With the wedding drawing nearer and bridesmaids as well as wedding locations being dotted across the globe I have found myself last week dealing with an endless stream of logistics as I attempt, and mostly fail, to send all the necessary items to the necessary people by the necessary deadline.
Act 1: International Shipping Terror – DHL and Austrian Customs
It would have been too easy I guess. Sending a simple package with DHL to Austria, which includes three bridesmaid dresses is easy right? WRONG!
A day after I had sent the package, the recipient bridesmaid receives a message from DHL saying she needs to provide an order confirmation and payment confirmation, or the package would be sent straight back to where it came from. We have used DHL before to send things to Germany and the UK and we have NEVER had any problems, but of course now, when it is essential, the Austrian customs have to be ridiculously difficult.
Well, it was my fault really. I rarely send international packages and did not think to write “present” on the cover rather than “clothes”. Also my lack of detail didn’t help or the fact that I squished the dresses into the package without taking them out of their original plastic bags in which they had been delivered from Taobao.
I blame China. I have become so used to the “Suibian” approach to life and work and anything here really. 随便 literally means casual, although you could probably translate it as “careless”. That is probably the word that sums up the general attitude towards many things here. People are very vague and general, and so filling out a DHL form, the guy who picks up the form does not really care what you put on it, even if the result is the Austrian customs thinking your package is an international online purchase that needs to be declared.
So I had to provide an invoice, the order confirmation and payment confirmation of the dresses in the package as proof that they had indeed been purchased in this country.
Naturally, the Chinese side had no clue whatsoever what the Austrians were on about. And so it took multiple exchanges for me to figure out what documents they wanted and how to present them. In the end the package passed customs but not without the greedy bloodsuckers adding 24 Euros tax; the dresses only cost about 45 Euros in the first place. The nerve! Well, it has definitely taught me a lesson, that’s for sure.
While at least this logistical nightmare has been sorted, I now pray for the dresses to fit my lovely bridesmaids, otherwise utter disaster shall ensue.