23 July 2009

Customs Woes

A family friend, who is 15 years old, is currently in Italy on a summer exchange program. Before she returns to the US, she is going to come visit us.

Earlier this week we overnight expressed her train tickets. And, because she is only 15 and will be traveling alone, we also sent my old mobile telephone loaded with a prepaid SIM card and our contact numbers. Just in case.

When we went to ship it, we explained that this was an old mobile, worth very little money and that it would be returning to us in less than 2 weeks. Because, of course, the girl will bring it with here when she comes to visit us.

I'm not certain they believed us. Because we have just discovered that the entire package (including the train tickets) are being held up in Italian customs and they are demanding a rather large customs fee in exchange for its release. The demanded fee is larger than the mobile is actually worth!

Meanwhile, there is nothing we can do from our end. It all has to be handled by the host family. And I feel very bad about creating this mess for them. Which shouldn't have been a mess because it is all very straight forward. All the customs officials have to do is look at the one-way train ticket, which is accompanying the mobile, and see that it clearly states it is a child's ticket cost!


No comments: