USAbox.com: handle with care
USAbox.com is one of those services which offer a way to have a physical address in the United States, an address that can be used to receive mail or other kinds of shipments and it’s particularly useful to shop on-line from e-commerce sites or sellers that don’t ship outside USA. However, according to my personal experience, USAbox.com is anything but a web site worthy of being recommended to anyone.
My personal hunt for a “mail forwarding” service is due to the most predictable of needs: a significant part of the best eBay auctions for video games - and old PC games in particular - does not include international shipping, to say nothing of when shipping goods in Italy is refused beforehand. By reading some review/ranking on-line, USAbox.com is presented as one of the most reliable mail forwarding sites, therefore some months ago I made up my mind and opened a basic (free) account to try the service.
The first test (a sealed copy of the PC version of Crime Wave sold at a bargain price) was positive: the shipping cost from USAbox.com Miami offices to my address in Italy turned out to be acceptable all things considered, the package arrived in reasonable times and the game… well, one of the 3.5″ floppy disks is unreadable and will need a replacement but that’s another story. Satisfied with my initial experience, soon after I used USAbox.com for a new purchase (the USA version of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver on Amazon.com).
This time things went in a pretty different way, starting from the fact that my scarce economic means - 2013 is an extremely difficult year for me - forced me to wait beyond the 60 holding days guaranteed by the USAbox.com basic plan. The new package cost, furthermore, turned out to be disproportionate at least compared to what I would have expected considering the variables in play (dimensions and weight of an old PC game’s box). The attempt to repackage the object - an additional service USAbox.com offers for 5 dollars per box - was completely useless.
At this point the events take an unexpected turn: while paying for the transaction with my credit card, the USAbox.com shipments service writes me saying that “the courier company that we use for your shipments is charging $26.00 over the standard rate because your location is outside their main area of coverage“. Cleary at the first shipment I had just been lucky, to not to pay such an overprice. Needless to say I answered the USAbox.com mail straightaway asking for the closing of my account: now they could throw away or keep the package.
While I was thinking about a possible explanation - maybe it was my fault because I had left the package in storage for more than 60 days, and the USA company was simply full of good intentions toward me - the next day I get another e-mail from USAbox.com where they explain me that by using a different courier (FedEx) the shipment overprice goes down to 9.36 dollars. No thanks, I write back, I’m not interested anymore, close my account and don’t bother me again. Story over? Sort of: the last e-mail from USAbox.com tells me that now they have “managed to repack the item and reduce the volume“, and if I want the shipment is $98.50 as initially stated “without additional charges“.
My final reply was a simple no, even though I would have liked to use a much more colorful and nasty language to close one of the on-line experiences closer to a fraud I have ever gone through. At least, in the end, the good fella at USAbox.com refunded me the money I had already spent (the aforementioned 98.50 dollars) for the shipment. All things considered, the moral of the story seems pretty simple to sum up: don’t trust USAbox.com, and if you need a mail forwarding service go look elsewhere.