Categories
Information

Shipping Direct with Amazon vs Shipping through Shop&Ship

I recently noticed that for most of the items I’ve been ordering from Amazon I’ve been shipping them directly to Kuwait whenever possible instead of shipping to my US forwarding mailbox. I wasn’t sure if it was cheaper or more expensive but then I realized I could actually do a comparison with an item I recently sent to my Shop&Ship mailbox.

I ordered a USB adapter (so its very light) and shipped it to my Shop&Ship mailbox. I paid KD3.96 for shipping because I have a Flex account. Based on the price breakdown, I was able to calculate how much regular Shop&Ship would have cost and with the Amazon shipping price, I just added the item to my cart now and put my Kuwait address to get that cost. Here is what I found:

Shipping Costs
Sho&Ship: KD6.82
Shop&Ship Flex: KD3.96
Amazon: KD4.71

So in my case, I saved a tiny bit of money shipping it to Shop&Ship first, but only because I have Flex. I tried to find another price comparison example, but since the last time I had an item from Amazon shipped to my US forwarding mailbox was back in March, I no longer have the ability to view how much I paid for shipping.

But basically, with the new Shop&Ship price increases, it’s no longer that feasible to ship through them when you have the option to ship directly to Kuwait.

Categories
Information

Cheapest Shop&Ship Cost

I ordered an item from Amazon that costs $4.99 and weighs just 0.1lbs. It’s a stupid adapter I needed which I couldn’t find in Kuwait (I found the non-L-shaped version only). Since the item weighs less than 100g and I have a Shop&Ship Flex account where they calculate shipping per 100g increments, this is the lightest weight they charge you for. It also costs under $100 so its exempt from customs.

If you’re curious as to what is the cheapest you can pay for a Shop&Ship package with the new rates, this is it:

Categories
Information

Shop&Ship Before and After Prices

Last week Shop&Ship announced they would be increasing their prices but didn’t mention by how much. If like me you were curious to know how much more you would be paying, the new prices are now out and so I decided to do a before and after comparison. Below are three screenshots comparing the cost of shipping three different weights, 0.1kg, 0.5kg and 1kg.

Note, these are Flex membership prices since with the regular membership you can’t pay by 100g increments. The new prices are an increase of about 12%.

Categories
Complaints

Shop&Ship Increasing Shipping Rates

If you’re a Shop&Ship customer you probably just got an email about the fact they will be increasing their rates starting August 15th. The odd part is… they don’t mention what the new rates are.

The new rates will be available on the Rate Calculator on our website from the above mentioned effective date.

I think that’s super weird, like you’re sending an email about your prices increasing, why not tell us what the new prices are?

Categories
Information Interesting Shopping

The end of USWS and Shop&Ship?

Introducing: International Direct by Amazon!
International Direct offers Amazon customers a unique service: providing duty and tax estimation during checkout and customs clearance by the courier on your behalf. Your order arrives at your door without surprise duty charges. International Direct is also a great way to send gifts overseas. International Direct currently provides service to the following countries: Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.

Currently Kuwait isn’t on the list but since UAE and Saudi Arabia are then Kuwait could be next. [Link]

Categories
Coronavirus

DHL Still Delivers!

Looks like courier companies might go back to delivering packages. DHL posted that they will continue to deliver packages during the lockdown and I also heard that Aramex Shop&Ship will also resume service. I have a package coming in with UPS so I’m hoping they’ll continue delivering as well.

Categories
Shopping

Shop & Ship FLEX

I have zero loyalty when it comes to mail forwarding services and I’ll flip flop between Shop & Ship, MyBox and MyUS without hesitation. They’ve all got issues and end of the day all I care about is getting my items to Kuwait at the most reasonable rate possible. I know Shop & Ship gets a lot of hate here but I have a nostalgic connection to the brand since I was one of their first customers 20 years ago. But, for the past few years, I had been using MyBox for all my US and UK shopping since they were cheaper than Shop & Ship. But recently I moved back over to Shop & Ship because of their FLEX membership program and because MyBox was starting to get on my nerves.

One of the most annoying things about MyBox was the fact they would send me an SMS, email and app notification all at the same time whenever a package arrived to my mailbox, a package shipped from my mailbox or when a package was out for delivery. Three notifications at the same time and there wasn’t a way to stop it (from within my account at least). Another thing I found annoying was that every single time I logged into my account I would get a pop-up asking me to rate my experience. Every single time and I really really hate pop-ups. The final straw I think was when they most recently started charging 90$ a year for the option of consolidating packages. I thought that was too much to pay but it made me go back and take a look at the Shop & Ship FLEX program since that was only $45 a year. I ended up realizing that I could actually be saving money going with FLEX so I shifted all my shipping back to Shop & Ship.

FLEX has been around for a while now but I never signed up for it because I was happy using MyBox. The service costs $45 a year and has a number of benefits but the two most important ones for me were:

– You’d be charged in 100g increments instead of 500g increments
– You’d get a 20% discount on shipments weighing over 3KG

The 100g increments thing is obviously useful but the 20% discount on heavy items helped me out a lot recently since I was ordering a bunch of car parts for my Datsun 240z and they were mostly all over 3KG (pictured above). So far these two benefits combined have helped me save a bit of money compared to if I had shipped it with MyBox. For example:

13.4lbs
S&S Flex: 23.93 KWD
MyBox: 26.500 KWD

8.56lbs
S&S Flex: 15.69 KWD
MyBox: 16.500 KWD

1.88lbs
S&S Flex: 3.44 KWD
MyBox: 4.500 KWD

So not major savings but enough to justify signing up to FLEX and, I’ve actually already made back the $45 membership fee in savings this past month alone. So if you use Shop&Ship but haven’t signed up to FLEX then you should since you could be saving a lot of money. For more details on FLEX you can check out this page.

Categories
Video Games

LDK Game – Retro Gaming Console

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time you probably already know how nostalgic I am which is why I also love old video games. Over the years I’ve posted about a variety of game consoles including ones that allow you to play old video games like the Pandora and Dingoo. LDK Game is a console I recently picked up and I’m so in love with it!

Firstly just a bit of background. My first game console ever with the Coleco which my parents got in me in the early 80s. Since then I’ve gone through everything from the Sakhr MSX2 and Commodore, up to the current consoles like the PS4 and Switch. My favorite console ever would have to be the Super Nintendo followed closely in second by the Sega Dreamcast.

The LDK Game is a pretty tiny portable unit that plays nearly every console from the 80s and 90s including a lot of games from the original PlayStation. For such a small (and cheap) game system it just blows my mind how well it does playing some of my favorite games. Out of the box, all you need to do is plug the unit into your computer via a regular USB cable and it will then show up as an external hard drive. You can then just drag and drop the games (roms) onto the unit in the proper folders, so SNES games in the SNES folder and PlayStation games in the PlayStation folder and that’s pretty much it. You then just launch the games using one of the many built-in emulators. If there is a missing emulator (like the MSX or Coleco one) you can then just download them and install them easily. Currently, I have games from the following consoles running on my LDK:

Coleco
DOS
Gameboy
Gameboy Advance
Mame
MSX
NeoGeo
Nintendo Entertainment System
Sega Game Gear
Sega Genesis
Sega Master System
Sinclair
Sony PlayStation
Super Nintendo

In addition to the above, I also have Doom, Quake, Wolf 3D and Duke Nukem 3D installed. I really have 90% of my favorite games ever running on this tiny console.

All the games I have installed run flawlessly. Older consoles like the NES and Gameboy obviously run flawlessly on many other systems but I used to run into issues running some SNES games on my previous game consoles. I don’t have that issue here, and not only that, somehow this unit can run PlayStation games. Not all of them mind you, 3D intensive games like Tekken run but aren’t playable on this but 2D games like Castlevania, NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat Trilogy run perfectly, and games like Ridge Racer, Tony Hawk 2 and GranTurismo seem to also run really well. Another surprise was the fact that it also ran DOS games. I managed to install some really old games like Prince of Persia, Test Drive 3, Captain Comic and even the original Need for Speed and they all ran flawlessly. Oh and even sprite intense NeoGeo games like Metal Slug and Mars Matrix run without a hint of slowdown.

The screen has a 4:3 ratio which means you can play old games without having awkward black bars on the sides like you do when playing old games on your new TV. The sound is also fairly loud because there are two speakers on the back but you can also plug in your headphones if you prefer. The LDK has 6 buttons, four on the front and two shoulder buttons which means you won’t have issues controlling SNES or PlayStation games.

The coolest thing about the LDK Game though is that it sells for just $56! That’s not a lot to pay for a game console that can basically run ALL the cool old games. In fact, if it only ran Castlevania Symphony of the Night I would have paid $56 to get it and not only does it run it and really well, but I can also play Super Metroid, NHL ’94, Neo Drift and a ton of other games all on the same device. I still can’t believe I can play Symphony of the Night on this! Even the battery life is great running at over 4 hours and because it uses a standard USB port, you can charge it on the go with any battery pack.

I ordered the console from the LDK website and shipped it to my US forwarding mailbox. But, the device ended up shipping from China so if I was to order it again I’d ship it straight to Kuwait or at least my Shop&Ship Chinese mailbox. If you want to get one, here is a link to their website.

Categories
Shopping

Do You Use MyUS?

I’ve used the US mail forwarding company MyUS on and off since 2001. Originally they were the only option available, then Shop&Ship by Aramex came about so started using them, and it’s been a back and forth relationship with them ever since. I usually jump ship whenever I find a better deal since I ship a lot of items and the savings do add up. For the past few years, I’ve been using the MyBox service from PostaPlus since they were the most affordable offering but then last week I remembered one reader had previously told me MyUS had reduced their prices and were now cheaper than PostaPlus.

A couple of weeks ago I had ordered and shipped a bunch of parts for my Datsun 240z to my PostaPlus account and the total package weighed around 40lb. When I had originally checked the rate calculator on PostaPlus it told me I would pay around KD75 which I figured was ok. After I shipped the items, I decided to check the rate calculator on the MyUS website and was surprised to get KD45. That’s a pretty huge difference which is why I’m now thinking of moving back to MyUS.

But I have a few questions for those of you who currently are using them:

– Other than the shipping cost, what are usually the custom clearance fees you pay, for example with PostaPlus it’s KD1 for custom clearance and then 5% of the total shipment value for customs.

– Can you pay the customs fees online or is it cash on delivery?

– Are there any issues you’ve had with MyUS?

On a side note (and coincidentally), MyUS recently published an article about the top influencers in Kuwait and yours truly made the list. You can check that post out here.

Update: I tried them out and they’re more expensive than MyBox. Click here for details.

Categories
Reviews

Review: Sony WH-1000 XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

I’ve had my eyes on the Sony noise canceling headphones ever since their first generation was launched a few years ago, then last year I was tempted to get their second generation (the XM2’s), but never ended up pulling the trigger. Then, a few months ago, Sony surprised everyone by launching their third generation XM3 headphones and they instantly became a huge hit. Many were calling it the best wireless noise canceling headphones you can buy and most of the reviewers agreed that they were miles ahead of the popular BOSE QC35 II. I decided I wanted one.

Since the headphones had just been released a couple of months back and were super popular, they were sold out at every US and UK retailer I checked from Amazon, to BestBuy to Currys. Even on eBay they were being sold at ridiculous prices. After a week of searching, I finally found a retailer in Australia that was selling them at retail price and I ended up ordering my pair from there and shipping them to my Australian Shop&Ship address. Surprisingly, Aramex were pretty quick with the shipping and I managed to get my pair delivered this past Thursday just before I traveled to Dubai. After using them while working out of Arabica and then again on the plane, I’m in shock at how good these are.

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for years, you probably know I have an obsession with headphones. I actually just found a list of some of the headphones (and earphones) I’ve owned:

AKG K81 DJ
Bang & Olufsen A8
Bang & Olufsen H5
Beats by Dre
BeyerDynamic DT770 600ohm
Sennheiser Adidas PMX 680i
Sennheiser IE80
Sennheiser PX100
Sennheiser PX100-II
Sennheiser PXC250
Shure E2
Shure SE210
Shure SE215
Sony MDR-XB500
UE Super.fi 5 Pro
UE Triple.Fi 10 Pro

So I’ve used a lot of headphones over the years but my current go-to pair when traveling were the fantastic Sennheiser IE80. They sounded terrific and because they were wired, it meant they never ran out of batteries. But they had two issues, the first being they were wired, wireless is more practical of course especially on a plane. The second issue I had was with the comfort, the IE80’s are in-earphones so on long trips my ears would get really warm and sweaty. I wanted a new travel pair and these Sony’s solved all my issues.

Firstly, the Sony’s are wireless, but they also have a 30-hour battery life which means even on my longest flight to LA, I’d be able to use the headphones on the plane, during transit and still get to LA with lots of battery left. Secondly, the Sony’s are super comfortable. I haven’t used them yet for more than 2-3 hours at one go, but so far they’ve been extremely comfy. The Sony’s fit around my ears so they aren’t applying any pressure on them and the padding is super soft. The most important aspect of these Sony’s and what really makes them so great is the noise cancelation abilities. I haven’t used a lot of noise-canceling headphones but people who have say these are the best ones you can buy right now. I’m going to believe them because based on my experience this past weekend, they work like magic. On the plane, they COMPLETELY cancel out the lound rumbling engine sound, my flight to Dubai and back was extremely quiet and peaceful. Every time I took the headphones off I was actually in shock at how loud the plane was without them. I actually feel that way whenever I take the headphones off after using them anywhere. We are surrounded by so much sound everywhere we go and we don’t tend to realize it because we’re so used to it. These headphones really transport you into a quiet space, so you’ll get the library silence wherever you are. They aren’t perfect, while using them at Arabica, if I didn’t have any music playing I could still kinda hear people chattering.

The headphones have a lot of cool features and can even be connected to an app that allows you to control the amount of ambient sound they let in, but, I’m not going to go into too many details since you could watch or read more comprehensive reviews online. What I will say is this, these Sony’s sound great, are super comfortable and kill the sound around you so good that you won’t believe it.

If you’re interested in a pair I couldn’t find any place locally to get them and they’re still hard to get online. BUT, while I was at the Duty Free in Dubai I spotted them being sold there and for around KD110. So if you have a trip to Dubai planned or know someone traveling, let them get you a pair. Here is a link to them on Amazon but they’re out of stock as of this post [Link]

Categories
Video Games

Nintendo Labo is Out in Kuwait!

I just left Rihab Complex with the Nintendo Labo variety kit. There is only one store at the moment in Rihab selling the Labo and its Kuwait Toys Center. They’ve got both the Variety Kit and the Robot Kit and they’re selling each for KD40. That might sound expensive compared to the US price, but it really isn’t that bad of a deal.

The Variety Kit sells for KD22 on Amazon while the Robot Kit sells for KD25 not including tax. The Variety Kit weighs nearly 3KG so if you shipped it using Shop&Ship they’ll charge KD17 for shipping without the customs fees. With PostaPlus they’ll charge you KD12 without the customs fees. So if my calculations are correct:

Variety Kit KD23 with tax
+ KD17 shipping (Aramex Shop&Ship)
+ KD1 clearance fee
Total = KD41

If you ship to your PostaPlus mailbox the total would still be around KD36. So paying KD4 more to have it first isn’t that bad of a deal. If you’re interested in picking up a Nintendo Labo, Kuwait Toys Center only had a handful in stock when I passed by so you’ve got to hurry. Check them out on instagram @kuwait_toys_center

Categories
Video Games

Cost of Shipping a Nintendo Switch to Kuwait

If you’re planning to order a Nintendo Switch online and ship it to Kuwait using a forwarding mailbox the, most cost effective way is to use PostaPlus or Aramex Shop&Ship. Below is a cost comparison between different services including customs. Help me fill up the unknowns.

Nintendo Switch (no games)
Aramex: KD17
Borderlinx: KD37.5
MyUS: KD27 approx
PostaPlus: Unknown

Categories
Video Games

Getting a Nintendo Switch in Kuwait

Nintendo’s new console, the Switch is coming out on March 3rd. There’s a lot of positive hype surrounding the release of Nintendo’s new console which is a hybrid of a home console and a portable console. I pre-ordered one back in January from Amazon US for $299 while Mark pre-ordered his from the Walmart website. If you’re interested in getting one yourself, there are two ways to do so:

The first option is to get it locally. Xcite have a sign-up page to get a notification once they have more information on the Switch, but theres no mention on when they’re expecting to get it. Then there’s Rihab. I paid a visit to Rihab on Friday to ask if they were getting the Switch and how much they were expecting to sell it for. I wasn’t given a concrete answer, but I was told that there would be a shortage of consoles locally, which isn’t surprising since Nintendo is only making two million units available at launch worldwide. I was also told the approximate price of the Switch would be KD150 (approximately $490) which I found hard to believe since I’m expecting it to go as high as KD250 on the first few days of launch. The shops I asked were adamant that it wouldn’t go that high up, but I’m still skeptical.

Your second option is to pre-order a Switch online and ship it to your forwarding mailbox like Shop&Ship or PostaPlus. It’s sold out in most of the US stores but they’re still available to pre-order at a bunch of UK ones including:

Amazon UK
Argos
GAME
Nintendo Store
Tesco

The UK stores are selling the Switch for slightly more than the US stores at KD106 verses KD98 (with tax). But, it should still be cheaper than buying it locally… at least in the beginning.

Post by Patrick

Categories
Reviews Shopping

Review: Borderlinx vs MyUS

Borderlinx and MyUS are both companies that offer US forwarding mailboxes so you can shop online, mail stuff to your US address and then have them forward it to your home in Kuwait. I’ve been using Aramex Shop&Ship since 2001 for my regular day to day shopping but a few years ago I signed up to Borderlinx since sometimes I needed my shipments to get to Kuwait fast and Shop&Ship is just too slow. Everything was fine and dandy until I realized Borderlinx was taking an 8.5% customs clearance fee on top of the 5% customs fee which I thought was absurd. So, I decided to try an alternative and I signed up to MyUS last month. This review is strictly Borderlinx vs MyUS and doesn’t include Shop&Ship because Shop&Ship is a lot cheaper as well as a lot slower (apples vs oranges).

membership

MyUS has been around since 1997, I first heard about them back in 2001 but ended up going with the much more affordable Shop&Ship instead. The reason I never signed up to MyUS even years later was their expensive shipping prices and fees. MyUS have different membership fees, the standard involves paying just $10 to open an account and no annual fee, but you don’t get the best shipping rates and you can’t consolidate your packages. To get the best deal you would have to sign up to their “premium” package but that costs $20 to setup and either $7 a month or $60 a year in membership fees. Recently though I found out that MyUS had special rates for credit card holders (which I posted here) where they not only waved all the setup fees but also offered additional discounts on shipping. I ended up signing up with my AMEX card which entitled me to free membership for 2 years as well as 30% off all my shipments.

Since I’m heading to SoleDXB next weekend I decided to order a backpack for the trip. I couldn’t risk shipping it with Shop&Ship and have it arrive after my trip so I sent it to MyUS mailbox instead. It was a bit risky since I hadn’t used my MyUS account yet but figured this would be the best way to test them out.

shippingoptions

MyUS allows you to customize a lot of different account options if you want to, for example they deal with a variety of shipping companies but if you have a preference you can say always use DHL or always use FedEx but by default its set on “Least Expensive Option”. You can also setup your account to ship packages as soon as they arrive or hold them until you choose to ship them. For an extra fee you can have them photograph the item for you, ship same day, add fragile stickers, add extra packing, discard shoe boxes and a bunch of more options. The different settings can be a bit overwhelming but you can not bother with them at all if you don’t want to.

Once my package got delivered to MyUS it popped up in my account on the same day. I then logged into my account and told them to ship it for me and this is where things weren’t as pretty as Borderlinx. With Borderlinx before you give the shipping order you’ll know exactly how much the shipping fee would cost as well as the customs fee, with MyUS you won’t know until your package is already shipped. I found that a bit uncomfortable since I’m not used to saying ship without knowing exactly how much it’s going to cost me. In any case a few hours later I got an email saying my package was shipped with FedEx and my credit card was charged. So I logged into my account to check and see how much it cost me. Based on the size of the package and weight, the package cost $93.74 to ship with insurance. With my 30% AMEX discount the price went down to $67.42. I took the package dimensions and weight and plugged them into the Borderlinx shipping cost calculator and ended up with an $85 shipping fee without insurance. Not a bad amount of savings but I was now worried about the customs fee. Borderlinx quoted me $52 for customs while with MyUS I needed to wait until the package arrived to Kuwait to find out. Three days later my package arrived to Kuwait and the total customs fee was around $30, I was relieved.

I saved around $40 by using MyUS over Borderlinx and the package arrived just as fast. MyUS has now officially become my go to mailbox for when I need my packages ASAP. I still find it uncomfortable to have them charge my credit card without knowing how much it’s going to cost me first but I’m just going to have to get used to it I guess. If you’re interested in signing up, make sure you check my previous post on MyUS to know how much you can save using which credit card. [Link]

Categories
Information Kuwait Shopping

Shipping items to Aramex that are valued at over $2,500

According to the Aramex Shop & Ship FAQ the maximum value allowed per package to be shipped from the US should not exceed $2,500. Packages that are over $2,500 must come with an Export Declaration Form from the shipper or the merchant. Sounds complicated but turns out it’s not.

If you send an item that’s worth over $2,500 to your Shop&Ship account it will get marked as a high value shipment and be placed on hold. You will then receive an email from Aramex telling you that they’ve placed your item on hold and that you would need to visit their US Export Regulations page on the Shop&Ship website. You will then have to do the following:

– Download and open the “Written Authorization Sample” word document that’s linked at the bottom of that page.

– Fill your name in the field “Principal Party in Interest”. It should be the same name as the Shop & Ship account holder.

– Fill your physical address. By this they mean your Kuwait address and NOT your US forwarding mailbox.

– Place your signature in the signature field.

– Leave rest of the fields blank to be filled by Aramex.

– Finally send the word document along with the package tracking number to [email protected]

And that’s it. A pretty simple process that would delay your shipment a couple of days but nothing drastic.