Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The Leading Ladies are stuck in LA

How about this for bureaucratic nonsense!

It has been a few weeks since I delivered my bike, the “Leading Ladies” to the shipping agent in LA, so a few days ago I enquired about when the bike would be back in the UK. I was told by the shipping agent there is a problem as the US Customs people in LA wanted to see the original import paperwork before they are prepared to release the bike for shipping. However, the US Customs people in New York (where the bike was imported) don’t have any paperwork because they use a totally computer based system, so the NY Customs people cannot supply the paperwork that the LA Customs people want to see. It doesn’t exist.

After lots of going forward and backwards, the customs people in LA have refused to release the bike for export back to the UK until they have the paperwork that does not exist. The only way around this is for the bike to be re-imported into LA so a paper trail can be created and the one piece of paper that satisfies the LA customs people is available.

You would think that the US customs department used a common system across the country, or at least had different systems that respected each other, but no, it seems they just make up the rules locally. In the meantime, my bike still sits in LA until the two different customs teams and the shipper can sort this mess out.

To use a common UK phrase, what a load of bollocks!


Lady R (Di) said...

What a bunch of crap! I'd tell them (like it would matter!) they can either ship my bike, or send me the money for the purchase of it. Seesh... after a great tour of our beautiful country... it's a shame this last task has become "a load of bollocks!" Hang in there my friend, hopefully the Leading Ladies will be home for New Year's Eve! (BTW... what are bollocks?) ;D

BeemerGirl said...

I agree with Lady Ridesalot. Utter crap. You are correct that imports/exports in the same country should respect each others systems. I wish there was something I could do to help. Good luck. -Lori

Chris said...

bollocks indeed! an utter shame after such a great ride to have this as the final chapter. fingers crossed you get your bike back soon.

cpa3485 said...

Ah, that America, something to truly experience. Now you maybe really have accomplished all you set out to do. It just wouldn't be complete without some bureaucratic bull%$#t. I heard it snowed in London anyway. Maybe it'll get back just after the snow melts.
Have a merry holiday season in spite of the hassles.


biker baby said...

Sorry for our ass-backward customs. Sometimes we encounter problems with the different state laws ourselves when moving to another state, whether it is gun laws, helmet laws or new driver’s license and car registration. All of these are simple and small compared to what you are going through. On the bright side, it’s in a warm climate and if I am correct, it’s pretty cold to be riding in England right now. I know…not much consolation, but I tried. Good luck…I’m hoping for a speedy resolution for you.

mq01 said...

happy holidays to you and yours gary!

worldwide exports. im afraid it is getting more complex and challenging each day. each customs office as well as customs official operates uniquely, and its common around the world. you may need to escalate to LAX customs mngt or the BIS (bureau of intl security) for advise or assistance.

by the way, ask NY for a printout of the MAWB, SLI (shippers letter of instruction, which NY digitally signed as recvd), SED (shippers export declaration, which will have the AES clearance number and again digital signature upon import recpt). ummm, i think any/all of those should give LAX ALL that is needed. you will probably have to do all of this yourself at this point since it seems youre getting the run around...

also, ummm im thinking, hmmm, ive exported a few bikes before, can you tell ;)

are you working with a FF (freight forwarder) to get the goods shipped back? if so, what the hell have they been doing? and who is responsible for the customs storage fees? push back on them hard gary. if i think of anything further ill let you know. wish i could do something to help :(

Oz said...

Wow! So sorry that the LA Customs is being so difficult. If you would have just slipped across the Mexico border this would not be an issue :)
Seriously, sorry your bike is still here. Keep us posted.

Keith - Circle Blue said...


I can only imagine how frustrated you are.


Unknown said...

Gary: I hope this gets cleared up soon. I can't imagine your frustration.

You have contacts, can't you pull some strings somewhere ?

Wet Coast Scootin

Canajun said...

@#&^ bureaucrats. Someone gets his (or her) knickers in a knot and there's no way on this earth they'll be proven wrong (or incompetent), so they trot out rule after rule to cover their sorry asses. Is it any wonder most rational people look at government employees as being more of the problem than the solution?

At any rate, I guess the silver lining is that it happened at the end of your trip and not the beginning. Now you at least have all those great memories to get you through the frustration of dealing with these clowns.

(Can you tell I've had it up to here with civil servants?)

GF said...

I'm sorry the bike is still stuck in customs, I can't believe, bureaucracy to the nth degree.
Well, maybe I can help, I can fly to LA and ride it back to NY :-) problem solved.

B.B. said...

Well that just really sucks! :(
I hope it all gets cleared up soon!

SonjaM said...

Poor Leading Ladies stuck in customs, sitting in a dark and dusty corner, alone. Can't you provide a bill of your purchase, and some export paperwork (e.g. bill of lading and such) to prove that it must have left England and at some point entered to the US for you to be able to actually do your trip?

Many politically incorrect words coming to mind.
I hope that this B.S. gets sorted out quickly.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you and your family.

Bluekat said...

That's just crazy but oh so typical. I hope this gets resolved soon!

Axel said...

I suggest you drive the Leading Ladies back to NY! You can enjoy a new more southern route, and we can again look forward to our daily blog entry in 2011 from you, its a simple win/win :)
Merry Christmas, I am sure the Leading Ladies will find their way home in time for better weather.

Baron's Life said...

Sad episode, but imports/exports have become increasingly more complex and difficult

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
All the best for 2011

Young Dai said...

If you had ridden around Nigeria or Russia, you would expect the next call from someone in Customs to offer to help you out in return for some $'s.

Can your original freight agent help by confirming the details of the exporting C88 ex LHR, the Custom's Proceedure Codes etc.

Gary France said...

Thank you all for your comments. The latest situation is the paperwork needed has still not been approved by the customs people even though they have had it for about ten days. Apparently they were quite busy (taking any remaining annual leave) in the lead up to Christmas so I think the paperwork may now be approved and dealt with in time for the bike to be put on a boat in about mid-January. That means I will get it back at about the end of February, or about three and a half months after I delivered it to the shippers in LA. I am not too worried about this, as I wouldn’t be riding the bike anyway due to the bad weather. It would be nice to see the Leading Ladies again though.

Lady R – It is a bunch of crap, but then that is what government agencies are like all over the world. You should see what some of ours are like over here! LOL about the bollocks.

Beemer Girl / Lori – It would be helpful if the systems respected each other, especially on something as major as imports and exports. Thanks for thinking if you could help in some way.

Chris – I am not going to let this final chapter spoil what was such a great tour. In some ways I was very lucky that the only really big problem I had came right at the end when it didn’t matter too much as it didn’t actually affect the tour. Just imagine what I would have felt like though if I this 2 month delay had happened at the beginning of the tour!

Jim – The current snow is melting now, but I suspect more may fall before the bike gets back here!

Biker Baby – I can imagine the laws for different states can be odd sometimes if you live in the US, but it is something I guess you get used to. You are correct about the weather in England and I wouldn’t be riding the Leading Ladies if they were here, so I am okay about the delay. It’s just that I miss them.....

Gary France said...

mq01 – Thanks for your advice, which I was able to use. I am beginning to understand what you mean about how each customs official operates uniquely as I believe that is part of the problem. I seem to have been landed with one that thinks the world will end if he uses any common sense! Yes, I am working with a FF and in fact it is them that are trying to sort this mess out. You will be pleased to know I have pushed back hard on them and I have made it clear I am not going to pay for any additional costs. Luckily the bike is sitting in their warehouse (suitably protected and crated). The crux of the problem is, while NY can release the documents electronically, the customs official in LA will not accept them, as he has said he will ONLY deal with original documents. He has said he will not give a release for the bike to be exported until he sees the original hard copy of the 7501 form containing the official NY customs stamp. Well, that piece of paper does not exist as NY do everything electronically, so that is why the bike has to be re-imported (on paper), so this guy can see a stamp. Very frustrating, but we have no option to deal with this in the way this customs official wants. Thanks for your advice!

Oz – Going across into Mexico may have created other issues though!

Keith – Frustrated yes, but it’s okay. I have resigned myself to the fact that it will take as long as it needs, there is nothing I can do to affect it, so why worry about it? It is too cold here to ride at the moment, so I can wait.

Bob – All the strings I can think of have been cut but the customs department. I have no strings left to my bow!

Canajun – I 100% agree with everything you said, especially the bit about the silver lining, so I have given up being annoyed about this and I have simply been enjoying Christmas.

Gary France said...

George – That is a great idea about riding it back. When can you leave? ;-)

B.B. – I think it will get cleared up some time in 2011. Hopefully.

Sonja – At least the LL have each other for company. The customs people already have all of those documents and what’s more, they have the originals, even what we call in England the Vehicle Registration Document, which is the UK government document that proves I own the bike. They have the bill of lading that proves it was imported from the UK to the US. They have everything they need except their own paperwork! Calm down Gary. Take a few deep breaths.... Now I now how you must have felt while Nella was being repaired for all that time!

bluekat – Please don’t think the US has the exclusive rights to bureaucratic incompetence. We are fantastic at that here in the UK as well!

Axel – That is a great idea and one that might be quicker than the current route of waiting for US Customs to deal with it. I am sure you are right about getting here in time for the better weather.

Gary France said...

Baron – I am beginning to discover you are right about the difficulties and complexities of customs, but this really should have been a simple matter to resolve.

Dai – You are so right about Russia or Nigeria! We have tried everything possible to resolve this, but we have come up against a customs official that will only accept one way of dealing with this and he will not move from that position, whatever sensible options are laid before him.