A cautionary tale about shipping a sitar from India

#31 Apr 14th, 2011, 14:20
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#31
I sent that request today. I've been hanging out at an internet place the last hour or two. They haven't replied yet. I'm about to get on skype and call the place.

My preferred course of action at this point would be to get a courier service to pick up the sitar and most of the 5500 rs and pay the extra 7,000 rs or however much it would cost to get it shipped to the States by a reputable company.

To think I could have just paid 8,000 rs back in Varanasi to have the thing shipped there. I only lugged it to Delhi on the suggestion of my sitar teacher. It's amazing that a shop that "ships sitars all over the place all the time" could underestimate the shipping cost by half.

Really wishing I had just waited to get a used sitar in the States. They do exist on craigslist... wouldn't have been too difficult.
#32 Apr 14th, 2011, 14:34
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#32
Quote:
Originally Posted by JFullerUCSB View Post Really wishing I had just waited to get a used sitar in the States. They do exist on craigslist... wouldn't have been too difficult.
An IndiaMiker has a shop in NYC that sells indian musical instruments. The person makes trips to India to get his supplies. Search this site if you are interested
#33 Apr 14th, 2011, 14:53
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#33
One last update: I just called and spoke to Mohini, whose English isn't the best. She reiterated that I should send the money via Western Union. I told her that I was only comfortable sending money to a bank account. She told me to call back in the evening when her boss would be around, and that the boss could give me bank account info.

This smells fishy, but not as bad as it could be. The fact that they didn't hang up on me is a good sign, but they could be trying to get this last 2500 rs before cutting off contact for good. While I'm skeptical that it would be so difficult to get official bank info, the fact that she gave me a specific time to call is good. On the one hand, it could be a complete ripoff operation, but on the other hand, it could be simply a very poorly run business. Pretty sure both exist in Delhi in large numbers.
#34 Apr 14th, 2011, 17:47
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#34
If they're frauds they will naturally prefer WU, doing it via a bank leaves a clear paper trail and also exposes them to more severe penalties. All they need to give you is the name of the bank, name of the branch, account number, name of the account holder and the IFSC code. Anyone doing business here will know these things. You go to the local branch of that bank, fill in a slip, hand over the money, the cashier enters it into his/her system, stamps the slip and literally a second later the recipient can see that the funds arrived.

Either they're total amateurs (not at all impossible) or frauds. If it doesn't work out, let us know. I have to be in Paharganj somewhere next week for a motorcycle modification, would be a small effort to visit them and raise hell (but I'm not going to take possession of your sitar nor wrap/ship it, that's not my line of business )
"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.
#35 Apr 18th, 2011, 06:23
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#35
Well, it looks like they decided to cash in their chips and move on.

On my last night in Udaipur, which was three days ago, I called the company again and spoke to a man who was apparently the owner. I told him that I was only comfortable sending money to a bank account. He told me he would email me all the bank info that night. He told me not to worry, the sitar was safe and waiting to be shipped, and for a few minutes, I actually felt good about the situation. I didn't believe him 100%, but I was optimistic.

Three days later, and there's nothing in the inbox. I sent them another email asking for bank info, and no one replied.

I guess they decided to settle for my 5500 rather than overreach going for the 8000 and possibly exposing themselves to real consequences.

I'm wondering if not shipping the sitar was the plan the entire time, or if they only realized after I had left the office that the opportunity existed to totally screw over another human being for some profit.

Clearly I made a colossal error. I don't think it's a mistake I would have made if I had been healthy and not in a hurry, but that's not a good excuse on my end. I screwed up, and now I'm out 13000 rs for a sitar and 5500 for shipping. Over $400US is a pretty costly mistake. Up to this point I had been lucky enough to dodge any major scam/theft attempts over several years of traveling experience, but I won't lie: this one stings. I'm usually extremely careful in my business dealings, but I let my guard down in one of the worst countries to do that in, and I suffered the consequences for it.

I can waste time imagining sending Samuel L. Jackson over there to ask "Does JFullerUCSB look like a b*tch?" and recite Ezekiel 25:17, or what I would do to these toe-rags in person, but it's just that: a waste of time. I will say that I think these people are scum who deserve to be imprisoned as such, but whatever. Doesn't get my money or sitar back.

Please don't add to this by insulting me. JOHNLORD, there's a certain place I would tell you to stick a sitar if you have one. I know I made a stupid mistake, but it doesn't make me a moron, and there's no use for posts like the one you made in this thread.

To everyone else, thanks for the advice and sympathy. Hopefully these people will get what's coming to them someday.
#36 Apr 18th, 2011, 06:47
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#36
Here's one thing you can do - be the first to write a review of this company. They should at least get some bad e-press from this ripoff:

http://www.cylex.in/company/all-trad...-10635700.html

http://in.local.yahoo.com/new-delhi/...322337b2a8cc9/

If either of these places is the one you dealt with - there seem to be several operations with the same name in that neighborhood.
New home for my photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abracax/
Last edited by abracax; Apr 18th, 2011 at 06:52.. Reason: added link - clarification
#37 Apr 22nd, 2011, 17:54
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#37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JFullerUCSB View Post

Please don't add to this by insulting me. JOHNLORD, there's a certain place I would tell you to stick a sitar if you have one. I know I made a stupid mistake, but it doesn't make me a moron, and there's no use for posts like the one you made in this thread.

To everyone else, thanks for the advice and sympathy. Hopefully these people will get what's coming to them someday.
I was just agreeing with what you said. I think the rule here is do not part with any money until you have the goods in your hand. This is applies more or less in all countries. Sorry if you was offended.
Lord, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill because they pissed me off.
#38 Apr 22nd, 2011, 18:49
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#38
If you have given up already, try writing a mail to the police:

http://www.delhipolice.nic.in/home/contactus.aspx

Don't have much hope though; but there is a chance that some officer may take sympathy and investigate. You know, it might take just a phone call from a police officer to the said agency to spur them into action.
#39 Apr 28th, 2011, 21:38
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#39
Well, as it turns out the sitar is safe and well.

One of the members of this site was able to head down there in person and recover not only the sitar, but also the 5500 rs in cash. It's now sitting in his apartment.

The bad news is that sending it home is going to cost more than the sitar is worth by a considerable amount. India Post refused to send it because of its dimensions. FedEx will ship it for between 17-18,000 rupees. I'm in talks with the other forum member regarding what to do here.

What I'm wondering is what exactly the parcel company was planning to do. If India Post wouldn't ship it, what would have happened if I had sent the extra 2500 rs? Would I have gotten another email a few days later saying "Government post office won't ship parcel. Please return to our office to pick it up. Thnx"?

It's all very frustrating.

If anyone knows of someone flying from Delhi to Los Angeles anytime in the future who would be willing to take the sitar as luggage, that person would be compensated for the trouble.
#40 Apr 28th, 2011, 22:13
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#40
Due to dimensions, the cost of shipment will be sufficiently high. Sorry to state the obvious!
#41 Apr 28th, 2011, 22:19
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#41
Quote:
Originally Posted by professorm View Post Due to dimensions, the cost of shipment will be sufficiently high. Sorry to state the obvious!
I'm actually angrier at the music school guys in Varanasi than anyone else. I only bought the damn thing on their assurances that it would cost 4-5k to ship. Clearly they were either lying or were completely clueless.

If anyone reading this thread is in Delhi and wants a sitar, I'd be willing to let it go for a very good price.
#42 Apr 28th, 2011, 22:23
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#42
"The Sitar chronicles"
.
.
To be continued...
If you find my posts confrontationist, please bear, I am an old frustrated guy who has nothing better to do than sit on rocking chair and curse the world whole day
#43 Apr 28th, 2011, 22:34
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#43
Hahahaha.

Here's a question. I'm still waiting on another package that I sent from Varanasi. With this one I have a very official looking receipt complete with tracking #.

However, the package was supposed to arrive by now, and word from home is that it hasn't. I tried the tracking # at the India Post website, but couldn't get it to work.

This is the tracking # I got:

CP698265880IN

I've gone to IPS Web Tracking and entered the number, but all I get is "No Information. Please check your item identifier."

Am I doing it wrong, or is it possible that I actually got ripped off on this one?
#44 Apr 29th, 2011, 00:25
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#44
Quote:
Originally Posted by professorm View Post Due to dimensions, the cost of shipment will be sufficiently high. Sorry to state the obvious!
The shipping company that accepted it should have known that. Sorry to state the obvious.

Quote:
This is the tracking # I got:

CP698265880IN

I've gone to IPS Web Tracking and entered the number, but all I get is "No Information. Please check your item identifier."

Am I doing it wrong,
You could be. You need to know what service you used to know you are entering the number in the right place
#45 Apr 29th, 2011, 10:19
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#45
Well, the sitar and the cash are sitting in my place right now I went to the shop and got everything back (the cash after a little argument but I convinced them handing it over was wiser than them becoming my new pet project). Anyway, they hadn't really started doing anything, of that I'm pretty convinced. I personally think they didn't set out with the intention to defraud but just had absolutely no clue how they were supposed to handle the shipment.

My FedEx guy quoted me a price between 17 and 18k Rs for shipping, this is the price for a walk-in (can't use my professional account for this). The reason for the high price is the (for shipping) very unfavorable geometry of the sitar, which incidentally also led the FedEx guy to say he wanted me to sign a liability waiver for shipping damage..... Then I sent someone with the sitar to the post office where she talked with the senior postmaster: can't send it as a package as the max. length f a package is 1 meter and the sitar's case measures 1.35 m.

Anyway, if anyone wants to purchase a sitar: please contact the owner (JFullerUCSB) for arrangements and pricing. I'm just the guy who stores it and I know nothing about sitars so do not contact me about any aspects of a sale, all communication goes through the owner. Any queries directed to me will be handled by my favorite mailsorter at /dev/null

Morale of the story: if you purchase a sitar in India, take it home in your checked in luggage and mail any other excess baggage to yourself via the post. Or buy a load of them and ship an entire container by sea, that works out pretty cheap too

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