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Airbox Express - 'Oh my!'

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Based on a recommendation from a friend we decided to try Airbox Express for shipping some larger packages from the US. We were initially impressed by a nice, older lady who went over all the the charging structure with us, emphasizing there are no hidden fees. We have now received and paid for two packages and have decided to go elsewhere. This is our experience.

  • First box was over $80 at 5 pounds. Asked about additional fees. Was told there is a fee to get it to PC and then a separate fee to get it to Boquete. This was not presented initially to us. 
  • Second box, many delays. We were told that the box was being held up in customs because we didn't have an invoice on the outside of the box. This has never been an issue with other mail providers in town. In talking with the young girl at the shop she told us not to worry about it, the box was on its way. Three days later we get another email telling us that we needed to produce the invoice or the box would be returned. We went back in and was now told by the same girl that yes, we needed to produce an invoice, and now we were being charged custom fees for holding the box awaiting the invoice. I gave her a copy of the invoice and she said she would handle it.
  • We finally got the box after a two week delay with this issue and was charged $108. This included a $30 customs fee.
  • In attempting to get more information from our young clerk I get 'smart ass' one line comments that are not helpful in answering my question. She seemed more interested in watching the TV on the wall than helping me.

We consider ourselves very tolerant people that have adapted to the Panama culture, but our experience at Airbox express goes way beyond, "It's just Panama". We are back to our previous provider where the service is much better and, after this experience, the prices are not that bad.

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I too had an issue with Airbox and ended up going to E Shop.  Not cheaper by any means but a much more pleasant environment.  They are always polite and not at all like the Airbox girl who tried to make their mistake into my mistake.  While customer service is not a strong point in the Panamanian culture, rudeness is not acceptable.

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Airbox is good for shipping very heavy things (100 lb or more) because you can use maritime shipping instead of air, which is about half the cost.  I have not found the maritime option with any other shipper here.  I have used Airbox for that with no problem.  They have a calculator on their website that will estimate the shipping charges including customs charges.  My items actually came in at less than the calculated amount.

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6 hours ago, Life Coach said:

Based on a recommendation from a friend we decided to try Airbox Express for shipping some larger packages from the US. We were initially impressed by a nice, older lady who went over all the the charging structure with us, emphasizing there are no hidden fees. We have now received and paid for two packages and have decided to go elsewhere. This is our experience.

  • First box was over $80 at 5 pounds. Asked about additional fees. Was told there is a fee to get it to PC and then a separate fee to get it to Boquete. This was not presented initially to us. 
  • Second box, many delays. We were told that the box was being held up in customs because we didn't have an invoice on the outside of the box. This has never been an issue with other mail providers in town. In talking with the young girl at the shop she told us not to worry about it, the box was on its way. Three days later we get another email telling us that we needed to produce the invoice or the box would be returned. We went back in and was now told by the same girl that yes, we needed to produce an invoice, and now we were being charged custom fees for holding the box awaiting the invoice. I gave her a copy of the invoice and she said she would handle it.
  • We finally got the box after a two week delay with this issue and was charged $108. This included a $30 customs fee.
  • In attempting to get more information from our young clerk I get 'smart ass' one line comments that are not helpful in answering my question. She seemed more interested in watching the TV on the wall than helping me.

We consider ourselves very tolerant people that have adapted to the Panama culture, but our experience at Airbox express goes way beyond, "It's just Panama". We are back to our previous provider where the service is much better and, after this experience, the prices are not that bad.

I had a very similar experience, albeit about seven years ago. We ordered fire place logs for our gas fireplace. We were quoted for what I felt was a reasonable fee for so heavy a package, but the final charge was astronomical. When the logs finally reached Panama, I was faced with weeks of emails and phone calls explaining what they were. Finally, the logs arrived in two boxes, with only one of the boxes containing the invoice. After another interminable series of fruitless emails and phone calls, I was taxed twice: once for each box. The shipping turned out to be more than the logs, which weren't cheap. Never again.

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