A cautionary tale about shipping a sitar from India

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#1 Apr 7th, 2011, 20:54
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#1
I bought a high quality (as far as I know) sitar in Varanasi for 13,500rs about a month ago. I tried to send it home from there, but for some reason that I don't fully understand I couldn't send it via regular post and would have had to use some courier service costing around 9,000rs. They suggested I get it done in Delhi, since it's a central hub city.

I took it to a parcel service in Paharganj. Why I didn't go to a main post office is beyond me. It just didn't occur to me at the time. They told me Surface Air Lift was impossible for a package of a sitar's dimensions, but that I could use regular airmail. It came out to 5,500rs. This was about four days ago.

Today I got an email reading:

"hello!!!
government has increased the prices.
you have to pay Rs. 2500 more for the parcel(musical instrument).
please come and pay so that we can send the parcel..
reply soon...
from
parcel service(all trade around, pahar ganj, delhi)."

This looks pretty hopeless. I'm no longer in Delhi, and I'm pretty sure I told them that. I replied with:

"I am no longer in Delhi. Send the parcel for the price we agreed on or I will contact the police."

Pretty sure that will be ineffective. I could wire them money, but I'm supposed to trust a parcel service that doesn't know their own prices and takes four days to send an update? Sounds like a 19,000rs loss, but is there anything I can do here? I can't possibly go back to Delhi, as I'm flying out of Mumbai in a few days.
#2 Apr 7th, 2011, 21:05
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#2
Dont lose hope so soon. To start with, file online complaint at the following link.
http://www.indiapost.gov.in/ccc/PCData.aspx
This will be the first step and hopefully you will get positive feedback. If you dont get any reply, mail to as many officers as possible from the following link
http://www.indiapost.gov.in/rtimanual9.html
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#3 Apr 7th, 2011, 21:07
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#3
Hmmmm. thats tough, its better to go back to the parcel service once and sort out the issue, so else your money is down the hell.
#4 Apr 8th, 2011, 10:48
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#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by jituyadav View Post Dont lose hope so soon. To start with, file online complaint at the following link.
http://www.indiapost.gov.in/ccc/PCData.aspx
This will be the first step and hopefully you will get positive feedback. If you dont get any reply, mail to as many officers as possible from the following link
http://www.indiapost.gov.in/rtimanual9.html
Thats assuming the parcel service in pahargunj actually booked it with India Post which it appears they have not. Also without a booking document number, i doubt if they will even consider a complaint.
#5 Apr 8th, 2011, 16:23
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#5
Perhaps a case of throwing money down the drain but I'd check their story (contact Indian post for a quote) and if it checks out I'd wire them the 2500. As things are you're looking at a 19000 sure loss if you do nothing and a (slim) chance of getting your stuff for an additional 2500. I'd risk it, if the post confirms the pricing.
"It is preferable to have a criminal for a servant rather than a fool because a criminal's actions are predictable and you can protect yourself against them, whereas there is no telling what a fool's next move will be.
#6 Apr 8th, 2011, 16:53
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#6
Do you have a receipt with you. What does it say. If possible scan or take a picture of it and post it, we may get some clues. Also what is the e-mail id from whch you have recieved this mail
#7 Apr 9th, 2011, 18:48
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#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by narendra.d View Post Thats assuming the parcel service in pahargunj actually booked it with India Post which it appears they have not. Also without a booking document number, i doubt if they will even consider a complaint.
This appears to be the situation. I have a receipt, but there's no tracking number, as they didn't send it that day. I was such an idiot to go with a company that didn't give me a tracking number on the spot, but most of the time when I send stuff I don't even bother to collect the tracking number. I guess when you've spent your whole life dealing with companies who have some semblance of a clue as to what they're doing, you can get kind of careless.

This is obviously a complete bush-league operation. Any company worth a speck of dust would keep up-to-date prices. Going back to Delhi isn't an option, since I fly out of Mumbai in a few days.

Sometimes it feels like no one knows anything in this country. I only bought the sitar because the shop told me they shipped them all the time for 4-5k rs. Never would have bought it if I could have known how much of a hassle it would be or that shipping would cost twice the price.

Anyway, they replied to my email with "We can provide government slip"

I told them that it's impossible for me to get back to Delhi, so the money would have to be sent electronically. We'll see what they say. Obviously, if I can pay another 2500 rupees and get the situation totally taken care of, I'll do that. No point in losing the whole sitar (which I did really like) over $55. But it's just so hard to know who to trust here.

Finding it really difficult to not write this whole country off right now. Finding it really hard not to lash out with profanity at everyone who stops me on the street with "Hey what country?" I know there are a lot of really awesome Indian people who post on this forum and millions of great Indian people spread across this country, so... you know what I'll just stop there and go smoke a cigarette or something before I give myself an ulcer or say something regretful.
#8 Apr 9th, 2011, 18:54
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#8
I have no solutions for you, JFullerUCSB, but I just wanted you to know that I hope your sitar does arrive. I feel so bad that you have had such a bad experience. Sending positive thoughts your way.
#9 Apr 9th, 2011, 19:27
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#9
Are you a Gaucho? From one Santa Barbarian to another, I'm truly sorry for your bad experience, and I think you were wise to "smoke a cigarette." I was a Brookie in SB, got ripped off (to the tune of $2000) by a very reputable camera dealer in town. I must admit, for some time I wished with all my heart that his Porsche would throw a rod, but I never wished that fate on ALL Porsche's in SB
Praying for you a peaceful resolution to all this.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure - Marianne Williamson
#10 Apr 9th, 2011, 22:58
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JFullerUCSB View Post This appears to be the situation. I have a receipt, but there's no tracking number, as they didn't send it that day. I was such an idiot to go with a company that didn't give me a tracking number on the spot, but most of the time when I send stuff I don't even bother to collect the tracking number. I guess when you've spent your whole life dealing with companies who have some semblance of a clue as to what they're doing, you can get kind of careless.

This is obviously a complete bush-league operation. Any company worth a speck of dust would keep up-to-date prices. Going back to Delhi isn't an option, since I fly out of Mumbai in a few days.

Sometimes it feels like no one knows anything in this country. I only bought the sitar because the shop told me they shipped them all the time for 4-5k rs. Never would have bought it if I could have known how much of a hassle it would be or that shipping would cost twice the price.

Anyway, they replied to my email with "We can provide government slip"

I told them that it's impossible for me to get back to Delhi, so the money would have to be sent electronically. We'll see what they say. Obviously, if I can pay another 2500 rupees and get the situation totally taken care of, I'll do that. No point in losing the whole sitar (which I did really like) over $55. But it's just so hard to know who to trust here.

Finding it really difficult to not write this whole country off right now. Finding it really hard not to lash out with profanity at everyone who stops me on the street with "Hey what country?" I know there are a lot of really awesome Indian people who post on this forum and millions of great Indian people spread across this country, so... you know what I'll just stop there and go smoke a cigarette or something before I give myself an ulcer or say something regretful.


You can write the whole country-off or even the whole universe; if it makes you feel better do so... but isnt it stupid to do so.

While I am concerned about your situation and am trying to see If I could help, you have not even shown what the reciept looks like, scan and put the receipt as it may not be even from a courier company. Sorry to be harsh (and your disgust of billion plus people because someone cheated you has given me a moral licence to do so) I must say you have been stupid.

All courier companies give you receipts. In India and especially in Delhi have DHL, UPS and other well known courier services. Also since you are posting on IM you have access to internet, you could have easily found out the addresses of these companies....

Anyway, one last time put name and address of the courier and if possible a scanned copy of the receipt to see if something can be done....
else continue cursing 1.2 billion people and no one could care less
#11 Apr 10th, 2011, 01:08
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#11
Along the way, I've written off... Indian banks, Indian insurers, Indian builders...

Hyperbole is life. Especially in India
#12 Apr 10th, 2011, 21:39
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#12
Sorry about that last post. I was trying to hold back, but clearly I still went a bit too far. That moment was probably the lowest I've felt in India, as I was still quite sick and I was fresh off the gem scam attempt. Clearly it would be stupid to write off an entire country because of a few bad experiences, and I would never actually do so. I've spent a lot of time in "real" Cambodia, and I think Khmers are some of the kindest people in the world, but someone could have a bad few days in Siem Reap and feel completely the opposite... so it goes.

Anyway, I clearly made a big mistake in not getting an official receipt. I sent another response asking the parcel service how we could arrange payment, so I guess all I can do now is hope for the best and see if the next reply sounds legitimate.

Thanks for the advice and sympathy.
#13 Apr 11th, 2011, 01:13
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#13
So did the sitar turn up afterall or not?Hope so!
"Learn from the mistakes of others.You can't live long enough to make them all yourself" Eleanor Roosevelt.
#14 Apr 11th, 2011, 01:38
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#14
Posting in the heat of the moment? Join the club! i won't say we all do it, but I know I do.
#15 Apr 11th, 2011, 01:43
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#15
By their moral standards, you are at fault for letting yourself be so easily ripped off. You can do one of two things: 1) Tell them to send the unit to you in Mumbai by Blue Dart Express (using the cash you gave them and make up any difference by receiver billing) and then either carry the damn thing home as luggage or post it properly. 2) Sit down, calmly accept your losses and get one of the locals to help you draft a message detailing what can be done with the sitar (references to female relatives may be appropriate).
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