Gotta Have It and Instant-Gratification
In our high-tech world of rapid communication, complete with smartphones and Internet, we’ve come to expect almost immediate gratification when it comes to locating and receiving the goods and services which we need or want. Today, it’s inconceivable to imagine a United States when waiting weeks—sometimes months—for goodies to arrive at our homes or businesses was a common occurrence; but, at one point in history, it happened all the time. In the early 1900s, folks living in rural America had to depend on receiving huge catalogs in the mail (such as the Sears & Roebuck Co, Inc.’s Consumer’s Guide (1909)), then sending their return orders and prepayments also by “snail” mail, and waiting for weeks for their goods to be shipped by railroads and finally delivered locally by wagons owned by companies like the Wells Fargo General Express. Indeed, the types of products delivered to the rural areas were amazing: Smoked salmon from Seattle, dishware, furniture, and even prefabricated 2-story houses (Average Price: $1,500).
Aren’t we lucky that we don’t have to endure that anymore! Well, some of us still do…
Needful Things on a Boat in Mexico
We have now been in Mexico for four years, more or less continuously. Our goal is to return to the US only when absolutely necessary. So far that had been for two-three days each year for financial activities that the bank requires us be physically present for.
With that in mind, we have gotten familiar with the cities near the marinas we routinely use. So, when we say some products are simply not available in Mexico, we mean just that. Or, it means not available in our part of Mexico. There are lots of things available in Mexico City that are not available in the rest of the country. I will not list the items because the list is not short … it is long and touches many needs that a cruiser out of the US for an extended time will have to address.
Many ,otherwise very savvy cruisers, simply resort to having someone who is visiting the US bring them back when they return to Mexico. This is very time-consuming and only works if you are in one of the larger marinas where Americans are coming and going to and from the US weekly.
Let’s face it: Living or boating in Mexico is tremendous fun; but, there are times when you just can’t find some things you need or want. In any place but t few very large cities, Mexico is not a first world country. In its villages, and small towns, it is much more like a third world country. This becomes even more true if you are poor or living on a budget. Adding to the frustration is the fact that, even when you find a product online, getting it shipped here can be a major obstacle. Many companies do not ship internationally. Also, successfully calculating and paying Customs Fees (Aduana) can be a dicey proposition.
Don’t despair. The good news, regarding some of the items on your wish list, just may be possible to get here without Customs hassles or delivery headaches via Amazon.com. And with shipments totaling $65 USD or more, your order may also qualify for Free Global Shipping!
BUT NOT SO FAST! Before you shout for joy, one disclaimer: The most important word in this article is MAYBE. It may be possible…Maybe.
And a caveat: We are talking about Amazon.com US and not Amazon.com.mx. The listings of the Amazon.com site for Mexico are extremely limited in areas of computers, electronics, tools, and entertainment like DVDs and games.
Global Shipping from Amazon.com to Mexico
A couple of cautions: 1) Ordering from Amazon.com will not locate highly technical boat gear, motor parts, or paint. So don’t waste your time. 2) This article needs to be read carefully (as does the Amazon website regarding ordering and Global Shipping). There are just some things that don’t ship internationally because of trade agreements, Customs regulations, HAZMAT (dangerous stuff) restrictions, and (perhaps sometimes) the phases of the moon. There’s been things I’ve tried to order (such as a certain brand of rafting sandals) that just cannot be sent to Mexico.
How To Order from Amazon
- Go to http://www.amazon.com . Hit link for General Information regarding Amazon’s Global Shipping Service:
- Go to the next link: Simplified Steps for putting together an Amazon Global Shipping Order.
- The Customer Help link for international shipping also proved very helpful, especially regarding trying to put a package together that was eligible for Free Global Shipping…..For Mexico, your order Needs to be Total $65 USD or more… Even though they shipped my packages on two separate dates–(the other package came a week later)– the shipping was still free for both.
About FREE Amazon Global Shipping (very helpful link)
Setting up your ‘Default Shipping Address’ or ‘Default Address’
(1) Although your payment address and information will remain the same, you need to set up a default address to get your stuff to your marina or home in Mexico. Be sure to be very careful and thorough with you Spanish spellings in the addresses.
(2) Additionally, by shopping your items using your default address the item will inform you in the when you look at its description, in small print, if it can or cannot shop to Mexico and specifically to the address you are using as your default. (It saves a lot of time when you go to place the order). If your particular item cannot ship, you can just pull a list if identical or similar and find a company and item that does ship internationally.
Your Default Shipping Address (example)
sv Eagle/ John Doe (Your boat name and your name)
Marina de El Fantastico—(Marina Name)
5555 Whatever Calle ( Marina’s Correct Street Address)
Isla Fantastico, Independencia, 55555 ( Mexican City, Mexican State, and Postal Code)
Phone: 5555555555 ( A telephone number (cell or land line) that you can be reached in Mexico)
Now, go back and read the above again. What is critical and makes this so useful is the [art about playing with your default address. Once you figure this part out and get it right, it will save you hours of online shopping. AFTER you change the default shipping address, AFTER you change it, each item you add to your shopping cart will inform you whether or not if can ship to that specific address. So, when you check out, you items will say shipping instead of ‘does not ship to ‘Isla Fantastico’.
1) Aduana: Aduana is the Spanish word for Customs/ Import Duty. This includes the money owed for import fees. If you shop with Amazon.com, you may get free shipping (depending on your purchases), but this will not include what you owe to Mexico in Import Fees. Amazon does a remarkable job of charging you the right amount for your purchases automatically and this amount is added into your total purchase price. Upon several occasions, Amazon has actually credited back to me some pesos (a few cents); but, more importantly, I have never had a package fail to deliver because the company didn’t figure it correctly.
One caution !!!!!! It is possible to set off the “Bell and Whistle Alarms” with Mexico’s Customs folks. If your total purchase totals to over a $1,000 USD, you may get an email or phone call from the Mexican Customs Office, asking you to fill out some official forms proving that you are not an Import Business. This can be a great hassle and headache……
Last winter, while we were in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, one cruiser (s/v Cat-2-Fold) ordered a marine refrigerator. He wanted it fast, so he added expedited shipping to his order. The expedited shipping bumped his total purchase to $1,000 USD. Once it arrived in Mexico, he received an email asking for information—-totally in Spanish. This necessitated his seeking the help of a Mexican National to convince the Customs Office that he definitely was not an Import Business.
Second example, Carolyn, quartermaster and gourmet cook, ordered a bottle of mustard powder. It got stopped at Customs in Guadalajara because the commercially produced and clearly labeled bottle had an unidentifiable indistinguishable yellowish powder inside. We got a call from a very nice agent who spoke excellent English and was a cook. She said it was a no-go on passing it thru Customs because the powder could not be ‘identified’.
That one left us scratching our heads for a while. But, the good news is that for some reason, the company had sent that part of the order in a separate package. So the rest of the order sailed thru.
2) Methods of Shipping: Amazon uses several different carriers for its shipping, such as DHL and UPS. You cannot choose the carrier. And it never seems to come by the same carrier twice. It always depends on what you ordered and which marina the order is being shipped to.
Generally, if you are located in or near a highly populated city like Puerto Vallarta, your packages will come in time and sometimes even earlier than the expected date. However, if you are moored at a marina far from a densely populated area, it can take longer.
So, lets say, you expect three-day delivery cause you paid for it or because it was free, the experience may be quite different. Our example, we tracked the package, three days after order it arrived 35 miles from us in Manzanillo. We are thinking “score”. Not so fast! What we did not know the first time we ordered was that Manzanillo office for this service only delivered to our part of the State of Colima on Fridays. So the actual wait was till the following Friday for a delivery time of 10 days. No amount of calling will get the phone answered locally, even if you have a number.
3) The Good News: It generally works and you get your stuff—your needful things. But, when it doesn’t (and that has only happened to us twice), Amazon is an excellent company regarding returns and refunds. Indeed it has a good reputation, and rightly so. I include this Amazon News Release from March 2016:
“The results are in, and Amazon has the best corporate reputation among the 100 most visible companies in America, according to the just-released 23,000 person ‘Harris Poll‘. We’ve been fortunate to have consistently been in the top 10, but this year claimed the top spot, just ahead of Apple and Google.
Amazon was rated “excellent” across all the Harris Poll’s corporate reputation dimensions including Social Responsibility, Workplace Environment, Emotional Appeal, and Products and Services.”
A final note. This is not a recommendation for Amazon.com. It is just an online outfit we are familiar with. And, your results may vary. It is Mexico.
But, if you do everything right, you can use Amazon’s online store to get hard to get items to Mexico in a very reasonable time frame and ‘free.’
Note: Lest you think all we do is order movies. We have ordered a PS4 Gaming system after unsuccessfully trying to buy one locally in three different cities and on Walmart.com.mx. Half a dozen video games for the console.
We have ordered three medical texts for the library. I am a retired Paramedic but I decided as the brain cells gradually fade out I might need references to some of the procedures and info I had performed for years.
Filters for PUR water system that we cannot find filters for in Mexico. For boat stuff, you can usually count on finding a chandlary near the larger marinas that uses WEST Marine as a supplier. Prices are usually US price plus about 16% aduana.
FINAL NOTE: The quarter master and co-owner of Spiritus, Carolyn, did the research on this. It is the result of a year of painstaking ordering and waiting trial and error to see what works dependably. the article is none the less anecdotal. Your results may vary. Good luck!