Hope you don't mind reading my little rant about American Internet retailers.
Finding a cigar retailer who ships his wares to European countries is harder than finding an honest politician during an election year. Being a proud citizen of the Netherlands, a small wet bit of swamp located somewhere in Europe, getting good cigars is a bit of a pain. Oh sure we get the Cuban stuff but frankly you Americans get much better quality cigars to smoke then anything the Cubans could throw at you. And it stands to reason.
The really good and passionate cigar makers all went AWOL from Cuba a long time ago and are happily doing their thing in various south American countries and selling good quality cigars all over the place, unhindered by commie elderly dictators. In the Netherlands getting good cigars is limited to just a few brands like CAO, La Aurora, Pepin Garcia and the like. They sell out here for some exorbitant prices too. I recently got a bargain box of Arturo Fuente Hemingway classics for the nifty price of 350 Euro. Now, for you Americans, 350 Euro will buy you a seaside condo, two high court judges, a major share in an American -any American- car factory and the hand in marriage from the daughter of any member of the senate.
That very same box ordered at an American Internet retailer will be priced at around a 160 US dollars, which is the sum of an average cheeseburger in these parts. Ah, but what is stopping me then from ordering that box from an Internet retailer then? Well, those very same retailers are.
The "no international shipping" statement on retailer web sites is almost standard. The very few that do ship out internationally seem very reluctant to do so. I never get an up front estimate of shipping cost. (or time) One retailer first billed me for a small sum of money from my credit card and asked me to send him the exact amount he had credited me by email so thet he could first verify that is was really, honestly me he was dealing with. After a few shipments, suddenly he wanted me to send him my credit card number again so he could separately bill me for shipping. Erm...didn't I just send you my number when I was ordering? Well yes but I wasn't eligible for free shipping. No, I told him, I never expected to be and in previous shipments always got billed extra for the shipment cost, no trouble, what had changed since previous shipments? I never got an answer and he never got an order from me again.
Other retailers will happily send me my stuff and bill me the shipping cost in one. Only, the shipping itself will take one to two months to arrive. I think that is because putting it in a bottle and shoving it out to sea at high tide takes some time. Never heard of Fedex or UPS, guys? Most retailers will just flat out refuse to ship to European countries. One of the bigger retailers, they have a nice smiley face for a logo, informed me that shipping to the Netherlands was prohibited by law.
Ordering, billing and sending a shipment should be easier. Some months ago I got in touch with a very nice and friendly gentleman who had a few items up for sale. I mailed him my order, got an instant reply, the goods were sent the very next day and I had them in my possession within a week. He even offered me air miles and excused himself for having to send the shipment through a neighboring country instead of directly from the local airport. This gentleman, with the nice name of Osman, lives in Mogadishu wich is a nice town in Somalia, a place well known for customer service, warm beaches and people who say "Arrrrh matey" a lot. He has caught up with the 21th century way of ordering goods over the Internet much better then most -if not all- American Internet cigar retailers. The reluctance of those retailers for making money off their trade is quite frankly just staggering.
The European market is a big one and lots of money is to be made from people who have had enough of the lower quality Cuban brands flooding the local shops out here. We can but hope that more and more American retailers will learn to clean up their act and get in on that money.
Well, that's about it.
Greetings from the Netherlands, keep up the good work and don't set fire to to your beard.
Piet (Pete) de Groot (the groat)