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
Reviews

Posta Plus vs Aramex’s Shop & Ship

postaplus

I tend to be very loyal to the brands I use and like, and Aramex Shop & Ship is no exception. I’ve had a Shop & Ship account with them since 2001 (thats 15 years!) and although I use other similar US mailbox forwarding services (like MyUS.com) for some packages, Aramex has always been the service I use for the majority of my items.

But recently I’ve started disliking Aramex since they weren’t being honest and transparent with me. Packages from my Shop & Ship mailbox used to take around 7 days to get to me once they shipped but with my last three packages it took twice as long. In fact, they’ve been spending around 7 days just to get from Bahrain (their regional hub) to Kuwait! I kept pressing them for a reason, I just wanted to know why suddenly things were taking twice as long and nobody would give me an answer. I harassed them on twitter, I harassed them over the phone and using their live chat service yet nobody would tell me. They just acted like it was business as usual when it clearly wasn’t. So I posted about my frustration on the blog and thats when the guys at Posta Plus contacted me and asked me to try their service. At first I replied back thanking them for emailing me but that I was loyal to Aramex. But then I thought to myself, why the loyalty? I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dinars with Aramex, I’ve been a customer for over 15 years, I was one of their first Shop & Ship customers in Kuwait and yet I have the same benefits of a customer that would sign up today. So if I’m not important enough a client for Aramex, why should I be loyal to them? So I decided to sign up to the Posta Plus US mail forwarding service called MyBox and give them a shot.

Other than a few quibbles which I’ll discuss below, I’ve decided that I will be using Posta Plus from now on instead of Aramex for a number of reasons.

postavsaramex

The Good Stuff

– Posta Plus is considerably cheaper as you can see in the shipping cost comparison above.

– You can get a hold of their customer support instantly. Their hotline is very simple, you call, it asks you what language you prefer and then you’re connected to the support person who in my case picked up the phone instantly as soon as I pressed “2” for English. If you’ve ever tried calling Aramex for support you know how difficult and how long it takes to get a hold of someone.

– Like Aramex, Posta Plus also charge KD1 custom clearance fee. But, unlike Aramex, if you have a number of packages arriving at the same time, you have the option to consolidate them during the customs process and that way you’ll pay KD1 custom clearance fee for all the packages combined.

– In case you don’t want a package to be delivered, you have the option to “Hold” that package one package from within your Posta Plus dashboard so you could go pick it up yourself.

– Their delivery guys contact you before they head over to deliver the package to make sure you’re home.

– Their delivery speed is much faster than Aramex. So far the two packages that I shipped using Posta Plus, the first one was delivered 4 days after it left the States while the second one took 5 days. Thats 3x faster than my last few shipments with Aramex!

As I mentioned earlier, I did have a few issues with Posta Plus, none were deal breakers to me but I’ll mention them anyway.

The Not So Good Stuff

– I ran into an issue when signing up to their service. I went through the sign up process to setup an account but when it came time to pay my card got declined. I then couldn’t try again with another card since there was no try again option. So, I went through the processes of setting up the account again but it told me I couldn’t because the email was already in use. I tried logging into my account but their website told me the account didn’t exist. So I was stuck not being able to create and account because their system thought I had an account which in fact didn’t exist. I had to contact support to fix this.

– Right now you can’t pay for your packages online (it’s cash on delivery), but they’ll be offering this service soon. I really prefer paying for my stuff online with Knet.

packagedeliveries

– You can only track your Posta Plus packages via their website. I usually track all my packages with the “Deliveries” app on my iPhone and Mac (pictured above) but the app doesn’t recognize Posta Plus tracking numbers. It recognizes Aramex on the other hand.

– This next one could be a plus for some people but was a negative for me. They notify you constantly by email and SMS on the status of your packages. You get an email and SMS when your package arrives to your mailbox, and then an email and SMS when it ships from your mailbox, when it goes to clearance you get an email and then when its out for delivery an email and SMS. The issue I had is there is no way to turn on or off the notifications and it was annoying to get an email and an SMS telling me the exact same thing. What made things worst in my case was I was getting two or three duplicate emails from their server by mistake. After complaining to them about it I think I don’t get any notification at all now which is also not something I want.

– Every time I log into their dashboard I get a pop up informing me they now have Canada as a mailbox location. I got it the first time, I don’t need to keep seeing the pop up every single time I want to log in to my account. Pop ups are really annoying.

posta

In Conclusion

Before Posta Plus I was using Shop & Ship for packages I wasn’t in a hurry to get and MyUS for packages I wanted ASAP. I was using Shop & Ship because they were cheaper than MyUS and since I didn’t need every item ASAP, the amount I was saving was worth it. But now I’m going to stop using both Shop & Ship and MyUS since Posta Plus is a much cheaper alternative to Aramex and nearly as fast as MyUS (+1/-1 day). Posta Plus is also a local brand and I like support local brands that are actually good. They kinda feel like Aramex in the early days which is a very good thing. They do have a bunch of issues they need to get sorted and so far they seem to be very accepting of my criticism and willing to improve things.

So if you’re frustrated with Aramex and are looking for an alternative thats cheaper and faster, Posta Plus is the way to go. The sign up fee is KD8 and here is a link to their [Website]

Note: The rate calculator on the Posta Plus website is completely in accurate.

Categories
Travel

Why Etihad Airways Sucks and American Express Kicks Ass

amex

I was originally going to post about how shit Etihad Airways is because they removed my name off my connecting flight back to Kuwait. They “assumed” I wouldn’t be able to make it to the gate in time and now I’m stuck in their airport for 5 hours waiting for the next flight out. But, I figured everyone had already heard a ton of horror stories on Etihad and you wouldn’t be interested in hearing another. I mean even Anderson Silva trashed them on his Instagram account after his last visit to Kuwait.

So instead I’ve decided to turn this post into a positive one and talk about my love for my AMEX card. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember and I love it for multiple reasons. Firstly getting an AMEX card was a fairly simple process, I don’t remember the exact steps since it’s been 6 or more years since I got the card but I do remember their requirements were really simple, something like just prove you work and that was it. They then give you a ridiculously high limit, mine has always been like $12,000 from day 1. But the biggest advantage of the card for me is lounge access while traveling. For example I’m now stuck at the shitty Abu Dhabi airport for 5 hours and Etihad couldn’t give me access to the lounge even though they fucked up because the lounge was “full”. Not that I really care for their lounge since it’s small and overpacked always but I just wanted them to compensate me in someway for ruining my return flight. Since I couldn’t get access to their Premium Lounge I decided to check the airport website and see what other lounges were available here. I ended up finding one called Al Reem tucked away on the far side of the airport that allows access to AMEX card holders. I’m here chilling in the lounge now and it’s actually better than the Etihad Premium Lounge. It’s quieter, a lot less people and there is even a bar.

lounge

I travel a lot and always in coach when traveling around the region so the AMEX card really makes the airport experience a lot more comfortable. I use it mostly at the Kuwait Airport, Beirut Airport, Dubai Airport (all terminals), Bahrain and now I’m using it in Abu Dhabi. If you’re flying out with FLyDubai from the Sheikh Saad Terminal in Kuwait, the AMEX card also gives you access to the business class side of the airport which is a much more superior experience compared to the regular side.

Other than lounge access, my AMEX card also gives me 30% off on MyUS shipments and I also earn points on the card which I can convert to air miles for my favorite airlines or buy products from the AMEX store. If all that isn’t enough, my AMEX card has even given me access to early bird or reserved seating for concert tickets in the States using TicketMaster.com.

There are some downsides of course compared to the credit cards from your bank. You have the yearly card fee which you have to pay while my MasterCard with NBK is free. The interest rate is also higher with AMEX, my MasterCard I think is 1% a month while AMEX is like 2.3%. Then you lose a bit of money with the exchange rate whenever you settle your bill since you have to pay using US dollars. But those downsides are worth it for me which is why I love my American Express card. For more details you can visit them in Salhiya or check out their website [Here]

Categories
Information

Shipito US Mail Forwarding

shipito

At the moment my two favorite mail forwarding companies are Aramex and MyUS. I use the Aramex Shop & Ship service for packages that I am not in a rush to get and I use MyUS for packages that I need ASAP. The way these mailboxes work for those of you who aren’t aware, a lot of online stores don’t mail products outside of the US. With a US forwarding mailbox you order stuff online and mail it to your US address, then your packages gets shipped from that mailbox to your address in Kuwait and you just pay the shipping cost. Makes online shopping a lot easier.

A few weeks back I got an email from another US mail forwarding company called Shipito. According to the original email, Shipito are the biggest mail forwarders to South America and Europe and they’re hoping to become the same in the Middle East. To try out their service, they offered to ship any package for me that weighed up to 10KG. 10 freakin kilos!! I was ordering a MacBook Air around that same time but I was like nahhh, that wouldn’t really be taking advantage of their offer since it’s so light. After a bit of online shopping I realized that all the winter gear was heavily discounted because the season was over so I decided to order a snowboard, snowboard bindings and boots. They were 2015 models and were selling for 40% off at Backcountry (a really great store btw), so I decided to order them in hopes I would still manage to get some snowboarding done before the summer. That was obviously before I hurt my ankle last week.

myorder

I roughly calculated the weight of all my snowboard gear and it was going to be around 10KG, so I placed the order and shipped it to my Shipito mailbox which they had setup for me. Shipito provides you with three different US mailboxes to use each with their own advantage:

Minden, NV
The biggest Shipito warehouse. More storage (six times bigger mailbox capacity for free storage compared to California, or double of Oregon). 180 days storage for Virtual Mailbox (other locations offer 90 days). Lowest shipping cost for USPS, FedEx and DHL.

Tualatin, OR
No sales tax in Oregon! Save on 7-9% expensive purchases! Full service location. More storage space for your Virtual mailbox and shipping rates slightly higher than in California.

Hawthorne 2, CA
All shipping methods available. Consolidation available. Low shipping cost and fast speed due to proximity to LAX airport. Russian Post available. Lowest price for Airmail.

Clearly the biggest advantage Shipito has over Aramex and MyUS was the fact they have an Oregon location which means you don’t pay taxes. When I ordered my Macbook Air from the Apple Store, I paid $87.43 in taxes when I shipped it to MyUS mailbox. If I had shipped it to Shipito’s Oregon address I wouldn’t have paid any tax whatsoever. I placed my order for the snowboard gear and two days later it reached my Shipito mailbox.

snowboardgear

Once a package arrives to your Shipito mailbox, you have the option to have 10 photos of your items taken before they ship it (costs: $2.5). My packages arrived in two shipments so they took 20 photos in total and emailed them to me. They then gave me a bunch of options to help cut down on shipping. First thing I wanted to do is consolidate the two shipments into one. Then I had the option to completely get rid of all the boxes to cut down on shipping cost, or to keep the product boxes but have them repackage them so they can minimize the space used, or to leave everything the way it is. Since I needed the product boxes incase I needed to return an item, I had them redo the packaging. They did that and also sent me pictures of the whole process by email. Finally the package was ready to send and they gave me the following carriers I could ship with: DHL Express, FedEx Priority, FedEx Economy, USPS Priority Mail, USPS Express Mail, Airmail Economy, TNT Economy, TNT Express and USPS First Class International Parcel.

wrapped

I chose DHL Express and a couple of days later my package had arrived to my doorstep in Kuwait.

So would I use Shipito again?

Obviously my first experience was great since I didn’t pay for anything but since I have the mailbox already setup with them I would probably use them again. For one thing they’re great when ordering from the Apple Store. I placed an order for an Apple Watch and it still hasn’t gotten canceled by Apple so I think they ship to Shipito mailboxes. I tried previously with both my Aramex and MyUS mailboxes and both orders got canceled. Plus you don’t pay tax, that has to be the biggest advantage. Shipping cost on the other hand varies. Aramex is by far the cheapest option but also the slowest. Shipito vs MyUS is more difficult to calculate because MyUS now doesn’t charge based on volumetric weight but on actual weight (up to a certain size). So if its a big box MyUS will probably be cheaper. But if it’s a smaller box Shipito is cheaper. For example a 25x25x25cm box weighing 1KG would cost $47 with Shipito but $52 with MyUS. So yes I would use my Shipito address again mostly when ordering small electronics like laptops, cameras and other items that don’t come in a large box. Also expensive items I would save a lot on by not paying any tax.

If you want to find out more about Shipito you can visit their website [Here]

Categories
Video Games

Sony PlayStation 4 Prices in Kuwait

The Sony PS4 is out in Kuwait already but the prices as expected are pretty high right now. In Rihab they’re selling it for KD245 including a game while online you have:

Blink KD229 (Sold Out)
Souq KD239
Digumz KD255

People who had pre-ordered directly from Amazon to Kuwait (not via a US forwarding mailbox) have already started receiving shipping notifications. Finally, I have a friend who ordered directly from the online Sony store to his MyUS account and he received his PS4 today.

The PS4 is currently sold out at most online retailers in the States including Amazon and people are selling them on eBay for around KD180 [Link]

Update: Turns out Xcite is not selling the PS4 yet so I’ve updated the post.

Categories
Complaints Information Kuwait

Goodbye DHL?

So I’ve been pushing DHL EasyShop a lot recently as a replacement to Aramex’s Shop&Ship but now it looks like I am going to start pushing Aramex again.

I received an email earlier today from a reader telling me about how DHL has new calculations for the weight. So I called them up and spent 20 minutes trying to understand how to calculate my shipping weight and honestly I still don’t know exactly how it works. The DHL employee told me its simple mathematics, I told him the last thing I want to do with my life is start plugging in formulas and make calculations to try and figure out how much my shipping cost will be. Here is what I understood:

If you get a package that weighs 2KG but it comes in a big box that gives you a volumetric weight of 8KG then you do the following:

8 – 2 = 6
6 > 5 = charged based on volumetric weight

So the formula looks something like

v: volumetric weight
w: actual weight

v – w = x
if x > 5 then you will be charged based on volumetric wieght
if x < 5 then you will be charged on actual weight Lets try it again. I have a shipment that is 6KG but the volumetric weight is 10kG the answer is? 10 - 6 = 4 4 < 5 so I pay based on actual weight The biggest problem is you can't figure out what the volumetric weight (v) of your package is until it arrives to your DHL mailbox which means you can't estimate the shipping cost. Seriously who at DHL came up with this smart idea? They had a chance here to gain customers that were pissed off with Aramex and now with this new change I think other customers like me will move back to Aramex. Update: I just passed by the Kuwait City DHL branch to pick up my package. What can I say, its hard not to like them. They’ve increased the amount of staff at that branch to 2 which is a good move since 1 guy wasn’t enough and I paid the regular shipping fee for my package which was based on actual weight since it was 2.5KG. I guess I will keep using DHL for everything under 5KG. I will use Aramex for items that are over 5KG but under 13KG and I will use MyUS for items 13KG and up. Life is complicated like that.

Categories
Information Kuwait Shopping

Mail forwarding services price chart

Abdullah, a reader of the blog put together a price chart comparing the 4 most popular mail forwarding services, Aramex’s Shop & Ship, U Shop We Ship, DHL’s EasyShop and My US. Is color coded it and the price chart goes up all the way up to 30KG. The conclusion is USWS is the cheapest until you hit 20KG when MyUS becomes cheaper.

You can view the chart by clicking [Here]

Categories
Information Kuwait

If not Aramex then what?

Tivo Guy asked if there was another service other then Aramex’s Shop & Ship. The answer is yes, there is, MyUS.com. I haven’t personally used it but my old boss did. The prices are more expensive then Aramex but the packages are delivered by DHL, and you have more control over your mailbox. For example, you can tell them to ship your magazines once a month but packages as they come. You can also for example ship the packages on your command. That means you can fill up your box and when you think you have all your stuff you give the order to ship. You also have the option to insure your packages, a good option when ordering items like laptops and expensive gear. Again, this all comes at a price.

4lb’s of weight with Aramex would cost you KD7, while with MyUS would cost you KD12. Aramex also has a one time setup fee of KD10, and then its free annually. MyUS has a setup fee of KD10 but it has an annual fee of KD40 for 12 months, or KD5 monthly.

If you are totally fed up with Aramex, there is another option, but are you willing to pay the price?

[Link]