Best couriers for sending beer from UK to Europe?

I’m looking to do some trades throughout 2018 with various RBians in various countries. To those of you who have completed trades in the past I’m wondering which couriers you’ve found to be best for shipping beer from the UK to mainland European countries, and preferably ones where I don’t have to lie and claim it’s “collectible glassware” or something like that.

Are the big name ones decent? Parcelforce, UPS, DHL, DPD etc.
What about ipostparcels? Or parcel2go?

I know about that site ParcelMonkey which supposedly checks all the couriers for you and shows you the cheapest, I did a couple of fictitious quotes to get an idea and it only showed me DPD and Parcelforce, nothing from the others, some of which are actually cheaper than those two.

So I know I can use one of those three for sure, but are they all ok with shipping beer? Do I even need to disclose what it is?

TIA for any advice (and yes I know there are threads about this on the old forums but things change quickly and who was good then might not be so good now).

I’ve used ipostparcels the three times I’ve sent beer to the EU.

I was leaning towards them anyway, good to know you’ve had success with them. Did you have to disclose what you’re sending with them? Or do you literally just write the person’s name and address and that’s it?

Also I’ve since found out that UPS, DHL, DPD and Parcel2go all have alcoholic beverages on their prohibited items list which rules all of them out, even though they do ship alcohol - different rules for individuals and businesses I guess. Are ipostparcels and Parcelforce the only 2 legitimate options we have?

Ipost won’t cover losses but I can’t remember if they exclude it entirely, I think not. I just write ‘food and beverages’.

I have used ipostparcels before with no problems. As beardedavenger mentioned they don’t cover you for losses if it’s alcohol. This may have changed in the last year though as more and more are stating they can’t deliver alcohol.

Others I have used I had to state it was glassware etc.

Even when you have to declare each item in the box (see “Customs Declaration” section in image below). Let’s say I send 12 beers, can I really be as vague as “12 x beverage”? I’d like to be honest and write “12 cans of beer” for example, I’m happy to forego their offer of compensation due to it being alcohol but if they have indeed stopped doing that (there’s mixed info on their site) then I won’t, maybe put 12 glasses or something instead.

I’m probably just being really paranoid about this but I wanna make sure it all goes well because I just noticed the Euro Local Swap has started which I’d also like to partake in this year.

I’m so confused.

  1. They say alcohol is not allowed under any circumstances: http://www.ipostparcels.com/resources/a-guide-to-sending-fluids
  2. Same again on this page: http://www.ipostparcels.com/resources/sending-food-and-drink-what-you-need-to-consider
  3. But on this page they say alcohol is allowed but it’s a No Compensation Item (which is fine by me) http://www.ipostparcels.com/international/prohibited-items

I’m fine with lying and writing “glassware” or something but isn’t it then incredibly obvious when the handle the parcel and hear liquid hitting the sides of bottles/cans? Then what happens when it’s obvious you’ve lied?

I don’t trade personally and the hassle with shipping is one of the reasons why. The one time I tried to ship some beers for someone from overseas who was visiting and bought too many beers to carry home with him it ended up being a right royal pain in the arse. I can’t for the life of me fathom why it’s perfectly acceptable and legal to load up my car with beer and move it round EU countries (as long as we’re still in the EU and it’s within the “personal use” guidelines) but using a shipper can be so problematic. I even went as far as contacting HM Revenue & Customs to get chapter & verse but didn’t get a straight answer - at least to the specific questions I was asking. Unfortunately they have one of those online enquiry systems where you can’t actually continue a conversation - you ask a question, they send a reply and if you want to follow up there’s no way of doing so & you have to start all over again.

As you have obviously discovered, whilst there are many businesses offering shipping services, there aren’t actually many carriers and most of these shipping companies are actually intermediaries, using whichever carrier they choose. As the actual carriers have differing rules & policies, these intermediary companies will either adopt a “lowest common denominator” approach in their terms & conditions or have a very broad “at sender’s risk” clause. And, if something goes wrong, the actual carrier probably won’t deal with you as you have no contract with them. Some carriers harbour the mistaken (as far as I understand it) belief that it’s illegal to ship alcohol when what they mean is that in their home country (e.g. the US) it’s generally illegal and against their worldwide policy. I had a similar carry on along those lines with Citibank in relation to an account I was using for online gambling transactions but that’s another story.

Of course you may ship beer and have no problems whatsoever. Many people seem to do just fine. But the whole thing is a complete dog’s breakfast and clear as mud.

I went with beverages because it seemed less of a lie:)

Technically correct. The best kind of correct!

Ok so yesterday morning I anonymously got in contact with ipostparcels about a hypothetical parcel containing alcohol and food, and how their website contains contradictory information. Received a response stating that I’d be sending them at my own risk. Based on this I think we can assume it is actually completely ok to be wholly truthful about what you’re sending, but I think I will do what Bearded did and just write “beverages” as it would seem safer this way both with regard to it getting out of the UK and getting into its destination country.

Thanks for the responses.

ipostparcels is part of the UK Mail Group. Which is part of DHL. Which is owned by Deutsche Post. So it’s a bit of a tangled web. Who is actually doing the international leg of the carrying is anyone’s guess. Maybe DHL. I’d imagine ipostparcels became part of the wider Deutsche Post group by acquisition so there’s no guarantee that terms & conditions have been harmonised, or ever will be.

It’s no wonder the customer-facing UK companies have difficulty in coming up with coherent terms & conditions when there may be so many different “partners” - no doubt with their own differing terms & conditions - handling the package at various stages of its journey. And, to some extent, depending on the rules and regulations pertaining in the originating and destination countries.

I used ipostparcels to send a box of 10 or so beers to a mate in Holland in December 2016. All went ok, and it was reasonably priced I thought.

Wrap/pack the beers to within an inch of their lives, also invest in some ‘Fragile’ parcel tap imo. I put ‘balsamic vinegar’ on my box as the product description, I wasn’t fussed about the lack of insurance as I’d wrapped the goods well.

Good luck!

Hi Lazy, just seen this. I have been quite an active trader the past few years and take part in most of the EU swaps.

RE: IPOSTPARCELS - AVOID! These were my go-to courier when sending to Europe. For about 12 trades I had no problem whatsoever. Yes they do not cover for any damage / loss for alcohol sent, so I just made the package bomb-proof. In the description I put ‘alcohol’ and had no problems. Then I changed it to ‘collectable glassware’ as I was worried about it being opened and beer taken out by drivers in other countries. Anyway, I had no problems for about a year. Then a parcel went missing in the UK depot. No trace of it whatsoever. I thought I’d be covered as the parcel and contents weren’t damaged as much as completely lost by the courier, obviously this is different and their fault, the contents being completely irrelevent. But despite many messages exchanged they simply cut and paste the clause saying “no cover for loss”. Obviously this means loss of contents, not the entire parcel, but it clearly doesn’t matter to them.

I figured it was one a one-off, and as they were so much cheaper than others I sent another parcel. No problem. Got to Poland super quick. Then I sent another, larger 24 bottle parcel with numerous irreplaceable rarities, and this also went ‘missing’ in the depot. Same shite. No refund. I posted messages on their facebook page complaining, and was blocked.

I now use Interparcel to send via DPD. It’s about a fiver more, you are still not covered for breakage or loss of contents but you ARE covered if they lose the entire parcel somewhere in their network. In my experience that extra fiver is worth spending.

Good luck with the trades!

Thanks for posting this now BEFORE the EU swap! Very interesting, they do seem to be hit and miss but then again so do the others, even Interparcel. I feel like I’m going to be taking quite a risk whichever one I use!

Interparcel explicitly prohibit alcohol in any form though so I presume you put “collectible glassware” on that one

To answer your question I received this message from Interparcel the day after I booked it online:

"Good morning,
I am contacting you with regards to the above order that has been placed with us.

It has been noted that you are sending a Restricted Item. We do advise at the time of booking that these items are unsuitable for the transit system and will be sent at your own risk.

For this reason the inclusive transit cover of £50.00 will only apply in the rare event that your item is lost in transit, unfortunately no claims can be made for damage or disposal due to damage caused in transit.

If you do not wish to proceed with this booking please contact us to cancel.

Kind regards,

Tanya Stevens
Claims Advisor"

I’m assuming that’s not Tanya Stevens the Jamaican reggae star. The parcel arrived fine, and I got a text the second it was signed for. I don’t think I stated that it was alcohol in the parcel. Pretty sure I put “GLASS - BREAKABLES”. But i’ve used them 3 times now and arrived safe and sound.

Then I shall do the same. Thanks again.