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Fri Sept 26 2014 14:19:00

Beware When Insuring International Packages

By: Reader

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Dear Ina,
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!
Chris




Comments (45) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Sep 26 14:38:21 2014

Oh the problems I had with Shipsurance..........never again!!!

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Sep 26 14:40:29 2014

Oh, and as far as I'm concerned, if the buyer does not have tracking information showing that she mailed it back, eBay should not be refunding one red dime to the buyer.  I'd fight this tooth and nail, including getting an attorney if I had to.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: shipsurance This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 26 15:48:12 2014

Chris - Give us a call and we will see if there is anything that can be done. We do have specific conditions regarding packages actually getting scanned into Russia.

Regarding following the USPS guidelines when shipping overseas, it should be noted: The USPS prohibits the shipping of ''platinum, gold, and silver; precious stones; jewelry; watches'' via Priority Mail Express International shipments to Russia. This can lead to confiscated merchandise. You can read about their rules here: http://pe.usps.com/text/imm/ps_013.htm

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: yesmikan This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 26 15:58:43 2014

Shipsurance's TOS makes it pretty clear that their coverage to Russia is limited. (How exactly one would prove that loss or damage occurred in the US before it got on the plane is a slippery slope I would never want to touch.) Unfortunately, the insurance companies' exclusions combined with the high rate of problems means I simply do not ship to Russia (or Brazil or Italy) anymore.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Sep 26 21:56:57 2014

@Chris - So sorry this has happened to you. Unfortunately, many foreign countries have reputations of employing corrupt customs officials, plus each country having its own list of banned import items, not to mention the high shipping costs, is why I quit selling to international buyers. Hopefully you can get some assistance from Shipinsurance.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: fashionista This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 27 08:40:41 2014

@Rexford  If the express package was scanned back to the US, which it probably was, then ebay will side with the buyer, it shows you have the package.
The insurance by Shipinsurance and others that they only cover to the entry to Russia and other countries has been in place for a long time, it's nothing new.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: WhatWas This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 27 09:40:34 2014

@Chris
Really sorry for you.
I have had several issues with Russians period. They become nasty, rude and really like to argue, it's their culture. Your buyer more than likely has the jewels and sent an empty box because they know all about corrupt customs officials. That is her/his cover.

They did it to me with low end items too, perfume, Nike shoes, extortion over custom fees ect.

3 strikes and I quit selling to international buyers. I did have great experiences selling to the civilized Nordic countries though.

Sounds like you can get some help from Shipinsurance.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Sat Sep 27 10:41:16 2014

Thank you fashionista.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: Scotty This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 27 12:01:23 2014

Contact the state Insurance Commissioner (Shipsurance is in California I believe).
This is the quickest way to get an Insurers attention and some action on your issue.  They cannot offer ''partial'' insurance to Russia if it only covers the USA transit portion....this would be USA coverage.  This is deceptive and they need to remove any reference to offering ''coverage'' to any countries they actually do not cover.  This is your best argument for the Insurance Coms office.  I use them as well, so I will have to check for this exemption.  Insurance is only as good as the claims process....which is why sometimes a low price is not the best option....always check their history regarding claims and payments on same before committing to a policy.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Sat Sep 27 12:53:37 2014

OP really needs to review the tracking closely to see how it reads.

If the buyer refused the shipment because they saw on they wrote on the box that the contents were gone, then that still means that they received the item, no no INR can be won.

If the REFUSED the shipment, then they can't win a SNAD because they can't claim it was not as described unless the kept the item, which they didn't.

If they kept the item and then shipped it back, then there would be separate tracking under a different number if the buyer paid for tracking.

I think the tracking is key.  Go over it carefully.  

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: unusual1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sat Sep 27 13:01:37 2014

www.transguardian.com  
Contact Transguardian, they insure jewelry worldwide. Shipping and insurance are discounted and they are recommended by jewelry insurance companies here for shipping for their wholesale dealers. Offices in CA and NY.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: fashionista This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 28 12:43:55 2014

@scotty
this is not new, or exclusive to ship insurance. Also, if you look at the countries restrictions, it seems jewelry is on there, and when you insure something it specifically asks you that you have read the country rules and are not shipping anything prohibited.
I feel bad for the seller, but this has been posted over and over. If she shipped something prohibited, it voids the insurance.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 28 17:46:06 2014

The only proven rip-off I ever had at eBay was with a Russian buyer. I don't ship overseas at all anymore.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: Xander This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 28 23:07:43 2014

We used to sell to many international countries. At first, buyers were very pleased to have access to the American marketplace but over time, they became more and more risky to sell to.

We still sell to some of the better countries, like Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands & Sweden but would not touch Russia and avoid selling to South America also.

A number of years ago, we learned about how insurance to Russia worked and removed them from the list.

Would you rather still have the item without a sale or not have the item or the money yet still be liable for the sales & paypal fee's?

No sales to Russia, Brazil, Chile, Romania or other high risk countries.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: sundance This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 28 23:30:48 2014

I only ship internationally to Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia & New Zealand. I've never had any problems. I'll avoid the countries mentioned in this forum.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: yesterdaygirls This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 00:20:05 2014

Sorry to hear about your experience with shipping to Russia.  I do know that Shipsurance only insures up until the point your package lands in Russia, but no further. I just love Shipsurance.  All 3 claims i've filed have been funded,(including 2 overseas) and also including a package valued at $500.00 that was 'delivered' to a u.s. post box.  The postmistress at this location wrote a letter to Shipstation stating that it was likely that the 'key' to the locker containing the insured parcel was left in an incorrect p.o. box leading to the loss.  So..once again..sorry for your issues...but kudos to Shipsurance

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 00:58:09 2014

Things like this is why I will NOT do international sales.

IF you read the fine print, across the board, which includes:

your venue
Paypal policy
your insurer of choice
the post office

WE as sellers have no real protections, once an item leaves the states.

IF and WHEN the powers that be in America, are willing to back me up,...

... until then, NO.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Sep 29 01:01:35 2014

Seems someone on the ecrater forum had some difficulty with shipping to Russia also and also jewelry only not nearly as expensive as the $1700, but one thing seems to be missing here is that you shouldn't have been shipping this merchandise to Russia anyhow via the USPS as Shipinsurance pointed out. I think many of us tend to forget to check what can and can't be shipped to international locations. Customs anywhere can confiscate illegal shipments. Harsh lesson I know and I'm sorry this happened to you. It does provide a cautionary tale though.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: Interesting Antiques This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 01:05:11 2014

Feel Badly for you. However it happens here too,  our postmaster just told us a couple of months ago  a story. A couple received an empty ring box, the ring was a 5,000.00 ring. The ring was insured, but the USPS denied the insurance. Even going as far as showing the original receipt with the weight (provided by the seller)  and then the postmaster weighed it as it was received, , the weight was off, clearly it went missing during  the shipping. But still the insurance was denied. The postmaster felt badly for the couple.
Unfortunately you will get  dishonest people in all countries.

Beware When Insuring International Packages   Beware When Insuring International Packages

by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 02:41:11 2014

NEVER EVER send anything to Russia

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