More tips for the expats who are ordering online

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I notice John Koun’s letter about problems receiving packages. I found a solution to this problem several years ago. There is a company called Mail Boxes Etc in Liberia and Escazú.  Get a membership with them which gets you a drop box address in Miami.

Many Internet firms ship free in the U.S.A. I’ve used it from Russia and Israel and Australia.  Immediately upon my confirmation of shipping order, I forward that to Mail Boxes. They track the shipment, bring it in, pay the taxes and special permits and notify me when it is ready to be picked up at their office.  It is pretty easy and costs from 20 to 60 percent of invoice.

Get the detail plans from them. It gets costly for heavy items as the rate for freight is about $20 per kilo. I only go once. I understand they will forward it to you if you pay the local postage. Some companies won’t ship when the billing address and shipping address are not the same. Some don’t allow switching carriers, But they don’t get advised that is happening.

If you arrange to get a credit card with the same Miami address, no problem. You run a risk if something gets damaged in transit because you can’t prove which carrier did it.

I have seen promotion to the effect that Correos de Costa Rica has a similar service called BoxCorreo to bring things to your local post office. It is a bit more expensive, and I haven’t tried it, but it sounds as if it could work well where no Mail Boxes office is handy. Also the Association of Residents of Costa Rica Used to have an Aerocassillas system which I believe is similar.

Another system I have used for heavy, costly Items is to find a customs agent who will let you use his address and maybe combine with one of his shipments. There are probably others, so it need not be so painful. Books come in in the regular mail without problems so far. Likewise most small flat packs. But you may have to abandon one once in a while. You just have to find out what the systems are and learn how to use them. Getting exonerations, however legal, is more trouble than it is worth.

Joseph Lassiter
Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste
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