Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Amazon Delivers... To Argentina!

For some of you, this might be old news, but it was certainly news to me. With all the restrictions that customs have imposed over the years, buying anything internationally has been difficult for a lot of expats and even locals who are desperately trying to get things that are simply unavailable in Argentina.

For some of you, your vice might be electronics, clothes, jewelry, you name it. For me, it's books. Finding books in English is like a scavenger hunt, especially in Cordoba. You wind up asking reps at "Yenny" or "Ateneo", which are two popular bookstores here similar to Borders or Barnes & Nobles back home, if they have books in English and they often respond with a bitter "No!". But sometimes there are novels in English hidden on an unlabeled shelf, often on the very bottom where no one will even notice them. The number of titles and genres are extremely limited. So a fellow expat told me that I could order through Amazon and they would deliver the items to Argentina.

I'll admit, I was skeptical at first. I've heard a lot of horror stories about people who ordered things from abroad and the product wound up getting stuck in customs in Buenos Aires or it got lost. But on February 11th, I decided to go for it and ordered myself a novel.

Amazon requested that I add a CUIL, which is similar to a social security number back in the States. The site claimed that this would help ensure that the product ordered didn't get stuck in customs. Essentially, it's the government's way of tracking how many products an individual is bringing into the country. Now to get a CUIL, you'll need to be an Argentine resident or have citizenship. Otherwise, you can use a friend's CUIL, but the name on the delivery will have to be theirs, not yours.
I used one of Amazon's "alternative buyer options", meaning that instead of buying the book at the regular price, I got it from an authorized seller at a discounted price. But what I didn't realize was that I had purchased it from a bookstore in the U.K. so with shipping, my total was about $24 USD (370 Argentine pesos), even though the book was $3.76 USD.

The only delivery option that Amazon provided for me was regular mail, which made it iffy because that would mean that there'd be no way of tracking my purchase. The estimated arrival was somewhere between mid-March and mid-April. But I didn't think it would get here at all. To my surprise, it got to Argentina two weeks later on Feb. 24th.

So if you're a bookworm like me who can't necessarily afford a trip back home to buy more books, then Amazon is the next best alternative. I already have a huge wishlist of books, and my next purchase will probably be the Doctor Who Encyclopedia.

Now if anyone has any experience ordering anything else through Amazon like body splashes or clothes and is currently living in Argentina, please share in the comment section. I'd love to know what else I can actually order that customs won't get their greedy little hands on.

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