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Lost A Valuable Set To USPS/Cbp

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Posted 06/20/2022   8:55 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add PostmasterGS to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Over the last 10 years, I've had about a dozen shipments from Germany go missing in USPS's New York International Sorting Center and/or CBP's NY Customs Office. All were eBay or Delcampe lots, and the most valuable was worth about $300. Considering that registered mail is required for most eBay transactions, it was just a risk I had to take. I'd been lucky that I'd never lost a lot from an auctionhouse, which is where I tend to buy my rarest and most valuable items.

That luck just ran out. In April, I bought this set of Kiautschou specimens fro an auctionhouse in Germany.

As a general rule, German stamps of the period distributed by the UPU to other postal agencies around the world received standard, identical "Specimen" overprints in a sans-serif font.

As you'll note, these have a script overprint. That's because this set wasn't distributed with Specimen overprints -- they aren't even listed in Michel. The overprint on this set was applied upon receipt by the Rhodesian postal agency. There were likely only a couple of these sets ever in existence.

I asked the auctionhouse to not ship via the post in order to avoid USPS, and they said they would use DHL. Unfortunately, Deutsche Post is also DHL, and either through a miscommunication or simple negligence, it was sent as a DHL Packet through the mail system, not as a DHL Parcel, which should have stayed out of the mail system until the last leg of delivery. The package made it as far as New York, where the last update was Processed Through Facility: ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS) on 17 May. USPS says it is in Customs, and Customs is unreachable.

I'll get a full refund (approx $3,000), but I hate to see such a piece of history lost for good. Thanks again, USPS and CBP.

P.S. If anyone sees this set for sale anywhere, please let me know.
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Presenting the GermanStamps.net Collection - Germany, Colonies, & Occupied Territories, 1872-1945

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Posted 06/20/2022   9:13 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Painful to read.

Quote:
Over the last 10 years, I've had about a dozen shipments from Germany go missing


Extraordinary!
I have never lost a single jot over 20 years.
As I posted a few weeks ago, I received a lot from North America
I thought I had lost, turned up 3 months later.

Good luck in them turning up, Postmaster.
Cannot imagine how that would feel.

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Posted 06/20/2022   9:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add PostmasterGS to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
At this point, I'm not sure whether it's negligence or theft. Been a problem for years, though. I used to see weekly posts about it on the eBay forums back in the day. It's primarily a problem in the NY ISC -- never had that problem with shipments coming through the west coast or Chicago ISCs.
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Presenting the GermanStamps.net Collection - Germany, Colonies, & Occupied Territories, 1872-1945
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Posted 06/20/2022   10:41 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add danstamps54 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Postmaster,
I'm glad you are able to get a refund!
I've stopped buying from my sellers in Germany. They are reliable and trustworthy but things seem to get "lost" in New York Customs no matter what they do.
It's a sad commentary on USPS.
Dan
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Posted 06/20/2022   11:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add oldboldandbrash to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Let's spread this post so that whatever lucky postal worker at least knows the value of what they stole
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United States
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Posted 06/21/2022   09:23 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add gvol21 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Sorry to hear about this - that's a tough loss, for sure. I don't buy enough overseas to have encountered this issue yet, but from the replies here, it seems like it's a matter of when, not if.

Is the only solution to insist on something like FedEx? Not sure if European dealers and auction houses would use this method.
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Posted 06/21/2022   10:10 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add PostmasterGS to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have several auctionhouses in Germany that use FedEx, but most don't. Some use DHL's Parcel service, which keeps the package in DHL's hands until they turn it over to the USPS for the last-leg of delivery. This isn't ideal, but at least it avoids the NY black hole (unless, of course, you live in NY). A shocking number still use the mail. I've taken to asking all of them to use FedEx if at all possible.

A lot of the big eBay sellers in Germany won't ship to the US anymore.
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Presenting the GermanStamps.net Collection - Germany, Colonies, & Occupied Territories, 1872-1945
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Posted 06/21/2022   11:46 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Postmaster,
If this is of any use, feel free to use me as an intermediary, at any time
Ship to Oz, and I can use Fedex from here.

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Posted 06/21/2022   2:28 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mootermutt987 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
With the way things have been over the last couple of years, I wouldn't consider this truly lost for another few months (like, 6). Absolutely, make the claim as you have, but don't be surprised if the package materializes in the next few months. The Customs Office may have opened it and have been unable to determine exactly what they have - a scarce item, by your own admission - and so have been unwilling to release the package.

And, yes, keep your eyes peeled for this set. The chances that the thief (assuming theft) is a stamp collector is slim. They probably simply want to turn the loot into cash. One would think that such a scarce set would eventually make its way to the open market, with photos.
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Posted 06/21/2022   2:56 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Cephus to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Extraordinary!
I have never lost a single jot over 20 years.


I've had exactly one and that was a shipment of Chinese stamps, from China, that didn't arrive at all. I contacted the eBay seller and they refunded me immediately, with the understanding that if I ever got them, we'd work something out. It's been 2 years now and they're still not here.
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Posted 06/21/2022   2:59 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Given that fully 60% of inbound international mail comes through ISC-New York I think it unlikely that it was stolen. Of all the valuables in that volume of mail from jewelry/precious metals to sophisticated electronics to wines and liquors to RX medications what are the odds that a would-be thief happens to know about script vs sans-serif Kiautschou specimen stamps or thinks that they look valuable and would not stick out like a sore thumb if the thief could find the one collector that wants them enough to pay the "stolen" price? Odds are that they will show up if they have not been misdirected or damaged in processing.
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Posted 06/21/2022   7:08 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tsmatx to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Who is eating the $3,000 here? DHL or the seller? Whoever it is, I hope they are doing battle with CBP. US Customs has always seemed like a black hole to me, I am not sure why there is zero tracking of what goes on while it is in their possession. Not sure if it's because they think it might help smugglers, or just lack of competence and budget. I'd be interesting in hearing how other countries handle these issues. In my limited experience shipping to other countries, carriers like FedEx seem to be in close communication with customs and know exactly where it is and what is needed to get it through. As others noted, I think one month may be too soon to declare a loss--my record is 10 months for eBay purchase from Slovenia to US (untracked regular post). I wouldn't be surprised if it just turned up one day.
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Edited by tsmatx - 06/21/2022 7:09 pm
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Posted 06/21/2022   7:31 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
CBP does not scan and track individual pieces but rather the container.
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Posted 06/21/2022   11:05 pm  Show Profile Check eyeonwall's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add eyeonwall to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I've had a shipment to NZ go missing this year and it cost me over $100.
On the incoming side, in my entire life I have only had 2 things not arrive. One from a foreign philatelic bureau, one from Fiji. None of my internal US purchases have not arrived.
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Posted 06/22/2022   04:22 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add erilaz to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
It's primarily a problem in the NY ISC -- never had that problem with shipments coming through the west coast or Chicago ISCs.

That's been my experience, as well. The two or three times that I've had incoming international registered mail completely disappear en route, tracking ended at New York.


Quote:
A lot of the big eBay sellers in Germany won't ship to the US anymore.

Back in January, I bought something from a Delcampe seller in Germany, which arrived here without any problem, but since then that seller has stopped shipping to the U.S.
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Posted 06/22/2022   06:51 am  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It may still show up. I recently had a parcel from Germany via DHL languish in Customs for over 5 weeks before finally making its exit and finding its way to me.
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