June 27, 2010

Just in case you thought we were joking...

Rocket Man's company has a special P.O. Box set up for all of us over here on Sakhalin. Basically, it allows everyone in the states to send us items to Houston which are then sent over here once a week. This way they don't have to pay for postage to Russia.

This is a fabulous thing. There are, of course, some rules. Rules that need to be followed. As in, if we say that you can only send us pickled fish, then you can only send us pickled fish. You cannot also send the bread or crackers on which to eat the pickled fish because those are not on the list.

The items allowed via the P.O. Box are as follows: letters, cards, books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs. Things that fall into the book/magazine category are coloring books and sticker books and so forth for Miss Thing.

Items that absolutely do not fall into any of the above categories?


A little while ago a family member sent Miss Thing some coloring books. And then mentioned that she included some crayons. At which point Rocket Man and I both went: "Uh, oh."

Just to be clear, in case you are wondering, Russia has crayons. We have crayons. It isn't like we have coloring books and nothing with which to color them, lest you think we are torturing our child by giving her coloring books and no crayons.


Rocket Man received a very official email this week. With photos attached. Very zoomed in, graphic photos of...you guessed it...crayons. We are facing a double infraction because there was a box of them in addition to a coloring book with some attached to it.

This communication came from the customs agents who discovered our infractions and they have informed Rocket Man that if he wants the items, he must fill out some paperwork.

Here's the thing. He's thought about telling them to keep the crayons and just release the books or whatnot. Um, nope. We've found out from friends here that someone else had a problem like this and asked them to keep the items that were not allowed and release those that were and nope, it is an all-or-nothing kinda thing. Those items are all in one package, so they are considered as a whole.

Oh, and the best part? The family who went through this before needed the rest of their items (this was a yearly shipment as opposed to the P.O. Box, and they needed the rest of their shipment [which yes can contain other kinds of items, but the rules were not followed, which is the real issue here]), so they started filling out the paperwork, etc.

All of which led to Customs Court.

Um, yeah.

So not only is it an infraction of sorts at work because following the rules is something taken seriously, people, rules that the company helped set up and agreed to, but then there's all of this governmental paperwork to deal with and then the actual court itself.

It took them over three months to sort it out. Not to mention the fact that they had to pay out the wazoo because of the court costs and so forth.

Basically, not something we want to do.


I imagine that Rocket Man will at least try the "keep the items that aren't within the agreement and release those that are" approach, but if they say it is an all-or-nothing sorta deal, then we'll just be letting them know that we don't want any of it.

Better that than to appear on some Russian version of Court TV.

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