|Fri Sept 26 2014 14:19:00|
Beware When Insuring International Packages
I just wanted to write to you regarding a very unnerving experience I just had when shipping to Russia. Last month, I sold two pieces of jewelry worth about $1700 to a buyer in Russia. After payment cleared, I mailed out the items via USPS Priority Mail Express and had the contents insured for the full value via Shipsurance.
A week or two later, the buyer contacted me and said the package was being sent back to me. Her English (and the eBay translator) was difficult to understand, so I initially thought that she was returning the pieces for some reason. However, when the box arrived a few days ago, I opened it to find that the jewelry was missing and that Russian customs had marked the box "Received Empty".
From what I can tell, the package was opened by Russian customs and someone there helped themselves to the jewelry and mailed back an empty box.
When I contacted Shipsurance to get advice, they said there was nothing that they can do, even though they had sold me insurance for the package. Apparently, their terms of service only cover packages before they arrive in Russia. Once it's been received by Russian customs, they no longer provide coverage, although they still charge full price upfront for this half rate insurance. Normally, they are an end-to-end service, but for certain high-risk countries (Russia, Mexico, Brazil, etc.) they will sell you insurance but only provide coverage during the domestic transit.
I have been selling full time on eBay for the last 3.5 years and considered myself a seasoned international shipper. I always take precaution to pack items carefully and follow eBay / USPS guidelines when shipping overseas. This is the first time that something like this has ever happened to me and it's very upsetting.
Neither eBay nor Shipsurance will do anything to help me and both have essentially told me that I'm on the hook for refunding the full amount to the buyer. Although I have never had problems before shipping items to Russia (including jewelry that I shipped earlier this year), I have decided to stop shipping to Russian addresses completely, which will impact my business somewhat and further limit eBays "global marketplace".
Worst of all, I have to take out a loan so that I can pay off the $1700 over several months, as I originally sold the pieces on consignment and that full amount comes out of pocket for me. I just wanted to provide a heads-up to others out that who use Shipsurance and/or ship to Russia.
Be sure to read the terms of service in your insurance agreement and don't ship anywhere that you don't get full coverage, or this could be you!