For my other job, as a business journalist for Online Business – About.com (shameless plug) I receive lots of review materials. Mostly books, but some software too. Some publishers are hesitant to ship to Ecuador, telling me that their shipping department is “unable” to ship out of the US.
Other publishers (especially Wiley) must have broken the difficult shipping secret because I regularly receive review copies from them. I have received packages via UPS, DHL, FedEx and the postal service. Couriers can take from a couple of days up to 10 days. The postal service is often surprisingly fast – but can take up to 2-3 weeks. I received a package (sent regular post) from Alltop coming Hawaii to Cuenca in just 9 days.
The process is a little different here. At the post office, every package is opened in front of you, by an armed solider. I think it’s a pretty good way to deter illegal shipments. They open everything, to ensure nothing is hidden. It takes almost no time, but it was a little surprising the first time I saw it. I thought I was being singled out because of where it shipped from. (Update Nov 14, 2013): The armed solider hasn’t been at the post office for a long time. While there is an armed guard, he isn’t involved with the packages.
Something else that’s a little different, is although they state door to door delivery, it isn’t. You might pay for UPS to deliver to Cuenca but you’ll also have to pay another $10 to get the package from Guayaquil to Cuenca. UPS has service here, but only through an agent. The agent bills for the final leg. Not to serious, but tends to add up when 6-8 books all come under separate shipping labels.
We’ve also ordered shipments online with Amazon.com and they will ship internationally, quoting the price on the site. Its worked flawlessly.
The most important thing to remember when having shipments coming to Ecuador is: Make sure that your phone number is on the package – multiple times. Most home don’t actually have an address. An article a few months ago in the local paper noted that there are more than 1000 unnamed streets in the City of Cuenca. The only way you’ll get your package is if they can call you. I always go pickup the packages. Unless you have a rented office space, they’ll never probably never find you.