It's been five days since it happened but the experience kept haunting me.
Here's the story.
When the advertiser emailed me about the sunglasses, I didn't expect that it will be sent via post. I was excited. Finally I can have sunglasses for free.
I received a notice to pick up a parcel. I called the office to check the office hour. The staff answered me that they accept only until 4pm.
It was Baclaran Day, a heavy traffic day so I headed the office earlier. I went to Post Office with prayers and thick patience as my companion. I already had a feeling that something wrong's going to happen that day. The night before I went there, I checked the internet on "how to claim the parcel." Guess what? The first page of Google were all about anomalies. I wasn't surprised. I've heard a lot of stories of nightmare at customs already. You try. Search for yourself and don't be surprised. Customs = anomalies. Anyways, I still think some positive thoughts and hoped that maybe they already changed the system with the new government.
Upon entering the post office, I was relieved reading a post like this, "No fixers! Please report to Ombudsman for any anomalies" I don't know the exact words posted as I had no camera with me. But it is something like that, "no fixers allowed"!
I asked the guard where to give the notice. He arrogantly replied, "di ako ang hahanap niyan, papa locate pa yan." Okey, I keep myself cool. This is the start. I knew it.
I saw a lady at the desk. A man with a notice gave his too so I proceeded to the place. I was next to the man wearing green. So I was next to him pag tinawag, I thought.
The inspector called the claimants one at a time to inspect their parcels
My name wasn't called yet. I was already trying to cool down again. I have enough patience that day. I kept reminding myself to chill.
This time, I was already getting irritated. It was hot! The office has no aircon and looks like a bodega but it's not the big deal for me. I want my parcel!
I started to get mad but I still keep my cool outside. Chill. Makukuha ko din parcel ko. The customs staff took a break for more than half an hour.
I went inside to check if my box was already there. Unfortunately, mine wasn't there yet. Chill again.
I want to freak out this time. The man with a cart from the warehouse asked my name and said, "Ano nga name niyo Ma'am, Nawawala ang parcel niyo, pero wag kayo magalala, basta kayo na bahala sa kin." Can you smell the under the table fee words here?
Maam, punta po kayo don sa EMS, pa hanap niyo sa locator. Nawawala po ang parcel nyo.
Almost everyone already claimed their parcel while others whom I talked, left the parcel because they cannot pay the customs charges.
This time I was already at EMS warehouse. The EMS staff said, "ako lang po magisa, umalis na po yung talagang locator na naka assign dito." Then he checked my Parcel Notice. My parcel was just sitting there and took him only a minute to locate. Tsk. "Paki sabi na lang po sa mga tao don sa Custom na nakita na package niyo. Di po pwedeng kayo ang magdala sa custom"
The inspector already left the office but there were 5 more staff inside. They opened my parcel and saw five pieces of sunglasses.
Custom: Ano eto Rayban? Branded?
Me: Hindi po, wala po brand yan?
Custom: Magkano value nito?
Me: Wala po value and these products are for review.
Custom: Pwede bang walang value eh sunglasses eto.
Me: Yes, Mam. Pinadala lang po for review.
Custom: (getting the invoice inside the parcel) Me value eh $50 nakalagay.
The custom then took the invoice and headed inside the airconditioned room. After a few minutes the custom came back with a computation written by hand in 1/4 sheet of paper.
I was a shock for a total bill of P1,300 plus plus. There's tariff, customs tax, etc.. etc..
The man with a cart headed towards me trying to act as a negotiator. He asked me, "magkano ba budget mo." I said directly, P300. He replied, "naku, hindi kaya... and left. I was thinking he's trying to haggle the prize to a bigger amount.
I proceeded straight to the air conditioned room. I was the only one left claiming for a parcel.
Me: Maam, bakit po ang laki. I was expecting P40 pesos lang kasi my friend already claimed her parcel with the same item and paid only P40.
Custom: Buti nga maliit pa yan. I computed it based don sa value.
Me: Wala po ako ganong pera Maam.
Custom: Magasasara na computer namin. (trying to pressure me) Ike-claim mo na ba or bukas na lang?
Me: Wala po bang discount yan?
Me: Pwede po?
Custom: Yes, basta walang magiging problema ha.
Me: How much po. (I had 1,000 peso bill. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready for that evil transaction.)
Custom: Me pera ka naman pala..
Me. Di po sa akin to.
Custom. Ok, sige, papalitan mo don sa Cashier. (pointing out to the cashier)
The cashier gave me 10 pieces of 100 bill. There were only 5 staff left. The custom took my 500 but issued no receipt. I went out of the room. I took my parcel and signed in the logbook that I already received my box. I was almost crying in anger. I went home already past 7pm.
This is a no receipt, no issues, no problem transaction and I was trapped inside the devils den.
The man wearing green when I handed my notice was still there at EMS warehouse when I left. His parcel notice was lost. His parcel couldn't be located too.
I went out yesterday wearing my chic sunglasses. I felt good wearing it as it protects my eyes from direct harm but the stories behind the shades are real nightmares. I wish I was wearing them too that day so I wouldn't have seen clearly the anomalies and conspiracy inside the customs office. If I had a camera with me or I carried a hidden device, I would have took photos of them and those who claim their parcels dealing under the table fees transaction. If I post their faces clearly here, the next thing to possibly happen is an interrogation inside the court. I have nothing to present here but the story of my nightmare inside the office.
I truly understand that a parcel should be inspected in the presence of customs and that's why it is not delivered directly to our house. But what I don't understand is the process and the anomalies that seem to be a cancer now in the customs office.
To the Customs:
How do you compute the custom taxes? The same item that a friend received cost only 40 pesos while mine is an anomalous P1,300++?