Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Help Me Howard: Shipping to Cuba
If you have relatives in Cuba you may have tried to send them packages. So what happens if they get lost, delayed or stolen? Who is responsible? You, the shipper or someone in Cuba? It's a question one man had for Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Carlos' two daughters were young, he knew they had no future in Cuba.
Carlos Alonso, Sent Tires to Cuba: "That's the main reason we escape from Cuba, to get a better life for our daughters."
Their escape was dangerous and remarkable. Carlos, his wife and their two little girls on a raft for three terrible days.
Carlos Alonso: "It was scary but you know, we have to do it and we did it."
The trip to America was worth it. One of Carlos' daughters is now a doctor, the other about to graduate from medical school. But Carlos still has family in Cuba- family who desperately needs help.
Carlos Alonso: "Yes, I have a nephew and at that time he asked me for a couple of tires for the car because he work with all-American car as a taxi."
The tires were for his nephew's 1951 Chevy. Carlos bought them, then found a Hialeah company to ship them to Cuba, way back in April.
Carlos Alonso: "Two tires, and it was in April so today it will be six months. It is six months already."
Carlos paid $170 for the tires and $143 to send them to Cuba, and for six months his nephew has waited to receive them.
Carlos Alonso: "You feel bad cause you try to help your family you make the investment, you put the money and then they never get the merchandise. This is not fair, not fair at all."
The Hialeah shipping company told Carlos the tires arrived in Cuba, were sitting in a warehouse in the box and that he needed to be patient.
Carlos Alonso: "They always say you need to wait, you need to wait, you need to wait. I have been waiting for six months."
Carlos said he was told there is no tracking number, no proof the tires even arrived at a warehouse, leaving him suspicious.
Carlos Alonso: "Let me tell you in Cuba this is normal. Stealing is normal in Cuba, is a normal way of life. Everybody steals."
Carlos doesn't know whether to blame the American shipping company or the Cuban government. But he does know one thing- he wont be sending more boxes to Cuba.
Carlos Alonso: "If we can solve the problem, that's it. I won't send again for sure."
But Howard, we aren't dealing with just an American company. It also involves a communist government. So who is responsible for the tires?
Howard Finkelstein: "The shipping company is responsible until the products reach Cuba. Since that has happened, it's now the Cuban government's responsibility. But good luck getting them to give you anything."
Jeanette Bobea, Paquetes Pa Cuba: "And I'm trying to look out for the best interest of my clients."
Jeanette Bobea owns Paquetes Pa Cuba which shipped the tires to Cuba. She told us they arrived quickly but right after that the Cuban owned company received containers from Venezuela for doctors working in Cuba.
Jeanette Bobea: "That backed them up a little bit and now they are completely backed up, 60 containers. 8 of those containers are actually mine."
A few days later the Cuban owned company got to Carlos' container. The tires were there and are now in the hands of his nephew. Howard says Carlos was lucky.
Howard Finkelstein: "This is buyer beware times ten. You can have the greatest shipping company in the world but they are at the mercy of a communist regime. So when you ship to Cuba, know the risks."
His nephew got his tires. Carlos got what he paid for.
Carlos Alonso: "I got the notice that they got the package so I want to say thank you to the Help me Howard team for the help that you gave me. I'm so satisfied. OK, that's all."
Patrick Fraser: "Now it's clear, if you want to ship something expensive to Cuba, don't. It might disappear. And don't send something that needs to arrive quickly like medicine or baby clothes. The kid may outgrow the clothes before they are ever delivered. In other words, be careful what you send your family and friends in Cuba."
Got a problem you want to ship out? I know a destination- us. We wont take months to deliver. Sometimes we can hand you your solution the next day.
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