Does UPS delivery right to your house/apartment or does it have to go to your PO Box? I plan on making many online purchases and having it shipped via UPS.
UPS does not deliver to PO Boxes. UPS treats the VI as an international destination so their shipping costs are extremely high. The USPS is the only real reasonably priced shipping alternative. It is difficult to find merchants willing to ship purchases to the VI using the USPS because they usually have exclusive shipping contracts with UPS or FedEx Ground.
Just for giggles I did a test shipping comparison using a 2 lb package and used each company's online calculators to figure out the cost. I used Boston, zip 02110 as a starting point, destination was STT.
Fedex (overnight): $86.30 (Ground not available)
DHL Express: $73.92
UPS Worldwide (4 days): $68.34
USPS Express Mail (overnight): $17.50
USPS Priority mail (2-3 days): $5.40
USPS Parcel Post: $4.49
The choice is pretty clear, aye? I think the difference is that everyone but USPS considers USVI an "international" destination.
Except for the USPS, I got all these rates using the company's online calculators. I had to call 1-800-ASK-USPS for rates, since the calculator on their website seems to be malfunctioning.
Unless there's really no way to talk to a human, I can't imagine any company or business not willing to ship USPS if requested. I've sold a ton of stuff on eBay and it's just as easy to ship USPS as it is UPS. In fact, it's easier because post offices are more plentiful.
As another test, I made up a USVI address when buying a book on Amazon.com and took the transaction nearly all the way through to calculate shipping. It costs the same to ship to USVI as it does to Boston ($3.99). Not that Amazon.com is the end-all, be-all of retailers, but it's a logical benchmark.
FWIW, I also tried to buy a new laptop and have it sent to USVI but it would not allow me to do this, presumably because a laptop is a dutiable item and a book is not?
I hope this helps.
I bought a new hard drive online today and have to have it shipped to someone on the mainland and have them send it Priority Mail to me on island. I scoured dozens of online retailers and only two were willing to send the hard drive directly to the VI, for $50 UPS ground (boat) with a 6-8 week delivery date! Most retailers I checked with indicated a willingness to send via Priority Mail to APO/FPO addresses but only APO/FPO address, no exceptions. It is much more cost effective and speedy to spend $5 to have it shipped to a mainland address and another $5 to have it sent Priority Mail to the island.
When someone sends us a package via UPS, UPS calls us when it arrives on island and we have to go to UPS to pick it up.
Last time I checked my chromosomes there was still a "Y" in there... lol
No problem. You're welcome. I'm curious so it's good to know.
A deeper look into Amazon's help pages shows that they only ship certain products to USVI (and other US territories):
* baby items
* VHS videos
* video games
They cited "manufacturer's warranty restrictions" as the reason. According to a customer service rep I spoke to at Dell, they only ship computers within the 50 US states. To get a computer from them, you'd have to go through their Latin American division, a route I didn't explore because I don't speak spanish. Same goes for Apple - they didn't recognize a VI address in their website. Presumably you would have to buy one down there. K-mart sells computers! 🙂
Like Alexandra said, if you want something specific, you could have a mainland relative/friend buy something for you and mail it USPS. I've already talked to a friend about picking up my medication in the US and mailing it to me down there. I'm expecting I'll receive regular care packages from my mother...
You could also shop eBay stores where you can request USPS shipping from the seller. I have purchased two computers and two printers from eBay merchants and had no trouble communicating with the sellers or with the shipping. I even had one that arrived damaged and the seller replaced it immediately.
Hope this helps.
Getting a private box in the US and having packages forwarded via USPS is a great strategy, especially considering the myriad of retailer offers for free shipping within the US. For islanders it would never be free, but if you do this you'd probably never pay more than $10 for shipping on anything. A UPS store box is cheap and in my experience the people who own/run the suburban ones are extremely friendly and helpful. It's also a good way to maintain a US address if it's needed, for whatever reason.
Excellent tip swhitey! Consider the favor returned 🙂
Good research, smartbomb.
Speaking from my own experience, Amazon will ship books and CDs and DVDs here, but won't ship certain games (PC) and usually won't ship something that's through a third-party merchant. But you have to try and find out on a case-by-case basis, because they will sometimes ship something you think they might not. For example, I ordered some kitchen shears (wouldn't ship, wouldn't let me complete the order) a PC video game (same). But the next day, I received an item off my Amazon gift registry- a set of knives! So you can never tell until you get to the end of the checkout.
USPS is the best way I've found as well, but we've also used DHL, UPS and FedEx. Best thing to do is use your physical address (if you have one) and be sure to put your phone number on the package!
Also, I do adore my local postal workers (no, really!), but sometimes packages will take an insanely long time to get here- even via Priority. So ALWAYS get tracking on USPS packages! Much easier to find your packages that way. It's really unpredictable- I've had priority from Florida take 3 months (really) and priority from Texas take 2 days.
If you're going to be buying a lot of stuff online, it helps to get a USPS Express Mail account. That way, when you do talk to a real live person, you can have them use your acct # (charged to you), and you can go to USPS.com and schedule a pickup. This has saved me more times than I can count.
I had a brand new computer and monitor shipped by Dell. Trick here was that to purchase US produced machine as opposed to a South American one (USVI is in the SA marketing area as defined by Dell) which would have been more expenisve too, I had it shipped to a friend in the states, who then had it shipped to me via Priority Mail Insured - to get the IMPORTANT TRACKING numbers. It arrived within a week of shipment!!!!! US Post office - Priority Mail.
Since I was using the Red Hook Mail Service - expert at telling you the best way to ship or have goods shipped - it arrived in great shape!
As a PS - I would add that when I returned to the US, several months after getting it, I took it with me on the plane, as two of my allowed checked bags, and it made all the connections I did and arrived 3 planes later, at my destination WITH ME!!!!
We shipped everything here by USPS. Some crates came in 2 weeks some in 8 weeks BUT it all made it. Cheapest way possible. We started shipping it out 2 weeks before we moved here (we had a physical address). It worked great.
Now for the flip side....My friend just had a box sent to her with all sorts of small stateside gifts to give to her friends on the island. She received the box in a timely manner HOWEVER, when she opened it there was a letter inside fromthe USPS saying the box had 'been damamged' in shipping and they regret any problem but weren't responsible, blah blah blah...' The box didn't appear damaged at all; but NONE of her things were inside - instead it was filled with someone's used cookbooks, and assorted junk -including ONE used child's athletic shoe !! How strabge is that?! We had a good laugh, but all her stuff is lost.
This was the second time I've heard of something like that happening here. Those crazy postmen - they'll do anything for a laugh 😉
We insured everything when we moved. Unfortunately, we needed to use it and did not prepare adequately to do so. We didn't pack as carefully as needed and many things arrived broken. When I attempted to file the claim, I was told to bring in the original receipts, or appraisals for the damaged items. Given that I had just put things in boxes, finding the original receipts was way out of the question based on my preparation.
Good luck! Hopefully you won't need the insurance. Most of our items arrived with no problem, including our computer.