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How to get a rear shock from Hamburg to Tbilisi (Tiflis) in Georgia

Day one

This story is written down from my memory, so a lot of details are getting lost already and the time table will not really precise. Please pardon my poor English! Nevertheless I hope you may enjoy reading.

This story gets started with a FB post from Orvar Eliasson at Tuesday, May 30th 2017, 4:39pm

The rear shock of Sara's bike was broken. They were looking for options to fix it. Not easy to get a fitting rear shock in Georgia! I offered my help not really thinking that they will need it. Sara & Dan have so many followers and friends, there will be someone with profound knowledge of the issue helping them, I thought.

Tuesday, May 30th 2017, 7:46pm:

Dan sends a mail to me asking for help. Did read it about 15 minutes later.

My first idea was to call DHL about the possible delivery date and the rates. I failed. DHL hotline is shut down at 8:00pm.

Couldn't do anything this day anymore.

Day two

Wednesday, May 31st 2017, 7:30am:

Already at BMW Motorcycle Center in Hamburg. Asking Ingo Kummerfeld for help. He gets the part number and accompanies to their parts department.

The guys at the parts department did some research. Delivery of the spare shock from parts warehouse would need 3 working days. No other BMW Center nearby has this part on stock. Because the same day does not count as working day, and Monday will be a holiday in Germany, so maybe the part will be in Hamburg at Tuesday 6th. Then the delivery process can start. Too late!

And in case you ask yourself this question: there's no way for the BMW to send any part directly abroad.

The parts' guys had the idea that BMW Motorcycle Center in Munich probably can get the part a bit earlier than Hamburg. After asking some good friends in Munich if they would be able to get the part from BMW and send it to Georgia, I phoned with the parts guy in Munich about this idea. He had to discuss the issue with the parts disponent guy anywhere else. 

In the meantime I phoned for the first rate from DHL. It should be more than 400 Euro and delivery should be on Monday if shipping will be on Wednesday.

After 15 minutes I got the call of the guy in Munich, telling me, that they can't promise to get it earlier than BMW Hamburg.

All the time I was in contact with Dan via FB chat/messenger. Dan suggested to search a shock of another brand. I asked Ingo about it and he told me, I may ask Thomas Harms from TWOWHEEL. "Thomas sometimes can perform magic", he said to me. I already did know TWOWHEEL and was immediately riding directly to their place. Wednesday they usually have closed for customers and don't answer phone calls. Wednesday is just a day in the garage for them.

Wednesday, May 31st 2017, 9:15am:

Thomas Harms was there and after telling him the problem, he did some research for fitting shocks from another brand. Dan had to measure out the rear shock at the motorcycle. Thomas did find a fitting shock from YSS. And he can get it to his place the same day until 2pm. We talked about how shipping the shock and he pointed out the problem of a shock (under pressure) for shipping in an airplane. He remembered his wholesaler mentioned a shock delivery to the US via airplane some time ago. He called him and out of a pistol got the answer that you only need a safety data sheet according to some standard. He promised to search the right data sheet/declaration and send it to Thomas. Thomas printed it out. So with this safety data sheet I was feeling prepared for shipping as soon as I would get shock.

Wednesday, May 31st 2017, 11:00am:

Now, only the shipping had to be organized. Thomas told me, that the UPS headquarter is just around the corner. So I was riding to their desk there. I had asked Thomas about the dimension and weight of the shock and therefore could give all the needed informations to get a rate from UPS. It was a great surprise. The rate was about 90 Euros and the delivery should also be on Monday the 6th. The woman there did tell me, that I will need to attach a "proforma invoice". Never heard of this. It's for customs duty. Now, I was quite surprised to get such a low rate compared with the one from DHL. I decided to return home to do the research for the best shipping company from there.

Wednesday, May 31st 2017, 12:00am:

I was calling DHL again and Fedex, getting rate above 400 Euro from both. They both mentioned that I have to prepare this "proforma invoice". DHL for this reason offers a example invoice form for download.

Then I was getting an online rate from UPS, just to make sure, that they are not wrong, and then double checked it with the UPS hotline. All gave me the same low rate I'd got form the desk at UPS headquarter. They also mentioned that they have a form for the proforma invoice for download.

Now, struggling with paperworks started. Filled out the form and double checked it with Daniel.

Had some spare time for a coffee and a lunch at home.

Wednesday, May 31st 2017, 2:00pm:

I just had everything prepared, Thomas was calling at 2pm. The shock was delivered to TWOWHEEL. I was going for another ride through Hamburg.

Everything seems prepared. Proforma invoice, safety data sheet, rate was double checked, delivery date (Tuesday 6th) is fine for Dan & Sara.

Wednesday, May 31st 2017, 3:00pm:

At TWOWHEEL Thomas unpacked the rear shock and next moment I got a another shock. The rear shock was quite oily. Thomas' opinion was: "It's too oily". He phone the wholesaler for another shock (the system in the morning has shown 3 of these shocks available).

In this moment Igor Epof arrived at TWOWHEEL. Igor is an adventure rider, born in Brazil, living in Australia, who's travelling with a R1200GS with a South-African license to Northcape and further on. He just arrived from Australia, where he worked during the last few months. He needed to buy a helmet and because I had to wait until Thomas personally got the new shock from the wholesaler, I accompanied Igor to the Louis store, which is located not very far from TWOWHEEL. Just as we were on our bikes, Thomas told me, one of his colleagues already brought the new shock from the wholesaler. Since there was still some time for shipping, I decided to lead Igor first to Louis.

Then I returned to TWOWHEEL, paying for the shock and then directly heading to UPS. 
The pictures show the first oily shock and then the second shock with Thomas Harms and on more with both of us.

Wednesday, May 31st 2017, 4:00pm:

Preparing the shipping was not really a problem. The young girl working there was in a really good mood. After putting in all the required data into the computer, it suddenly says, I'll have to pay about 145 Euro. Surprise, Surprise! I was checking the shipping rate three times that day and suddenly it has increased? Now, we got the reason for it very fast. The weight was 5.3 kg and not 5 kg as I had requested.

Wednesday, May 31st 2017, 4:32pm:

Pickup Scan at UPS desk!

I'd managed it! Big relief!

On my way back home, I did two stops. First at TWOWHEEL to say thanks to Thomas again and also at BMW Motorcycle to thank Ingo for his support. At TWOWHEEL I met Igor the second time this day and we had some interesting talk.

Wednesday, May 31st 2017, 8:10pm:

In the evening we had a video call with Dan & Sara and we all were very happy about the solution found. The situation for them was much more stressful because the had to think about alternatives all the time. You could see from Dan's face that he really had a hard time.

Day three

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 6:45am:

Waking up there was already a message of Dan waiting for me. The UPS tracking system says, the shipping has been stopped at 9:00pm. The comment in the tracking system: "A hazardous materials irregularity occurred with this package. We'll contact the sender with additional information."

I phoned the UPS hotline immediately. The service clerk told me, the shipping has been stopped and will not proceeded. UPS will not ship hazardous material for private people only for companies with a special UPS contract. I was able to convince her to give me the address of such a company. She was giving me the address of Mailboxes etc. which do have a store not very far from my home.

Now, obviously there was no other choice than getting the package out of UPS again. The service hotline told me, that she will leave a message to the UPS center in Hamburg, that I will personally get back the package back from them. They open at 8am, so I decided to ride to their place as fast as possible. After that I would try to ship the shock with another company.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 8:15am:

After another long ride across the heavy traffic in Hamburg I was arriving at UPS quite early. The employee there (from her I got the first UPS rate the day before) told me the same as the UPS hotline. The shipping is stopped from UPS export department. But she wasn't able to find the shock at her place. She told me, that she has to search for it in their sorting hall.

After about 30-40 minutes, which included the most part of the UPS team there, they told me, that I would have to wait until 10am. Then the sorting in the hall will be finished and the package should be left there.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 9:00am:

AI decided to go around the corner to TWOWHEEL and tell them about the new situation. Discussed the issue with them. Now, first I had to check for another shipping company. I called Mailboxes etc 2588, the company which the UPS hotline did mention to me in the morning. I talked to Michael Bothmann, who was involved from the first moment on. I explained the issue to him and very fast was convinced, that this is the right company, to solve my shipping problem.

During the day I was in continous contact via phone and mail with Michael Bothmann. He had a lot of questions about the shock. Of course he needed the safety data sheet (which Thomas wife did sent him from Thomas' computer via e-mail) and even more informations to make sure, that the shock can be shipped in an airplane or not.

Dan & Sara only were online for a short period of time during this day. The day before they were at a hotel but today they had to continue their ride.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 10:00am:

Back to UPS again. The still were not able to find the shock. Even the center manager was involved into the search.

I'm asking if the package may be on the way to my home address. They prove it and tell me that it's not possible.

There's a print out the internal tracking on their desk. Besides the annotation "GEF.GUT STOP", which means "Hazardous  material stop", is another annotation "AUSN BEHOBEN". AUSN seems an acronym for the German word "Ausnahme" which means exception, BEHOBEN means something like fixed. I was asking several times and a few different UPS people, what that might mean. For me it says, that the shipping will go forward but they all denied that again and again. Now, I have to trust the UPS people.

They assume that the shock will be in a locked compartment in the export department, because it is hazardous material, and they don't have a key to these compartments. They tell me, the export department only works in night shifts and the guys would be back on duty not before 5:30pm. They can give me no information about where the shock is now.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 10:40am:

Back to TWOWHEEL again. Time for sketching out plan B. Thomas would be able to get another shock the same day. I have to order it until 3pm most lately.

There were some more question to answer for clearifying the security issue with the shipping company.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 11:15am:

Back to UPS. Before I can order a new shock, I need the confirmation that I will get back the shock I've sent with UPS. If UPS will proceed in shipping the shock to Georgia, I would take a 600-700 Euro risk with buying and shipping another shock.

The employee at the desk can't give me anything written. She had to call her supervisor. He also stated, that I will not get any confirmation of him. They were starting another research for the package. He also calls the UPS delivery guy for the ZIP area of my home, asking him to search the package in his car. Negative.

The only explanation they can give me is their theory about the locked compartments. I desperately asking him, to try calling his colleagues from the export department, to asked them about the package. He promised to do so and I got some calls from him during the day then. Always negative.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 12:00am:

Back at TWOWHEEL again I have to solve some more questions of the guys from the shipping company.

Coincidentally I'm meeting Igor again at TWOWHEEL. Because I want to have a break too, I decide to accompany him to the Touratech shop in Hamburg. I haven't been there, since they moved already a year before. Of course Touratech is located at the opposite site of Hamburg.

Igor's getting some stuff there and we decide to have lunch together. Riding to the restaurant the guys of Touratech did suggest to us, Igor's bike turns off two times and I have to wait for him. He stops also a third time and when we standing besides each other at the next traffic light, he shows me my iPhone, which he saw falling out of my pocket. Oh boy, what a mess would that have been: loosing the phone with all the numbers I've called and have been called in the last 36 hours. Igor's awareness is a life saver!

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 1:50pm:

At lunch with Igor. I'm telling him about the situation and during lunch I have to make a decision. The shipping with the new shipping agent is more or less fixed already. They will be able to send the shock with TNT for about 200 Euro. Sara & Dan are not online. I just have to make the 700 Euro decision by my own. Not very comfortable with that, even though I know that Sara & Dan will pay the bill anyway.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 2:30pm:

I make up my mind. I will order another shock. Have to leave the restaurant quite fast now. Calling the UPS supervisor again (accidently pushing the wrong phone number) and asking him about news. Negative. Calling Thomas, that I will come to get another shock. I'm really sorry, to leave Igor so fast again, but hoping, he will be our guest here next time he's visiting Hamburg.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 3:20pm:

At TWOWHEEL again. Did I mention that this place is full of other customers the whole day already? A lot of people want Thomas's attention and of course I'm getting Thomas's nerves. He has to send one of his employees to the wholesaler to get the new shock.

I'm calling the shipping agent again. He tells me, the TNT car will at their place about 5:30pm.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 4:00pm:

The employee comes back from the wholesaler with the third shock, the last one they had on stock. Remember, one was oily, one was sent. This one is the last one available. The employee unpacks it. It's oily. The other oily one is still at TWOWHEEL. Holy sh..! Thomas looks at it and tells his employee to unmount the shock for proofing if it's ok or not.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 4:30pm:

The shock is unmounted. Thomas is proofing it and gives his ok. Shock has to be mounted again. I pay the bill. I'm so confused and stressed that I get on my bike and get out of the yard without the shock, which is at remounting state. Holy sh..! After a few hundred meters I'm getting my fault.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 5am:

The shock is mounted again. I immediately starting to the shipping company. Of course at the other end of Hamburg again. On the way I'm regretting that I didn't ordered the shock earlier. Most probably I will miss the TNT shipping.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 5:40am:

I'm arriving at the shipping company. I'm parking in front of their window and 3 guys were looking at me obviously recognizing me without ever having meet me. I'm too late for the TNT shipping. But Michael Bothmann immediately calms me down, telling me, that they will work out another way. I can't do anything else as to trust him.

He doesn't hesitate and starts calling for other options. Sometimes he parallel working with two phones. Between the outgoing and incoming calls about my issue discussing new ideas and options. Whooow! That's a real service!

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 6:10am:

Michael Bothmann is just in a call for another option, when I was getting an incoming call. A unknown service number (0180...) is shown in the display.

I take that call. UPS is calling. Some guy from the export department. And he's telling me, that the shipping has been stopped but will be proceeded now. He has cleared all the problems with shipping for the shock. The shipping stop is repealed.

Some moment long I think he joking me. Then I let him swear that the shipping of the shock with UPS will not be stopped again. He doesn't know about all the hassle during the day. Now, he's a export guy from UPS, he just started working and perhaps had a notice at his door, that he should call me right away.

He promised me, that he has clearified the shipping in a way, that it will definitely not stopped again. He asked me, how long he can call me this day. I told him, he can call me the whole night and he promised to call me again 10pm most lately.

Now, I have to say a big Thank you to Michael Bothmann and his team. I not leaving their place without promising, I will tell them how the story will end. And of course I leave a tip for their coffee fund.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 6:40am:

Returning home again with a rear shock loaded on my bike. Very tough day. Need some wine to calm down again.

Thursday, June 1st 2017, 9:50am:

The export guy from UPS is calling again. I'm telling him the whole story of my day and ask them to better communicate within UPS. He feels very sorry and is telling me, that the shipping will be fine and nobody will stop it again.

Next step of the shipping will be Cologne, he still tells me and I can verify the departure scan from Hamburg in the tracking.

Day four and five

Friday, June 2st and June 3rd 2017:

Shipping is proceeding to Cologne.

Day six

Sunday, June 4th 2017:

Today UPS tracking has some issues and is falling back on the state of May 31st. Now, we are already used to UPS caused hassle. We all stay calm.

Day seven

Monday, June 5th 2017:

UPS tracking works again. Great step forward. Arriving in Moscow.

Day eight

Tuesday, June 6th 2017, 8:15am:

Happy to see the shock has arrived at UPS in Tbilisi. Fingers crossed it will be delivered today.

Tuesday, June 6th 2017, 9:21am:

Getting a UPS message that package is at the clearing.

Tuesday, June 6th 2017, 9:57 am:

Package is delivered. Dan & Sara got it from UPS station there. Big relief!

Tuesday, June 6th 2017, 11:35am:

Getting a message from Sara. New shock will fit. Old one is destroyed.


Tuesday, June 6th 2017, 11:55am:

This is the end of the story.
Look at the relief in Dan's smile!
This is worth the whole effort!