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I recently returned from a trip to Europe. (I live in the United States.) On my way back I had a layover in Madrid and I forgot a coat in the hotel room I stayed at. I contacted the hotel and they said that they have the coat, but that they can't ship it internationally. They told me in an email:

We don't handle international shipments as we can´t full fill [sic] customs paperwork. I suggest that you contact a courier company to pick up the forgotten item and let us know the pick up date in order to have it prepared.

Two ways I can see to resolve my issue:

  1. I send a courier as they suggested. What companies offer this kind of service, and how do I find it? I looked on UPS and DHL but didn't see anything obvious.
  2. I fill out a customs form for them and they use that to ship the item. Is this possible?

Are either of those two alternatives possible? Thanks in advance.

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    DHL certainly offer a wide range of international shipping services, including handling the customs work. However, they're focussed on business, so you'd have to ask them if they will handle a single transaction for you. You'd have to ask the hotel if they'd accept a customs for prepared by you. They'd probably stiill expect you to arrange shipment. In either case there's a good chance that the cost of recovering the lost item will come close to the cost of replacing it. – Arthur's Pass Dec 18 '19 at 1:24
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    Spending $200 to ship a used coat whose replacement value is ~$200(?) Doesn't sound cost-effective to me. Are you paying for this or is your employer? Unless it's a really expensive coat... – smci Dec 18 '19 at 9:33
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    @smci: The coat might have sentimental value, e.g. a present from a relative. Or even without that, a good quality coat can easily cost over $200. – PLL Dec 18 '19 at 14:19
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    @DiegoSánchez Native English speaker here and I don’t agree. The title spells out the facts and isn’t unnecessarily aggressive or melodramatic IMO. – Darren Dec 18 '19 at 20:19
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    @DiegoSánchez well there is nothing actually stopping the hotel shipping the coat back apart from their own policy so “says” is accurate. “Can’t” or “unable” would imply a technical reason they couldn’t. – Darren Dec 19 '19 at 6:55
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UPS, DHL, and pretty much any courier company can deliver from anywhere to anywhere, they don't require that the person handing them the package is the same person as the one paying the bill. So ask the hotel to pack up the coat and tell you the box/package weight & dimensions, then go to the courier website and fill in a package pickup request with the hotel's address & contact info, your home address for delivery, and your credit card for payment. Let the hotel know when they're coming and that's it.

Source: I've done this and it worked fine.

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    I did the same thing for Australia, book it and let hotel know when they are coming to pick up easy as that – Matt Douhan Dec 18 '19 at 1:58
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    Additionally, give the hotel the tracking number, in case the UPS/DHL/courier is late or to avoid that they say that they "gave it to the guy". – Ismael Miguel Dec 18 '19 at 9:15
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    Also, this makes you the customer, i.e. you will be able to resolve problems without having to contact the hotel again. – Simon Richter Dec 18 '19 at 14:46
  • You could also prepare the customs paperwork, attach it to a pre-paid, pre-addressed box for the carrier of your choice, and ship that box along with a letter of instructions (and maybe a 20 euro note for their trouble) to the hotel management. – spuck Dec 19 '19 at 0:32
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    @OscarBravo The hotel already offered the courier pickup option. – lambshaanxy Dec 19 '19 at 11:08
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I looked on UPS and DHL but didn't see anything obvious.

For DHL, the service you need is called scheduled pickup. You essentially arrange the shipping as usual, but you pay extra for your parcel to be picked up by a courier. Once you pay for your shipment, you'll get a DHL shipping label which you'll have to send to the hotel. They will print the label, attach it to the box containing your coat and give it to the DHL courier on a given date and time.

Understand that the hotel is already doing you a favour if they are not asking you to pay for their trouble. The reason they cannot ship your coat themselves (besides shipping costs) is liability: if your coat is seized at the customs, the last thing they want is to be listed as the origin of the parcel.

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  • Those last few sentences actually explain a lot. Nice. – Mad Physicist Dec 19 '19 at 23:38
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    When staff members could be facing jail for drug trafficking (for example), that's a hell of a valid reason. – Gregory Currie Dec 20 '19 at 1:32
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    I would ask the hotel how much I owe them, to indicate that I'm not requesting them to work for free. – Tero Lahtinen Dec 20 '19 at 7:17

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