Days 5 - 7
You’re getting money out, staying in town, trying to see the local sights that you haven’t already seen inside this one square mile village, trying to enjoy yourself because didn't you say this was going to be a vacation? Finally on the third day you have enough money to get your Torpedo and you get ready to head back to Hans’ place. You figured you would just ditch the rental and drive the Torpedo away, wheeler dealer style, right? So you drop the rental car off in town and get hit with a €350 fee for dropping your rental off in a different location than where you picked it up, and then pay another €22 to take a bus to Hans' place. Only realize you got off at the wrong bus stop because you can't read German and are still 5 kms away so you begrudgingly take a taxi, you're so exited you can't wait any longer, and he gives you the American special, so that's another €20. But finally you're there, cash trades hands, and Hans hands you the keys.
You sign a bill of sale and ask his niece/translator for the title and he hands you a piece of paper that is either the title or a parking ticket from 2006, you can't tell which but whatever it's probably fine. You were smart, you googled ahead of time the procedure for buying a car in Austria specifically for export, so you ask Hans if you should head to the local tax office to de-register the car from the system so that you can get an export plate and take off. The niece explains that nein actually, the car isn't in the system because it's been in the winter position obviously and he hasn't been driving obviously it so it's not registered obviously, which means you can't get an export plate and can't drive it away to the port. Hans asks you where you are taking it, and you tell him the name of the port city in Italy because that's the closest port, so that makes sense right? Hans starts laughing ominously and suddenly he speaks enough English to say You chose Italians to do your logistics? But oh well it's too late now, as luck would have it, Hans has a friend who is a truck driver and he would be more than happy to take it to the port for the special friend of Hans price of €1000. Nice that worked out, isn't it? You know that's too much but you really don't have a choice at this point, you're running out of time before your flight back.
So Hans' friend takes your Torpedo and you book a last minute train to Rome. You have 10 hours before the driver gets to the port and will need to know where to drop the car off, so you spend the train ride frantically googling and using data and making phone calls. Which shipper do you use? What's the difference between a freight forwarder and a broker? Should you use RoRo shipping or container? Are you the only one that laughs when they say RoRo? Should the shipping company you use be based in the country of import or export? How can they always be on a coffee break every single time you call? And then you remember the title and wonder if it's even a real title and will be able to be shipped and get a giant headache.
You have no idea where your Torpedo went. You picked the first shipper you spoke with that vaguely sounded like they knew what they were doing and gave them the driver's phone number so they could arrange drop off. You hope the car made to the port but you don’t know and your flight is in a couple hours so it doesn’t matter anyway. So much for that vacation you wanted.
Day 9 - 87
So you get home and the 1-3 month break starts where all you do is dream about driving around your Torpedo on American streets, looking down and laughing at all the puny Jeep wranglers and F150s. But you’re not even half done. Lol.
The shipping company in Baltimore finally calls and tell you your car has hit the port, and that your bill will be $3873 unless Customs decides to do an inspection, which of course, they do. Turns out the 40ft container you booked half of was shared with someone who decided they needed to pack 6 kilos of climbing chalk in the trunk of their Honda Odyssey. Customs wants to know about that chalk, so they pull your container for inspection and charge you to think about looking at it, then charge you to look at it, then charge you to transport it from one part of the port to another part of the port and back, then charge you for inspecting every single item in the container, then charge you to think about it again in case they might have been wrong the first time. They magically just added $2500 to your shipping bill because you chose the wrong shipper and the wrong container mate, oh, and the most notoriously strict port in the US, or, didn't you know?
Finally, three weeks later, the car is released. You go to pick it up and pay your bill and then an extra $120 for a escort into the port because Twic card? what's a Twic card, no I don't have one of those and then of course, the battery is dead because why wouldn't it be. You call AAA and finally, finally you're driving down the freeway in your dream car. Your €7000 dream car, that has turned into a $20,025 car and it's not even registered in your state yet. Hello state inspections and police inspections and document translations and temporary tags and title taxes and registration fees. Oh, and that's not including your time - how much do you get paid per hour at work? Just sit with that for a second.
You're happy you have the car. And you have a good story at least, right? Right? But you toss and turn at night thinking about how much you could have saved - how much time and money and peace of mind, if only you'd used Dutch Safari Co. to import your car for you....