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Should I be worried?

Posted by Nick Gilly  
Nick Gilly May 16, 2018 04:40PM
I won an eBay auction on some gorgeous lavender spinel crystals on eBay a couple of days ago, from a seller called "top-quality-minerals", apparently based in Peshawar, Pakistan. The postage was listed as Economy International Shipping, and was only $5, so the estimated arrival time is about a month.

I got an email today confirming that the item has been shipped, including a tracking number. The details say that it is being shipped via the US Postal Service, which seems odd. I've entered the tracking number on the USPS website and it says:

"Label Created, not yet in system

A status update is not yet available on your package. It will be available when the shipper provides an update or the package is delivered to USPS. Check back soon."

I've paid via Paypal so if it does go wrong I should at least get my money back. Should I be concerned, or am I just being a bit paranoid?

Hiro Inukai May 16, 2018 05:03PM

it is difficult to say whether the item is shipped or not. In my experience with USPS, the sender first creates a tracking label to inform the Postal Service that they intend to send a parcel. Once the parcel is accepted by USPS, there is a delay in the system--typically short but could be up to a day--wherein the tracking information is not updated.

As the seller may not be in the US, what is also possible is that their local postal service has accepted the package, and if it is an international shipment, it will go through customs and be received by the USPS at some future time. The local postal service informs USPS in a similar way that a domestic shipper does, and this may be the tracking number that you see from your end. But it may take some time before USPS actually receives the item, since it has to go through the local postal service.

Finally, I should note that if an international seller really wanted to scam you, they would probably ship something like rocks...oh wait, I almost forgot this is a mineral site, we actually WANT rocks. I mean, they could ship you something of no value, and then by the time you receive it, a month has gone by or something. It's not as likely that a seller would go through the trouble of creating a tracking number and not ship anything--because that's something you would notice sooner, and it's something that creates a trail of documentation that shows USPS never received the item. I don't mean to make you more paranoid, but that is the risk we all take with online buying, why it is important to do your homework and thoroughly research a seller's reputation and reviews, and to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Good luck, and let's look forward to seeing photos your you specimens!
Nick Gilly May 16, 2018 05:19PM
Thanks Hiro. You post has made me feel a bit better. So the USPS do deal with items from Pakistan for international postage then?

I knew this was probably going to be riskier than buying from a domestic seller, but the crystals are just so beautiful I was willing to take the risk. I'll keep an eye on the tracking page and hopefully there will be an update within the next day or so.

Here's a pic of the crystals anyway, from the seller:

Scott Rider May 16, 2018 07:00PM
Just my two cents, but I used to buy a bunch of stuff from Pakistan, from just a couple guys I've befriended. The problem is that if they use DHL, then customs will man-handle the package, ruining some specimens. So my friends started using Pakistan Post and USPS, and I haven't had one lost or damage packaged.

The caveat is that the packages can take around 45-60 days to arrive. And, there usually is NO tracking after its left Pakistan until it arrives in the US. So there is a long period you'll get ZERO info re: the package. My last purchase, made in February, arrived last week. So it was WAY longer than the usual 45-60 days. But it came in undamaged and I got a SWEET aqua on quartz that was pretty fragile...

However, I have yet to NOT get a package since they switched from DHL. So if its not shipped via them, you should be good. It'll take a long time to get to you though...
Scott Rider May 16, 2018 07:04PM
Forgot to mention why I stopped buying from them. It has nothing to do with them. But I have reached a point where I am over saturated with specimens and will not be buying specimens much anymore.

My philosophy has changed to where I want to trade and find my specimens going forward. So I did not quit buying from them because of anything negative, I quit buying just in general so don't let that reflect on your decisions purchasing items from that country. I have had amazing luck and good fortune working with Pakistani's!!!

Outrageous price increases is my main reasoning for me quitting buying specimens. So I figured trading and finding my own specimens is the way to go, for me personally.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/16/2018 07:05PM by Scott Rider.
Nick Gilly May 16, 2018 07:21PM
Well this is apparently being sent via USPS, and according to eBay the estimated delivery date is between Monday 4th June and Wednesday 20th June, so I know it'll take a while assuming nothing goes wrong.

I'm feeling more confident now. Thanks guys!
Scott Rider May 16, 2018 07:41PM
Most likely, the package will be towards the end of June, judging by the last 4-5 packages I got from there. So don't worry until then!!! And I know it can be stressful waiting that long. But I have had some really good deals found via eBay and the 'net so sometimes its worth the wait.
Nick Gilly May 16, 2018 07:45PM
I'm in the UK Scott, so I don't know if that will make any difference to the time I have to wait. I paid $61 for that lot of 7 crystals, which total 23 carats, so I think that's not too bad if they arrive intact. Apparently they are from a new find in Sar-e-Sang, Afghanistan, so presumably at or near the lapis lazuli mines.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/16/2018 07:47PM by Nick Gilly.
Scott Rider May 16, 2018 11:50PM
Yeah, that would make a difference. Not sure how and the timing, but the US did something about a year and half ago that affected packages from Pakistan. It used to take less than a month, now its 2+ months.... Or at least that is how I am interpreting since the time frame is much, much, MUCH longer than it was a few years ago.
Andrew Debnam May 17, 2018 02:37AM
As the others have said it can often take up to 2 months or more to get items from Pakistan. Although sometimes they arrive in three weeks. If the seller has posted a tracking number on ebay and it starts with RB then you know it has been shipped Pakistan post. Pakistan post does have a tracking web page where you can check to see if the item has been posted. I am in Canada and have good experiences with Pakistan post. It just may take quite a while.
Nick Gilly May 17, 2018 06:15AM
Thanks Andrew. Yes the tracking number does start with RB, so fingers crossed.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2018 06:20AM by Nick Gilly.
Alfred L. Ostrander May 23, 2018 12:10PM

If you live in the UK, what would the USPS have to do with a package from Pakistan being shipped to the UK? If you are in the UK, I think you need to double check the ebay page you ordered this from. Was the price in dollars or pounds? Pages can be country specific. If I google ebay in England I get ebay dedicated to the UK. The postage rates and information relate to the Royal Mail and selling prices are in pounds. If I am on the page dedicated to the US, rates and information relate to the USPS and prices are listed in dollars. Big difference.

I will say this, as an American, if I order anything from the UK, as I sometimes do, I get entirely different service from the two postal systems involved. That is, the Royal Mail and the USPS. I have had packages from Pakistan take over five weeks. Packages from England may take 7 to 10 days.
Nick Gilly May 31, 2018 04:47PM
The spinels arrived today, so that only took two weeks from Peshawar via slow mail. Much quicker than I expected.

They really are gorgeous, a lovely pastel lilac/lavender colour. Very unusual. I would say that 3 of the crystals could easily be cut into small gems, but this is one reason why I bought them, to save them from the cutter!

I will definitely buy from this seller again if something catches my eye.
Owen Lewis May 31, 2018 08:56PM
Nick, sellers generally understand their markets and gem grade rough does not often appear being offered retail as a mineral speciment where other pricing criteria apply. However, some do get through the net. I have a 1.64 ct pear cut taaffeite that I got from a friend. He had had it for some 30 years, having found it in a parcel of spinel rough (gem grade) he had bought locally in Sri Lanka when working in the gem trade there.

I also have (had) two specimens of very unattractive chrysoberyl from the Novello mine that is sold as alexandrite. One piece, showing reasonable trilling form (though surely not my best example of a trilling) I kept as 'as is' the other I had cut in two and cabochon cut - after which I was left with a couple of 10 ct-ish alexandrites, still dark and of poor colour but definitely alexandrite ;-) A pipe-dream I have is to send these back for further cutting. Cutting away some black inclusions and selecting the purest parts, I like to think that about three or four decent quality alexandrite gems of about 0.5 ct could be brought out. Thinking about that is probably more fun that would be the doing of it.
Nick Gilly May 31, 2018 10:01PM
That taaffeite was a lucky find Owen. What colour is it? I have a 15.67 ct taaffeite pebble from Myanmar which is a beige colour and translucent. I got it with some money from a long service award at work.

I've seen parcels of gem rough, and that is often what they are, anhedral fragments rather than nice looking crystals. I think some of these spinels have been removed from the marble host rock as they have irregular areas on the bases, but a couple are fairly complete. The picture above gives you an idea of what they look like.

My chrysoberyl/alexandrite specimen is still in customs limbo. No leaflet from Royal Mail yet...

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/31/2018 10:02PM by Nick Gilly.
Greg Simmons September 19, 2018 06:32PM
Can you shre what buyers you befriended that you had good success with? Would rather buy by referral than trial and error. Thanks!
Scott Rider September 19, 2018 06:41PM
Greg, if you meant sellers and not buyers, they would be Minerals Miner and Mineral Guy. Albeit I have not bought or traded anything with them in about 6 months, but I do occasionally see what they are selling. They have not had the diversity of selection lately though like they have in the past. But one of their sources has access to alpine-type deposits, so I've been able to pick up amazing faden epidote, large gem titanite crystals, gwindel quartz, unusual combos (topaz and stellerite combo for example) and other specimens from them.

Recently though, I have stopped purchasing minerals. I trade or find my new acquisitions now, and will probably limit my purchases going forward.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2018 06:42PM by Scott Rider.
Greg Simmons October 05, 2018 08:53PM
Yep, I meant the sellers. sorry about that. I'll look them up. thanks.
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