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Club Correos and generous friends create an "Aw Shucks" moment!

About a year ago, we had to have a document mailed to us from San Francisco.  DHL charged us over $90 for that item, and ever since, we have been looking for better ways to ship items more inexpensively...

Of Course, the absolute best way to bring down needed items, is to have friends bring them down, when they come for a visit.  We have been lucky in that many generous folks have allowed us to jam some of our junk into their bags--Thanks again to all of you!!!

 This season, we were in need of a good and fast way to get a donated computer down here.  We were daunted by the paperwork we envisioned, and the costs of the main carriers like DHL, FedEX, and UPS.

These feelings all changed when I read an excellent article about Club Correos in this blog:  

http://www.captivatingcuenca.com/club-correos.html

We thought that this service might only be limited to Cuenca, but it works all over Ecuador!

Club Correos logo
The Club Correos logo

Membership

The club is membership-based. You have to pay $10 annually by credit card to be a member (plus 12% IVA, for a total of $11.20). That gives you access to the delivery location in Miami. Membership is ongoing, automatically renewed annually on your card until you decide to end your membership.

Basically, think UPS Store, or the old Mailboxes Etc. You're given a box or "suite" number at the destination. You provide that address as your delivery address whenever you order anything online or by phone.

A Few Rules

  1. You have to be a member! After all, what's a club without members?

  2. The maximum value of purchases being shipped can't be more than $400 USD. If you need to send a higher total value than that, buy items separately and have them shipped separately to Club Correos in Miami.

    However, if you have them sent separately, ensure that you give enough time between shipments that they pass through Ecuador Customs separately. If they arrive at the same time, they'll be considered the same shipment in terms of value!

  3. The maximum weight allowed is 4 kilograms, which is 8.8 pounds. Have items shipped separately if the total weight is going to come to more than 4 kilos.

    As above, if they're shipped separately, ensure that you give enough time between shipments that they pass through Ecuador Customs on different days. If they arrive at the same time, they'll be considered the same shipment in terms of weight!

    The reason for the value and weight restrictions is Ecuador Customs. Anything valued at more than $400 or weighing more than 4 kilos automatically goes through a Customs inspection, where duties are applied.

    Within the above restrictions, packages pass through Customs without inspection, and without any additional costs (although this is always open to change, as often happens here in Ecuador).

    If a retailer ships something that turns out to not meet either or both of the above restrictions, Club Correos will send the package to you, but as an ordinary import shipment (s-l-o-w). It will then be assigned a customs duty amount, which a customs broker will pay. You'll be responsible for paying all customs duties and broker fees for this item before it can be released to you.

    In other words, you're responsible for the local (Ecuadorian) customs laws and any expenses incurred. You can consult with Club Correos to verify the laws before making any purchases.

  4. There are shipping fees from Miami to Ecuador:

    • Up to 1 pound, $10.29
    • Up to 2 pounds, $14.98
    • Up to 3 pounds, $19.49
    • Up to 4 pounds, $23.21
    • Up to 5 pounds, $28.58
    • Up to 6 pounds, $32.35
    • Up to 7 pounds, $37.16
    • Up to 8 pounds, $40.93
    • Up to 8.8 pounds (rounded to 9), $45.74

    For example, a package weighing 8.5 pounds (remember that packing materials are included in the weight) will cost you $45.74 shipping to Ecuador. That does not include any shipping charges from the retailer to Club Correos in Miami.

    According to the frequently asked questions (preguntas frecuentes), you pay for the shipping with a credit card that works internationally. However, if a payment fails to go through, they'll contact you to register another credit card. Or you can arrange another form of payment, either a bank transfer (from an Ecuador or US bank to a bank in Florida) or a PayPal payment.

    Your package won't be shipped until payment has been received.

    You can ship heavier items, but the Customs duty doesn't really make it practical. If you do need to ship a heavy item, here's the list of charges by the pound... econcargoecuador.com/clubcorreos/4.php.

  5. You cannot send the following:

    • perishable items
    • tobacco and firearms, explosives and munitions, gunpowder and fireworks
    • foods and drinks, live animals, animal products and skins
    • seeds/plants/wood
    • spray products and those that damage the ozone layer, anything with alcohol as its primary ingredient, cleaning solutions
    • medicines/drugs/hallucinogens
    • toxic substances, chemicals, gas/tear gas/pepper spray, poisons/venoms
    • lighters and matches, batteries that contain chemicals, and packages under pressure

How It Works

  • You sign up for the service and receive a box number (they use the term casillero, which means, literally, a set of pigeonholes). Here, think of it as a post office box in a North American post office.
  • You purchase your item online or by phone, paying by whatever method the retailer accepts, and give the retailer the box number and street address for Club Correos as the shipping address. Other people can also ship to your address, but it's your credit card that will be billed for the shipping charges.

    Club Correos recommends that you have the retailer send your packages by UPS, FedEx or other system that records and gives online access to tracking numbers. Or send by the US Postal Service, using one of their options that gives online access to a tracking number.

    They guarantee delivery from Miami to you in Ecuador (although they'll only reimburse you a maximum of $100), but do not guarantee delivery to their Miami location.

  • Club Correos receives the package and bills your credit card for the applicable weight-based shipping charges.
  • It then sends the package to Ecuador via envío urgente (express delivery). You can track the package on the Club Correos web site, using your casillero number and your password.
  • When your package arrives here in Cuenca, someone from the post office will call you to arrange a date and time to deliver it to you (although you may find it faster and safer to pick it up downtown). This person will also tell you if there are any Customs duties that were declared on your package upon its arrival. It must be paid in cash at the moment of delivery.

Support Issues

If you have a payment problem, want to change or update a payment method, don't receive a package, or forget your casillero or password, go to econcargoecuador.com/clubcorreos/contacto.php and click on the menu next to the large 1. Then click on the item that applies to your situation (everything's in Spanish, so you may need help if you don't read the language).

Summary

If you buy a lot of stuff from the US (like Lulie's student does), Club Correos could save you a lot of headaches, as long as you remember to keep the value below $400 USD and the weight below 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds).

Happy shopping!

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- See more at: http://www.captivatingcuenca.com/club-correos.html#sthash.et9Ih8Fv.dpuf

 

We now continue on the the "Aw Shucks" part of the story

Agripina and Isidro's (our live in helper couple), have a daughter who is doing an excellent, but difficult, job of raising her son by herself.  Alexander is at that age and level in school, where he can have his own computer and keep up with the class, or not have his own computer, and try to keep up using a borrowed one,  twice a week.

The predictable result of not having his own computer, would be that Alex would fall further and further behind his more fortunate classmates.

We tried to remedy this situation earlier this year, when they told me that the family had saved some money, and wondered if I might shop at WalMart or Ebay for a low priced laptop, and then have a guest bring it down.

We had people coming down, and I found a ChromeBook at the right price, so it seemed that we could get Alex his computer in short order.

This is where the story gets nutso...

For one thing, Google makes this machine so that it mainly will use applications that are made by Google.  It will reject other programs that you like using.  It will not print with the click of a button, but requires a long convoluted process.  But...worst of all...it barely works at all, if it is not connected to the internet!

When I ordered the machine, I was under the impression that it was a normal laptop with some special featured added.  Well, down here in Ecuador, it is absolutely useless unless you are in a free wi-fi area.  Alex and his mom, do not have wifi, and do not seem to be able to order it until more land lines are available.  (Those air cards barely work out here, because the signal is so weak--or bandwidth is woefully inadequate)

So...We put the Chromebook in a closet, and told the family that we would try to get them a more normal laptop, this time.  (Actually, Rox is now using it for a month, as Amazon has had to replace her beloved Kindle Fire.)

Since computers at Walmart and Ebay have all seemed to take a huge jump in price, we decided to see if we could buy a used one.

Our good buddy Ron, put out the word to his bicycle club friends, and they quickly responded with a couple of very usable laptops.  In his early life, Ron actually was a "Rocket Scientist", so being a computer guru comes naturally.  He pronounced the laptaps "healthy and ready to go"

Now...all we had to do was find a friend or guest coming on down.  Unfortunately, there was a big gap in timing, so we began to look for other ways to get Alex's computer down here.

When one reads the article about Club Correos it mentions that they receive their stuff at the main Post Office in Cuenca, so Rox and I were concerned that we might have to make the 7 hour drive there to pick up the package.

Not so!  When you join Club Correos (I think you need your Cedula number), you actually put down your Ecuador address as part of the application.

We paid our $11.00 thru PayPal, filled in the form, and were now a member.  We received an immediate email which showed our new address as my name, our special EC********* number, and our new Miami address.

So...we had Ron send the medium flat rate US Postal Service encelope to our new Miami address.  ($12.**).  He sent it on a Monday, and the package showed up in Miami  a couple of days later.  The staff of EconCargoEcuador (affiliated with Club Correos), picks up packages every day at the PO.

On Friday of that week, our package was batched with the other Ecuador mail and sent to Ecuador.  Yesterday, it was Friday again, and when I checked with our Post Office in Santa Elena, the lady behind the counter held up my card, and said that "I was just going to call you"

The Package must contain an invoice from your seller, stating the value of the item, including shipping, plus the name and address of the store.  Ron made up an invoice for the laptop, and it was missing when we received the package, so we presume that it was opened, and the customs (or Post Office people), added the invoice to their files.

Almost forgot...total cost for shipping laptop from Miami $28.58--and no taxes or duty...

Here is Alex and his mom...looking at a brighter future!!!

 

 Special kudos to Nina and Frank, who kept the machine in such good shape, and so generously passed it along to such a deserving family. 

Mom and Son were thrilled, that after saving their money for all of these months, that the cost was ZERO.  With the ChromeBook not working, and with this little Dell working perfectly the first time, there were smiles and hugs all around!!!

 

 The little Dell laptop sitting in front of them means that Alex has a chance for a better future---wouldn't it be great, if all the retired, but serviceable computers sitting unused in everyone's offices, could somehow be shifted on down to places where they will make a lifetime of difference!!!

 

 


Posted on Sat, July 20, 2013 at 05:26AM by Registered CommenterBob & Roxanne | CommentsPost a Comment | References79 References

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