John Wyldes from Newark tells of his experiences in importing a container of Bingo's from the USA
imported Bally Bingo machines twice from the USA. The first time I brought two,
the second time 24 in a container. Here are some details of how I did it. If
anyone needs more information, help or advice, please feel free to drop me a
line at email@example.com.
resorting to importation I tried several ways to find machines.
the answer to this question is that you need some luck, there is no real
insurance and at the end of the day it is a judgement call based on all the
available information. For both suppliers I did the following.
first shipment of 2 machines, the supplier agreed to pack them in a single crate
to reduce my shipping costs. He charged for crating, but it was reasonable and
the machines arrived undamaged. Beware however, the UK haulier turned up on my
doorstep with no means of getting the crate out of his lorry and into my yard,
so we had to uncrate everything in the ‘back of the wagon’ and unload the
individual parts by hand.
a container load across posed a few more problems. I did not have access to any
suitable unloading facilities or labour, so I needed to find a means of getting
the machines out of the high back of a container and into my workshops. My
solution was to have the machines discharged from the container when it arrived
in the UK, and delivered to me in lorries with tail lifts. This method added
about 20% to the overall cost of the transaction, but I had little choice. With
the mechanics of UK discharging in mind I asked my US supplier whether he could
pack all the machines on pallets (known in the US as ‘skids’) However as I
was only using a 20’ container this proved to be impracticable, and he simply
agreed to pack the machines as efficiently as possible. It was also important
for him to be primed to be efficient when loading, as road hauliers will
tolerate up to 4 hours or so standing time, after which they start adding
additional waiting charges. My supplier was great, and ensured that he had
enough manpower to get the job done. The UK hauliers who discharged and
delivered the machines actually used pallets, so when the machines arrived it
was easy for me to move everything around the yard using my newly acquired
first supplier I used already had a relationship with an international freight
forwarding company, so once I had checked out their UK end I decided to use
them. They provided a door-to-door service, covering US trucking, transatlantic
shipping and UK delivery. For the second consignment they also provided the
container, and dealt with the onward shipping once in the UK. Their
communication wasn’t great but was adequate, with the US office being
considerably more focussed than their UK counterparts. I found that I had to
chase them for dates and status, but I imagine that they are more used to
dealing with other shipping companies who know the ropes and are less impatient
than your average bingo fanatic.
answer to this is that I got pretty much what I expected if not exactly what I
paid for. The first two machines (a Bikini and a Lido) were complete and in
working order apart from one of the spotting motors being burned out. The Bikini
had a Circus Queen playfield, but this was not a big problem and the playfield
itself was in great condition. With the container load, the agreement was that
all machines would be complete, but untested. In reality, there were four
machines which varied from incomplete through to being empty of most components,
which was what I had suspected would be the case. I had already resigned myself
to butchering some machines to get the others properly restored and my supplier
had also included a spare head and playfield for use as spares, so the way I saw
things I had my 5 spares machines pre-selected.
I do plan to repeat the exercise as soon as the remaining machines have been restored or disposed of to other restorers. Next time I will actually visit the supplier in the US and examine each machine. Job lots are much cheaper, but there is more wastage than I wanted. I will also find another way to unload the container at my premises, as the UK hauliers were none too careful and most of the damage was incurred during this leg of the journey. The most distressing event was their breaking of a Miami Beach backglass which is virtually irreplaceable. It was a clean corner break however, so some skillful application of some super glue might still save the day.
cost components for a container load were as follows:
· Cost of the machines in the US
· US trucking to nearest port
· Transatlantic shipping
· UK container delivery
· UK discharge and onward delivery
· VAT charged by UK customs
· VAT charged by the Shippers and Hauliers
A few bank charges for the wire transfer
· Only do this if you can afford to lose all the money
· Keep your expectations reasonably low to avoid disappointment
· Make sure that the shipping and other costs have no hidden extras
· Retain your sense of humour, it is a character building experience!
Many thanks John for sharing this with us.