’t have $400 to give to the post office officials. In the life we lead, that is A LOT of money.
So the boxes are sitting there as we try to figure out what to do. Not sure if we can send them back, not sure if the insurance can be claimed if they don’t return, just sort of limbo…and meanwhile my mom and my wife are both emotionally distraught.
My sister offered to pay part of the duty instead of giving us a wedding present which was really kind of her, but frankly, I feel like that sort of ends up being a situation where the post office just cheated us out of a second wedding present in order to give us the first which is really just two dresses that we could have bought cheaper here than the $160 my mother already spent to send them here.
Good one, right?
Yup. I sure do miss the US Postal Service.