There are so many wonderful things about this country, but once in a while there is a hiccup. Add my less that stellar Spanish on the phone and it can get very… umm … interesting.
My California daughter sells Herbalife. She tried it and was thrilled with the results. She met a lot of other people who were also having outstanding success at losing weight, or just being healthy and feeling good. I eat healthy and bike many miles but every ounce is attached to my body with superglue and won’t leave, so I figured why not? I’ll give it a try and see what happens.
But, I am in Panama. Herbalife is sold here but how do you access it? There is a website but beyond some very general information it refers you to your associate. My daughter called the main office in California and they said to call on the phone to sign up. So, I call on the phone. In two minutes I am frustrated with the gal’s rapid fire Spanish and hand the phone to Cedo, who later explains she was told I need to use the website to sign up. *sigh*
Then, I noticed the little link where associates can sign in. I call my daughter and get her log in information and voila! She is logged in to the Panama site with access to all the products, literature, and anything else you would want. So, I get to thinking…. I can sign up on line using the USA site. Once I get my number and password, I can then go shopping at the Panama site.
It works! Everything goes as planned. I buy only a couple things just in case they fall into a black hole, and then it goes to the payment instructions. No, you cannot use your credit card. You can either go to Banco General and pay, and then scan and email that receipt. Or, you can transfer money from your bank to their account.
I put in my order and pay by money transfer, and wait. Nothing happens. A few days go by and I email. Nothing. I email again, and then I finally email with stronger wording that my USA associate cannot help me and they must tell me what I need to do for the next step! The reply comes – send us the receipt (why didn’t it say this in the instructions for money transfers??). So I email the scanned receipt and am told it will take three days because money is going from one bank to another. But, I did this last Friday and it is now the following Thursday. The next email says – your products have been released.
OK, now what?? I email again, and again and again. How do the products get to David? How do I get them? Again, finally, when I am about to give up and enlist someone’s help on the phone, a strongly worded email gets a reply – your products have been at Servientrega since the 6th, and here is your tracking number (it is now the 14th). *sigh* OK, fine. I bike down to the office the next morning and pick up my box without a problem.
Now I am ready to order what I will need for the month, and I know I had better not wait until the last week or two! I place my order. I print out the transfer receipt, scan it and email it on Friday morning. Three business days should land on Tuesday. I email on Wednesday… nothing. I email and resend the receipt on Thursday. Your products have been released.
I should have gone to pick them up yesterday but I have a really rotten cold and anything that can wait is being put on hold. Then, in the afternoon, my phone rang. It was the Servientrega guys looking for my house. In a few minutes a white van pulled up with two nice guys who handed me my box, had me sign the receipt, checked my ID (oh how I love pulling out the cedula!), and went on their way.
What a great surprise! especially when I didn’t feel like doing anything, especially driving all the way to the other side of town, and these nice guys bring my box to my front gate. Thank you Servientrega guys! (no, I don’t know why this one got delivered and the first order did not.)
Just in case you think getting anything done here is a nightmare, I can tell you about getting new plates for my car. I went to the insurance company to pay for another year. She had the paper waiting on the desk (did they just figure since it expires at the end of the month I would be coming by?). I wrote them a check, they printed out new paperwork, and I was done.
Then, I go to a shop for the car inspection. There are three people ahead of us so we check email and hang out for a while until it is our turn. The guy has me park the car in the special space out front. He checks the tires for tread, takes photos from the front, side, and back, collects $11, prints out the inspection form, and I am done. (heck of an inspection, eh? Every light on the car could be broken and the brakes not working LOL)
I know better than to try to do anything at lunch hour so I go home for lunch, and make copies of everything (one can never have too many copies so before going anywhere, make at least a couple copies of everything!). Then, I head downtown where I have to wait about 3 minutes. I hand in my inspection report, the original and a copy, pay my $36, and take my receipt to the other window. The lady has me write my name and phone number in a book, hands me my new plate and inspection sticker with my paperwork, and I am done. The whole process was done in a day and was very easy.
I also went to the bank. My updated credit card arrived (thanks to my California daughter who manages my US mail). I figured after all that Herbalife shopping I should replenish the bank account, and also get some cash. I present my credit card to the teller…. noo…. lo siento… you have to use the ATM machine. OK, no problem. I’ll use the one right over there. But she says wait? See this phone number on the back? You need to call them and tell them you are in another country. Have you ever done this before? (I have been using my Schwab card for three years to access my funds). So, I go to the ATM, it spits out cash, I go back to the teller and put some in checking and some in savings, and the rest in my wallet. Done! There was also no waiting in the bank, and they have always been extremely pleasant and polite to me.
Most things aren’t crazy here. Maybe that’s why something like this is frustrating. But, I am getting better with the Herbalife ordering process and even had two nice guys bring it to my door! That’s not all bad for sure.
TIP = this is Panama. Sometimes that’s all you can say.
Be watchFul with the Herbalife products, some have had weird reactions after a month or two.There is no regulatory agency listing their products, they may contain things that are NOT on the label.
I’ll just give it a try and see how it goes. If I don’t like something I can always quit.
I’m still working on exchanging my carnet for a cedula but the other day when asked for an ID at the store I pulled out my Panamanian Drivers License. No problems at all.
Hmm, I never thought about using my drivers license. Thanks for the tip
Lucky you being able to get you car plate in a day. We have been waiting 3 months now. Had the registration transfered to Pedasi last year. But now the municipal office has yet to receive them eventhough we have all the correct paperwork. They have no idea where it is. Others here have waited up to 6 months to get theirs. All part of of living here in Panama.
I’m lucky that the car was registered here in David. The other car is registered in Dolega. The first time we had to do it I went here in David to ask if I could get the plates here instead of Dolega. They looked at the papers, decided it was registered in Panama and I would have to file all these papers and pay extra money… blah blah…. until they looked at the last paper. Oh my, it is registered in Dolega! You need to go up there. Yes, that’s what I said when I first came in, and that answers my question. When I hear stories like yours it will make me think twice if I am considering a car registered elsewhere. Yes, TIP
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I am waiting for over 3 months for my new number plate to be collected at Dolega. I always show my Panamanian drivers license for the pensionado discounts. No problem.
I have no pensionedo visa. I did the drivers test at Sertacen in David. Just every 6 months a border run. No waste of money for the pensioned visa for me and my wife. My Dutch social security pension is being wired directly to Scotia Bank in Panama. as well as my 2 private pensions. Far cheaper than drawing from the ATM. Losing weight? Just eat 20% less.
Dolega was out of plates. We only have a piece of paper from them for our other car, but need to get back and see if they have plates now. You slim guy, I’m sure you have no problem losing weight! 😀
I would rather not be bothered with a border run every 3-6 months. Charles Schwab bank rebates all ATM fees and does not charge foreign transaction fees. Everyone has different preferences and experiences.
I also like this country enough to make the commitment to residency and cedula. I also have a Schwab account, probably had it for 30+ years by now. I like them for many reasons, including the rebate of ATM fees.
Oh Robert – you know your drivers licence is only good for 90 days, and then you have to make another border run? Don’t get caught unawares on this one, especially with the increased police presence on the roads around Boquete these days.
Have been enjoying your blog, especially your pictures. Am intrigued w/Panama but never been there. When you mentioned Herbalife, I just about fell off my chair.! Sorry your dtr. is involved w/ that outfit. You will have the most expensive urine in town!
Thanks, glad you are enjoying the blog and the pictures.
Have you had a bad experience with Herbalife?
Very overpriced vitamins. Never bought product…only took a few free ones, gave rest away. Internet too public..can’t say much. When I get to Panama, we’ll talk. You seem like a nice person, and I don’t want you to shoot your wad on Herbalife. Take a few more of those bicycle trips and you’ll get skinny or feel better.
I figure I’ll give it a try for a month and see what happens. Don’t worry, I didn’t break the bank. I have almost 5000K on my bike and aren’t a bit thinner. I’m a very stubborn case 😀
Hahaha. Oh, I am so sorry for laughing, but I can empathize with your frustrations. I hope you are feeling better.
I can laugh now too! And, it all worked out in the end.
Thanks, I am feeling much better now.
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Hi, Kris, glad your Herbalife ordering experience ended well! I’m pretty sure that the gym we went to in Boquete sold Herbalife also (although that was a year and a half ago, wow, time flies), in case you are ever visiting there and want to check it out. I never actually talked to anyone about it, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it was. Of course, if you can have it home delivered, it doesn’t matter, does it?!
But, I need a challenge in my life! 😀 Seriously, thanks for the tip. I will check it out if I’m up there. I would be easier to walk in and buy something, though I’m not sure if my associate (my daughter) would still get credit for the sale.