Report: Shipping from Italy to Alexandria

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Sep 28, 2016
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#1
We were shipping two motorcycles. We had originally planned on shipping to Alexandria from Greece. We were using the services of CSC in Alexandria - logistics@cscegy.com. We dealt with Hania throughout who was very helpful. We had a quote from her for 650 euro for shipping the bikes with MSC and 500 dollars for her services to clear the bikes. This did not include crating or fumigation which we were going to have to organise ourselves. Other admin costs were going to be charged later during the process in the port (she couldn't give a figure up front of exact cost).

As we were crossing the Alps just as winter was starting to kick in we were slowed down due to bad weather and we decided to ship instead from Salerno with Grimaldi. Hania had no connections with any company in Salerno so could not help us here so we decided to do the shipping ourselves from what we could glean from the contact details and information on OS (we dealt mainly with Ugo Rochella - ugo.dellarocca@autuori.it).

Getting the quote itself was very straight forward, they just wanted the weight of the bikes, they did not care about size so much as it was going to be a RORO ferry and the bikes were going to shoved in the corner. We were quoted 1080 euro for both bikes.

Filling out the forms seemed simple enough but as you will find out later I screwed up here by taking the form literally and obviously Grimaldi didn't double check it with me. The parts I screwed up were: on the form, it said "Plate", being from Ireland I put down our number plates, this was wrong and should have been our chassis numbers. The second part that was wrong was that I read on a post somewhere that if you put yourself down as the shipper, forwarder and consignee it makes it a lot easier to get the stuff out of the port, so I did (with the address of CSC as my Egypt address). This it turns out only makes sense if you have one item, like one Jeep or truck.

So with the price and date of sailing sorted we just turned up the day before sailing (turns out it wouldn't have sailed for another 3 days). For Grimaldi in Salerno they ask you to come to the SAT office. On entering the port it is the second exit on the roundabout (the first being a car park and a bus stop and the third being for cargo lorries). After going through this entrance you come to another roundabout, at this stage the SAT building is on your left but you have to take the straight through exit to actually get to it. There is a guy in a small prefab here, checking lorries, he flagged us on as we were on bikes but he shouldn't have, we should have started with him. This guy should actually check your booking form from Grimaldi and the documents of the bike so that you can be "checked into" the port. He gives you two sheets and he has to stamp one as this is what is used later. (We did all this arse about face). Once you have these two forms you then drive over to the SAT building. This being Italy they were all on lunch from 1 till 3 so we sat around for a while. When lunch was over there is a window on the left side of the building, give them the forms you got from guy in the prefab and your booking form, bike documents and passport. They then confirm all the details etc and give you another form that you take upstairs. You go back around to the front of the building and go up one story. The office to pay is on the left. They accept credit cards and will give you another form and receipt. You take this form back down to the window outside, they check it and then take your keys. It was at this point they informed us that the ship would not leave the next day but would in three days. It was kind of crazy but we just left our bikes parked there beside the footpath out in the open. And that was that... now to the fun part.

A few days after the bikes were at sea, Grimaldi contacted us to say that they were informed by their shipping agent Dinah in Marina Shipping Agencies in Alexandria, that as I had both our bikes on one bill of lading unless I owned both bikes, I would not be allowed to release both bikes and that I should split it into two bills of lading, one in my name with my bike and one in my girlfriends name and her bike and they would charge me 73 euro for doing so. I was naive here thinking that Marina were trying to be helpful saving me ahead of time, instead of wasting it in Alexandria.

The bikes arrived in Alexandria on the correct day and to the correct port (which not everyone has been as lucky lately ) but as it was a Saturday evening nothing would be done on Sunday so we were to start the process on the Monday. On Monday we went straight to Marina to get the two telex released bill of ladings and pay our 73 euro. Marina shipping agencies is not where it says it is on Google maps, it is further back up the street beside the vodafone shop on the second floor.

In I went and asked for Dinah and was shown into the back office. I should have known that I was going to be in for a rough few days when as I was going to sit down in front of her desk before my ass even touched the seat she said "73 euro?", I'm still not sure how she knew... anyway. She gave me a form for the 73 euro and I took it back to a window at the back part of the front office to the left. He gave me a receipt and I take it to the guys at the front desk. They then give me another bill for 1100 egp, 550 for each bike for unloading and some other nonsense. I take this form back to the window and pay him, he gives me another receipt to take back to the front desk and they then give you the OBLS.

Off we went to CSC as it is walking distance from Marina, near the Hotel Amoun on the 8th floor. We then met Hania and had tea and water etc. She looks at all our forms and gives them to Mr Salah who rushes off to the port. She says that we just have to wait a while whilst he gets permission for us to enter the port, we paid something for this but for the life of us can't remember how much now, something like 100 egp each. Whilst we were waiting around I told her about Marina being so kind as to warn us about the two OBLS before we got there so that we wouldn't waste any time when we got to Egypt. She told us that we probably shouldn't have done that, that we should have put her company down instead and they would have acted on our behalf and that now we would end up paying for lots of things twice

As it was the first day we were still optimistic that we would finally be the ones who would get out of the port with no hassle despite reading oodles of posts and blogs to the contrary. An hour or two passes and we are informed that we must go down to the port as they will not issue the permission cards without seeing us first. Off we go and get that sorted and as the port closes at 2pm that's the last thing that can be done for the day. Hanias father, the owner of CSC then kindly treats us to a lovely mixed grill lunch in the famous Hosny restaurant. After lunch Mr Salah takes us to the infamous Egyptian motoring association for us to give them money to say that our carnet is in fact an acceptable carnet. Hania had done some work up front for us here as we had a German carnet so we needed nothing else. The motoring association charged us a whopping 150 usd for a sheet that basically we never used again. This was supposed to be 65 each so am not sure where the extra 20usd disappeared to. We contacted FIA about this fee and although they did say that it seemed very high for the association to charge this, unfortunately each one was free to do what they wanted.

Hania then said to meet up at her office the next day and that we would wait to get the call that we could go inspect the bikes and possibly have them that day! Two days to get out of the port? What's all the fuss about? !

Next morning and a phone call from Hania, Mr Salah is at the port and there is a problem. They will not let us view the bikes as the bill of lading has our number plates and not our chassis number. Mr Salah is at Marina trying to get them to edit it and can we meet him there. We meet him at Marina and they are refusing to change it for him, we have to request it. So we go in and ask, one quick delete, and a quick copy and paste and it's changed. All for the princely sum of 1000 egp. Sorry, what? Yes you have to pay, it was your mistake. Getting on in the day and having been told we might get the bikes out today, we pay up to speed things along. Mr Salah rushes off to the port with the new forms, no dice as 2pm comes calling but that the form is ok. It's at this point Hania tells us that the port themselves will want that 1000 egp for the mistake in the OBL and that we shouldn't have paid Marina but that we can get a receipt from the port and Marina will have to refund us. She tells us to come back tomorrow and bring another 1000 egp for customs etc and that would be the final amount. Definitely the last money we pay? Yes definitely.

So we come back the next morning and go to the port with Mr Salah. He brings us into customs and we give them the 1000 egp and we sit there for what seems like an eternity. Donald trump had also won the election so suffice to say this day didn't start out as a great day!

Then suddenly it's all action! We drive over to another building and this is the first time we see our carnets so it must be getting close. They take us to a window make us sign some stuff and then say 700 egp each please. Sorry, 1400 egp? For what? Much arguing back and forth, a few phone calls to Hania and a lot of ignorance on the officials side (he kept pretending that we just didn't understand the amount he was looking for, not that we were asking what it was for) they say that it was all by the book and that it was for storage as the boat had arrived Saturday evening and that this most definitely, totally and utterly was the last thing we would have to pay. We didn't actually have 1400 left, we only had 1200 which they actually happily took. By the book my ass.

As we sat back down and the steam was only just settling in my head, the customs man who had accompanied us from the first office told us (via Mr Salah) that we were nearly done and that we would very likely get our bikes today. It may have been a ploy because after he said that we just started to feel that feeling that all over landers get (when you nearly have your vehicle back and you don't care anymore, you're just like "give it to me") for a few minutes that he then told us that all we has to do was go to the traffic offices pay 2000 egp, 1000 each get our number plates and we would be on our way. Cue meltdown. What the hell are you talking about, less that 10 minutes ago you just said that the 1400 was the last thing we had to pay?! This morning Hania said that the 1000 before that would be the last thing to pay!! A few more phone calls and we cave out of tiredness, hunger and depression at this stage (rookie mistake, we had skipped breakfast and had no lunch ) and get them to take us to an atm to take out the 2k.

We go back to some dictator style office where a military man looks at us and our passports and wave us out. No one tells who or what that was and we still don't know. Then we head to the actual storage unit and there they are and all is right with the world! We give them the once over and then drive to the traffic offices to get our number plates and driving licenses. We hang around for ages and then the original man from the customs office (he has been with us all day ) comes out and asks for 1000 for insurance and the license plates. I sign the forms. He then comes out and asks my girlfriend to sign the same forms. But doesn't ask for the 1000. We look at each other. We say nothing. The plates come out, the license comes out and we're ready to go! Nope, you have to see one last military man. Crap, he's going to want the 1000 we thought we got away with! But no he's super friendly, he gives us a plastic flower each and a small Egyptian flag to attach to the bike. And no one ever asks for that second 1000 even though they said it a million times before that.

We go out and jump on the bikes and head off into our first taste of African traffic at rush hour in a T shirt and pair of runners. No helmet no nothing! ATGATT indeed. We are elated at this stage and head back to CSC to collect our helmets and pay Hania her 500 dollars but alas Egypt has one last sting in the tail! She informs us that because I had split the bill of lading into 2 they had to do twice the work to clear it. She said it should be 1000 usd altogether but that she feels bad for all the messing that went on and only charges us 800usd. As this stage we are tired and hungry and we have our bikes so we are beat. We hand over the 800. She then separates all the receipts that we got at the port and gives us the one pertaining to the fine for having the wrong chassis number. She said to take this to Marina tomorrow morning and they will give you the 1000egp back. Off we went into the traffic and slept well knowing we had our bikes for the start of the African odyssey.

Next morning (Thursday) we went to Marina (already questioning whether we would get this refund at all given our experience so far) with our receipts and fine document. We met the young man we'd dealt with before and he was like "oh yeah, the refund no problem" and starts battering away at the computer. Then our ol' mucker Dinah comes out and some muttering takes place. She comes over and tells us that she can't give us the money back, that this fine doesn't prove anything. She said that we could be being fined for anything, there was nothing to say that this was for the chassis mistake. We talk back and forward about how that makes no sense and it's for the exact amount she owes us and what is the chances of that? We then say we'll ring Hania and will you speak to her, she's not too happy about it but agrees but unfortunately Hania doesn't answer. Then Dinah says well anyway you won't get this money back now until Saturday evening (she knew we were leaving the next day for Cairo) as that's the earliest I'll be able to prove it's the same fine as I have to go down to the port to confirm it down there. We've had enough of Alexandria at this stage and the cost to hang around was going to be more than the refund so we leave, safe in the knowledge we are just another fallen soldier in the Egyptian import battle.

We speak to Hania shortly after and she blows her top. She said it's disgraceful and that she has no right to keep that money. She gets the man from customs to ring Dinah to give out to her too. Hania agrees to meet us tomorrow at the start of the Alex to Cairo motorway on her day off and will get us our money back on the Saturday and post it on to us. We meet her the next morning, give her all the documents, exchange pleasantries and never hear from her again.

Costs: (all for two bikes and two people)
1050 eur - Grimaldi / shipping
73 eur - Marina / split bill of lading
1100 egp - Marina / unloading and "other costs"
200 egp - Alexandria port / permission to enter
150 usd - Egypt motoring association / proof that it's a proper carnet
1000 egp - Marina / chassis mistake (should have been refunded)
1000 egp - Alexandria customs / chassis mistake
1200 egp - Alexandria port / storage and "other costs" (was told it should have been 1400)
1000 egp - Alexandria traffic / insurance, number plate and licence (was told it was going to be 2000)
800usd - CSC shipping / clearing fees (was originally told it was going to be 500)



If anyone has any other questions, message us over on Facebook on TwoEegitsTouring and we'll gladly help. I'll leave Mary to write the report on crossing the Egypt and Sudan border with no fixers!!

Thanks to everyone on OS for all the information picked up along the way!
 
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#2
As if by magic , the day after I post this I get an email from Hania to say she finally got the 1000 egp from Marina! They had stone walls her for 3 weeks! Little win for the small guy!
 

sdooks

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Jul 24, 2019
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#3
haha, such a nice story. the ending as it always happens) by the way, did you need zip codes to ship motorcycles? because I now need them and I don’t know how to find them out... now I am doing a zip code lookup. is this a reliable site https://worldpostalcode.com/? can someone tell me how to find out the zip code?? I urgently need it