AT&T: our phone delivered

An artist's rendering of Dana's bureaucratic odyssey

(Dana) As veteran travelers, we should know how to protect our gear. Unfortunately, I let down my guard. Knowing I didn’t need my brand-new iPhone at 17,000 feet in Peru, I left it in my bags at the hotel. Dumb. No surprise, it was gone.

After beating myself up for a while, we arranged to have a replacement sent to me in Buenos Aires care-of the Goulds. No problemo. No, BIG problemo.
Apparently, Argentina is one of THE worst countries to receive a personal package. So I should not have been surprised by a letter saying my package was stuck in customs. The question was how to get it out before we left for Chile. Let’s just say, running a small country would probably be easier.
First, Greg spends the better part of a day talking to FedEx in both Argentina and Uruguay to understand the process and to change the recipient to me, not our friends. The next day, I set out for the airport, armed with my high school Spanish, pesos to pay whatever fines are imposed and an electronic copy of the incredibly complex customs procedure that Greg has miraculously found on-line. This is where

it becomes humorous:

1. I must find the FedEx office which is “somewhere” at the airport.
2. After getting the official recipient change document at FedEx, I must find the customs office. Of course, they’re on lunch break.
3. Once lunch is over, the fun starts:
Office 2: I tell my story. Person 1 creates form, copies passport, staples airbill, stamps papers, opens computer record
Office 1: Person 2 stamps papers
Office 3: Person 3 takes me to warehouse . I tell story.
Warehouse: Person 4 actually finds the package. I see my phone! I tell story.
Office 3: Person 3 verifies/stamps paper
Office 2: Person 1 enters verification into system, stamps/ signs papers.
Office 1: Person 5 wants my story, stamps papers, creates invoice, charges me 136 Pesos ($45 for storage/handling), gives me receipt, stamps all of these papers, hands them all to Person 2 who enters that into system.
Office 3: Person 3 stamps receipt
Office 1: Person 6 tears off part of receipt
Warehouse: Person 4 officially hands me package
Exit: 100 meters away, I leave via official Exit where Person 7 approves my receipt. I have my phone!
7 people
3 forms
4 tellings of story in bad Spanish
Over a dozen stamps
1 computer record
Elapsed time at airport? 1.5 hours
Either customs makes a sport of stopping shipments at the border or it’s a great way to fund a huge bureaucratic organization.
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5 Responses to “AT&T: our phone delivered”

  1. Christine Montesano 20. Nov, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us. Hope everything is going well 🙂

  2. Sounds as if the most valuable part of your education in the Marple Newtown schools was the Spanish classes!!!!! Good that you didn’t select French or the phone would still be in custody! Hope that you have a GREAT Thanksgiving…will miss all you TURKEYS!!!! Many virtual hugs to all!!!!!!!

  3. I wonder how At&T’s new commercial slogan “Rethink Possible” fits into this whole story …

  4. Hi Dana, Greg and kids. Hope you remember meeting Mark & I at Rekero in the Mara – the couple from Maun! Have been rather tied up since we got home so have not kept totally up to date with your travels since the Mara but did remember that your have Antarctica looming…! We also had an interesting time with Argentinian bureaucracy – reminded us of Africa! Just wanted to wish you a truly fantastic trip in the South Pole – very jealous.. and looking forward to reading all about it. Thought of you the other day as we flew back from SYD to JNB and flew right down ova South Pole to get the winds – looked out on all that sheet ice! Best best wishes to you all.. Ali & Mark

  5. Maureen (Lapides) Pomeroy 04. Dec, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    must have been annoying, but what a great story! Isn’t it amazing how any of your high school language comes back after (ahem) so many years?!? Buena suerte! Maureen and family