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SNES preservation project on hold due to missing $10,000 package (byuu.org)
360 points by coldpie on Feb 14, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 143 comments

As a hopeful note of optimism: I recently sent a large, expensive package (worth around $1500) cross-country via USPS. The package was sent out mid-December. According to the tracking it made it all the way to the destination Post Office. After that...nothing. It just never progressed. I filed both a mail search requests, and an insurance claim. I received nothing but radio silence on those as well. Fast forward to about a week ago when the package just shows up on my doorstep without notice. Hopefully byuu's package eventually does show up.

I was hoping USPS had improved. Something similar happened to me but with no resolution. About 12 years ago I returned a phone I bought on eBay that arrived non-functioning. The tracking page just stopped updating after it reached the destination post office. I went to the post office I sent it from asking for help. They told me I had to go to the post office for my return address. I thought it was odd but I did that and was told they had no idea why the other post office would send me there so they referred me back. Got a different employee and they just shrugged and said they didn't know what do it. And that was the end of it.

Perhaps I could have gotten to the bottom of it if I was willing to spend a few more afternoons dealing with it but the phone really wasn't worth that much of my time. I've never sent something by USPS since then.

Occasionally I receive packages by USPS and dread it every time. Form 3849, even if you can somehow fill it out correctly (good luck!), always just results in them holding the package at the post office as I wait and wait for them to redeliver it. You never know if it's going to be at the post office that day for pickup or if today is the day they actually redeliver it so you're left wondering if you are going to spend 45 minutes in line at the post office for nothing or not.

I'll show up there, the person at the desk spends 10 minutes finding my package, apologizes, and hands it over. This last time they said, "Sorry, the carriers are kind of lazy".

I ordered a package on Ali Express and after 2 months of not seeing it, I filed a dispute, the Chinese seller was apologetic and offered to refund my money if it didn't arrive in the next 10 days. I was in no rush so I agreed to it. Ali Express's terrible interface led me to accepting the dispute as resolved and you can't reopen it so I just assumed I was out $30 or whatever the items cost. Weeks later I went with my wife to pick up a package at the post office and they brought an extra package to the counter (along with the usual "sorry"). It was my Ali Express items which USPS had never tried to deliver. If not for Ali Express' terrible interface I would have unintentionally taken advantage of some poor Chinese seller because USPS didn't do the one thing they are supposed to do, deliver the mail.

USPS is quite remarkable given their costs. Based on the volume of mail handled there are many horror stories, but their actual error rates are very good.

It does sound like you're in a particularly bad location. If you want better you'll have to pay more.

Shipping within the US is awesome. Living in any other country is very enlightening.


I would hope a "particularly bad location" wouldn't encompass the entire Salt Lake metro area (+1M pop) but my experience has been the same throughout the many places I've lived in the valley. You'd think a bad location would be isolated to a particular post office. By the stats on this page I'm in one of the better locations though (SLC).

I agree shipping in the US is awesome. I'm still amazed how well it works. USPS delivers the vast majority of packages I get through them without issue so perhaps they are a lot better than other countries in that respect. I guess my issue with them is more about their handling of exceptional situations. They mostly do their job fine but if something goes wrong it feels like it's the first time USPS has ever seen a package delivery problem. Perhaps UPS and FedEx are just as bad. I've just never had them lose a package so I haven't had to experience it.

I do, however, often feel like USPS costs me more than UPS and FedEx just because I have to spend time each day throwing 95% of what I get from them in the recycle bin (and that's after I've opted out of everything I can).

What you're throwing in the recycle bin is what's called "bulk mail" and its what helps keep postal rates low for first class parcels.

And you can help the Postal Service out in keeping prices low even further: Open that bulk mail, grab the "business reply" envelope... AND MAIL IT BACK! Costs you nothing but a few moments of your time, irritates the spammer slightly, and costs them a little money, which goes to support the Postal Service! Win, win, win.

Not if you ask USPS. They aren't supposed to cross-subsidize using services they have a monopoly on (first class and standard mail which includes bulk advertising). Awhile back UPS, FedEx, and others asked the Postal Regulatory Commission to look into whether or not they are doing that. I'm not sure if anything ever came of it.

It doesn't directly subsides it, however it keeps the overall volume up. It costs them about the same to deliver 1 letter to you as it does 5. It also costs them even if they deliver nothing to you. So in that regard, the bulk mail does help out.

I live at the north end if Utah county: zero problems. I'm not the least bit nervous about packages not making it.

However when I lived in South Jordan (southern salt lake county) they would put mail from someone a street over in our box or vise versa. Maybe once a month or more. I wonder how many things we lost or never got because of that.

> I do, however, often feel like USPS costs me more than UPS and FedEx just because I have to spend time each day throwing 95% of what I get from them in the recycle bin (and that's after I've opted out of everything I can).

I would pay to have the postal service eliminate all presorted/bulk rate messages.

I have multiple times lost important mail (or rescued it at the last moment from the trash) because it got mixed in with the floods of garbage that they deliver.

More than anything else I believe the deluge of crap makes the postal service uninteresting wherever it can be avoided, it's worse than the email spam situation because we have worse tools for dealing with it.

> I do, however, often feel like USPS costs me more than UPS and FedEx just because I have to spend time each day throwing 95% of what I get from them in the recycle bin (and that's after I've opted out of everything I can).

I've been using PaperKarma for awhile, which has significantly reduced the amount of junk mail I get. It's been pretty effective, we're down to only a couple pieces of junk mail per day (most of which is stuff for previous residents that I've never seen before)

I tried it. I didn't notice any appreciable decrease unfortunately but I loved the idea.

> Living in any other country is very enlightening.

I lived in Japan for several years and found the postal service there to be fantastic compared to what I experienced with USPS. Perhaps if I lived in yet another country this would be different?

I have lived in UK, Italy, New Zealand, USA and Mexico. USPS is the only one which i've had a problem with, and I've had multiple, including one which is slightly more significant in terms of value than the OP. I spent months trying to track the 6 large boxes down (one of which turned up - all on one shipment), and only got frustrated by some of the... interesting... people who work there.

I have two missing packages in USPS right now, both from China. One is a laptop power supply, which tracking shows as delivered, although it didn't show up. The second is some surface mount soldering practice boards, which made it to "out for delivery" near me back in early January. Then somehow the packet went to Los Angeles, where it's stuck with no delivery date.

This is all cheap stuff from eBay and Amazon, and I can get refunds. But it's annoying that each item made it all the way from China to Silicon Valley, then delivery failed in the last few miles.

Be patient - it might just arrive!

I ordered a bunch of stuff via Ali Express back in mid-December. Most of the items arrived "fairly quickly" (with 2-3 weeks). A couple of the items didn't show up until last week! Fortunately, they weren't anything expensive (I had already "written it off".

I've had a similar experience with Amazon from a Chinese supplier. One time, I was sent something, could see it tracked and supposedly went "to my mailbox" - but nothing. I ended up contacting the post office, they confirmed "yep - that's what happened" - but nothing about helping me find the package.

I also sent a note to the seller saying I hadn't received the item, but that it seemed like it shipped all the way. They ended up apologizing, and sending the item again to me!

A couple of days later, the first item was finally delivered by the post office - no explanation given. I let the seller know this, and asked about the other item. They told me not to worry about it, and to keep it!

So - two for the price of one, I guess...

I swear we need to crowdsource data about AliExpress delivery times. I'm going to make a note of my next packages, but the last few got to me via Cambodia and Tonga of all places.

I've never had an AliExpress package take less than a month to get to me in Australia, BangGood and Gearbest are slightly faster for some reason.

USPS is usually fantastic but, when they fail, they fail very bureaucratically.

Ordered a gift with rush shipping on Dec. 20th. Arrives at the local post office Dec. 22nd, marked undeliverable as addressed the next day.

I call them up and say, "Hey, I typed in 123 Sprig Street, but I meant 123 Spring Street. Can I just drive over and get the package?".


An employee told me all I could do was update my address with the shipper, wait for them to fail 2 more delivery attempts, have them return the package at their leisure, and have the shipper resend. So I checked the shipping status every day and, sure enough, they tried redelivering to the same bogus address twice. Predictable, at least. Got the package last week.

So, the USPS has a pretty strict set of rules for ensuring that mail is only delivered to the address it was mailed to, and it's all based on what's on the package.

One interesting bit: if you mail something to an address that is valid, defined overly simplistically as "zip matches city/state, street exists, street number exists within the valid numerical range for that street regardless of whether there's actually a box there", it doesn't matter what the name is on it, it will go to that address. Even if their own records show no one by that name has received mail there and that someone by that name lives across the street.

On one hand, it's frustrating from a common sense type issue like yours. On the other, it at least blocks one class of social engineering type issues and lets the shipper's intent be fully represented by the package itself (even if it's wrong).

Out of curiosity, was the actual "Sprig" street a real street name or not? I can't remember at what point the name comes into play with a bad address.

"Sprig" was not a real street name; it was a bad address.

I wonder what would have happened if you had have filled out and submitted a change of address form saying that you moved from "123 Sprig Street" to "123 Spring Street"?

They don't forward packages for change of address.

I had a similar experience: I ordered a table from Germany on December 3rd, 2016 which shipped December 14th, 2016 and didn't arrive until ... yesterday, February 13th, 2017

I too hope that byuu's package shows up eventually!

I am in this exact scenario right now. The last entry on my tracking was my package arriving at my USPS facility 14 days ago and nothing has happened since. I just don't understand how something like this happens.

I had a package 'fall off the truck' a few scans after it entered the USPS system. A month later it scanned at a Chicago sorting center, and was delivered a few days later.

Another recent package was said to have been delivered, but wasn't actually in my mailbox until the following day. Maybe my neighbor redelivered it for me.

For the longest time our local carriers would deliver to 2330 Someplace Street instead of our address at 2030 Someplace Street. Luckily the neighbor was honest though it was really hard when they delivered my 55lb office chair in a box too big to fit in my car, but that was FedEx of all people.

> I've already maxed out my 401K loans on the Japanese game set, and it will probably be 2-3 years before I finish dumping and scanning all of those games to sell them for money.

I always feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read things like this.

Is any labour of love worth your potential future? As much as I admire his dedication, it's not a choice I'd make... :(

Maybe it's just because I'm a bit of an ops guy, and it feels like leveraging a single point of failure. :P

I'm only 33, and the 401K loan automatically takes money out of each paycheck until it's repaid. I believe it was a 72 month loan? Might've been shorter. So, pretty sure it won't be a problem before I retire.

Of course, if an exigent circumstance comes up, and I can prove it (medical emergency, bankruptcy), it's possible to borrow the other half of the 401K. But if I'm short on the mortgage, it's not going to help me, so it was still somewhat irresponsible of me.

The problem is for people that take out a loan, then decrease their monthly 401k contributions to cover the loan payments. Also, while your money is out on loan, it isn't gaining value from the market (on the other hand, it is at least gaining the percent interest that you are paying back in -- so from the fund's perspective, it isn't too bad).

Ouch, that's a good point.

If you don't mind a question ... I was thinking about taking out a loan again once it was paid off in order to pay my house mortgage down to 78% so that I can knock off the $200/mo PMI. If I then contributed $200/mo toward the loan + 401K, do you think that would be better or worse than just leaving the 401K alone and paying the PMI? The PMI will probably take another 6+ years to fall off on its own, due to the criminally lopsided interest-to-principal amounts that 30-year mortgages start off at.

(I realize the absurdity of asking financial advice here, but you seem to know your stuff, so why not? ;)

I was actually thinking the same thing for myself (similar situation with PMI). But there is one additional danger with 401K loans. If you lose your job or quit, your loan is due within 60 days. Otherwise it is counted as an early withdrawal, so you owe a 10% penalty to the IRS, plus you get to pay taxes on the loan balance.

Also, check with your bank -- in my case, PMI will automatically stop at 78%, but once you get down to 80% you can initiate a request to remove PMI. Another option is if the housing market has improved, your house has more value. So if you are at least one year into your loan you can go through a refinance process where your PMI loan to value is assessed based on the current market value of your home. But again this can backfire, as the market value is based on the appraisal that the bank does. So you will have to make sure your house is in shape to sell to get a good appraisal.

My suggestion for you (which I would not give on /r/personalfinance) is that you actually try running the numbers on that - it should be fairly straightforward. Look up "amortization" if you need to.

You might want to try asking on /r/personalfinance

Try /r/personalfinance?

Ah, as a non-American I missed the distinction between 401k and 401k loan. Thanks for clearing that up, and keep fighting the good fight! <3

> Is any labour of love worth your potential future?

Kind of a funny question on a site for people doing startups.

A startup isn't a labor of love; if it was, it'd be a hobby, not a startup.

If your startup isn't a labor of love or you're not driven by a strong dislike of an alternative career path, then almost every startup would die the second the founder(s) do the math of income opportunity cost of trying vs stable employment.

Hardly. People do "risk vs reward" assessments all the time.

Balancing "use some savings to live off ramen for two years" vs "implement something people will pay for" might not be very difficult, depending on their existing rate of savings, income, state of mortgage, monthly expenses, etc.

No, it's not.

Most startups fail. Most people need retirement savings. That seems a poor investment.

Traditional full time employment is a much safer bet for savings.

> I've already maxed out my 401K loans on the Japanese game set

"After preserving this set, I sold it and used the proceeds, plus an additional $10,000 of my own money [presumably this is the 401k loan], to purchase all 1450 games sold in Japan."

$10k isn't really that much (it wont destroy his ability to retire), and once he sells the games after dumping them, presumably he can pay back the loan anyways.

This is byuu doing it, the creator of the most accurate SNES emulator ever. Given that context, it makes complete sense.

I'm very sorry to hear about this. Shipping stuff internationally can be hair raising when it goes wrong. I used to regularly ship about $500k worth of computer equipment all over the place and it one time got caught up in German customs. A colleague of mine in Germany had to drive from Munich to Frankfurt and back many times over the course of several weeks to get it sorted out. IIR the problem was some minor form had been filled out incorrectly (by me). Huge mess. Hopefully this collection will turn up soon.

One thing

>Although I can't afford to host this content (it weighs in at hundreds of gigabytes)

I really urge you to get in contact with Jason Scott about getting a copy of your archive to the Internet Archive. These scans and dumps could be priceless and it makes sense to have as many backups of it as you can.

At any rate, thank you very much for all your hard work, time and expense in doing what it is you do byuu.

Also /r/datahoarder. Plently of people there would be willing to help out. I bet there is even somebody willing to drive to your house to fill up a hard disk :)

An Atom with 1TB disk is just about 10 bucks at ovh/kimsufi. Alternatively there would be many people able and willing to mirror such collection on their own servers.

The bandwidth is the issue I'm guessing. Servers from Hetzner (in Germany) come with 10TB of traffic included


I'm a developer at USPS; if you send me the tracking number I can try to pass this along to someone.



Providing me with the email would have been more helpful. Regardless, I sent him an email. Not sure if I'll be able to do anything, but we shall see.

He obscured it, looks like, probably to avoid spam bots:

> You can message me on Twitter @byuu_san or you can contact me via e-mail at setsunakun0 at hotmail dot com. (That's a zero at the end, not an O.)

EDIT: On behalf of byuu, thanks for looking into this.

Long day. Suppose I could've been less snarky. Good on you for trying to help.

I was just checking DHL web site over here in Germany for the cost but found something that may be interesting:

Aufgrund der Streiks bei Lufthansa im Dezember 2016 wurden für Sendungen in die USA Ableitungen über alternative Transportrouten notwendig. Unter anderem über den Seeweg. Das führt aktuell noch zu stärkeren Verzögerungen bei der Zustellung von Economy Paketen in die USA.


Due to a strike at Lufthansa in december 2016 packages with destination USA need to be redirected using alternate transport routes, amongst other by ship. This results in even bigger delays delivering economy packets into USA.

Source: https://www.dhl.de/de/privatkunden/pakete-versenden/weltweit...

If you have the DHL tracking number you should try tracking.

There's also the DHL facebook page where you can start a facebook chat, with good luck your supporter will speak english. (Just try!) https://www.facebook.com/DHLPaket/app/1609168226005546/

From what it looks there's a high chance your package is on a ship somewhere. And even more importantly, the sender should create a "Nachforschungsauftrag" with DHL (ha, one of our bureaucratic german words I can't even find a translation for - it's a request for inquiry of a lost package). Even with domestic packages over here the tracking information sometimes is plain wrong, and I expect it even more so to be wrong if they don't use their usual ways of transport. (No tracking of all those packages in a shipping container on a freighter.)

Good luck. (Btw, once I have given up on a package from the US to Germany after 6 months. The day after I gave up and purchased an alternative product my packet arrived ... UGH).

DHL says the package is already in USPS' hands stateside, so it's not on a ship.

One thing these comments show is that tracking is not accurate.

Why didn't you send the dumping hardware to the PAL donor?

This makes me think of another idea to avoid shipping the cartridges themselves around: an interface that allows eventually accessing them over TCP/IP. It could be exposed as a block device or a custom protocol, it doesn't matter as long as you can essentially send an address and get some bytes back, allowing to read the entire address space.

A lot of the pain comes from cleaning every single cartridge. Many old games look like this:


And you need them to look like this:


That takes about a half hour's work. Then you get to open the cart and clean the contacts, another five minutes. Then once it's connected to an SNES and powered on, you have to wait 5-10 minutes to dump it, and then move on to the next cart.

It's a full-time job for several months to do a complete PAL set. And that's not even counting scanning the boxes, manuals, cartridges and PCBs :/

It's a lot less effort for the donor to send me his games, and I send them back, and reimburse him on his shipping charges.

I don't know why you are getting so much crap. It seems entirely reasonable to me that mailing the games to you is a suitable way to solve this problem. And entirely reasonable to expect said packages to not get lost in transit.

Yeah. Truth be told, I've had around 400 mail shipments to complete my US set, and another 900 or so to complete my Japanese set. Even the last 100 games made it just fine. Never lost a package of any importance until now.

I honestly didn't expect this package to go missing.

Hey byuu, just wanted to say that I appreciate everything you've done for preserving gaming history. higan is still the finest emulator I've ever seen, and it's an amazing feat that it can run SFC games cycle-accurately.

On a side note, has anyone gone to the Jersey City facility? Is that even possible?

Thanks for the kind words.

And afraid not. I am willing to drive there, but only if I know it's possible to get my package that way. It's a ten hour drive.

I go to a university about ten minutes away. I highly doubt you'd want some random guy off HN to go looking for an extremely valuable package, but I figured I should offer.

"I have a one-of-a-kind setup in order to analyze and dump the entire memory maps of cartridges. All other methods to back up SNES cartridges cannot do this."

Are there pictures of this setup that I can see ?

I can do much better! :)

Here's renderings, the full schematics and part numbers, gerber files, FPGA source code, and boot loader source code.


Have you ever written up or documented the technical aspects of your whole process to scan one of the cartridges you receive? That would be something that I would find interesting to read.

Not really, no. Most of what I use are FreeBSD tools I wrote. So it's mostly just connect cart, turn on SNES, run commands on the terminal, log the resulting SHA256 and cart serial#s into a database, move ROM to archive, rinse repeat.

The connecting-to-the-cartridge-and-getting-bytes part is how you dump cartridges. The donor would need that to get data off of the carts they have, and once they've got that part, they're 90% of the way to the dumping hardware anyway.

Getting the dump from the cartridge was just one part of the process though. byuu was also taking 600dpi scans/photos of the PCB, scanning in all artwork and where possible manuals as well. It wasn't just as simple as popping the cart into a reader and clicking "dump ROM". It was a real labour of love and for consistency and quality required byuu be the person who does the work.

Good luck, I appreciate your archiving efforts.

Would physically visiting the facility in Jersey City help at all? I don't know how far byuu lives from there, but perhaps he could send a surrogate in his place to try to get information face to face. That might be grasping at straws (theoretically they should have location information available over the phone), but it might be worth a thought.

Seeing as I've had a fair share of packages being "lost" by USPS I can shed some light on this matter. You typically get the round about from USPS. You can visit the post office where it's suppose to be, the workers and customers waiting in line will get annoyed at you. USPS will end up telling you that they'll take down your info and give you a call. When you receive the call, it's a courtesy call to give you a case number and tell you that they will look into it. Do they ever? Who actually knows...

The problem typically lies with the drivers and the sorting phase (getting onto a truck). Sometimes the workers will cut corners and forget to scan the package. It's faster to throw it on the truck than individually scan every box. As you can imagine some barcodes are messed up so they have to type it in manually. I've had packages show up for with an initial scan at the point of delivery location. I will say it's gotten a lot better these days, but it varies depending on facility.

So back to the problem... if they don't scan it from the sorting to the truck phase. The driver could just "lose" it on the truck or during the route. Sometimes it's accidentally and falls in a crevice somewhere. I've had a package show up a year letter. Other times it's blatant tampering.

I was shipping out an used iPhone, stupidly use the same Apple shipping box my new one came in, and it was MIA on the tracking for two days. The tracker just stated "enroute", then the package magically started moving again. A one day shipment took four days to complete. When my customer received the item, the phone was gone, but everything else was intact. I mean there was no doubt that the driver had stolen the phone. Resolution? None. USPS called me and said they would look into it. Never really learned what happened, but I'm guessing the driver is still out there somewhere plucking away at packages.

I've lost my fair share of packages with USPS. If I've learned anything, it's to ship with UPS if you really want to make sure it arrives at the destination. If you look at the shipping rates, USPS is the cheapest, followed by FedEx, then UPS.

If you are shipping to Canada, the only decent option is USPS. Everyone else charges outrageous brokerage fees for handling customs.

I love the Super Nintendo. So it's good to see someone is aiming to preserve it perfectly. I thought existing ROM dumps were good enough, but seeing as he already has this "icarus" program to read them, there's something more he needs for perfection?

Since he's handling the cartridges personally, it's a bit of a shame he has to give them all back. Wouldn't it be kinda neat to make an uber-cartridge that contains all chip configurations from every Super Nintendo cartridge in existence, so it could play any game on the hardware that game expects?

Last year, I tried to buy a very-difficult-to-find bluetooth adapter for my car stereo. I found one on eBay in the US, won the auction for slightly more than I wanted and then paid to have it shipped to the UK. After a week, the tracking information stopped being updated, right after USPS took over the package. After a month, I tried to get in contact with the couriers. This was difficult, because the package was shipped with the eBay Global Shipping Program, which does a fair job of obfuscating which carrier is actually taking it. USPS didn't want to know, the tracking number wasn't valid as far as they were concerned. Eventually I contacted eBay asking where the package was. Overnight, I was refunded, saying the package had obiviously been lost.

I did my best to contact them and ask for the package to be found, but nobody wanted to know. I eventually spoke to a woman in eBay's customer services, but nothing ever came of it. In my situation, at least I got my money back, and I know it's not quite the same as this poor guy's, but I can understand the frustration of dealing with tracked shipments. Especially for rare items that are difficult or impossible to replace - all you want is the package itself. Shipment tracking is supposed to prevent this happening - after all, if the package gets lost, it's likely in the same place as the last scan! You'd think the money the couriers have invested in the tracking system would incentivise them to use it to find lost packages.

I'm confused -- has it been verified that this package cleared customs? Because if not that could be the delay here.

Yes, after sitting for 21 days in US customs, it's now stuck in Jersey City, NJ:


Note the "in transit to destination" is a fake event automatically added 24 hours after no scans. Assuming it wasn't stolen, it's still in NJ. Sitting in a pile for 10+ days for no apparent reason despite being priority mail.

21 days seems pretty excessive to be stuck in customs. I've sent a fair bit of stuff between UK and US and I've never had it take so long to clear customs. Plus they usually explicitly say that it's cleared customs.

It seems very odd that it would take that long.

Did you pay the right duties and tax on this? It may be that it's still with customs and they have absolutely no idea what a giant box of old SNES games is worth?

> Plus they usually explicitly say that it's cleared customs.

It didn't on the last package delivery, at least.

> Did you pay the right duties and tax on this?

I don't know, sorry. I'm the recipient.

> It may be that it's still with customs and they have absolutely no idea what a giant box of old SNES games is worth?

I would truly love it if someone from USPS would tell me that, if that were the case. I'd pay their ransom to get the package.

Not sure if this could help: https://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/discussions/discuss/16095598... -- seems like there's quite a few good tips in that thread.

FTA: This person explained that the package had already left DHL's hands and was stuck with the USPS.

That would seem to imply it had cleared US Customs and was handed off for final delivery.

Sometimes. This can also happen before customs so that the company does not have to deal with it. It's amazing the abuse that other carriers do to USPS because they have a constitutional responsibility.

Had some shoes ordered that got hung up in the NJ hole for nearly a month. The company had already started a claim by the time they got here. Also DHL to USPS, which the shipper said was the only practical option from their region (poland). I can relate. Hoping his shows up late like mine, but googling the issue did not leave me with much hope. A lesson to insure your valuable shipments at the least.

DHL from the US to Germany or Eurpope is absolutely rubbish. The problem is that you most likely used DHL Global Mail, which is not the same as DHL Express. DHL Global Mail delegates the shipment to the cheapest carrier possible, which in this case is USPS. Once they do the handover, you effectively lose all tracking ability.

My story with them: http://webtrack.dhlglobalmail.com/?id=27838&trackingnumber=G...

That's more than one full month for a package that contained nothing more than a teeshirt. On top of that, the package never arrived at the final destination, and might be stuck in customs, for all i know. I never got a notification, and will actually contact DHL soon myself, because their service is absolutely laughable.

As a logistics company, they had one job. And they failed.

I haven't had notable difficulty with them, but I also only use them for shipments from overseas that require customs clearance and ID verification at pickup time - an odd set of requirements for SBCs, but there you go. Their depot in my town is at the airport, and the airport is on the light rail line, so it's no real inconvenience to just pick up packages there.

I suppose that you have now learned to not trust the United States Postal Service with your $10,000 package. FedEx or UPS do cost a little more, but in this case I think you would agree that it would have been worth it.

If you read, it was sent by DHL from Germany. Within Germany, DHL is the defacto choice for courier. The problem is where DHL hands it off to USPS for US delivery, since DHL has pretty much pulled back from trying to compete directly with Fedex and UPS in the US48 market.

I get packages from Europe via DHL every week at work. They are never handed off to USPS, they come in a DHL van. However, they certainly might use USPS for some residential deliveries.

What DHL doesnt do anymore is US->US (domestic) shipments. International delivery is still definitely handled in the US by DHL themselves.

I think this might depend on what city you're in. DHL has definitely pulled back from the US:



There is still a direct DHL presense in larger areas/markets like Seattle, San Francisco or Dallas. But not so much in other parts of the country.

Sounds like the original package was sent DHL and then dumped to USPS for delivery.

>First, because I don't speak any German, and feel very uncomfortable traveling to a foreign country on my own. I know most Germans speak English, but that doesn't ease my concerns all that much. It's scary to me to travel alone, sorry.

Found this odd. What is scary about traveling to a presumably a big city in one of the richest countries in the world?

As an extrovert who had experience travelling solo, I once found myself travelling to Germany at the last minute due to being the only person on the project with a passport (and, I'll note, German not a language I'd had any acquaintance with at the time). It provoked significant worry from me, especially given that my directions to the site involved public transit and directions of the "know it when you see it" sort.

So I can understand the concerns. Heck, I ran into issues later when I left my phrasebook behind. I couldn't remember the word "Geldautomat" and was out of cash. Fortunately I did find someone who spoke enough English to help.

That said, I found the Germans I met along my journey to be far friendlier than the typical American stereotype of them, and the trip went just fine (and many more like it, later) -- but I was already a seasoned traveler who was used to all the aspects of long-distance air travel.

Not all people are socially able to do that. Each people have their fear ... Some are heights , dogs , cats , fire , gun ...

It's not rationnal but it's how it is ....

The only way I could read this is the the author has some kind of personality quirk or anxiety issue. Strange (to us), but understandable (he/she isn't alone).

> What is scary about traveling to a presumably a big city in one of the richest countries in the world?

Not everyone enjoys, or is comfortable with, travel in its own right. It doesn't have to be about the destination, or even the journey - some folks are just homebodies, and that's okay.

In fact, I'm one of them! My trip to Manhattan last year was pretty much the first time I'd been out of Baltimore in half a decade, unless you count camping as travel, which I don't. It was rewarding but initially nervousmaking as well, especially when it took a quarter hour just to get to ground level from the deeply subterranean arrival platform. In the event, people there were uniformly lovely to me, and I had a great time. But it also helped to know that, if things went badly, I could just change my return ticket, get on another train, and be home again in a few hours. The same wouldn't be true in Germany, and I would face the prospect of a journey there with considerably more trepidation therefore.

Like so much of The Wire, that's exaggerated for dramatic effect. And I'm Mississippi born and raised, in any case. But I do dearly love this town, and I don't expect or intend ever to leave for good.

I picked up on that as well. I've been a solo traveller to Germany (from Australia) several times now, and it's probably my favorite country. The first time I knew very little German and anyone in their 20s or younger had very good English. Travelling solo tends to be scary until you do it and get some experience of it.

I'm not saying that's what byuu should have done, sending the package seems perfectly reasonable. Being nervous of solo travel is reasonable too. I just wouldn't want him to miss out on an awesome country because of it... and especially a country as passionate about electronics & technology as Germany is.

Yeah, I'm Australian and can speak a tiny bit of German but hardly needed it when I went to Berlin.

I reckon the German education system must be great because the average person over there seems to have very good English.

> I reckon the German education system must be great because the average person over there seems to have very good English.

Hahahaha … no!

I sent a laptop from IN to TN, with tracking (back in the 90's) and insurance. It never got there. After several weeks, I filed a claim with the USPS, and they weren't going to honor it. Their records showed that I turned it in to the local post office, then nothing - no further tracking whatsoever. I had to threaten to escalate things before they would pay, and then it took forever to get the money.

They said in the future, if you want to be sure of a delivery, you have to send it registered mail: with that, every time a transfer of any kind occurs, it is done with paperwork, signatures, tracking, and under lock and key. Of course it costs an arm and a leg too.

>Obviously, it should have been insured for the full value. But please understand that hindsight is 20/20. The sender chose the insurance amount, and had no reason to suspect the package would be lost, and that we would be given no help on the matter. It's not unreasonable to believe a mail carrier would try to avoid the need to pay out 1000 Euros worth of insurance by not losing said package.

That's some really high expectations there.

If you want to send something to another country and aren't willing to lose it? Buy a plane ticket.

It's essentially impossible for the carriers to prevent this from happening given their volumes.

With the estimated value of that package, cheap insurance seems less of a "hindsight 20/20" problem and more like a "extreme risk-taker" type of problem.

The package is the sender's responsibility until it's received.

If I wanted to be a monster and screw over the guy who already successfully lent me a package of 100 PAL games back in September, and was nice enough to lend me another, and say "well it's all your fault for not paying for more insurance!", I could do that.

But that is not the kind of person I am. He was doing me the favor. If not for my asking, he'd still have all his games right now. And I'll make it right if I have to.

But I'm still holding out hope that someone at USPS might notice this and lend a hand.

My dad sold an original Strat-o-matic game on Ebay last year and sent it through USPS insured at $1500+. It got stolen in transit. Why would someone steal a lightweight, unmarked box unless they had access to the insurance amount and could get away with it? I don't trust USPS. Sorry for your loss, I hope your package turns up.

Wait, so you didnt even reimburse him cost of insurance?

> that's some really high expectations there.

The USPS is easily on my top 5 list of incompetent companies.

Why is that? They deliver more mail than all the other US carriers combined, and deal with almost half of the worlds mail traffic. For the truly massive amount of traffic they deal with, they are incredibly accurate and fast. If you have lived in another country like I have, you will quickly learn to appreciate the USPS.

Exactly! It is very impressive when you think about how unusual it is for something even as small and seemingly unimportant as a postcard to fail to arrive.

I'm sure it could be worse, but out of the 3 main providers we have in the US here, they're the most unreliable. I'm not trying to just rip on them, but from my experience, they don't think much of delivering packages a day or more late as it happens fairly consistently.

> I'm sure it could be worse, but out of the 3 main providers we have in the US here, they're the most unreliable

Yeah, I don't know. Fedex Ground seems to be focusing their efforts on package delivery via t-shirt cannon or something, lately.

In my experience DHL is the absolute worst (I know others have said they're pulling back from the US, but they certainly still do a lot of deliveries here in San Francisco, especially Amazon deliveries).

One time DHL literally threw a package containing a hard drive over my gate to land on my concrete steps. Thankfully the shipper had put a ton of bubble wrap in there so the hard drive itself ended up without any damage, but I still count myself lucky. That was actually the third time they'd done that sort of thing, and after calling to complain (for the third time) they finally told me they were putting a note "don't throw packages over the gate" on my address. I'm shocked that's even something that they have to say.

The real problem is that there are very few delivery companies, so everybody has to pick one.

Just like banks. Name any random bank in the world and you'll have 50 people saying "Best. Bank Ever", 50 more people giving you horror-stories and saying "Worst. Bank. Ever", along with many more people who are entirely indifferent.

At the volume the delivery companies are operating, with millions of deliveries a day, even 0.05% of failures will affect a large number of people, and will result in "Worst. Delivery. Ever" complaints.

Sadly there's not a great solution. No matter which delivery company you choose you might get your stuff quickly, or you might not. The only practical step you can take is make sure you minimize risk (multiple smaller packages + insurance).

It varies widely based on the sorting center near you, your local post office, and your specific mail carrier. A friend of mine used to work in a sorting center and said it was the most brutal job he'd ever had because it involves a lot of physical labor. He said he never saw anyone purposefully mistreating mail, though he did see one or two people busted for stealing packages. He also saw several accidents where automated machines would mangle a package, once while he was working the station. IIRC he had to carefully pickup all the pieces he could get out of the machine and pack it in a new box.

Everywhere I've ever lived all of them were great and I've never had a lost package or any problems.

The only negative experience I've had is the substitute carriers here in SF; when my regular guy is out the sub loves to claim he tried to deliver the package without bothering. When someone is home all day it is a bit difficult to believe they attempted delivery without leaving even a note.

I have found just about everyone picks one carrier: FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc, and decides they suck. It's all anecdotal. I've had several problems with UPS and so I tend to avoid them. Yet USPS is batting 1000 for me.

Same here, been repeatedly screwed by FedEx (parcels marked as delivered, carrier shows up 2 or 3 weeks later and won't explain WFT happened), but USPS has treated my parcels pretty well. The employees at my local post office are competent and well meaning, opposite the vibe I get at other shipping places.

Ultimately, they all do work most of the time (except OnTrac, showing up at 11pm at night at my office and calling me is not acceptable).

I'm not a high volume shipper, but I do a fair amount of buying and selling online, and I have never once had an issue with USPS. I understand the last mile service quality varies widely across the country, though.

> If you want to send something to another country and aren't willing to lose it? Buy a plane ticket.

And how often do airlines lose luggage? More often than packages go missing.

I assume he's referring to carrying it on, where you can maintain physical proximity to it, rather than checking it.

I'm pretty skeptical that you can take a package containing 100 SNES games as carry-on.

There's no way that happens, especially if they're boxed. The boxes are something like 180mm * 105mm * 30mm or 567000mm^3, a carry-on is 220mm * 350mm * 560mm or 43120000mm^3, if you just tape up and wrap all the boxes into a carry-on-sized package you're barely fitting 76 boxes volume-wise, and I'm not sure you can actually lay them out such that they'd fit in the prescribed dimensions.

In photography circles in the US it is occasionally suggested put a gun (can be a flare gun) in the luggage as well -> it then has to be specially tracked and is supposedly looked after a lot better. No clue how much truth there is to that.

There certainly are additional declaration, inspection, and tracking requirements for firearms in checked luggage, so it might well be a cheap way to get extra insurance that your expensive camera gear ends up in the same place you do.

>And how often do airlines lose luggage? More often than packages go missing. 

Are you sure that's true? I think the loss rates of both are around 1%

But yeah as dtparr said, obviously don't check your luggage. If it's too big to carry on, take it to the gate instead of baggage drop to ensure that it's manually put on the plane.

For UPS anything over $1000 is considered high value and treated differently.

You can insure regular mail up to $5000.

You can insure Registered Mail up to $50,000. Registered Mail is treated differently (e.g. stored in locked cages in transit, tamper-evident packaging) and comes with delivery verification. It's also, obviously, slower and more expensive.

> It's essentially impossible for the carriers to prevent this from happening given their volumes.

On the contrary, there are probably billions of items shipped every day that does not get lost. Even if the 'lost' packages are 1%, it would still be reasonable to expect that you are in the 99%.

I have no idea, but I would expect the total amount of loss is less than 1% (?).

> It's not unreasonable to believe a mail carrier would try to avoid the need to pay out 1000 Euros worth of insurance by not losing said package.

If it costs 1000 Euros to insure a 10,000 Euro package, doesn't that sorta indicate that the chances of something happening to the package are on the order of 1 in 10?

Where did you get that figure? The package was insured for 1000 Euros. It did not cost 1000 Euros to insure the package.

I was quoting ryanlol's quote. Seemed steep, honestly.

You're misinterpreting.

The value of the insurance is 1,000 Euros. Meaning USPS needs to pay out 1,000 Euros if they lose the package (that's what ryanlol was referring to). The price of the insurance (that the shipper paid) was not 1,000 Euros. Nobody said what it was, but it's going to be some small fraction of that.

Yup, this. And given that he states twice in his spiel that he "had no reason to suspect the package would be lost" it is almost laughable. Has any single person in history sent a package and said "Well I expect this will get lost in transit!" ?

Why would it matter what he expected? It was the sender that failed to insure it properly.

I live in Jersey City and once had a $4200 apartment deposit check stuck in the USPS system for about two weeks before it finally turned up at its final destination. It was mailed from Jersey City to a Hoboken address so literally should have taken two days tops. Hopefully this is a similar situation and this package shows up soon.

Maybe it blew over to the neighbors front law, I just found my $130 package over there.

What about contacting the postal inspectors?


They maybe able to open a case for you


what in the fuck

>The package was insured for 1000 Euros.

end of story.

Why not sue DHL? (USPS has sovereign immunity.)

Sue them over what? DHL didn't lose the package.

No, but the sender had a contract with them, to deliver the package, not USPS. USPS were acting as a subcontractor in this instance. So legally DHL are liable if anyone is.

I guarantee you the contract you have with shipping companies doesn't let you (successfully) sue them simply because the package didn't get delivered. No shipping company would still exist today if that were the case, they would have been sued into the ground long ago.

But why sue? They will be happy to return full sum of the insurance.

You obviously are unaware of how much lawyers cost.

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