We have moved from Portland, Oregon to Adelaide, Australia.
I hope we can laugh about this in a couple of years from now, but....
We used a shipping company (PM me for the name of them). They came exactly on the day, and at the time they said they would drop off the container. This would have been a perfect start, but the semi driver ran over a vintage apple tree at the end of the driveway. It would have been wiser to have sent out a short body semi to a rural area. Vintage apple trees can't be replaced, at the risk of stating the obvious.
We, being educated, understand that the shipping time is a best guess scenario, but being educated, we do not understand the lack of information they are willing to grace their client with. They seem to have no understanding that they are transporting your whole life, and that you would want to know where it is and if it's safe. there is no regard that the things we trust them with are valuable to us. So, they earned a resounding failing grade, when they announced that our belongings would arrive on the 21st, and not a word came when that day came and went. The next suggested day of arrival was the 6th, and then the 3rd, of the following month. All the while, we had to beg for information, and we received a terse statement that they could not control the sea. Which was childish. They seemed to be telling us that we dare not be asking for information, nor be worried.
Upon arrival in Australia, they directed our inquiries to a completely different person who has exactly the same lack of understanding that we care about our home. The company was called Vanlines. When the address was googled the map showed a dodgy looking neighbourhood, not a business. ???
Again, there was a long spell with absolutely no communication.
Suddenly, we find that quarantine is taking apart every box, then we find out that customs is going along behind them doing the same. This is also information that we had to prise from them.
Mind you, we attempted to do as much research over the internet about what NOT to put in our container as we could, and it was VERY vague. We basically understood that they only searched one out of every 200 containers. Not one word from the container company that would help.
Quarantine took some fake plants, and some Christmas decorations, We had to pay a small sum to have them destroyed.
Customs found a small knife and 2 bullets, and we had to pay to have them destroyed as well.
Customs decided that the liquor my husband had brought for his liquor cabinet required a large fee, we told them to destroy it. Humorously enough, they asked us to sign an abandonment form that authorised them "to dispose of the alcohol as they saw fit" ...Legal theft. How funny.
Our belongings left our home on 8, January. Today is 9, April. We still have no belongings.
The entire problem is this. We paid up front. Now that they have been paid they will bring us our things when they feel like it. We can not get angry, or they will keep it longer or damage it all. At this point they could have stolen it all and sold it off and we have no recourse. All we have to do now is sit on our floor and take their abuse. The most frustrating part in this entire endeavour, is the lack of information they give us, we don't like begging for word of our possessions that we paid them to care for.
We have had plenty of time to shop around and weigh whether or not a shipping container was worth it, and yes, the things we would have to re-buy would cost well more than the cost of shipping.
To avoid the drama here is what we suggest.
When packing, if in doubt, ask. Contact customs to determine if an item will be approved. This is not easy, finding a phone number is a challenge, and getting a straight answer is more difficult. Do not use fruit boxes. Be prepared to have patience tested.
Bother your shipping container company. Remind them that this is your life they are shipping, and they need to inform you at every stage. They will not volunteer anything to you. But don't expect them to. Be prepared to have patience tested.
When given an arrival time frame, add three weeks to that. They do not understand, or care that renting lodging will eat your capitol and if you rent a home, you will be sitting on the floor and eating off plastic forks. Be prepared to have your patience tested.
Quarantine and Customs fees will vary, so do not expect the shipping company or anyone else to help you with that knowledge. just set aside about a $1000 dollars and hope they want less than that. If it's only $55.00, then you have rent money.
Hugely important as well, before packing your belongings, video tape your way through your home and log your belongings as you pack, remember to list anything of value over $100 or $200. EVERYTHING. If anything is lost, stolen, or damaged, the insurance will NOT reimburse you if it is not on that list. Take care to do this. It will be that item not listed that gets damaged, and you will have moved it only to throw it away.
Be prepared to feel as if these people, who don't seem to care about your worry and discomfort, are holding your belongings hostage. You WILL be at their mercy and they know it, you have already paid them and they have no incentive. There is absolutely no customer service. Be prepared to have your patience tested.
Today is the last day of the Easter holiday and before last week we were all paid up and all they had to do is bring our belongings to us, but the holiday was coming and they could not be bothered to work so close to the holiday, so we sat here in our borrowed plastic chairs and slept on our air mattresses. But the thing that bites the most is that the shipping container guy just had to say "Not this week because of the holiday, but we'll see you on Wednesday." But, no that would have given us hope, or a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. Now we still have no idea how to arrange our lives. Again. This made me so angry, and I'm so tired of camping that I feel ready to call the police and report a theft. My patience has been tested and worn down. Best of luck to you. I will pray for you if you have children with you.
I'm sure it will be like Christmas to go through all this stuff again!