Online shopping and buying credits presents one of the most alluring temptation combo known to the modern man. There are a few local online shops that have established their own brand but nothing beats the variety of what is available in the US market. Unfortunately not all of the US shops deliver directly to the Philippines, and some who do are expected to either leave a scorching mark on one’s wallet or are in danger of not arriving in your doorstep if its valuable enough to catch the fancy of those in the courier/custom/postal service.

Here comes to the rescue a variety of maildrop services in the US. Their services basically provides you with a US address or PO box, and then handle shipping it to the Philippines at a nominal cost. Searching for them is easy enough but I will detail something that I have used in the past, mostly because of their affordable price and convenient arrangement for somebody who doesn’t always have somebody left in the house to receive packages: Johnny Air Cargo.


Delivering through air or water

The company provides two means of getting your precious package to you. There is the standard air shipping which takes about 1-2 weeks to reach the Philippine soil, and then there is the ocean cargo for the heavy stuff that you dont mind receiving a few months later. I have only tried the air shipping stuff but if I do get the approval to buy my own smoker then its going through Johnny Ocean. πŸ™‚

How much does it hurt, err cost?

As of writing, JAC requires a minimum chargeable weight of 2 pounds and will charge US$6.50 per pound. Some items will have additional charges and there is a US$5 handling fee if you pickup the item in their Makati office or in their SM Megamall branch. The handling fee becomes US$10 if you want it delivered somewhere in Metro Manila.

Some of the additional costs are the following:

  • Items with value over US$999 will be subjected to 5% additional clearing cost.
  • US$50 per unit of laptop or two-way radio.
  • US$25 per tablet (e.g. iPad, Galaxy Tab, etc.)
  • US$15 per mobile phone or e-book readers (kindle, nook, etc.)
  • 12% VAT

I said Johnny Air Cargo (JAC) is affordable but not dirt cheap. You get what you pay for and if I am shipping a few cherished toys err stuff then I dont want them mangled when I get to open them. You will get the latest rates once you have registered with them so dont take the values above to heart. The good news is that this is actually one of the more affordable solutions right now if you really want to get your hands on that elusive piece of materialistic online junk (my wife’s words, not mine).

How do I start pawning my soul?

The steps in getting your items shipped via JAC are listed below. Note that the forms and contacts that I will provide is biased towards a certain JAC personnel but I can assure you that Elmer is very easy to work with and responds to emails usually within 1-2 days. πŸ™‚

  • Register for a Johnny Air Plus account if you dont have one.
  • Send the registration form including 2 valid IDs in the registration form via email or fax.
  • Here is the form that I used for my registration which I sent to elmer@johnnyairplus.com.

  • Purchase your items normally from your online vendor of choice.
  • Have the item shipped to a specially formatted address that will allow a JAC personnel to receive in your behalf.
  • The address label MUST have the name of the receiving JAC employee at the target branch otherwise the courier will not be able to leave the package unless you are physically there. They have locations in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I often use the Los Angeles branch since that has the closest airport going to the Philippines. The format of the address label should look like this for the Los Angeles branch:

    RhomelV / (Your name)

    JAC Plus-EV
    153 South Vermont Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA 90004
    (213) 386 7080
    jaclax@johnnyairplus.com

    The other addresses are available on their site or will be provided to you upon confirmation of your account registration.

  • Provide the tracking number, link to the item, and total cost to JAC.
  • You can converse with the support address but I still find it convenient to deal directly with Elmer.

  • Wait for a notification that your items have arrived in Manila.
  • Pickup the item and pay for the total shipping cost.
  • I live relatively near the SM Megamall area so I opted to get it from their shop there. The shop is in the lower ground of the building near ADB and close to the entrance to the food court. If you miss it just look for the exit with the services shop and look for the shop that is overflowing with boxes. πŸ™‚

Are there gotchas?

Of course. Please pay attention to the following:

  • Please make sure the address label follows the correct format. You may not get reimbursed if the courier in the US isn’t able to deliver the package because you messed up on this part of the instruction.
  • Expenses for incoming shipments will be settled in cash, although I have paid mine in the Megamall branch using my credit card.
  • The fraction weight of the package is going to be rounded up to the next pound. A 2.05 pound package will be processed as if it is a 3 pound package.
  • Limited insurance coverage and JAC doesnt insure for breakage or partial loss. The JAC terms state that you can purchase additional insurance form other agencies.
  • JAC is no longer offering their consolidation/repacking service. Each package will be shipped to the Philippines as is. This means each package will be processed and given its own box.
  • If you have a friend or relative in the US then you might be able to ask a favor to have them consolidate multiple purchases and send them to JAC using a single box. Some online retailers such as Amazon sometimes offer the option to combine deliveries if they come from the same supplier or same fulfillment center.

  • JAC also offers an option wherein they will use their credit to purchase the items for you and you will settle the total amount when you get your item.
  • The information is in the FAQ section of their site. On my end my BPI credit card has an eCredit rider which has a lower limit. I have the eCredit account enrolled in Paypal and GoogleWallet for additional security and abstraction.

  • If you opted to have the items picked up in SM Megamall then be prepared to be deluged by SMS notification from the branch. I did mention that their shop is always overflowing with boxes so they are pleading for people to pick up their items as soon as possible.

That doesn’t seem to be a steal anymore…

To illustrate, I purchased 2 Anker Multi-port USB chargers and 1 Loftek energy bank from last year’s Black Friday deal. The total shipping weight is around 1.25 pounds so I was charged the minimum shipping weight of 2 lbs. The total shipping fee that I paid is around Php950 pesos. If I split the shipping fee to 3 to itemize the cost then I still saved about Php500 per Anker charger compared to how much it is offered locally in OLX. πŸ™‚

For other maildrop options, you can read about pobox.ph and borderlinx.com. PObox.ph looks like it is geared towards big items since their price points are by box and not by weight. Borderlinx on the other hand offer package consolidation. I haven’t tried either but right now I am more confident in using Johnny Air.

ciao!