Thursday, November 17, 2005

Freight.. or fraught?

When we were in the UK, sorting out our house to sell it, we had to look through a huge number of boxes. As mentioned below. Although, as Daniel pointed out, we had survived without all that stuff for eight years so we might as well get rid of it all, we decided to bring a fair amount out to Cyprus where we intend to settle for the foreseeable future. I think we're only bringing about a third of what was left, and very little of the furniture.

Then, having roughly estimated what we wanted to bring, Richard started contacting freight companies. Hunting through the Yellow Pages yielded dozens of possibilities, but most of the phone calls were frustrating in the extreme. They didn't send things to Cyprus. They only did entire containers. They couldn't insure anything. They weren't operating any more. And so on...

We did get a few quotations, but they were fairly high.

Then Richard contacted a number he was given by Cyprus Airways, a special offer on air freight since he's a frequent flyer. He didn't want to trust Tim's new keyboard to sea freight, despite its strong flight case, and Tim wanted it within the next month or so in Cyprus. Previous experiences had taught us that even if sea freight is estimated to arrive within a couple of weeks, it's more likely to be at least a couple of months.

The company (called Signet) were very helpful, and gave a good quotation. They collected the keyboard when they said they would, and a colleague picked it up from Larnaka airport a couple of days later.

So Richard asked if they knew a company who did sea-freight, and they said they did that too. Their quotation was the best we had been given, insurance was not much extra. We would have to deal with the freight (or organise its delivery) once it got to Limassol port, but we didn't mind that. Having seen how some sea-freight is treated at the port, Richard felt he would prefer to supervise it himself anyway. We know someone with a transit van which we might be able to borrow if we need to collect it ourselves.

So we had the freight collected, we posted a cheque, and we had an email saying that it would arrive at Limassol on 14th Nov, and their agent in Cyprus would contact us. They even gave us a number.

On Tuesday (15th Nov) Richard tried phoning the number. No reply. But he left it till the afternoon, and some companies only work mornings.

Yesterday he tried again. No reply.

So he phoned the company in the UK, to check the number. The lady he had dealt with was on holiday, and the man answering the phone said he would check for us. He said there was no record of our having sent anything....

Richard asked him to check again, and this time he said we had sent air freight not sea freight, and we should have received it weeks ago. No, Richard said, that was different. We have signed paperwork accepting our sea-freight, and an email confirming arrival of our cheque, giving information about the arrival of the ship....

All rather worrying, but thankfully the guy did eventually find our details. Apparently their filing system isn't computerised or well-organised - something we have come to expect in Cyprus, but not in England!

They also gave Richard a completely different phone number for the Cyprus agent. By this time it was nearly 6.00pm here, and the Cyprus agent office closed at 5.30.

This morning he tried again. He got through to someone who said that yes, they do have our paperwork, but the ship has been delayed and should arrive this weekend.

What a relief.

We don't hold out high hopes for actually getting the freight next week; previous experience has taught us that it can take up to a week to be released, and that inevitably there will be further delays. When we came out here eight years ago, we sent some freight which was due to arrive in the first week of November. It actually arrived just before Christmas and had two parcels missing. They were insured, and the contents replaced, but it was very annoying.

However the time-frame was quite good compared to others we've heard of: one family discovered their freight had been sent first to Malta, then to Greece (huh?), and was then on its way to North Cyprus... at a time when it would almost certainly have been lost irretrievably if it had arrived there. Thankfully they were able to get it diverted to the south in time, but in all they waited about three months rather than the expected three weeks.

Tim hopes the freight arrives before mid-December, since one of the items coming is a very strong keyboard stand which he wants to use in the inter-church carol concert. I'm in two minds: I'll be relieved when it's safely here, but I have NO idea where we're going to put it. I also suspect we're going to find that we want to extract one or two items from every single box so we won't even be able to leave it neatly stacked away somewhere.

1 comment:

Lora said...

What a headache!