Hello Riyadhizens! So many changes going on in Saudi Arabia noh? I’ve been in the Kingdom for 10 years and the progress and changes are the fastest that I have seen and felt in my life. I mean, compared to the Philippines where I spent my 23 years. We wrote about the top 5 changes here but there are so many more that we only notice if we’re directly affected by it. Say for example, the electricity. I was so surprised at our bill last month because it appeared like our bill doubled! It was even higher than the bill we had in our old flat which had 4 air-conditioning units and 3 rooms, a huge living room, and a kitchen. Our flat now (we moved in to a new one last October 2017) is smaller with one bedroom and small living room and kitchen. So how did our electricity bill doubled? Of course we know the electricity tariff changes since January 1, but still. Ever since VAT has been implemented, we can feel its impact slowly creeping into our lives. In our groceries, food, etc. And also, in our mail and packages. The implementation of VAT also changed the process.
As you know, we love online shopping. I, for one, love shopping online for makeup and cosmetics that are newly-released and brands that are not easily available in Saudi Arabia. They’re not needs, of course, but once in a while, I give in to my wants (weh, once in a while lang?!). So I order online. You can read about my other experiences here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I ordered via Cult Beauty a month or so ago and because I was trying to save, I chose the normal shipping which will take 10-15 days. Also, our workplace’s Mail Room has always been reliable. I trust them to get our packages from the Saudi Post mail box and bring it to the workplace, inform me that it has arrived, and I go and pick it up from them. I’m also an anxious customer so I tend to stalk the tracking page of the courier and Saudi Post for my packages every day, even though I also signed up to be emailed when there’s any progress. Haha.
Cult Beauty is a website dedicated for the coolest cult skincare and cosmetic products the world has to offer. From the latest scientific discoveries to hundred-year-old remedies that still work wonders til now, they have it in their website. They carry products that are “cult favorites”, products that do what they claim to do and have exceeded expectations, products with tried and tested formula and do not disappoint, products that most of the world sing praises for. These are products of known brands like Sunday Riley, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Caudalie, Nurse Jamie, Sarah Chapman The Ordinary, etc. From high-end to drugstore, as long as they work effectively, they have it. It was the brand Sol De Janeiro that led me to the Cult Beauty website. I was looking for the Sol De Janeiro Brazilian Crush Body Fragrance Mist online because I fell in love with its pistachio salted caramel scent that I discovered from their Bum Bum Cream. I decided to buy it from Cult Beauty along with other products to reach GBP 40 to get free shipping. I added a few The Ordinary products too. And since I’m a new member, I was given a 15% discount.
I carted my order on June 27 from the Cult Beauty website and opted for the free delivery (standard tracked international delivery) instead of paying an additional GBP 20 for the fast delivery. So all I have to do is wait for my order, sent via Trakpak and promised to come after 10-15 business days. No biggie; I can wait. Or so I thought haha. By July 17, the tracking page in both Trakpak and Saudi Post is saying that my package has arrived in the PO Box already. Great, I was expecting our Mail Room to get it from the PO Box and bring it to the workplace like what they usually do. By July 19, I was already anxious (ang OA haha) so I went to our Mail Room and asked for it. The guys there said it’s taking a while at the Saudi Post because of the implementation of the VAT. Oookay. They asked me to come back on the next Sunday (which is July 22). I came back on the 23rd for good measure. Kasi diba, baka sabihin naman nila na wala pa ulit so I gave them one more day. But guess what? Waley pa din! The package is still not there and the Mail Room staff told me to pick my package in the Saudi Post because I still need to pay for the VAT. Whoahhh! So this time, I need to go directly to the Saudi Post now?
I don’t want to take my chances without actually getting a confirmation that package is really in the Saudi Post so I called their hotline (920005700) and inquired. The call agent was great (I’m surprised I actually had a pleasant experience with a call agent here in Saudi, haha). She answered my question immediately and told me my packages is at the Saudi Post Main Branch which is in Batha. The office is open until 8:30 PM so I asked my husband to take me there. Thus begin this step-by-step process I uploaded in our Facebook page first but I’m writing here for posterity’s sake.
How To Get Your Package From The Saudi Post Office
1. Track your packages in the Saudi Post website. If your package already said it’s in the P.O Box, there’s a link beside it that will tell you which branch you’re going to go to. If there’s no link, you can call the Saudi Post hotline to inquire. Sometimes, if the Saudi Post has your number, you will receive a post from them telling you that your package has arrived and the amount of tax you’re going to pay.
2. Go to the Saudi Post branch where your package is. Since mine was at the head office in Batha, Riyadh, this is a step-by-step process on how things went there. Not sure about other small Saudi Post branches. Proceed to the basement of the Saudi Post Office. Both men and women are allowed inside. Some seats are designated for women. Take a number from the machine. Pick “All Mail Delivery” instead of the other options. We tried being politically correct by taking a number from the “Parcel Delivery” option and we waited for nothing. Haha. So get the number that starts with “2”. Wait for you number to flash.
3. When you see your number flashing, go to the counter indicated and give your tracking number. The staff will get your package details from their computer. They will tell you the amount of tax you’ll pay and they’ll give you a number for a bar code needed to do the payment. Now, I’m not an expert on how they calculate the tax but based on my experience, they got the declared amount from the document pasted in my box/package and computed 5% of it. So in my GBP 38+ order, my tax was SR 9.
4. Go upstairs and pay the tax. So we went upstairs again on the ground floor and entered the main office. We showed the series of numbers given to us downstairs and proceeded to pay for the tax. The cashier then gave us a receipt and told us to go back down again.
5. We gave the receipt to one of the staff in the counter and that’s when a staff went back to look for our package. We spent a few minutes waiting for it until the staff motioned us to the counter. He asked for my iqama (resident card) and told us to sign digitally. He gave me my box and off I go with my precious parcel. Hehe.
It took us around 40 minutes from start to finish. It also depends on the number of people in the Saudi Post retrieving their packages too. That’s it. It was a pretty simple procedure but compared to not going to the Saudi Post before to get my package, this was already an effort. Haha. This is the first time I also stepped foot in the Saudi Post in Batha which I always see whenever we go to Batha for groceries for the past nine years, haha. So far, it was okay. We also got feedback from our readers that the Saudi Post process is efficient for them. If you encounter any problem with your mail and packages, just call the Saudi Post hotline. I find it more efficient to ask for information before going somewhere immediately.
On another note, here are some websites we ordered from since the tax was implemented in Saudi Arabia. Here are our experiences:
Newegg is the leading tech-focused e-retailer in North America and it offers a comprehensive selection of the latest consumer electronics, entertainment, smart home and gaming products. My husband bought a Razer Tower Case from them a few months ago. I don’t know about computer parts and stuff haha but he said it’s cheaper to buy it online. I was doubtful because the shipping and handling fee was more than the price of the tower itself! Haha! But what do I know! His bill amounted to SR 671.42. The tower was SR 361 while the tax was SR 30.90 and the shipping and handling was SR 279.52. Now, that’s the tax in the US and not for here in Saudi Arabia. The order was made on June 6 and it was delivered by FedEx on June 11. Well that’s fast… although it should be fast considering the price of shipping! We paid SR 25 for tax to the FedEx delivery guy. I don’t know how they calculated that because it’s not the 5% of the total amount. Oh well.
I also ordered from the Jeffree Star Cosmetics website and the Boxycharm website directly but routed my package through Aramex’s Shop & Ship option because both website do not directly ship to Saudi Arabia. If you want to know how Ship & Shop works, I already wrote about it HERE.
I’ve always loved Jeffree Star Cosmetics‘ Liquid Velour Lipstick and Skin Frost Highlighters but I have yet to try their eyeshadow palettes. I have been lemming for the Blood Sugar Palette since they launched it but it was always sold out. During their restock last June, I took the opportunity and went for it! I ordered the Blood Sugar palette in their website and it was a breeze doing so. It took a few days to reach the New York address that Shop & Ship gave me for US orders. When it got to the Shop & Ship office, it took another few days before they sent it to me. When it reached Riyadh, an Aramex guy delivered it to me. I wasn’t charged with tax or custom fees.
When I opened it (excitedly ha kasi pangarap ko ‘tong palette na ‘to ha, haha)… I was aghast to find one of the pans broken. Huhu. The powder wall all over the palette! I don;t know who’s fault was it; either the JS Cosmetics or Shop & Ship but I was heartbroken. The palette was super gorgeous though so I just salvaged what’s left of the pan and cleaned it up.
My Boxycharm order also got through without a hitch. Boxycharm is a beauty subscription box. Each box is USD 21 and it contains 5 full-sized beauty or skincare products. Each box per month has different content. They gave a preview of their June box which has the Alamar Cosmetics Reina Del Caribe eyeshadow palette and the Sol De Janeiro Bum Bum Cream so I decided to get them since they’re great buys. I again routed my order to Shop & Ship because Boxycharm doesn’t ship internationally. I received y box a few weeks after and again, the Aramex guy didn’t charge me with any additional custom fee or tax.
So I guess if it’s the express shipping couriers, they will deliver the products directly to you and you will pay them the tax directly too unless they tell otherwise. There are websites that directly add the tax and custom fee to your order like iHerb so you don’t have to pay any tax when they deliver anymore. So that’s it for my online shopping adventures for now. I’ll update you guys wen anything change in the next couple of months.