Monday, April 16, 2012

Shipping from the Philippines...a solution?

If you have read the last two blog posts you may have noticed that there has been one particular problem which has been plaguing me for that past few weeks.  I have been trying to figure out how to ship our stuff back to Canada in a way which would be relatively quick (maybe 8-10 weeks?) and somewhat cost effective (I would prefer to not have to sell a kidney to afford it).

My attempts have been frustrating to say the least.  It seems that every avenue I have tried has not met both of my criteria.  I can send stuff relatively cheap if I don't mind waiting 6 months or a year or eternity for our stuff to show up.  I'm sure that when the stuff finally arrives sometime in the next century that it will be just like Christmas getting to open the boxes.

Imagination time: the year is 2066.  Kerri and I are sitting in our rocking hover-chairs (c'mon, it's the future!) on our front porch watching the kids fly by on their hover-skateboards.  An old beat-up cardboard box is teleported onto our doorstep.  We open it up and dig through all the treasures contained within.

Kerri: "Hey Steve, look!  All our stuff from when we lived in the Philippines!"
Steve: "We lived in the Philippines?"

At the other extreme are the companies that can ship it no problem.  But you either need to win a lottery to do so, or you need to ruthlessly eliminate things from the boxes that are denser than helium (every microgram counts!).  That way the boxes have the privilege of being transported on a plane.  I wanted to ask the people if the boxes receive free champagne and seats that fold flat.  I figure for the price I was being asked to pay that they must be getting First Class seats.  ("For all you boxes flying first class, you may board at your leisure.  Enjoy your flight!")

Words cannot express the amount of stress and frustration that I was dealing with due to this seemingly simple task.  After multiple stops at multiple shipping companies I was at the end of my patience and had come to the realization that I was beaten.  I would pay the price and work three jobs to pay the bill when we got back.  I even went so far as figuring out the weight vs. cost of buying a new one in Canada ratio to determine which things we should ship and which would be cheaper just to replace when we arrived home.  Either way it was going to cost a smallish fortune.

We had heard a rumor that there was a company here that would ship to Canada by volume instead of weight.  It was a set rate for a cubic meter of stuff.  Sounded like a good way to go, if only I could figure out what company it was.  We got our hands on a phone book and got a listing of different shipping companies, many of which I had contacted already.  There were several more on the list though, so I decided to look some of them up online.  I figured that I would have better luck with a company that had a website.  In my eyes it lends a certain level of credibility if a company has a professional looking website (not necessarily true all the time, but I figured it was worth a shot).  I found a couple, and sent emails requesting a quote.

The next day I received an email form one of the ones that looked very promising (they had a really nice website).  I was disappointed to find out that they only ship domestically.  This was actually a fairly common response to my inquiries.  Seems that there are LOTS of companies that I could use to ship stuff to any of the hundreds of islands in the country, but as far as going east across the ocean, not so much.  Which is frustrating, considering we live in a port city, where hundreds and hundreds of containers are loaded onto ships to be dispersed throughout the world.  I figured that there must be one container that was going to Canada.  I only needed enough room to put a few boxes in.  Can't a guy get a break?

Well then I got a phone call from an angel.  At least that's the only way I can explain it.  My cell phone rang one morning.  I answered it wondering who would be calling me (usually all phone communication is done through text messages here.  In the time that we have been here I think I have received about 6 phone calls, 5 of those from people in Canada!).

The conversation which followed went something like this: (my thoughts in brackets)

The Angel: "Is this Steve Oishi?"
Me: "Yes it is. (Who is this?)"
The Angel: "This is V**** from CTSI Logistics.  I wanted to call you to talk to you about the quote request you sent in to us."
Me: "Oh, okay. (Let me guess, you are very sorry but you don't ship internationally?)"
The Angel: "How many boxes do you need to send and where are they going?"
Me: "Umm, about 6 boxes, going to Canada. (Please say you can help with that!)"
The Angel: "Where in Canada?"
Me: "Alberta. (This is sounding hopeful)"
The Angel: "Near Edmonton?"
Me: "To Calgary, but that's not too far from Edmonton. (She knows Edmonton?  This is sounding really good!)"
The Angel: "Okay, we can send those boxes for you.  Let me explain the details..."
Me: "Okay. (But what is the price?  That must be the catch!)"
The Angel: "It is a price based on volume.  I can send you a quote.  We have a container leaving Davao next week that we could load your boxes into.  If they are not ready by then there is another going out the next week."
Me: "That sounds great! (I'm so happy I could weep!)"

We worked out some of the details, and I hung up, waiting expectantly for the quote.  It arrived in my inbox shortly after.  I opened it up and was absolutely floored by the price.  For a cubic meter of stuff, no weight restrictions, it was going to cost less than it would have to send 40kg through one of the other companies!  And it should only take 6-8 weeks!  I cannot express the relief that I have felt, knowing that this overly complicated, frustrating task was coming together.

So now I need to get some boxes packed up and ready to go, get them down to the drop-off point, and hope for the best!  I will keep you posted to let you know how that goes!


Mom said...

Praise the Lord! There is absolutely nothing in our lives that escapes His notice and care. Truly we love and belong to an AWESOME God!!
Love, Mom

Sora said...

Glad you found a solution! I was starting to think we might have to reconsider what we bring when our family moves to Davao this fall.

I've been reading your blog all year, but am not in the habit of leaving comments. Since you'll be back in Canada before we arrive I won't get to meet your family in person, I thought I'd better make an exception and let you know how helpful we've found your very detail-oriented posts as we prepare to move to the Philippines ourselves.

Steve said...

Sora...glad to hear you are enjoying the blog. Let me know if you have any specific questions we can help you with as you prepare to move!

Manuel said...


How did this shipment went? I am searching for a reliable shipper of Philippine goods to Toronto and would use them if they can deliver.