Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reunited & It Feels So Good! Found My Car in New Jersey

Yeah! As I write this I can look out my home office window at my car. She is dusty, the tires are a little soft, and I haven't gotten the wax pencil marking that says "Rijeka" on her windshield all the way off yet. But she is here and safe again, and that is all that matters.

The US-based shipping agent we used, ShipOverseas.com, had pretty much given up after his calls and emails weren't returned by the Balkan-owned shippers he'd contracted with, Demars International. I am nothing if not tenacious, so with help from my husband and step-daughter, we started a revolving phone calling campaign. Every few minutes we'd call one of the Demars numbers, get hung up on, or put on hold forever and then hung up on, or just not picked up. Then we'd start again with another one of the four phones we own between us. (If you alternate phone numbers, you're more likely to get answered.)

It took three days of phone calls, some digging in Google, and help from kind strangers (I convinced a guy who worked in an unrelated warehouse in New Jersey, near where I'd heard Demars had leased a parking lot, to walk around outside and look for my car), but at last we found her.

The small parking lot was packed with at least 50 cars that have been waiting to be shipped to various Balkan ports since Jan-early Feb of this year. If you're reading this and you own any type of Volkswagon, Austin, Corvette, Mercedes, or a Ford SUV that you think is being shipped to the Balkans, well the chances are it's sitting in Elizabeth New Jersey for the unforeseen future. It's not indoors and the security is laughable - the ancient chain link fence is missing entire sections. All the cars' titles and other paperwork is in their glove compartments. Anyone could walk off with your vehicle. It's just dumb luck no thief has figured this out yet.

The guys in the warehouse next door had the keys in an unlabled, jumbled mess in a black plastic bucket Demars had given them. "Go fishing!" one of them gaily said. "You want to take the 2007 Mercedes? I don't care, here's the key." We tried three Volkswagon keys until we found the one that matched my car.

"Lady, can you tell me why car owners trust these people?" the warehouse manager asked me. "I can't imagine just handing over my car with the signed title and keys to some strangers who do business like this." "I think it's a Balkan thing," I said. "They are all from the same small countries and when they get over here to America maybe they trust each other more than they ought to."

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