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      07-20-2009, 10:40 AM   #1
Voltigeur
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Unhappy Customs intensive audit - ED

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So, I have been pulling up my tracking screen since 7/2 and my M3 has been "En route to VPC" [NJ] for 2.5 weeks. How long can it take to move a car from Port Bayonne, NJ to the NJ VPC?! I know some that had their cars on the "Don Pasquale" have their rides already.

So I call BMW NA and then ED dept. They tell me today that my car was selected for Customs intensive audit - WTF?! I did drop off in Nice, closest ED to Marseille ("French Connection") so maybe that gives the car a higher probability of an audit - I don't know.

My primary concern is: Do they start disassembling the car and if so, to what extent? I'm worried that if this is the case then my M3 won't be returned back to its factory-tight finish You'd think they could use drug / explosive sniffing dogs to check the vehicle quickly.

Edit: they are also looking for cash or other valuables; and cars are chosen randomly (what I have been told).

If anyone has been through this or can share any insights I'd appreciate it. Huge bummer to what has been so far a great experience ...
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      07-20-2009, 12:34 PM   #2
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Wow, major suckage... never heard of this. But, you may want to post in the ED forum over at Bimmerfest.
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      07-20-2009, 01:05 PM   #3
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I'd be more piss about the fact that they may remove some interior panels and rip the trunk apart. I'm just saying. Sounds like your car got chosen for some kind of on the job training thing.
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      07-20-2009, 01:43 PM   #4
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Voltigeur,

I am sure it will be fine.... it just has to go through the motions + paperwork. I have no personal experience, but really liked the reference to the "French connection"!! What a movie, hum?

anyhow, keep us posted!!
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      07-20-2009, 03:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliffJumper View Post
Wow, major suckage... never heard of this. But, you may want to post in the ED forum over at Bimmerfest.
Yep, did that. Looks like I'm the first ED'er to post there on this.
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      07-20-2009, 03:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaximumPwr View Post
I'd be more piss about the fact that they may remove some interior panels and rip the trunk apart. I'm just saying. Sounds like your car got chosen for some kind of on the job training thing.
Cars are selected at random, according to BMW ED and also a response on bimmerfest.

I'm hoping they get the drug/explosive sniffing dog to check it out; X-ray it; and poke around a bit and realize there's also no cash etc. As long as they don't detach panels etc I'm good.

It's phuckin' frustrating, though, after 2+ years' wait ... but I can wait some more, just don't wreck the finish of my M3!
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      07-20-2009, 03:36 PM   #7
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The French Connection

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Originally Posted by MTROIS View Post
Voltigeur,

I am sure it will be fine.... it just has to go through the motions + paperwork. I have no personal experience, but really liked the reference to the "French connection"!! What a movie, hum?

anyhow, keep us posted!!
Thanks MTrois. I'm waiting to hear back from BMW NA's ED Dept as they emailed Customs for an update.

To keep my (now dampened) spirits up I'm hoping Customs quickly realize it's a dead-end audit. Unless my 2nd pair of Total Crap sunglasses (left in central console) counts as contraband due to their being in such poor taste for someone who'd just been to Provence / Paris - latter being a style capital, of course

"The French Connection" is a '70s classic. Gene Hackman was awesome as 'Popeye' Doyle
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      07-20-2009, 05:24 PM   #8
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Well, looks like some other poor bastard 'won' the Customs' audit jackpot in the past:

Another Poor Bugger who had to wait over 3 weeks for his Bimmer due to a Customs audit

All I know is my car is the only one from the "Don Pasquale" that has not progressed to the VPC.
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      07-20-2009, 05:40 PM   #9
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Maybe its because your car looks so "ballin" that they think somethings up...


Really sorry you have to go through this. I remember how i felt knowing my car was stateside but i couldnt get to it. Hang in there man!
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      07-20-2009, 05:58 PM   #10
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That would be the dumbest and most inefficient way to smuggle, ever.
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      07-20-2009, 06:16 PM   #11
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Sorry V-man. Would hate to be in your position. Knowing the customs process here in Oz quite well. Panel removal does not take place unless X-Ray results are inconclusive. Typically on a more exhaustive search they would do a more thorough 'Swab' for illicit materials as well as the basic dog/scans.

Then again, Oz isn't the same as US so... I don't know if that's going to help you.
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      07-20-2009, 09:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zenderm3 View Post
Sorry V-man. Would hate to be in your position. Knowing the customs process here in Oz quite well. Panel removal does not take place unless X-Ray results are inconclusive. Typically on a more exhaustive search they would do a more thorough 'Swab' for illicit materials as well as the basic dog/scans.

Then again, Oz isn't the same as US so... I don't know if that's going to help you.
Thanks mate. You know, if that's what they do then I can live with it: after all, I have saved / waited 2 years for my M3 already, so what's another 3 weeks?

No, bottom line is that I don't know what they are doing, or are likely to do to my immaculate M3.

A poster on Bimmerfest said the seats were examined. Who knows what that does to the leather... it's just galling that (1) I'm like the proverbial 'mushroom' (kept in the dark and fed b/s) and (2) I don't know the timeline - the other guy who posted on this issue 2 years back was delayed by 4 weeks. Not surprisingly he said he would not do another ED ... I'm not sure I'd say that.

Now, I accept that we need to have Customs' inspections to find contraband goods or, more importantly, to thwart threats such as the materials for a 'dirty' bomb - after all, while I'm frustrated about the delay of my M3, others risk their lives overseas so I can enjoy my car.

I think I just need more visibility about exactly what is being done to my M3. And if seats or whatever are examined, then what is then done to restore my car's condition.

Sound reasonable?
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      07-21-2009, 12:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voltigeur View Post
Thanks mate. You know, if that's what they do then I can live with it: after all, I have saved / waited 2 years for my M3 already, so what's another 3 weeks?

No, bottom line is that I don't know what they are doing, or are likely to do to my immaculate M3.

A poster on Bimmerfest said the seats were examined. Who knows what that does to the leather... it's just galling that (1) I'm like the proverbial 'mushroom' (kept in the dark and fed b/s) and (2) I don't know the timeline - the other guy who posted on this issue 2 years back was delayed by 4 weeks. Not surprisingly he said he would not do another ED ... I'm not sure I'd say that.

Now, I accept that we need to have Customs' inspections to find contraband goods or, more importantly, to thwart threats such as the materials for a 'dirty' bomb - after all, while I'm frustrated about the delay of my M3, others risk their lives overseas so I can enjoy my car.

I think I just need more visibility about exactly what is being done to my M3. And if seats or whatever are examined, then what is then done to restore my car's condition.

Sound reasonable?
Sounds completely reasonable and makes total sense - which is why you're going through this uncertainty - because I haven't found a government that takes a 'common sense' approach.

You are right, customs do need to do their job, have you tried calling the US Dept of customs/homeland security to see if they are willing to advise you on the process?

From another perspective.... I can't seem them pulling panels off the car... mainly because they wouldn't be officially qualified to do this without a BMW representative on the basis that they could corrupt the integrity/safety mechanisms... on the flip side... they could do damage to the interior

All in all - definitely wish you the best. Would definitely be keen to hear what happens.

Cheers.
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      07-21-2009, 01:51 PM   #14
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irony

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Definition of irony: the day I find out my M3 is being held back by Customs I get home and there's my 'Welcome to your new BMW' pack - the one w/ disks, service card, BMW history / design praecis!
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      07-21-2009, 06:27 PM   #15
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nice one. chin up... I have 130 days to go....
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      07-22-2009, 10:25 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zenderm3 View Post
nice one. chin up... I have 130 days to go....
Thanks mate! 130's easy, it's the last 30 that are killers
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      07-22-2009, 10:28 AM   #17
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Response from E.H. Harms, the carrier

-

Update: a poster advised me to contact E.H. Harms, the carrier who deals w/ our ED cars (btw, 'ED' is an unfortunate acronym when you think about it! )

E.H. Harms - contact details

So I emailed them and this is the response I received:

Quote:
Originally Posted by EH Harms, NJ
I spoke to a Customs officer who advised me that although their not allowed to disclose any information as to how they do exams, they do not damage the vehicles in any way. Every vessel that comes into port has many vehicles put on hold by customs and we have yet to receive any complaints of damage due to an exam.
I must say this email goes a long way to getting me over the freak-out I was having about what may be done to my beautiful M3.

So, now a case of sit-tight and get past the frustration of delay. At least I have already driven my M3 - and in Europe what's more, and that's pretty damn
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      07-22-2009, 10:44 AM   #18
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Glad to hear it! Really.... you think the last 30 days are hard... probably right... although I agree my biggest struggle will be more obvious once I get the VIN.

hehe
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      07-22-2009, 12:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Glad to hear it! Really.... you think the last 30 days are hard... probably right... although I agree my biggest struggle will be more obvious once I get the VIN.

hehe
Yes, receipt of VIN adds a layer of exquisite agony and then the last month seems to drag by ... I think my master plan for prolonging my life is, if I could afford it, order a dream car every year ...

Next stop: GT3! No, will be very happy w/ my M3 for some time ...
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      07-22-2009, 05:52 PM   #20
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You're not wrong V-man. That would be the ultimate way of slowing down time. I swear it is still July (what the!). And I have to wait until November! I'm hope to find out from my dealer whether the allocation has been confirmed.
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      07-22-2009, 09:44 PM   #21
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Customs audit

Quote:
Originally Posted by EH Harms, NJ
I spoke to a Customs officer who advised me that although their not allowed to disclose any information as to how they do exams, they do not damage the vehicles in any way.
As stated in the reply above, Customs does not like to disclose methods. But with the power of almighty GOOG I think I have identified a few:
  • optical fiber to peer into nooks and crannies
  • mobile X-ray: "Mobile Vehicle and Container Inspection System (M-VACIS); employs a gamma ray source to produce images within commercial trucks and tractor-trailers revealing contraband such as drugs, weapons and currency."
  • trusty canines' olfactory receptors

Clearly, if these relatively non-invasive checks turn up anything then they can delve further. Interesting how much tech is brought to bear, but is logical given the scale of the task - the volumes must be daunting.
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      07-23-2009, 12:32 AM   #22
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Cool
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