Post: Apocalyptic

Just give it to a German. Any German. Even someone that looks German. They’ll know what to do. Maybe just set it on a Mercedes. I’m sure it will get where it’s going. OK, how about you tie it to a horse that pointed towards Germany? They can swim pretty far, right?

I feel like Germany treats mail from the US with about as much respect as McDonalds treats the cards you stick in the suggestion box. With a sort of “We really appreciate your enthusiasm and we’ll take it under consideration. [wink]” kind of attitude. Every time I send a t-shirt to Germany I let it go with the same hopefulness and trepidation as a parent dropping their kid off at college. I hope it goes interesting places, finds out where it belongs and doesn’t get molested, torn in half and thrown down a well.

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The weird thing is Italy and Spain are actually worse than Germany as far as items actually reaching their destination, but almost no one ever orders from those counties. Perhaps they have just come to accept that anything they order online needs to already be on their continent in order to have a fighting chance. I suspect all international mail entering Italy is “inspected” with “machine guns” by “mob-owned police” on “Vespas,” if you catch my meaning. More than likely, all mailboxes in Spain sit atop holes that lead directly to a vast network of underground furnaces. Spain probably ran out of oil in the 70’s and has been powering their entire infrastructure with heat generated from burning US parcels.

As in all things, Australia is always the wild card. Sometimes t-shirts get there in as little as two weeks, with nary a dingo ding on the corners. Other times the customer waits about 3 months, I give them a refund, an additional 3 months go by and I get the original package back in the mail looking like it has been securely affixed to the undercarriage of a dune buggy for the last half year. Or perhaps an Australian postal worker, having found himself stranded in the Outback, and having long since eaten his wallaby partner for sustenance (due to the unforeseen lack of naturally occurring bloomin’ onions), fashioned all of the parcels he was carrying into a crude shelter and clothing. Nearly a year later, after his bleached bones are found buy an Aboriginal bone trader, his packages are returned to their point of origin. At this point I realize that my envelope was obviously used to construct the bathroom floor, or perhaps a shoe that was only used for walking in vast fields of kangaroo shit.

UK mail from the US only takes a day or two longer than it does within the states. Hell, the Postal Office probably prefers delivering there as opposed to, say… Wyoming. What’s crossing an ocean when you don’t have to be in Wyoming? Canadian Customs can be a bit tricky. They tend to hold random things for a month or so, then eventually just send them on to their destination with no indication as to why they sat motionless for so long. I don’t think it matters, however, since the average Canadian has VERY low opinions of Canada Post and reacts to months delayed packages with a cheerful, “Oh well sure it was a birthday present and sure it was 9 weeks late, but hey, it’s not so bad, eh? All that matters is that we had fun waiting, eh?”

COMMENTERS: Have you ever had an international shipment eaten by THE GREAT ATLANTIC KRAKEN? Any other postal or shipping related mishaps?

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173 Comments

  1. I once ordered a coat from Australia. It got here (the Netherlands) three months later, the box looking like it was mauled by a dingo and stuck back together with tape – multiple times in a row. To my surprise, the coat itself was perfectly fine and even the cellophane packaging the coat was in was undamaged. I did have to pay 35 Euro extra because it was 'inspected'.
    I think the 35 Euro was for training the Dingos how to maul a box without damaging its content. Maybe it's some kind of regional sport.

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    • Ok so I read that as 'cat' to start with. Some interesting mental imagery there.

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  2. I was confused as to why Austria had a Sorting Dingo and a Postal Thunderdome. Then I realized that I can't actually read.

    And to add to the comment about our low opinions of Canada Post: a few years ago when they went on strike, we were all just happy that we didn't have to fill our blue bins with junk mail every day for 3 weeks. Almost nobody even cared that they were on strike.

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    • That was exactly the same response I had, minus the fact that I didn't get my hydro bill and was charged a 10c late fee. Bloody posties.

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  3. I used to work for a company that sold sunglasses and we had a blacklist of countries that we outright refused to accept orders from; they had such a high kraken:delivery ratio that it wasn't worth the headache. Presumably this was because the authorities, whether postal or otherwise, have a keen appreciation for Ray-Ban Aviators. I'm pretty sure US cops get them as part of the uniform, right?

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  4. I ordered some books to come from the US to here (UK). It was during the Christmas period, so I gave it longer than usual to complain. Parcel had gone via DHL, which is part of Deutsche Post, so the parcel came to the UK via the US. DHL swore that they had handed it off to Parcelforce in the UK, but Parcelforce had no records. I eventually found it dumped in the building next door (where it had been for about 8-10 weeks). So far, so fail.

    The interesting bit was what I realised looking at the parcel. When it had left the US it had a nice address label on it, with name, company, unit number, street address, city, postal code. In Germany they decided to print a new label for it. It only had name, street address, city, and postal code. So in a lane with a single street address, but over 50 businesses, they decided to remove the 2 most useful pieces of identifying information.

    Bigfail. :(

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    • That's okay. I ordered an Adventure Time book for my brother for Christmas.

      A US company shipping to a US address. According to the tracking site, it bounced around the east coast for a while, before being sent to California (where I live) just before Christmas, and then bounced around the state for another two weeks. All tracking ended with an 'attempted delivery' (I was home all day, in the living room, within sight of the door. When I wasn't there, someone else in my immediate family was), two weeks after Christmas.

      I just got a refund last week, and bought the book at a comic shop.

      Moral of the story: The postal system in any country is a burning pit of hatred, anger, and people who just want to set fire to all the letters. I know, I have an uncle and a brother who work for the postal service.

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    • A few people have told me that your packages are more likely to get delivered overseas if you not only properly fill out the customs form, but also write in giant letters "THERE ARE JUST BOOKS IN THIS BOX" 4 or 5 times on the outside.

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  5. I once ordered a torch from 4Sevens (US to UK), they sent it 3 times, and it vanished every time. Apparently one was sent back, something about customs fees that I I never knew needed paying. Eventually I paid, out of my own pocket, for some super duper tracked by satellites, guarded by armed escort, recorded delivery that was twice the price of the item I had even ordered. By the time I got it, it had literally taken a year from ordering to receiving and cost me £100.

    Then I buy t-shirts from RIPT and they get here in 3 days.

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    • There used to be a loophole in the US postal system (it was closed this year) where it was cheaper to send something around 1 lb to the UK or Canada than it was to send within the US. The reason was First Class International went up to like 18 oz and First Class US only went to 13oz. I never understood how sending something from Texas to "Shropshire on Skallywag Crossing, Dentmouth Portingshun" was cheaper and often faster than sending it to "A Different Part of Texas."

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      • Canadians have the same problem, it is cheaper to ship a parcel to the USA than within your own city. The reason is that USPS sets part of those rates because they do the detailed sorting and delivering (which is the majority of the work).

        Years ago there were government agencies who actually went over the border to the USA to mail out letters to Canada…because they would save 30% on every letter.

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  6. I once ordered a coffee mug from cafepress which cost something like £12 (about $18?). Instead of receiving the mug I received a note from customs stating that I needed to pay £30 import duty on the package. I decided that I didn't really want the mug that much so I didn't pay. 4 months later the mug arrived – obviously it was taking up shelf space that customs wanted for more lucrative extortion attempts.

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    • I really don't understand the duty, customs fee situation. Is it for nearly everything Europeans order from America or just random stuff? Does a t-shirt end up costing like $50?

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      • Sometimes stuff just get delivered, other times they hold it for duty payments. I think that it depends on how their quotas for the month are going.

        I should ask my father-in-law, he used to work for HM Customs.

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        • The UK limit is £15 for merchandise, there is a 20% VAT and a £8 customs handling charge (basically a brokering fee) for anything valued at that.
          Gift limit is £36
          Customs duty becomes payable if the value of the goods is over £135 but duty is waived if the amount of duty calculated is less than £9.
          Shipments from other EU countries do not get charged.
          Apparently UK customs is especially catching US imports, so buyers who have never ordered outside the EU are very surprised. http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/c

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      • As someone on the recieving side, I'd like to add, I spend quite a few hours in Berlins beautiful (its not beautiful) customs office. The only way to be real sure is to attach the complete inventory list AND not only a receit, but an actual bank statement that shows that you bought and and transfered the money…or in your case, that you got the money. The problem is NOT the customs fee…stuff below 200 Euros or so is always free. Its the VAT. You have to pay your 19%( or about 9% for books and certain other stuff) VAT and then the packet is yours. If the bank statement and the inventory is put outside, the postal service can handle the tax and you pay it on delivery. Weird system you think? What about that the comic books I bought recently did only cost my 6 euros VAT (about 9% on 60 Euro), but the 19% on the shipping by us postal (which was 51 USD) cost about the double…yeah…just my 2 cents,,,euro cents…

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        • I, too, have had the questionable pleasure of sitting in Berlins central customs office in Schöneberg. My personal record is 5 hours, 5 pm till 10 pm, half of which I spent just queueing for a number. They must have the slowest government employees in the whole country. I'm lucky the place I work at is only a 10-minute bus ride from there, otherwise I would have to take a whole day off every time I get a package from overseas.
          Lesson learned: go there *before* work. They open at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. last month even), and there is hardly anyone there at that time. Last time, I was in and out within 15 minutes.

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  7. I'm italian and this is exactly the case: "Perhaps they have just come to accept that anything they order online needs to already be on their continent in order to have a fighting chance"

    Also: when unaxpectedly a package from out of Europe arrive it get bonus random taxes…

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    • Thanks for the clarification. I've been doing this for 6 years and I've gotten maybe 4 orders from Italy. I knew there was a reason.

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      • Italy is very protectionist for their industries, many things are forbidden to import. Also they usually destroy parcels instead of returning them. I haven't had any problems with Spain, but I sent a paper object as a letter, without a customs form.

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  8. I really like the coloring and line work on this comic!

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    • Thanks! The inking was done in ProCreate on the iPad the coloring was mostly done with a watercolor brush in Photoshop.

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  9. I tend to treat orders of stuff not already in Canada as like a lottery ticket – I pay some money, spend some time thinking fondly about what I would do with the winnings/package, and if it actually arrives I get super excited!

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  10. As an Australian, I completely understand the hit and miss of our postal system – although it usually gets here EVENTUALLY. It is especially bad anywhere in the north or west of the country (if you happen to be in the north-west, its probably easier to get the dingo to deliver it).

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    • I'm confused. I live in country Australia on the east coast, and I get 2-3 vinyl records through the mail a week from a variety of vendors. Nothing takes more than 8 days, even from the UK, US, or Germany.

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      • The Sorting Dingo has been kind to you

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      • I'm very West and I can attest that Ozpost sucks, only a little less than the services that refuse to embrace email as a communication aid.
        Lets just say that if you want to give me a rent inspection and refuse to email me a time I will not be wearing pants. I do not find that awkward at all 😉

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      • I think there lies the line as to which parcels get delivered and which enter the Postal Thunderdome: East coat – fine and dandy. West coast: order 5 and hope one makes it, or order a few months in advance.

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  11. My order last year took a week to find my door, and I'm from the Netherlands on an 45-60 minute drive from the German border. Incredible how much difference there is per country.

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  12. Still waiting for some Shirtpunch t-shirts ordered in November, Canada->UK. I've contacted them twice and received almost exactly your Canadian response both times. Apparently Canada Post like to take the scenic route across the Atlantic, but things do tend to eventually arrive, I'm assured.

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    • Canada Post is it's own special hell. They routinely tell me they've delivered tracked packages to my door (sometimes even saying the left them between the screen and main doors – I DON'T have a screen door on my house) on days when I was home all day and nothing arrived!

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    • More than any other country, Canada seems to just hold onto stuff for weeks at a time for "inspection." The worst part is once it leaves the US the tracking number stops and all we are left with are best guesses.

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      • Yeah, it's a real pain ordering anything when you live in Canada. Packages might go straight through, or sit for weeks unopened. I've never seen rhyme nor reason for it… except that packages from China & the UK seem to go through faster than packages from the USA.

        Working in electronics repair, I'm constantly annoyed by shipping delays for USA-only distributors.

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    • I live in Australia (luckily, I seem to be in the post-to-able part (Sydney)) and packages tend to take 1-2 months to arrive from overseas. Except for a poster I bought that was shipped through Canada Post, which took a little over 3. So apparently it works in both directions.

      Also, why do American postal systems (or just Fedex, it always seems to involve Fedex) like circling through the Midwest so much? I've learnt how to spell the names of most of those places just from tracking my packages. Most of my stuff from America has travelled around that specific part of the country for no apparent reason.

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      • Cheap land and cheap labour. If you need to build a giant package sorting center you're going to do it someplace where the land is still mostly disused farmland and the people think living wages cause communism.

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  13. I have successfully shipped to both NZ, and AU – but I will sacrifice to the Kraken and thank all the tiny Gods that I can continue to do so (as another box has to go out this week). NZ took about a week, AU took about 10 days.

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  14. I'm sorry, but I must say this…

    "My T-shirt! A dingo took my T-shirt!"

    *sigh* I"m done now.

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  15. I've never had something fail to arrive, but Canada Post does love to take the long route. I remember my sister receiving a "Priority Letter" that took two weeks to arrive from another part of Canada.

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    • From what I understand, Canada to Canada mail is somehow MORE COMPLICATED than US to Canada and far less likely to reach its destination on time.

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      • Probably the worst thing about Canada Post is the total lack of accountability. A friend sent me a gift card inside their Christmas card, but when I got it the envelope had been summarily slit open and the gift card removed–obviously by the postman, since the mailbox was locked to anyone but me. I called them up to complain and they might as well have played "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" at me for all the fucks they gave. Half of the postal workers are total incompetents and we got mail for every other building BUT ours. Perhaps some obscure numerically-illiterate-persons hiring initiative?

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        • It gets better.
          Last moth I have been getting someones paycheck in the mail – the only similarity in address is the house number and the village we live in. They post code was correct – I looked it up. The first two I just put a hand written note on saying "delivered to wrong address – please try again", marked the post code with fluorescent yellow highlighter and dropped them in the local post box. They showed up – with the note scratched out in pen – in my mailbox a week latter. I went to the postal station where I work – three townships over – they placed the letters in a postal envelope with all those fun labels/tags and such on it. Never got any more of that persons letters since.

          Late last summer I got two Easter and a Christmas card within a week of each other, from Europe. All had gone through the Laval postal station according to the postal marks within days of being sent, then arrived at my local sorting station [local post mark] in August..

          Also, If I find the postal idiots who use pens / markers / crayons to deface stamps I will stab them in the face with same. Repeatedly.

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      • I sent a box of (green in husk) black walnuts – don't ask – to a friend in Canada from Tx. Labeled it "Botanical Curios" and it went through without a hitch. She got it a week later. Go figure.

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  16. I am currently no longer expecting a package from Canada to US because it has been sent 2 or 3 times, and it's been over a year since it was initially supposed to be shipped. However, I have received 2 padded mailers from the same sender in the interim. I'm not sure whether to blame Canada Post or US customs though. I'll probably end up receiving 3 of the same package in two years as I'm getting ready to move out of the area.

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  17. Ugh. I used to be an Ebay seller and I've been considering doing it again just to sell off the rest of my inventory. I'm not looking forward to all the mail changes that have been made since. And no Saturday services in America coming soon.
    That's it. I'm going back to bed… 😉

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    • Saturday service will still happen for packages. Just not bills, letters and junk mail.

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  18. My cousins always lived in Hong Kong. We had to buy their birthday presents six MONTHS in advance until Amazon opened up over there. We would get packages from them a year or two after they initially sent them, and instead of being in the original packaging, it would now be separated into a pile of mostly inert molecules.

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  19. I live in Germany and I probably belong to the lucky 40%. Let's keep it that way.

    I wonder what would happen to an order shipped to Greece. It would be an Odyssey for the poor package. It would take 10 years to arrive there and once delivered, nobody would recognize it.

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    • I dont think ive ever had an order to Greece. Pretty sure they just gave up as a country a long time ago.

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  20. Sweet baby jesus, do I have a story for you.

    A few years ago I stumbled across a really gorgeous wind-up pocket watch in an online store for about $35. I loved it but couldn't afford it so I bookmarked it and looked at it every so often.

    About a year later, I got enough money for my birthday that I figured this would be a nice present to myself. The watch had gone up by about ten bucks, too, so I didn't want to delay. But they wanted to charge $35 for international shipping, which is ridiculous. It was just through the regular US Post rather than a courier company (which we avoided like the plague because they were all unable to deliver to us in a timely manner) so it really shouldn't have cost more than $10 to ship, the moreso because it wasn't being shipped express or anything like that. So I ended up having them ship it to an American friend (for $5) who would then ship it on to me for the ACTUAL cost. Sure, it might take a little extra time to get here, but whatever. Canada Customs is a crapshoot anyways. I'll have to tell you some interesting stories about them, too. Sheesh.

    So anyways, off the watch apparently went, at the end of February. End of March, right around when I'm starting to expect it any day, I get a call from the store. "We're sorry you didn't want the watch. Would you like a store credit or a refund?"

    Wait, what?

    The parcel had been returned to them. No indication as to why; it just had "Return to Sender" on it and that was it. My friend hadn't sent it back; she hadn't even gotten it yet but she'd been out of town for a couple of days so we figured maybe a neighbour had seen it sitting there (since mail was in a shared foyer) and "helpfully" taken care of it. The store didn't really want to pay for shipping it a second time, but eventually they agreed to send it out again.

    A month or so goes by and it turns up at the store again, this time marked "incomplete address."

    This is getting long so I'll speed it up. The store sent it out four times all told, and three times it came back, with no hint as to why or who was rejecting it or anything. I got on a first-name basis with the Postmistress in my friend's town, who couldn't figure out why the hell the damned thing wasn't coming along, because it wasn't making it to their end at all. She knew the house and the address and both her and my friend insisted the address I was giving them was fine, and that if it made it to her, she'd totally be able to deliver it.

    It eventually ended up that the sending post office, half a block from the store, was rejecting it (and then taking over a month each time to return it) because we had given the house number as "118" instead of "118 and a half". *Facepalm*

    So then we add "and a half" to the address, they send it out for a fourth time, my friend gets it and sends it on.

    And then it hits Canada Customs.

    Now, Canada Customs likes to sit on things for months at a time, so a wait was expected. I suspect that they intend to inspect every package that looks even remotely suspicious ("suspicious" being defined as "anything coming from the States") and they sat on it for another month or so and eventually I went to check my mail and found a parcel delivery card.

    So I go into my post office, very excited, because HOORAY it's been SIX MONTHS but the thing is finally here, and she goes to scan it to see if there's any duties on it, and she can't. CANADA POST HAS SENT IT OUT WITHOUT CLEARING IT. ><

    There's supposed to be a sticker on it from CC saying it's been cleared, and there isn't. Without that sticker she can't let me have it. It's RIGHT THERE and she has to send it back because if they give it to me they will lose their jobs.

    So back it went. AGAIN. Just to Vancouver, at least, and she did let me touch the box first. I did seriously consider leaping over the counter, grabbing it, and running like hell, but I'd strained something and couldn't.

    Finally I did get it, but you know what? After having to have worked so hard to get it, by the time I finally did get it I almost didn't care anymore.

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  21. Canada Customs. Oh man, Canada Customs.

    Don't ever order bulk coffee from the States. There is no way that anyone ever sends coffee through the mail, apparently, without it being used to hide drugs from dogs, and they will cut open every single damned packet looking for them. Which makes the coffee go stale. Pricks.

    There was a lesbian-oriented bookstore in Vancouver, BC called "Little Sisters" that had amazing problems with Canada Post. See, often what gets barred from entering the country is up to the individual Customs officer in question, so even though gay porn is perfectly legal in Canada, some Customs guys seem to have a real problem with it and don't let it through. They interfered to the point of almost closing the store because of the interference with their product. But one shipment in particular made it into the papers. It was fantasy-themed books, and it was blocked on the grounds that it was offensive to fairies.

    TO FAIRIES. I shit you not.

    My own response would have been, "Tell you what. How about you send it on, and if even one single fairy comes in, in person, to tell me this material offends them, I will happily torch the lot." Sheesh.

    Canada Customs sucks, especially clearing anything from the States. Not only does everything take at least a month to clear, they will slap taxes and fees on things apparently at random. you can easily find yourself paying more in duty than you did for the original product.

    That makes Hong Kong our happy place. Anything we've ever ordered from Hong Kong, despite being on the other side of the planet, arrives in 3-5 days, no duty required. Hong Kong is awesome.

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    • Totally agree, ordering from Hong Kong is always good. Ordered a camera lens from there recently-
      Estimated delivery time: 15-20 days
      Actual delivery time: 5 days

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    • Didn't know fairies were particularly gregarious readers.

      Australia to New Zealand – 3 days to a rural address.

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  22. Yeah, I sell on ebay and gave up shipping outside the country many years age, To Canada I was 1 for 5, Europe 0 for 3, Japan 1 for 2,…. My ads say I will not ship outside the U.S….. , But if anyone asks I send them the following:
    "Sure I will ship this to you, You must pay all shipping charges as well as a $30 paper work fee, You must also pay in cash in advance, No paypal, because they will take my money and give it back to you when the package does not make it to you, And the odds are it won't…." No one has accepted these terms yet…..

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    • That said, paying by cash internationally could be an insurmountable hurdle, even for those willing to brave the odds!

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  23. I've always had good luck with post. When I mail order, it usually takes a day less than listed. It's like I have a super power.

    Granted, I haven't tried ordering or shipping across country borders yet. I will just have to see how far my luck stretches.

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  24. I live in Canada and I have packages shipped to me on semi regular occasions. I have had multiple things shipped to me from all over Europe with no problems (mostly from Germany and the UK), but oh dear God shipping from the US. Not only does shipping cost about $35 (even if the item is less than that), but then Canada Customs like to sit on it.

    Germany, about $8 to ship, arrives in 2-3 weeks,
    Uk, about the same,
    US, $35 and it takes a few months

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  25. That is very weird. I live in Germany and the postal service is actually fairly reliable, at least for packages sent from within Germany (and probably the rest of Europe). What does happen is that often the delivery guy or girl can’t be bothered to haul your damn heavy package to your door and then maybe discover that you’re not at home, so they just leave a leaflet saying that they didn’t find you at home. They then bring the package to a post office responsible for your area and it sits there waiting for you to pick it up there for a week or two. But I never had a case of packages gone missing altogether. That said, I never had a package coming from the US, so it might be that the cause of the delay is the customs office and not the postal service.

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    • huh. So the spanish ones ain't the only who do that.

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  26. No, but I had a package take more than 3 weeks to arrive from the province right next to mine. During that time, I received something from California (which would be the opposite side of the continent) in less than a week.

    And no, some of us Canadians are angry with the postal system and don't just shrug it off. I was super pissed at the time.

    Actually now that I think about it, I did sell something once on Ebay and the buyer was in Spain. I sent the package, and about 2 months later it came back. The person NEVER sent a message to me saying it didn't arrive, or that he wanted his money back. It was.. weird..

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  27. Here in the UK, I'm still waiting on a pair of Captain America swimshorts from the US. Very snazzy they are too, but it's been almost a month now. I have a feeling that after the horsemeat scandal over here, the food companies have been looking for an alternative mince filler and have begun using American parcels

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  28. I realize the point here is to complain rather than offer solutions, but I'll forge ahead anyway.

    Surely there are T-shirt companies in Europe and Australia. Why not find reasonable printers over there and have them print and ship your international orders? I'm sure that a lack of volume would make them slightly more expensive, but it would be offset by lower shipping costs. Plus people that don't live in America are crazy, so they'll pay more for Wil Wheaton Wear. I've been to Mexico (New) so I know this is the case.

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    • Another alternative would be for Sharksplode to change its name to "Customs Forms Express". My theory is that the current company name is made up of two other names that both sound vaguely like something customs inspectors are supposed to look for while also sounding like a company that might have put something super cool in the package. Changing the name to "Customs Forms Express" would make the package look like something they need to pass on so that they can get paid.
      The funny part to me here, is that you think I'm kidding.

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      • Inconspicuous Mailings, Inc.

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  29. Not at all surprised by the number of unusually lengthy comments on this thread.

    I worked for a small screen printing company that had a couple of clients in Germany and a couple in Canada. One Canada shipment was two weeks late because "the customs office was closed for two weeks for spring break" when the package arrived. My boss and I nearly lost our shit screaming in rage and frustration, then promptly petitioned the owner of the company for a two week spring break of our own. Seemed like a brilliant business strategy, once we realized the customer was totally fine with it.

    Then we had two shipments going out to a volleyball coach at Wiesbaden High School on the US Army base there. She wanted the uniforms shipped through the US Postal Service directly to the school, and the fundraiser t-shirts shipped via UPS to her house off-base (I don't remember why exactly). The expectation all around was that the fundraiser t-shirts would actually get there faster, so they could start selling them before the season started.

    As expected, the uniforms got held up before ever leaving the US, then disappeared into a black hole of super-secret-classified-need-to-know-eyes-only-OMG-don't-tell-anyone US Army overseas shipping routes before magically re-appearing in the school's mailroom, just in time for their 3rd game. Apparently it sat in that mailroom a week or so before anybody bothered to tell the coach it had arrived. Tracking info along the way never updated after leaving the last postal hub prior to customs.

    The t-shirts however, took so long to get there that the season was over, playoffs were over, and their championship game was over. Also, our $13,000/yr working relationship with Wiesbaden High School was over. Awesome.

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    • We actually found Canada was easier if the customer knew anybody who lived in the northern US and who they wouldn't mind visiting. We could ship to Montana/Michigan/etc. easily enough, and then one or the other of them could drive across the border and take it with them.

      "How long will it take for my order to arrive?"
      "I'm not sure. I'd try to give you a ballpark figure, but I'm fresh out of animal entrails. If it's urgent, we could ship to a friend or relative in the states who lives near the border. Know anybody?"
      "No, not really."
      "Are you sure? Nobody you used to know? Maybe an estranged uncle, or embittered lover you'd like to reconnect with? Or murder?"

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    • We have relatives in Germany who are school teachers….they told us how many national holidays they get every year and we couldn't believe it.

      Reply
      • Our schools also each get a certain number of free days they can distribute at will (on top of the bunch of national/regional holidays, 6 weeks off in summer, two weeks between terms in February, and about a week or two off for Christmas). Usually, all the schools within a certain area will coordinate when to use these, but it is ultimately up to the principal of each individual school. They are mostly used between public holidays and whichever weekend is closest, so the kids and teachers get several 4- or 5-day weekends a year…
        Yeah, we got it pretty good here.

        Reply
  30. Shockingly, I actually mailed a bag of Chex Mix to a friend in China successfully.
    Well, aside from it being mostly crumbs when it arrived.
    It even arrived 7 days earlier than expected.
    I thought that was pretty awesome.

    Reply
  31. So many good comments here.

    Also, I love everything about this comic: the subject, the jokes, the art, the layout, the colors. Really nice work!

    Reply
    • Seriously, that "hole on fire in a hole" has a nice Bill Watterson touch to it.

      Reply
      • Whoa! Okay, re-reading for the third time, your last panel just gave me a great/terrible idea! A social network of people who travel, and will kindly deliver your packages for you. I'm sure it won't get anybody arrested for being a drug mule at all! I'm a genius!!!

        Reply
  32. "Postmaster Blaster" LOL! Not only am I dealing with it, but I want a small version of this on a stamp with my return address next to it…

    Reply
  33. Your view on how Canadians think of their postal system is accurate. I'm from the States but live in Canada now and honestly, sometimes I'm just happy a package got to me at all, no matter how late it was. I've never had a problem with getting things from within Canada but anything coming from the States is iffy. Lost a lot of shirt.woot packages that way.

    Reply
  34. For someone who invented the Grammar Dalek, I'm surprised at you. You misused "their" twice.

    Reply
    • Joel invented the Grammar Dalek, but he has too much humanity to actually be one.

      Reply
  35. Not the Great Atlantic Kraken, but I'm sure South Pacific Godzilla or a voracious pit of tasmanian devils ate about three packages I sent to Australia about three years ago. Never again, I say! I barely trust Canada Post these days…

    Reply
  36. Great. I read this today, after shipping 32 packages to various international locations yesterday.

    26 of them are going to countries mentioned in the comic (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK).
    The other 6 are going to the Czech Republic, Austria, & Poland.

    It'll be interesting to see how many come back.

    Reply
    • OH, They won't come back, Some will simply disappear…..

      Reply
      • Don't know, might give Customs indigestion.

        Reply
  37. I once posted an amusing shape vegetable to my friend in Australia, they did not appreciate that one bit. All he received was a letter saying "Incinerated: One small potato." which in honesty is fr more amusing than the potato was. By return he sent me a dead huntsman spider labelled as pastic novelty goods. British customs did not even blink at that one.

    Reply
    • I'm not sure if it is, but I really want this to be true.

      Reply
      • I believe it, Australian customs are finicky about fruit and veg, and many other things. (T-shirts, books and posters are fine – it's only items that could introduce pests/disease, or are illegal. Or are things like video games and DVDs, because they can charge more here.)

        The punishment for just getting off a plane in this country with an undeclared novelty vegetable can be harsh, in some states it applies even if you've only travelled from another state.

        Reply
    • This is one of the greatest mailing stories ever XD

      Reply
  38. I post things out to the USA, Europe and sometimes Australia from the UK pretty much daily, and the only place I ever have things go missing from is Italy.
    Weirdly inside Europe, Germany has a reputation for the best, most efficient postal service.

    Reply
    • It used to be – before the postal service was privatised and started employing part-time students for the grunt work. Now it can be a bit of a crap shot.
      But mostly, it's not the postal service that srews you, it's customs. Anything without a customs declaration and/or a bill marked "paid in full" attached to the outside of the package WILL get pulled. And then they may just forget to send you a note saying that they pulled it and you should get your ass to the customs office asap.
      Which I think is what happend to the only shipment I ever lost – my first order from the HE store with Blind Ferret. I ordered two shirts on Sep 1st, 2011. Mid-October i e-mailed Blind Ferret to ask if it should really take that long. They gave me the USPS tracking number, which is only good as long as the package is within the US, but it was at least something. I kept checking, and a month later (mid-November now) the USPS website suddenly said the package was returned to the Blind Ferret warehouse in Vermont because the address was incomplete (not true). I had some very nice e-mail-exchanges with this guy called Becker from the Blind Ferret customer service, who couldn't find the package either. Jan 10th 2012 we both gave up and they refunded my money. So, that's four and a half months for nothing…

      Reply
  39. I live in Sweden and I have ordered stuff from USA, UK, HK, China, Germany and within Sweden. Only once have a package been lost for me and that was a balaclava I ordered a few years back from UK. I tend to order things outside of Sweden at least twice a year and they all arrive on time, except for that one package from UK, and I think that's a good ratio when it comes to packages that actually make it to my home. I've got to have ordered at least 30 times outside of Sweden and with only 1 lost package (that actually was small enough to be sent in a envelope).

    Reply
  40. I once had a package sent to me from an Italian friend (I live in the UK). It was a t-shirt.

    It arrived, her handwriting was on it and everything. The package had been opened, the contents replaced, and then taped shut again. The replacement was an out-of-date (by two years) calendar in Russian that appeared to be for bridge enthusiasts, as every month was marked with a picture of a bridge. Not famous ones or anything. Just random bridges. Note that there is no Russia between Italy and the UK.

    Reply
  41. Ive given up on Italy. My parents 50th anniversary was coming up so I decided to have the silver chalices they used at their wedding refinished ( i had been rougb on those chalices in my youth) and rimmed with gold by the original jeweler they had been crafted by. The jeweler turned out to be in Italy as my grandparents had purchased them on a trip years ago. So I contacted the jeweler and it was still not only in buisiness but the same man who had crafted the chalices was still their craftsman. Everything was arranged with the customs paperwork before hand and I was confident in my plan and a bit proud as a son. Then came the postal devices and customs offices. May they all suffer the depths of Tartarus. I recieced notice from the Italian customs that I owed additional fees to export my item into their country. When I faxed confirmation numbers of said payments, from their customs office, they insisted my paperwork was a forgery. I contacted the jeweler and they seemed to understand the problem. The craftsman himself went to the offices to get the package and sign some papers and such.

    Time to reach Italian jeweler – 4 months and an additional 50$us

    The craftsman worked quickly because he understood the anniversary was in 2 months and time was of the essance. He finished the Job in two weeks and sent me such gorgeous pictures. He then took the customs personally again to have the contents verified so as to expediate the shipping process. He then sent to package out to be delivered via USPS first class

    Time spent at jeweler – 14 days

    The jeweler faxed me confirmation numbers and signed paperwork and the like as well as the paperwork for American customs. And the package had shipping tracking as well. After a week without change in the tracking status I contacted the Italian office that the tracking number originated from. I was informed they were experiencing problems with theirtracking software but assured me my parcel was in transit. And so I waited. And dewaited. And waited. And then the tracking number expired. Eventually I received a certified letter from US customs that my package had been rejected for delivery and had been returned to sender. I contacted the jeweler and faxed a copy of the letter i had received. They assured me they would look into it and at that point I had given up, appologized to my parents for loosing a precious momento of their love. Some time later I received word from the jeweler that they had recovered the package. The chalices had been found by the craftsman on a trip to the customs office on unrelated buisiness. Apparently the original packaging had been "destroyed in transit" and with no way to know where to send them they had remained in the office, on the office manager's desk. The craftsman took custody of them as he had paperwork and photographs. The jeweler informed me that his craftsman wasntaking a trip to new York for an appraisal and it was decided that the chalices would be shipped from New York by the craftsman. Once in New York the chalices were shipped and the crqftman actually called me to inform me of the successful departure of my package. I received the chalices some 4 days later.

    Time from leaving Italy to my doorstep – 2 years and 4 months

    Yeah F#CK the post

    Reply
  42. Last week I decided to use the machine at the post office to send a *very small* package (seriously, it could've been a letter but was too wide) from Ohio to Michigan and it nicely printed out a 92 cent stamp and asked me to drop it in the bin.

    Then today I get an email from this girl saying she had to fork over another $1.15 to her mail carrier to cover a "shipping charge difference"?

    What?! Your machine! With the printing of the stamp! With the weighing!

    Geez, if I collected about a dollar from every stranger I met then I could make some real money. Why are you in debt, post office?

    Reply
  43. I order quite a bit online, having some hobbies that are currently best served by US publishers (roleplaying and wargaming). I also read a lot of webcomics and order the occasional merch.

    So far the score is: 1 t-shirt from xkcd.com that never arrived, one copy of RK Milholland's Super Stupor comics, and 1 roleplaying book from Hero Games.

    The last one was the worst, since the book version has sold out. I bought the book+PDF bundle, so I have at least the text to work with, but a PDF is rather hard to pass around the table while playing, and colour printing is prohibitively expensive.

    Aside from that, international orders arrive promptly in the Netherlands, and customs clears them quickly. On small orders they often don't even bother to assess taxes.

    Intra-EU shipments though…I buy a lot of bulk pipe tobacco from the UK. The local mail cheerfully ignores the directive on the packages that they must be signed for, at least they did until they lost a few packages and I complained.

    Reply
  44. What I said about penises in the other comic, I take back after seeing your world map in this one.

    (I kid! I kid because I love!)

    Reply
  45. A package from DeviantArt took three months to come to us, while its twin (same things inside and about the same size, it was two framed pictures), sent out the very same day, was here in two weeks. After a month we asked where the missing package was, and even the DA people didn't know, so they just sent the same items a second time. Again, it was here in two weeks.
    I live in Belgium (a neighbor of Germany, so maybe they were sharing their bad luck with us), and like I said, we finally received the first package months later. it had no problem with fees or anything. It just made a slight detour by the Belize. Where it was stomped by an elephant by the look of it.

    They make surprisingly solid packagings, at DeviantArt's…

    Reply
  46. You know, this comic is actually indirectly praising France's postal system (relatively speaking, of course…). I know the Foglios have written that they do not even try shipping to Italy.

    Living in France, I can only think of one package that I am sure was lost in delivery, one where I'm not sure, say 50/50 (and one where I did not get my order, but apparently no one else did, regardless of country), out of… whoa, did I really make more than 20 webcomic (and assimilated) orders from -the US- North America? I guess so. As far as I can remember I never ended up receiving a package after an outrageously long delay, the max was 6 weeks, and even then, it was sent through… Canada Post; given International shipping delays, I never start expecting a US package right as I order it anyway, it's more like I'm buying not so much for myself than for a version of me sometimes in the future, and I end up getting something interesting at some point. My Topatoco holiday shopping was done mid-November, for instance. In fact I can have more than one package "in flight" (as we say in computer networking) at any given time.

    Reply
  47. I live in Australia, and, while I've had all packages delivered – one from Ireland, a bunch from the US – I'm terribly shy about online ordering. It's a combination of remoteness, the fact that they need to pass international customs and change postal hands like five times, and the fees. Still, I can't complain, I don't really have any horror stories.

    The worst that happens is the shirts don't fit because no matter how many I order I still can't get my head around US sizing, but that's a user error. (Apparently I need to order unisex XL, and I-don't-even-know for women's sizing, but bigger. I've got a comfortably oversized men's jumper that I wear in winter, it's a size S, but that's an extreme example. I usually default to ordering in L size, I have so many ill-fitting shirts now.)

    I did however live in the Northern Territory of Australia for a while, the good ol' NT. Mail from anywhere else in Australia (colloquially termed 'Down South') was so slow, it was said NT stood for Not Today, Not Tomorrow, Next Tuesday, etc. I avoided having anything shipped while I lived there, from overseas or down south. (Anything from overseas would be routed through a hub down south anyway.)

    Reply
    • With current US t-shirt sizes a "ladies cut" is typically 2-3 sizes smaller than you would expect. Toss is variable chest sizes and it's a total crap shoot.

      Reply
    • I send stuff to the Northern Territory, far North Queensland and the Pilbara region of WA all the time. I'm thankful that I almost never have to use couriers or the postal service; we often have staff traveling who can hand-deliver for me. I'll take a week delay on getting things out as opposed to braving the vagaries of paid delivery services.

      Reply
  48. I live in Germany and the Postal Service used to be pretty swell… You see 'til a few years back everyone working at the post office, including the mailman, was a state clerk, an official. There are certain benefits concerning social security and so on, which was why those guys worked really efficiently.
    Switch to now, most employees are privately employed, overworked and underpaid, with Internet businesses like Amazon supplying many goods it's more workload for just as many workers. My sister-in-law works for the post office and she sometimes works from 5 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m., even longer during christmas season, and still didn't deliver all packages of that particular day.
    I guess some packages could be lost, overlooked, or just plain stolen in that mess.

    Reply
  49. All hail the sorting dingo, indeed. I avoid shipping to certain parts of the world (as in, outside of the US and Canada, and even Canada is questionable at times).

    By the way, I really enjoyed this long-form cartoon. It was great to have all that room to experience the story.

    Reply
  50. Try shipping to China on a regular basis. 8D

    Reply
    • Got to love the 2-3 weeks the whole country shuts down for Chinese New Year.

      Reply
      • This actually affects me and other cartoonists a lot since pretty much all books and plushes are made in china. You have to expect about a month around Chinese New Year where they are going to be unreachable.

        Reply
  51. Joel, don't even THINK about shipping to Brazil. Everything you said about Germany is true about Brazil, only doubled. I think they're grinding up packages from the U.S. to use as stew meat.

    Reply
    • I've heard negative things about Brazil, also they have a low limit and major fees, so many parcels get rejected by the receivers.

      Reply
    • Oddly enough Brazil has never come up, that I can remember. Maybe they dont like geek comics.

      Reply
  52. …and I thought it was bad that the laptop (one I desperately needed for University) took four months, depite my paying the super high premium for rush delivery. It seems it was manufactured in China, went to Alaska for customs… three weeks later it went to Georgia for three weeks… for customs. Back to Alaska. Back to Georgia! Then to Texas (at least it was getting closer to me in New Mexico). My laptop finally arrived and I had a month left in the semester. Also the newer model of that laptop was out, and cheaper.

    Reply
  53. Back in the early 90's Comic Book Stores in Tidewater Virginia sold hardly any Anime, I seriously had to have the OAV Pioneer Laser Disc of the "Wings of Honnemise", so I dutifully ordered via snail mail from Kinokyushia in Japan, who specialized in dealing with American Gaijin Otaku. This was before tracking, and Dingo sorting, it never arrived. Fortunately, Kinokyushia had stores in America and had one shipped from their US store. This transaction now has taken 6 months. Hark! the weirdness begins, three years later I am at con in Washington DC, that has a major anime program with vendors thronging the huckster room. Going thru the bins of used Pioneer Laser Discs, I come across a copy of 'Wings of Honnemise" with all the swag that my replacement disc, did not contain. I asked permission to take off the cellophane, and proceeded to lay out the 'liner notes', poster, and now outdated catalog. All in Japanese of course, except for the bilingual packing slip for the orignial purchaser…Me. Needless to say dealer thought this was hilarious, and I got a really good discount. We both concluded, it got ripped off sometime in the delivery chain in the US, and traded in for credit or cash to the store, whose contents he bought at auction. The store in question? The recently bankrupt Nerd Oasis that only recently started selling used anime. Two miles from my then apartment in Norfolk, Va.

    Reply
  54. Theft is all over the place; post office, couriers, and people who take parcels out of your mailbox.
    Here's a story about USPS mail going through Fedex, where a ring of employees were stealing parcels: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/woman-suspec

    Reply
  55. RE: Germany. Apparently if you put a 1 or 2 copies of the INVOICE on the outside of the parcel, besides the customs form, you are likely to have far less trouble.

    Reply
    • Maybe that's why they rip into every package. They REAAAAALY want to see the invoice.

      Reply
      • German customs are actually not allowed to open packages unless they have legitimate reason to suspect drugs or similar stuff inside. That's why I always have to go to their office. They will literally stand there and hand you a box cutter to open your package so they can look at what filthy, disgusting things you ordered from overseas, you deviant swine.
        I can't tell you how many time I have fantasized about what I really want to do with that box cutter…

        Reply
  56. Kangaroo shit is actually really dry and comes in small pellets. It makes it really easy to clean your yard up after the bi-monthly Walkabout that passes through every major and minor population centre. It can be a pain; mass migration of kangaroos is hell on the fences around your Thurnderdome, but it's great for replenishing your stocks of riding 'roos when they are inevitably killed by spiders and snakes.

    No but seriously, I think I must have been super lucky, because I've ordered a fair bit of stuff from you, and in fact the US of A in general, and it always comes to my door in a reasonable amount of time. Speaking of ordering from you, I got the Bridge Collapse print a few weeks ago and it is literally super awesome.

    Reply
    • You must be in one of the "Alpha Zones" of Australia. Glad my stuff is getting there and thanks for the support.

      Also, I believe everything in your first paragraph.

      Reply
  57. I grew up in New Mexico, and I think everyone from that state has a story of people who miss the "new" and automatically transfer you to their Spanish receptionist, or packages that according to customs stamps decided to spend a few days south of the border taking in the sights. So I won't tell any of those stories.

    Instead, once I moved up to Oregon my mom once sent me a care package. Tracking said it arrived, but it didn't. The delivery service (I can't recall which one, but one of the ones that isn't UPS or FedEx, they've always done right by me) had a signature but the folks at the apartment main office didn't recognize the name. I even took the name to nearby complexes but nobody knew anyone by that name where it could have ended up. We wrote it off as lost and my mom got a refund. That's where we thought it ended.

    About eight months later I got a surprise, another care package from home! Happily I called my mom to thank her for the cans of chile and such "but why is there a plastic bag full of coffee grounds? You know I don't drink it." When she said she hadn't sent anything we realized with horror that that's what happend to honeycake when kept in a box for eight months. There was no sign of it having be opened so we have two theories:
    –The shippers had misplaced it and were bullshitting us the entire time.
    –I live next to a college, so someone not on the lease got a misdelivered package and intended to pass it on but forgot. Then (it was June when I got it) when cleaning to move out either they or their roommates find it and pass it on, too embarassed to tell me what happened.

    Reply
    • Of course with tracking we also get to see fun things like when a package spends a day making multiple trips between two shipping stations. Looking at when things were checked in I think one of mine was "he didn't pay for two-day, we'd have to sit on this. Take it back." "Nuh-uh, we don't want it, YOU take it." "If he sees it sitting here he'll ask why it'd not delivered, you'll blow everything!" "We've got a special manager breathing down our necks about efficiency, get that thing out of here!" And so on.

      Reply
  58. As a spanish guy I do confirm the nap thing, the oil thing, and the fact that we dump stuff on the sea and then hail Mary (or Cthulu, it depends on the month) but to be fair, most of the stuff I order from the US arrives. sure, it takes forever, maybe the parcel felt like visiting the Azores for some time. But it does arrive. Dunno why you're having hard time here.

    Reply
  59. I know Rooster Teeth had a major issue with shipping to Australia and England. They have a lot of fans in those countries, so they had to find a distributor in both countries to handle their products. They have had less issues since then. Their web store FAQ page now says they will ship to some international locations, so they stopped shipping to everywhere. They have the fan base to justify getting overseas distributors.

    Reply
  60. I was doing just fine with receiving my US-ordered packages in Australia, until about three months ago. I'd left a couple of things at a friend's house in New Jersey when I visited her on holiday, and she emailed me to say they'd been mailed out. I waited patiently, then with a hint of concern, then anxiously for any sign of this package, only to be told a couple of weeks ago that it had somehow found its way back to her. Whether it ever actually left the US or made it all the way to Australia and back is unclear, but I hope it had a good trip! Second time lucky, right?

    Reply
    • My luggage has visited more countries than I have, and the jerk didn't even take photographs.

      Reply
  61. I had a packaged shipped here from Germany. It got here no problem until it was shipped from Buffalo to Seattle never to be seen again. At the same time another item was lost in the mail. I assume a postal working stole both and is now confused by my geeky soap and german family history book.

    Reply
  62. That's weird! I'm Italian, living in Italy, and I order a lot of stuff from the US… and most of it (I'd say, 99,9%) arrives here with no problems at all! In 15 years of ordering stuff from the US (hundresds and hundreds of shippings) I guess only 2 or 3 got lost. A Fray poster bought on eBay (the seller sent me another for free), the Doctor Horrible maquette from QMx (Alas, I never got any replacements for that) and some old comic strips newspaper reprints… I can't remember anything else.

    I also ordered books, prints and t-shirts from you and I always received them!

    I believe that the weak link is the last, the mailman. I've always had good mailmen!

    Reply
  63. I am currently on week 5 of waiting for shirts from Shark Robot here in West Australia. So far, according to them, the package has been ordered, queried, delayed, queried, sent, queried, queried, queried, sent again, queried and now we're at the stage where they are debating giving up or refunding the money, or at least I am. I wish I could say this is unusual in WA, but I've had packages lost even between cities here. I believe that on Australia Day every year they attach them to the rockets at the fireworks display and blow them all to pieces in spectacular fashion. Either that or they are offered up as ritual sacrifice by the state government in order to keep the GREAT INDIAN OCEAN KRAKEN at bay.

    Reply
  64. I live in Melbourne, Australia and have had very few issues with shipping, even international shipping.

    It takes a couple extra weeks than expected for packages to arrive by they get here and in good condition. I've even shipped feathers from the US and they came in a flat envelope with a piece of printer paper protecting them and they weren't even bent.

    A Thinkgeek us package with tracking came to me via Portugal, arrived in my city, decided to go sightsee in Sydney before coming back to Melbourne and then arriving.

    When I was 12 and not particularly smart and bought a broadsword from China and then sent it to another state within Australia without an questions, fees or issues with customs at all. (Did I mention I wasn't very smart?)

    I've never had to pay customs fees on anything at all that I've ever bought internationally.

    My friend had some straw sandals she bought from papa new guinea irradiated by the customs office before it arrived and she didn't even get charged for it.

    I'm guessing from experiences of people I know and the other Australian commenters here that the division in good postal services is East/West.
    Eastern states, in my experience seem to have less problems than Western states. Which indicates the voracious postal dingoes stick to the Western Australia and the like.

    Reply
    • As a fellow Melburnian I can say that many years of international eBay and other online orders always arrived with no issues what-so-ever, but while my gorgeous hijinks ensue prints arrived perfectly this year, the T-shirts I ordered from Blind Ferret and the HEstore last year was my first and only experience with getting on Postmaster Blaster and the Sorting Dingo's bad sides.

      Reply
    • The reason you haven't had to pay a customs fee is that Australian Customs limit is very high, $1000…except for things like alcohol and tobacco.
      Canadian Customs limit is $20.

      Reply
  65. Wouldn't that be Postmaster Master? The "big guy in the bucket" (as you put it), was Blaster. It's been a while since I've seen Thunderdome (against my will), so I could be wrong (but I don't think so).

    Reply
    • technically you're right but the combination of the two creatures was referred to simply as "Master Blaster."

      Reply
  66. Working in Australia in a company that ships worldwide, we sent an order to Outer Mongolia, we received the proof of delivery before an order we sent at the same time arrived at its destination from Sydney to Perth (you can read that as NY to LA for comparison)

    Reply
    • I ship stuff overseas a fair bit as part of my job, and I had a hilarious one last month. I shipped a package from Melbourne to Johannesburg, and it went Melbourne – Singapore – Jo'burg. Then I shipped a package to Lubumbashi in the DRC. It went Melbourne – Singapore – Frankfurt – Leipzig – London – JOHANNESBURG – Lubumbashi.

      Like, I know you can ship from Singapore to Jo'burg. I've seen you do it. What the hell was with that European tour? Although, shipping to Sub-Saharan Africa is super expensive, maybe they felt like they needed to justify it.

      Reply
  67. I'm sure defending McDonald's isn't cool, but I did write them a short, polite complaint once, when my local store was playing Christian music in the dining room. I got a human-written response, and the music changed within a week.

    Reply
  68. At work, where we ship things from time to time, we have had things go a little cray-cray. A customer in Kentucky called us (in Connecticut) when he noticed the tracking on his packing listed the item in Puerto Rico. After a week on walkabout, it arrived.

    I did buy an item off Etsy from Greece which arrived quickly. But it was a steampunk Cthulhu medallion so I'm PRETTY sure that's the only way to guarantee the kraken not eating it.

    Reply
    • OMG, I have read quite a few stories on Etsy of packages sent within the USA that took a detour to Puerto Rico for no good reason.
      I guess someone is looking for more vacation time?

      Reply
  69. Germans will conquer your shipping process!

    Reply
  70. I once sold some gaming books on eBay that were going somewhere Scandanavian, if memory serves, and the buyer insisted on paying for the cheapest shipping, back when you had that option. Apparently that meant by boat, as the books arrived at least two months later covered in mildew.

    Reply
  71. That last panel is basically the most reliable international mail system for Africa. Want to get a letter to someone in Kigali? Find someone headed toward Africa. Once they get it there, they find someone headed to central Africa. That person finds someone headed to Rwanda, that person finds someone headed to Kigali. Once it is in the city, there's probably a more or less functional local mail system, or more likely they just find someone who knows the person or organization you are trying to contact. It is, by most accounts, surprisingly reliable, though the speed is variable.

    Reply
  72. Oh wow, I don't think I've laughed at one of your comics so hard since "The Desecrator" back at the end of 2011. I'm not talking just a hardy laugh,(most of them get that reaction out of me) I mean holding my sides to dull the cramping in them and gasping for air as the phrase "All hail the sorting dingo" echos through my mind. Which is really saying something because only a few really extreme poop jokes have elicited that reaction out of me.

    Reply
  73. Way back in the 1980's the only safe way to get anything from Japan, that wasn't postal insured for a value greater tham item, was to make friends with the Navy guys I knew in Norfolk, VA who got stationed in Japan. From Yokuska, Sasebo, or Okinawa, they mail it via APO or FPO, and most of the time it get to States in 3 weeks.. Alternative was Surface Mail Lottery (I mostly lost) or buying stuff at extremely high prices [greed + rarety x otaku= $$$]

    Reply
  74. I have had two exact same packages (same items, weight, shape etc) sent to the same place overseas within WEEKS of each other and the second gets there in a week. The first one, a month…. maybe.

    The problem is two fold. I was told The US ports wait til they have a shipping container full of international mail before it goes out. The other is of course when it gets to customs on the other side it can sit in post purgatory. What kills me is when a company like UPS shipping IN THE US manages to encounter the Kraken and it's somehow "not their fault" (TM)

    Reply
    • "What kills me is when a company like UPS shipping IN THE US manages to encounter the Kraken and it's somehow "not their fault" (TM) "

      *nods* Yup. Back in the late 90s I had my computer shipped from Pennsylvania to California. I arrived soaking wet. And their response was "you should have insured it." WTF?

      Reply
      • In the early 2000's I sold a vintage guitar on eBay and UPS managed to break it completely in half… WHILE IT WAS IN THE CASE. The only way I could even conceive of that happening was if they had dropped something hard and heavy (a washing machine?) right smack in the middle of my box. I insured it and after fighting with them for 3 weeks they paid the claim and gave me the broken guitar back. I was able to have the guitar repaired and sold it again (disclosing the damage and repair) for slightly less.

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        • Man, I can imagine them doing exactly that (dropping a washing machine on it). I had a co-worker whose husband worked for UPS and his advice was "don't trust UPS to not break your stuff". Guess I should have insured it. Of course, my thinking at the time was "they shouldn't have left my shipment in the rain!"

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  75. When Wrath of the Lich King was about to release, I couldn't find any sellers in Thailand nor could I find any US sellers willing to ship here (and Blizzard was still pretending that purchase via download didn't exist). So, I convinced my parents to pre-order and ship it to me. Shipping cost more than the game. Two days after the game dropped, protesters took over the airport in Bangkok. No traffic in or out. Three days after the game dropped, Blizzard announced they were making it available for purchase via download. My package sat in a warehouse in the Philippines for two weeks. When it was finally delivered I discover that the extortionate shipping charges did not cover customs. I had to go to the post office to pay another $8 to collect it.

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  76. RE: the black hole that is the Italian post. A friend of mine spent a year living in Italy, and apparently the best/only way to get packages delivered there is to slap a bunch of religious images (a la Jesus and the Virgin Mary) because in Italy, don't NOBODY mess with baby Jesus. Seriously, all of her care packages from home vanished into the void except the ones her Catholic Italian grandma put Jesus stickers on. Her mom tried it and lo, success!

    This is assuming that you or the package will not immediately burst into flames upon contact with said images, which is my problem.

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  77. This Canadian runs a small business. A lot of our suppliers are in the US.

    We FAR, FAR prefer USPS and Canada Post over using a courier when we receive American shipments. Canada Post may sit on the packages and there may or may not be a customs fee, but nothing has ever been lost and most of the shipments are pretty timely.

    COURIERS on the other hand – FedEx, UPS, whoever – SUCK. They like to hold our shipments hostage so that they can extort an enormous brokerage fee above and beyond what customs charges. We are in the process of training our suppliers to send only by USPS which has apparently broken the minds of some of them.

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  78. I mailed a figure to Siberia once… It left the US in one day, checked in somewhere mid-Europe.. and then fell off the face of the earth for a month. Must of been driven by dogsleds across the tundra or something…

    When the package finally reached the person, the figure – which was inside a totally intact box – was broken into shards

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  79. I have a relative in Germany and we agreed never to send each other anything in the mail because ALL of the mail/cards/packages that do arrive, are opened. Most things do not arrive.

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  80. I am Spanish, I directly know people in the postal service. It is WORSE than the alternative you posted.

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  81. I lived in Colombia for two years. The standard procedure was to pay a ridiculous price to get the package out of the US and at least as much to get it out of Colombian customs. You have a month to get your package out of customs before they return it/incinerate it/ store it/ trade it for something else. The only issue is the letter that tells you that you have a month is usually delivered 3-4 days before your month is up. And good luck getting to the office when it's open. Ughhh. We always took one extra bag back and forth when travelling so we could be couriers for our ex-pat friends.

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  82. Well I'm from Germany and can tell you of the bullshit I've gone through to get a package from overseas.

    1. It takes at least 20 days or more to get through customs.

    2. Sometimes customs do hold the package hostage and make you come to their office to pick it up.

    3. If you do they charge you 19% of the price for import taxes.

    4. For every day you couldn't make it, they charge you additional 0,50Euro.

    5. They have opening times that no working person could make it there.

    That's why I try to buy only stuff from inside the EU. Hope that clears it up a bit, what happened to the packages you sent here.

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  83. A friend of mine has an infamous story from the mid-ninties of a very expensive custom Star Fleet uniform he had made by a woman in the States. This was before everyone and their brother did Etsy and that stuff was easy to get, so it took some time to make. And then it was shipped to him.

    Of course, the package was held up, but no where near as long as you'd assume. When he opened it, though, instead of the $300+ uniform, there was a Canada Customs teeshirt and a note saying they inspected the package.

    And nothing has changed in 20 years apparently

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    • That's sort of terribly devastating.

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      • Let's just say he's still angry about it. I'd be amazed if every member of the cast he's met hasn't heard this story yet.

        Dear Canada Customs guy who likes TNG, fuck you. I hope that uniform gave you cosmic space herpes

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  84. This had me in hysterics. Ive done a lot of selling on ebay and the only places where Ive ever had trouble have been Spain, Italy, Germany, Australia and Canada. Even Russia is more reliably on time. Germany and Aus' have their moments but at least the stuff generally gets there eventually.

    I once sent a pair of packages to Canada as a consignment with both clearly labelled special delivery with the correct (and identical) address. I got a message back that one of the packages had arrived at the customer, whilst the other eventually returned back to my door with a message saying the address didnt exist….

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  85. Yes i can relate. I'm from Germany and the last package I got from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean looked like it was used as a door stop on a container ship. -.-
    at least the posters were intact

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    • "a door stop on a container ship."

      That got me.

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      • believe me you know somethings wrong when the poster tube has a relief (the art thingy) on one end and is disturbingly flat.

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  86. When I moved back from Japan to the UK, I had a crapload of stuff to ship back. I ended up shipping it surface mail halfway round the world. Even the postlady was like "Are you sure?" when I said surface mail. I had no time constraints on when it needed to get there but I was fully expecting it to get loaded onto a boat that would probably get held up by Somalian mail pirates at some point, so I was expecting 3-6 months.

    It took 7 days. On a boat. From Japan to the UK. I've had Amazon ordered that have taken longer to ship.

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  87. Excellent comic :)

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  88. i ordered a knife from Nepal for my dad the site said 2 month delivery it took a whole 18 months i had forgot about it, when it arrived i sat there for an hour trying to figure out where it came from then my sister reminded me the really bad thing was my dad didnt like the knife so i kept it

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  89. Postmaster Blaster is great, might make a fine tee shirt or or wallpaper.

    ALL HAIL THE SHORTING DINGO!

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  90. I once ordered a part for my car, it was in a town just a good 20-30 miles away, honestly i would have driven there to get it myself, but it was one of those parts that you need to drive your car so i couldn't
    Anyways i ordered it with an estimated 3-5 business days til delivery. Cut to 3 months later (3 months of buses, taxis, and walking) and i'm furious because it still isn't there. I had been checking the delivery tracker and apparently, a harmless carburetor from just down the highway had to be sent to washington dc and quadruple checked by every x-ray, drug dog, bomb dog, psychic, and jack bauer in the nsa

    Not quite a kraken…..but i think it qualifies as universal s****f***ery

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  91. I bought a game from either Play or Zavvi, cant remember which. It was taking forever to get here, i think it was only coming form England over here to Ireland, which is usually really quick. emailed them twice a week and two weeks after it was supposed to arrive. They apologised profusly and told me they would send a replacement game… i got the replacment 3 days later, then the original 2 days after that! I was going to give the second one to a friend, but i decided against it cos I didnt want any bad Karma! then about 2 months later i get an e-mail because they have refunded me the price of the game as i sent it back! Karma works!!

    I also both a couple of t shirts from Penny arcade, about 20 dollars each, but the euro was awesome at the time…. man that was a long time ago so i was basically getting one of them free. until the guy that delivered them to my Mam charged her 20 euro on the spot Tax!!! Im pretty sure i got screwed because this have never happened before or after! With anything i have ever bought online and i ordered a fucking huge Lego Star Destroyer when drunk once!

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  92. Hey, what is wrong with Wyoming? All we have is the occasional rabid Antelope….and wind.

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    • Lots. Lots is wrong with Wyoming.

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  93. Thanks!

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  94. I guess I’m lucky that I’ve had so few problems with shipping here to South Africa over the years. Most of the items I’ve ordered eventually arrived, if perhaps a bit damaged/creased. The one exception is when I ordered some Wasted Talent books last year. When they arrived on our shores, we had a postal strike going. Never heard a peep about them, and they were sent back to Canada. So we arranged for them to be shipped back here, and wouldn’t you know it? Another month-long postal strike *just* came to an end. I can only hope they’re still in the system here, and that they won’t require another trip around the world…

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  95. The Postmaster Blaster is actually our local postie, so affectionately named because he affixes the word "CUNT" onto every parcel slip he delivers into a letterbox due to his dislike of delivering parcels on his bike.
    According to local legends passed down over generations his original name was Dave, but if you call him that he and/or his pet possum urinates in your letterbox.

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  96. That might make a good premise for a movie. A stranger gives someone a package and asks them to deliver it to Germany and the wacky misadventures that ensue when the person who received the package attempts to do as they were asked.

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  97. This was probably wroten from esperiency (painfull patiente-chewing esperience) but im a spaniard , i order a LOT of stuff from internet, from germany, US , UK, sometimes france, italy and of course china.. and so far nothing got lost ever..

    Of course .. i might just be lucky

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  98. I ordered for my husband's christmas a _fantastic_ assortment of fancy absinthes from absinthes.com, which happened to be in Germany. Took two months for it to get here (long past christmas).
    Mind you, he's absolutely in love with his present and it has major wow-factor. So I still recommend that website if you like absinthe and live in the US, but only order if you have 2 months to spare.

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