Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ducks, ducks! Kwak-kwak, Kwak-kwak!

Having checked with Classic Motorcycles that I had every piece of paper in order, I dropped off the bike and all the paperwork on Saturday 3rd September. I was promised that a carpenter would come the following day and build a crate for the bike, and it would be shipped on Monday to arrive in Doha the following Thursday, 8th September.

So much for the theory.

The first thing to go wrong was that the usual courier had ‘temporarily’ ceased to do overland shipping, and Classic Motorcycles was soliciting alternative quotes. Mr P. Staker’s Dh4500 (plus packing materials, insurance and service charge) was rejected before I even heard about it, so full marks to Nelson there. Mr Staker’s friend, Allied Pickfords, wanted over Dh6500. The next problem was that the carpenter desired over Dh600 to build a crate. Nelson acquired a metal pallet from Harley-Davidson down the road for a fraction of that, and as it’s designed for a Hog, it’s surely strong enough for a Kwak. More brownie points for Nelson. And DHL eventually came up with a much less unacceptable quote for overland transport that was merely twice the original estimate.

A further obstacle then appeared. It came in the form of a Certificate of Origin, an esoteric document that is only obtainable from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and then will only be delivered to a bona fide member. DHL told me that shipping to Qatar overland without a COO would incur a fine starting at QAR1000. Apparently, the COO is only required for overland transport but travel by sea would take several weeks and cost a fortune, so said Pickfords.

When Nelson returned from his travels in India on Saturday 17th September, he obtained the COO and the bike was picked up by DHL on Sunday. I was promised delivery by Wednesday 21st September, presumably 2011. According to the on-line tracking, the bike got to Abu Dhabi on Sunday night, and by Monday lunchtime was in a state of ‘Clearance delay’. Conferring with DHL in Doha, I learned that they needed a copy of my Qatar ID card, my passport and Qatar residence permit. These are documents that DHL in Abu Dhabi already has (and were required before they’d pick up the bike from Dubai), but it appears beyond the wit of Man for Abu Dhabi to email copies to Doha. Neither is it possible to pick up the phone and ask me; Muggins chased it up by telephone after noticing the delay reported by on-line tracking, and emailed further copies.

DHL was supposed to present the paperwork to someone down at the Ministry of Rubber Stamps for pre-approval, prior to schlepping the bike across the UAE/KSA and KSA/Qatar borders. This happened the day after I emailed my papers to DHL Doha. I was told that from clearance of this latest layer of bureaucracy to delivery would take four days, but when I rang on Tuesday I was advised that the bike would be on its way later that day.

On Wednesday, the bike was still in Abu Dhabi. This was because there was yet another problem: it didn’t have an export plate. Not that DHL contacted me about it. So much more appropriate that they allow my machine to gather dust in Abu Dhabi until I shout.

The Ministry of Rubber Stamps, the Directorate of Paperclips, and DHL all seem blissfully unaware that motorbikes can’t get export plates; at least, not from the UAE authorities. The official line of non-joined-up thinking: “You can’t transport the bike to Qatar unless you provide something that is impossible to obtain.”

The promised four days would be working days, of course, so the estimate of Wednesday 21st would become Sunday 25th September. As the bike was actually delivered on Saturday, I feels as though I should be grateful. But I’m not. Relieved, yes, but not grateful.

Fundamentally, what I object to is paying people considerable sums for the privilege of running around and doing their jobs for them. Every time there’s another flaming hoop, an additional misaligned duck, or some unsolvable problem, it is incumbent upon Muggins to notice the delay, ask what the problem is, and then to provide a solution. Whatever is so wrong with the principle of handing over my cargo, my written requirements, and my money to a professional firm, and simply instructing, “Make it so.”?

Perhaps what I should have done is obtained a Saudi transit visa, then got the bike inspected for export. Then ridden it to Qatar “for a vacation”, removed the number plate and flown back with the plate in my luggage. After that, I’d have got the export certificate from Tasjeel Sharjah and returned by air to Qatar with all the paperwork. Presenting the bike for registration, I would only then have learned why this procedure was impossible, for it must surely be impossible.

The struggle still isn’t over. I arranged insurance today, so the bike could be registered. When I checked through the paperwork, I discovered that Classic Motorcycles has typed up an official invoice in the sum of the bike’s value when it was new. This is despite my providing a priced inventory at current estimated values, as Nelson instructed. I’m told that Classic Motorcycles had to create an invoice to the same value as Liberty Automobiles’ original invoice otherwise Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry wouldn’t issue the vital Certificate of Origin, and export would become impossible. How very exasperating.

At the border, the machine was imported with paperwork that may require 5% duty to be paid. I object, to paying import duty when it was previously paid by me when I originally bought the bike. I object to paying again after providing all the required paperwork that proves I already paid it.

But most of all, I object to paying 5% of the new value when the machine’s now worth half that. It remains to be seen if Officialdom will see reason and fairness, or if I have to pay import duty at effectively 10% in addition to what I paid two years ago when I bought the bike.

Edited on 30th September to add a footnote...

My bike was finally road legal the morning of Wednesday 28th September, after I'd been to the Traffic Police, shown my ID card, signed here and paid this bill. Perhaps it had all been a massive wind-up, or maybe I got lucky, but I didn’t have to pay any import duty. This was no small relief.

Took the bike to work on Thursday, and out for a bimble on Friday morning. Huzzah!



Keefieboy said...


Seabee said...

Exactly the same sort of problems that I've had with shippers, one from the UK the other from Dubai. The paperwork/admin has been consistently sloppy or non-existent. Seems to be the industry standard.

Carl said...

DHL sucks....they misplaced my Easter goodies which i had sent overseas a forthnight before the festival but despite the time factor they only deliver the items well after the Easter hols and yet charge me a fortune for express deliver when i was initially promised a four day delivery date...

Martín said...

having read half of your post, I was already considering eating up the bike, taking a flight from one place to another and... errr... getting it out again.


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