Saturday, February 21, 2009

Interesting Customs Story

The following is from a friend of mine, someone with an incredibly positive outlook on life and someone I am honored to know. JT gave me permission to post her e-mail update her as it relates a story that is comedic, ridiculous, and a bit frightening. Of course, her ability to make lemonade out of lemons (w/o sugar!) is the key takeaway. Also, I share her pain as I experienced a similar incongruity on one of my sales trips to Canada...I still await my duty refund!

My Italian colleague, Paola and I were planning our launch of the Fall/Winter Campagnolo Sportswear and we always meet somewhere in the USA to begin our visits. This year, we were meeting in Denver, Colorado. We had a fun and interesting trip---mostly out East, with
fashion Shows and Trunk shows. A different way of presenting the collection to not only the retailers, but also the consumers. We were excited.

I landed in Denver about 40 minutes before Paola and so I went to get the rental car and then headed back to the airport to meet her at the International customs meeting place. I saw her plane had landed (at least I thought it was her plane) and so I expected her in about 30
minutes. After an hour, I was a little worried. "Where R U?" I texted to her phone. Nothing. Europeans are as good at texting as my nephews and so when I got no reply, I was surprised.

Was I at the right airport? Did I have the right time? I had no idea. 2 hours later and nothing. I don't have a fancy cell phone that has email, weather reports and does the housecleaning and so I was just left waiting. Her plane wasn't even on the arrival screen anymore. Finally my phone rings.

"Ciao Joni, I am cutting the collection and should be out in 30 minutes". I thought perhaps there might be an Italian word "cutting" that I didn't understand and was just happy to know she was fine. When she finally arrived at the greeting place, She told me the story.

She had checked the customs form that she was bringing in samples. Honest. We've done this many times before. She had her proforma invoice and all the back-up paperwork. But the TSA rep stopped her on her way out the exit, searched her bags and told her she had 2 choices: She could leave the collection there or she could cut it. Each piece. Probably $30K retail's worth of high-end clothing. We needed the collection or it would have been a pointless trip. So now we were stuck with a ruined clothing. Long sleeves, were now 1 long/1 half sleeve. Tights were now knickers, gloves had a pinkie missing, jerseys were cut up the back. Ruined.

When she asked the TSA agent if she could call me to let me know that she was here and OK, he told her that "in this situation, only I am asking questions. You are answering them. I am checking your bags for fruit. If you have an apple in your bag it will be a $100 fine..."

Luckily we both have a sense of humor and we introduced the collection as a new Italian trend of missing pinkie's on the gloves and half knicker/half tights and half long sleeve/half 3/4 length jerseys. For the fashion shows I had pre-shipped the new spring/summer and so we were safe there. We are laughing about it now...but it was a nightmare at the time. But I wanted ya'll to know that we are safe from any high-end Italian bike wear. Rest assured!

Off to California for the next couple a weeks with Mike. I have an "un-cut" collection with me. Hope they don't stop me at the Truckee entrance into California!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

There is a huge price we pay in a society where decisions are based on a binary method of yes/no, or guilty/not-guilty, or whatever. Instead, people need to learn to discern. Looking at a spread of options and determining the action required after learning.