Shopping Online From Antigua Guatemala Via Rapidito Express

UPDATED 12/12/2015: As highlighted at the end of this article, it was only a matter of time that Rapidito Express would run afoul of SAT – which they did. All shipments were suddenly held in limbo last November, while SAT began the task of examining every. single. package. and assigning customs duties to the items. Unfortunately, I had placed an order just days previous to the freeze.

I have to say, Rapidito as a company behaved atrociously toward customers through the process. The customer rep in Antigua repeatedly lied about what was happening and promised over and over that packages would be in Antigua “just next week“. I was first notified via email that the rate was officially changing to $2.99/pound plus customs duties, effective immediately. It didn’t matter that I had placed the order – and it had arrived at their offices in Miami – before the rate change. I’d just have to wait and see what sort of fee SAT would impose. And so I sat waiting for my package for what at the time were two additional weeks.

In any event, SAT, I learned later, wasn’t prepared – they were too lazy is what I believe – to open and calculate customs fees for every single package that Rapidito had waiting for them. And thus, a deal was struck. To save “overworked” SAT employees, officials decided that if Rapidito charged a rate of $8.00/pound, everything would be back to normal. The new fee would cover shipping and customs fees – basically, a $3.00/pound hike.

Conveniently for them, Antigua’s Rapidito office closed suddenly at the end of November, with little warning save for an email over the weekend, directing everyone to contact Rapidito’s main office Guatemala City. I’m assuming this was to avoid backlash and having to face actual customers in Antigua. Just a couple days earlier I had talked with the Antigua rep, who assured me all was taken care of with SAT and I would have my packages on hand – “next week” (by now almost a month later).

In any event, Rapidito’s Guatemala office called and informed me that not only would I have to pay the new $8.00/pound rate I hadn’t agreed to, but I’d also have to pick up the package in Guatemala City or pay an additional Q35 to have it delivered to my home in Antigua. So from a $15.00 fee I was slated to pay to have my order shipped to Antigua (what turned out to be a 3lb package), I’d now have to pay $24.00, plus an additional $5.00 if I didn’t want to make the trek to Guatemala City. Did anyone at Rapidito ever apologize? Nope. Did they ever even hint about being concerned that they changed the shipping terms on customers twice? Not at all.

Eventually, I ended up picking up the package at the warehouse in Guatemala City, a trek of over an hour via private transportation. Not worth the trip if you’re not anywhere near there on other business.

I’d be hesitant to use Rapidito again – customer service is poor, they lie, and as I mentioned, they don’t think twice about changing the shipping terms. Dishonorable people. Use at your own risk.

********

You know what’s one of the things I’ve noticed I miss most about living in the US? The ability to shop online. It’s hard not to miss being able to click a few buttons and have items magically appear at your door a few days later.

Something that’s always bugged me about living in Guatemala is the high cost of electronic devices and parts. It’s often difficult to locate certain items, especially in Antigua. Sure, you may be able to find many items in Guatemala City, if you know where to look – but that requires that you have a vehicle or a friend that’s willing to drive you around for a bit. Hire a taxi from Antigua and you’ll easily be spending well north of $50USD roundtrip, effectively negating any cost savings.

La Concepcion Convent Antigua Guatemala

Casa Convento Concepción

For the past few months, I’ve had sort of an unlucky streak with electronic devices. First, I dropped my iPod Touch and cracked its screen. Then, I dropped my iPad – reading in bed is an old habit of mine – and also shattered its screen. Last month, my laptop overheated – something to do with all the ash from Fuego Volcano, which fried the hard drive.

First, I tried having my iPad screen fixed in the city – regrettably looking for the lowest cost. Geek Stores did such a shoddy job – for $65USD! – I decided to fix the iPod myself since I couldn’t find anyone to quote me less than $100USD for the repair. But first, I needed to find a replacement screen.

For the laptop, it was the same story. I looked at the prices in Antigua and they were laughably high – almost 50% higher than what costs were in the US. After consulting with a few people, the consensus was I could get the best prices by shopping in Guatemala City at Intelaf – the stores in Antigua will do in a pinch, but be prepared to pay through the nose. The hard drive I wanted was selling for $100 in the US, through Amazon, while at Intelaf I’d be paying $136 for a similar hard drive of lesser quality. Wanting to save as much money as possible, I started looking into how I could have the hard drive and iPod replacement screen shipped to Antigua.

There are quite a few companies that offer to ship to Antigua Guatemala, such as TraeloYa.com, DHL and AeroCasillas. These services are expensive and/or quite slow. One service had decent rates but would take up to three weeks to deliver my items. Another was faster but would charge 4x as much as the lowest-priced shipper. However, for the best blend of speed and cost, none can touch Rapidito Express. In fact, it’s so fast and relatively inexpensive that looking at stuff for sale online is no longer depressing. Here’s how it works:

Online Shopping Through Rapidito Express

After looking up the Rapidito Express Antigua location online, I headed over to beautiful Casa Convento Concepción (4a Calle Oriente, across from the old gas station, near the exit to the city, and pictured above), which now houses several retail offices, in addition to Rapidito’s. OFFICE IS NOW CLOSED. By the way, it’s pronounced Rah-pee-DEE-toe, not Rapey-ditto. Just thought you should know that, person who shall remain unnamed.

Rapidito Express Antigua

Entrance to Rapidito Express’ Offices

At the small office, the young man at the desk gave me the lowdown on how to have your packages shipped through Rapidito. Turns out it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

1) Provide your contact information. You’re advised to provide Rapidito’s Antigua Guatemala office with your name, phone number, and email. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it’ll save you from having to check in with them to see if your package has arrived. If they have your contact information, they’ll reach out as soon as the package has arrived.

2) Order your package online. Here’s where most people screw up and fail to follow directions. The result is that they end up waiting needlessly for their package. You must enter the correct shipping information so that the package arrives at Rapidito Express’ offices in Miami. Their Miami address is as follows:

NAME / NOMBRE: NOMBRES Y APELLIDOS (Full Name)
ADDRESS / DIRECCION: 8518 NW 66 ST SUITE 783
CITY / CIUDAD: MIAMI
STATE / ESTADO: FLORIDA
ZIP CODE / CODIGO POSTAL: 33195-2684
TEL: (305) 890-1560

The first line (your name) is very important, as the RXA code indicates to Rapidito that your package should be shipped to Antigua Guatemala, NOT Guatemala City. For example, if your name is Joe Schmoe, then the package should be addressed to:

Joe Schmoe /RXA

Screw this up and you’ll be pulling your hair out trying to locate the package, as it seems the Guatemala City and Antigua offices are completely independent of each other.  All packages go to Guatemala City now. You have to pay an additional Q35 fee to have GuatEx ship to your house in Antigua. Also, don’t forget to add the Suite number.

By the way, there’s nothing else you need to do. You could, or anyone for that matter, send a package to that address in Miami, with the RXA code, and the package will end up in Antigua without ever having to talk to anyone in Miami or registering any information online. Just show up to see if your package has arrived.

3) Pick up your package and pay for delivery. Pick up the package in the city or pay extra to have the package shipped to Antigua. Rapidito charges $5USD $8USD per pound now and rounds up weight to the next pound. If a package weighs 1 pound and 1 ounce, you’ll end up having to pay for two pounds ($16).

If you do want your package delivered to Antigua, I recommend you call Rapidito and have them EMAIL you the final bill – their word is worthless, but at least you’ll have something in writing should there be an unannounced price hike. Once you deposit payment into their account at a local bank, you’ll have to scan your slip and email proof of payment back to them.

My Experience with Rapidito

So how did it work out for me? Pretty swell actually! Well, with a few very minor issues. I placed the order on July 31st. Through Amazon’s tracking service, I learned that my order had been split into two shipments, even though I’d indicated that the items be shipped together. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, since shipping was free via Amazon. But because I now had two packages coming my way, I’d be billed for two packages, not one. Not Rapidito’s fault, as they don’t open packages or bundle items.

In any case, Amazon notified me that the first package had arrived in Miami three days later, on Monday, August 3rd. On Wednesday, August 5th, I got a call that my package was in Antigua. On Thursday, August 6th, the second package arrived in Miami and on Saturday of that same week I was notified via phone call that the package had arrived. Not bad at all!

Since I’d received two packages, both unopened by the way, I ended up paying $5 each (40Q), for a total of $10 (80Q). Good luck trying to pay anywhere close to that elsewhere for three-day shipping to Guatemala. So using Rapidito is a no-brainer, right?

Well, not so fast.

While my limited experience with their service has been great, you’ll find Rapidito has as many detractors as there are fans. Some claim packages have been lost, if not stolen, and some question the legality of the whole operation, to begin with.

For the whole “Christmas debacle” details, read this illuminating article here (Spanish). Other companies have accused Rapidito of skirting customs duties. While other companies require that taxes be paid – as high as 25% of item value in some cases – in addition to shipping costs, Rapidito charges a flat fee regardless of the value of the item.

As for complaints about lost packages, the Rapidito employee “assured” me that issues happened during last Christmas season when they were inundated with orders. This created a backlog that took weeks to sort out. Supposedly, they have a better system in place now. That said, it’s unlikely I’ll ever place any orders during the holiday season.

For now, I’ll continue using Rapidito. I don’t like to admit it, but it feels good to dip my toes back in the world of American consumerism again.

*****

Have you used Rapidito or a similar service?
Share in the comments!

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4 comments

  1. Worked out well for me, especially with high-ticket items and machinery. I did recieve an email today (November 13) saying they will no longer “skirt” duties and they will have to be paid. If that’s the case they have mucho competition in Guatemala. Their whole selling point was the no-permit, no-taxes prices which made shopping online new york or guatemala alomst the same.

    ****WE NEED SUCH A COMPANY***** Please write up about another one who will do what Rapidito did until now. I’m willing to pay for your writing time. Thanks!

  2. It’s a shame that, it seems, the new administration has decided to enforce customs fees with companies like Rapidito across the board. Thank goodness I ordered a backup laptop thru them when I did, before November!
    From all the chat I’ve seen on Facebook, I don’t think anyone has found a shipping company which can beat the customs fees. Right now, Rapidito is either confused about the fees, or scamming. Many are reporting Rapidito claiming shipping and customs higher than they advised in customer notification emails when they said they’d have to start charging these fees.

    • Well, they’re back in business. Only it’s $8/pound now, which includes shipping fees and customs duty. They charge Q35 to deliver to your door in Antigua if you don’t want to pick up in the city. Worth it if savings will be substantial.

      -Rich

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