June 26th, 2008

Unknown Shippers

For really tho, how impossible can it be to send a guitar to Botswana?

Post Office says it’s too big for them to ship; UPS wants to charge me more than the thing is worth; and my most recent attempts to send it as cargo via airline (as recommended by my fren there) have been greeted by frustrating replies such as —

Hello Wayne:

Unfortunately, we are unable to ship directly with Unknown Shippers.
After September 11th, strict guidelines were put into place and
unknown shippers, such as yourself, may only ship on aircraft’s that carry freight only.
As you know Virgin Atlantic is a passenger airline.

Cargo aircraft only operators include Federal Express, UPS and DHL.
These carriers are exempt from the “known shipper” rule and are more lenient
on the size and weight.

You can contact our Virgin reservations (1-800-862-8621) and ask for a quote on excess baggages.

If the pieces are too heavy or too large for Virgin Atlantic to carry, I’m sure one of the cargo aircraft only airlines would be helpful. The only other option is to contact with a freight forwarder. …

Please let me know if I can be of any more assistance.

Thank you so much for your inquiry

Best Regards Always,

Any recommendations? I mean, how do Botswanans living in the states send care packages back home? Surely they do.


  • 1. Boima Tucker  |  June 27th, 2008 at 3:22 am

    Ah the challenge of sending stuff to Africa! My dad tried this years ago and a lot of stuff didn’t get delivered. The best way is just to send it with someone going that way. Put an ad on craigslist, or look for Southern African community orgs or something like that, and pay them. Otherwise DHL is the way. My Australian friends ship back and forth between the states by boat in a shared container. I don’t know if that would work. Where’s the Botswana diaspora community in the U.S. centered???

  • 2. wayneandwax  |  June 27th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks for the tips, Boima. I’m afraid DHL might charge me as much as the instruments costs to ship it, but I’ll look into it. And since posting, I have an offer from someone traveling to Ghana to take it there and send from there, though I’m not sure that’s the best bet. Hrm.

    It’s really unfortunate that there aren’t better channels for sending second-hand first-world goods to places that could make great use of them. I’ve experienced similar problems simply trying to get stuff to Jamaica.

  • 3. Birdseed  |  June 28th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    When my family lived in Tanzania we always shipped stuff with someone moving who had a shipping container. You’d need to establish the right contacts though – but maybe somone at the American embassy, USAID or an NGO is willing to take something as relatively small and for a good cause? DHL is worth checking out in any case, they seem better-established in Africa than the big American firms.

    One option which might end up easier and cheaper could be (and I’m just specuating here) to send the guitar to Mafeking, just across the South African border, where the infrastructure will be better established. I think Botswanans have fairly easy access to it as I recall.

  • 4. theantisuck / Rachel  |  June 30th, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Find someone who is going there and send it with them. I used to do that for senegal, as I knew most of the schools around me that have exchange student programs going back and forth. Sometimes it took a few months to set it up but unless you wanna spend $$$$ its worth it.


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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