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Discussion Starter #1
I apologize in advance for the long post, but I had to write down how I feel...

Long story short. Timeline:

May 23, 2020 - bought and paid through Chrono24
June 26, 2020 - order shipped
July 2, 2020 - order delivered
July 6, 2020 – start tracking the performance of the watch and noticed two things:
1. an unusual metal or rattle sound when moving my hand. (I suspected that the sound came from the spring bar pins of the strap, but I was not sure)

2. noticed that the crown spins around freely when pushed in.

July 7, 2020 – sent an email to Stowa explaining those issues and received a reply very quickly. “The sound I hear is the rotor moving, which is OK”.

At this point, I decided to remove the strap and check for the sound again which I did and change to a new strap with new spring bars. The sound was still there and sounded like a loose screw. I also sent three short videos to Stowa showing them the exact problems. (I can send the videos I sent to Stowa to anyone who wants to see)

August 25, 2020 – received reply from Stowa after long waiting (They were closed due to summer holidays). Stowa decided to check my issues in their facilities and organized pickup with Fedex.

August 28, 2020 – Fedex picked up the watch.

September 4, 2020 – Stowa received the watch safe and sound and checked out the watch.

September 15, 2020 – after intensely checked, the watch now can be returned. Superb customer service and incredibly happy with the way Stowa handled this issue. I even purchased another handstitched leather strap that cost €67 EUR.

October 2, 2020 – The watch was sent back to me by Fedex.

At this point I must admit that I was extremely impressed with all aspects of the buying & customer service experience. My real issue with Stowa and Fedex began on October 6

October 6, 2020 – Fedex Vietnam received my watch, contacted me, and told me that I am not allowed to get my watch because it was repaired and now considered a used watch. There is a ban on import “used” products into the country and customs cannot clear this shipment.

October 14, 2020 – After quite a few emails exchanges between me, Stowa and FedEx trying to solve this issue without success, the watch is going back to Stowa (which could take up to 3 months).

October 27, 2020 – Stowa received the watch back and prepared a new proforma invoice with a value of EUR 300,00 (way low value from the original price) and prepared the watch for shipping back to me within a few days.

At this point, after a few days of thinking about all this situation, I had a really major concern and I realized that I will not be able to send the watch for a service in a few years and get it back after service is done. Asked Stowa their advice about that and got a generic reply. I sent another email, telling them my real concern about the future of the watch and that in a few years I may find myself in a situation where I am with a watch that needs repairing but it is impossible to do so.. I kindly and even embarrassed asked for a refund, and I have stated that I will accept any answer, whether it is yes or no. Stowa kindly refused and I told them that I have nothing to add and they can ship back the watch and I hope this time everything will work out.

October 28, 2020 – Stowa shipped the watch back to me including invoice with a value of EUR 300,00 (way low value from the original price)

November 2, 2020 - Fedex Vietnam received my watch, contacted me and they asked me to provide proof of purchase, order confirmation and link to a website where they can see the product. I immediately sent an email to Stowa asking them "What should I do next? What information should I provide?". Stowa replied and I was told to tell Fedex that they sold me this watch as an exhibition watch at a special price. I replied to fedex and told them exactly that, word by word, “This watch was sold to me by Stowa as an exhibition watch”.

You can guess by now that Fedex wanted more information like order details, order confirmation, bank transfer and product’s link. I also was told that the local customs determined the declared value on Invoice is understated (EUR 300).

I lost my patience and sent Stowa email asking them “Why should I communicate with Fedex and Stowa instead of you making direct communication with Fedex and providing all the relevant information?”. Stowa replied and promised me they will contact Fedex directly.

November 10, 2020 - Fedex Vietnam informed me that Stowa still not confirm any information with FedEx Origin.

Over 150 emails exchanges between me, Stowa and FedEx and I really feel this whole process is run like amateurism, both by FedEx and by Stowa. Stowa and Fedex are in contact now and I still did not receive my watch. This is the 2nd time my watch is in Fedex facilities for over 10 days and probably will be sent back to Stowa again.

I feel very frustrated by this whole thing and would love to get advice or insight from someone who has been through something similar. Right now, I really do not know what to do and feel I have no control over the situation…

Thanks for reading.
 

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Fedex was wrong to consider it a used watch importation to begin with. It’s merely a return of a repaired watch (that was previously imported as new).

is EUR300 the de minimis importation ceiling in Vietnam?
 

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I think Stowa customer service is great when it comes to regular expected issues, but whenever there's any curveballs or things that require independent thinking to make a decision, their office staff doesn't appear to be very good at dealing with those. Instead of bumping the issue up, typically you are just left without an answer for a while...
 

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Did you have to ship it via Fedex ? Why not another courier/shipping service ?
 
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I really feel this whole process is run like amateurism, both by FedEx and by Stowa
.

May be you are right, but first
- you forgot someone in your list: You forgot yourself acting like an amateur
- I have to know Stowa's way of looking at this issue

I don't understand, why you agreed to that proforma invoice? Did you consider people at custom's office to be stupid?
I would have insisted to get Stowa's written confirmation that and when this watch was bought originally and some months later sent back to Germany from Vietnam to have a warranty assurance fulfilled. You could have shown your primal order, your payment and Fedex shipping papers for the new watch.
I believe Fedex and customs would have accepted that explanation and you could wear your watch with pride,


Volker
 

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Hope you got it sorted out to your satisfaction.
 

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Don't really see what Stowa have done wrong, its not their fault if Vietnam has ridiculous importation / customs laws - what else are they supposed to do?

Unless I am missing something it sounds like you would also have an issue with a purchase from any European watch brand?
 

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If I understand your most recent FedEx issue correctly. (Nov 10 update is what I’m reffering to) Then I had a similar issue when importing from Stowa to the US. Stowa had to resend the information that FedEx wanted. I guess it was to double check the origin and authenticity. That may be what they are doing to you, if so it only took like a day or so then it resumed. Your issue may be diffrent but it sounds similar to my experience so I figured I’d share.
 

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Wild. Why does Vietnam have such rules about used items? Why do they care?
I have been to Vietnam once and found many small industrious and skilled craftsmen, I have imported specialist electronic components fabricated there. I can well understand they may wish to encourage repairs to be made locally and trade for used items to remain within the country. These rules are probably very generic and you are unfortunately caught by them.

I am very sorry to hear of this sequence of events because it now makes it difficult for the authorities not to think you are trying to bypass the rules. With these rules it may have been better for Stowa to send a replacement watch and push the shipment as that. I am sure Stowa will try very hard to resolve this situation but it must be difficult for them to know how best to approach the problem.

I really hope you manage to get this resolved.
 

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I have heard about customs rules like this before. It’s basically a way for the government to stop the market from being flooded with secondary goods, and keeps manufacturing in the country by keeping import tax high and secondhand goods out. However, this should have fallen under “after sales support and warranty” since the watch was imported new, legally and duty was paid. You should’ve be able to prove the watch is the same watch which was already in the country. Unfortunately for you, Stowa does not have serial numbers. And now that the watch has been listed as a show watch with decreased value, customs will have lots of questions. In situations like this, it’s always good to have a customs agent to help resolve issues like this. I’m sure Stowa doesn’t have one for Vietnam and that’s why you’re in this position. This could’ve happened with any small brand and it’s super unfortunate for both you and Stowa to have to deal with this. Hope you find resolution soon and can get back to enjoying your new timepiece. What model did you order?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
is EUR300 the de minimis importation ceiling in Vietnam?
No, but I think the customs knows the real price of the watch, therefore EUR300 sounds like way below the real value of the watch.

Did you have to ship it via Fedex ? Why not another courier/shipping service ?
Stowa Ship by Fedex. But this is a good idea, if I will not get my watch this time, I will tell Stowa to ship it again by another courier, DHL, UPS, EMS...

Don't really see what Stowa have done wrong, its not their fault if Vietnam has ridiculous importation / customs laws - what else are they supposed to do?

Unless I am missing something it sounds like you would also have an issue with a purchase from any European watch brand?
I know it's not Stowa's fault, but it's not my fault either, they are responsible to deliver my order. I just want my watch back.
For your 2nd question, never had any problems purchasing and importing goods from outside Vietnam. I buy goods regularly from the UK without a single problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
.

May be you are right, but first
  • you forgot someone in your list: You forgot yourself acting like an amateur
  • I have to know Stowa's way of looking at this issue
You're absolutely right, I'm an amateur, this is my first watch, I have never worn or purchased a watch before..

.

I don't understand, why you agreed to that proforma invoice? Did you consider people at custom's office to be stupid?
I would have insisted to get Stowa's written confirmation that and when this watch was bought originally and some months later sent back to Germany from Vietnam to have a warranty assurance fulfilled. You could have shown your primal order, your payment and Fedex shipping papers for the new watch.
I believe Fedex and customs would have accepted that explanation and you could wear your watch with pride,


Volker
Like I said, I never purchased a watch and I am completely new to this world. I trusted Stowa and assumed they knew very well what they were doing, that's why the watch was sent back with proforma invoice. The people at custom's office are definitely not stupid and they received from me all the relevant details when the watch came back from repair the 1st time. Order confirmation, payment confirmation, product's link and even receipt of payment for a total of US $260 duty and tax I paid to Fedex when the watch arrived in Vietnam on June 30, 2020.
 

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Reply from Sarah Kamau. Sales Staff STOWA:


Dear HangPham,

Hope you are doing well.

Just to quickly update you, we´ve been following up with FedEx on a daily basis and are just waiting for their final confirmation about the exact delivery date.

We are taking care of all the import duties so that there is no disadvantage for you. Unfortunately, the delay caused by customs is out of our hands, but we will inform you about any further developments by mail.

With best regards from the Black Forest.

Sarah Kamau
 
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