Review of Gaston SamericaXplorer Shipping: BEWARE!

Discussion in 'Vendors' started by teizms, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. teizms

    teizms Long timer

    Feb 25, 2009

    Several people have approached me regarding my issues with utilizing Gaston as a shipping broker. Instead of repeatedly typing summary responses, I think its about time I type up the details.

    In 2012 i shipped my motorcycle from USA to Germany via Stefan Knopf —> Painless

    The bike was there for a while till Knopf shipped it to Chile for me —> Painless

    I toured South America from around July to December, riding from Valparaiso to Cartagena.

    From Cartagena i wanted to ship my bike back to Germany (Knopf HQ). I wanted to use a RORO service as i did not want to take off the wheels etc.

    My Story:

    I was quoted around 1900 to go from Cartagena to Barcelona via KLINE RORO. I was told that port fees in Barcelona would be around $180 (it was more like 500).

    While more expensive than traditional shipping options, i decided to go with this service for the convenience and sent the money to Gaston.

    From here, I will fast-forward to the around February because everything in the middle is more about dealing with customs and the shipping service itself, both of which are irrelevant to my issue with Gaston.

    For months since dropping off my bike, I had been asking Gaston to tell me what is the storage cost at Barcelona as i can’t pick up by bike right away. He kept saying he will get back to me. Time passed, the cargo ship reached Barcelona, my bike was in storage and yet no confirmation. Finally, i find out its actually 10 Euros a day, and since my plan was to store it for around 60 days, i was looking at an extra 600 Euros. Err … okkk.. so i hurry up and somehow manage to get my bike out after 45 days of storage and get slapped with a 450 euro storage bill which could have been avoided. Oh and don’t forget port fees were more like 500 euros rather than $180.

    But here is where is gets really interesting. More than a month before my arrival into Barcelona, I was getting emails from the customs agent that Gaston has NOT paid the shipping company yet and I can’t collect my bike if he does not pay them. At this point, i was messaging Gaston and he kept replying “i will only send by overnight on the day of your arrival.”

    This is money that i paid him 3 months ago and he had still not paid the shipping company and was insisting that he wont pay them till the day of my arrival. I asked him that what if something happens on the last minute, there is an issue with the transfer, there is a strike .. so many things that can happen, why can’t he send this payment a day or two early so i am not stuck in Barcelona. but no.. he told me not to tell him how to run his business… he refused to send the payment even a day early.

    I reach Barcelona. No payment.
    I message him.
    Gaston:i will send it tonight

    next morning. no payment…
    Gaston: oh i sent it via overnight, its a time difference thing. it will reach you tomorrow morning. Don’t be impatient. its just a day or two.
    Inside my head: well i gave you a 2 month heads-up #$#$*&

    next morning. no payment ..
    Gaston: Oh it must be the postal service, the overnight shipment must be taking time
    Inside my head: postallllll shipment.. this wasn’t a bank transfer ???

    next morning…. no payment..
    Gaston: post office has told me letter is lost, if you want the bike quickly then make the payment yourself and i will refund you later….
    Me: WTF!!!!!

    Yes i am serious. this guy asked me to pay the shipping company (money that i had already paid him 3 months ago)… he is like well i will send the payment again but it will take time.. i refused to pay the shipping company and said i will wait.. all this time racking up hotel bills for Barcelona.

    next day,
    Gaston: oh i can’t send the money because i broke my arm and i can’t go to the bank or the post office. so if you want your bike, pay the shipping company and i will refund u…


    at this point, he stopped pick up phone calls.

    I knew i was already screwed and needed by bike out. So i contacted the shipping company and paid the bill. Guess what, the shipping company charges were 800… close to half of what Gaston laid out!!!!!!!! Keep in mind that in the 1900 he charged me earlier, it included $200 broker fees from him already. So he had also double dipped on the shipping charges in addition to broker fees. Well - technically, he just made off with all that money anyway…

    So folks, i paid 800 to the shipping company and got my bike out. At this point, i had shelled out:
    1900 to Gaston
    800 to shipping company
    500 to Spain port fees
    500 to storage

    Also, note that in Barcelona customs agent in a requirement. Add around 150 for that. And i also paid the port fees at Cartagena in cash.

    this was now more expensive than air shipping.

    in any case… i had my bike. i was riding Europe. things could be worse.

    i reached out to gaston multiple times about my refund, but never got a single penny back from him. he would never pick up the phone. he said oh tomorrow ,, in a day,, soon. but i never saw that money from him. after some time, i decided to involve the payment processor in an effort to get my money back.

    Thats when Gaston finally, replied….. with threats!!!!i have your passport number , i have your id number i will report u here , i will report u there. blah blah blah..

    So thats my story. your mileage may vary. i would not recommend utilizing his services. I would not shy away him outrightly calling him a thief and cheat. Totally unreliable.
    Benduro likes this.
  2. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

    May 22, 2015
    Da Lat, Vietnam or Olympia, WA when stationary
    Hindsight is usually 20/20 and with that in mind, I was NOT surprised to see that this company is based in Miami. I lived in South Florida for over 15 years and was constantly amazed by the creativity of the scams that South Floridians come up with.

    I'm wondering if, since international commerce was involved, would Interpol be of any assistance? I hear they're ruthless.

    Good luck and safe travels.
    Benduro likes this.
  3. CCjon

    CCjon HighHorse Rider

    Apr 29, 2007
    Under the Texas Sun
    Teizms, thank you for posting the details. Over the years I have supported and recommended Gaston on AdvRider. I had a positive experience with him shipping to Chile. Until Gaston can post a positive and acceptable defense to your complaint, I can not and will not recommend him any more, here or anywhere.

    Sorry you had such a lousy experience shipping. I know how difficult it is to find good international motorcycle shippers.

  4. ErikMotoMan

    ErikMotoMan Airbag crash survivor!

    Apr 4, 2014
    In Motorcycle Heaven since 1990 - So Cal!
    I think we have all had experiences like this. Trusting a total stranger with YOUR cash is always a risk. Lesson learned? Pay with plastic. Good or bad, share your experience on the internet. I thank you for doing so, hopefully many will read this before handing over their cash to Gaston.
  5. Wattner

    Wattner Long timer

    Oct 14, 2003
    Miami, Florida
    I'm in Miami, need me and a few of the boys to look him up and get the refund?

    I hate hearing this...
  6. teizms

    teizms Long timer

    Feb 25, 2009
    thanks for the support folks!!!
    Benduro likes this.
  7. Jackyblack

    Jackyblack n00b

    Jul 18, 2017
    Yes, please. Same think is happening to me. My vehicle won't be released in Colombia right now since he hasn't forwarded the money I paid him 3 months ago.
    Benduro and BadKarma like this.
  8. kdoglaw

    kdoglaw n00b

    Oct 24, 2012
    This just happened to me with my Tacoma and Fourwheel camper at the end of a 6 month adventure through South America. Someone emailed me about Gaston and this was my reply:

    Under no circumstances would I recommend Gaston as an agent.

    We just got back from traveling in South America for six months between January and June of this year. He shipped our truck and camper from Florida to Buenos Aires. Although we eventually received our truck in BA, his instructions and email responses were slow and at times incoherent. I found it difficult and confusing when reading his responses to questions. He was very poor at answering question in a clear and comprehensive manner.

    We had him ship from Cartegena to Baltimore on the route home. It was a disaster. In May, he emailed urgently for money for the shipping. Up to this point, he had become very tardy with email responses. It became difficult trying to get a hold of him.

    We sent him the shipping fees regardless because he, after all, had shipped our truck to South America. When we arrived into the US, we discovered that none of the US customs paperwork had been completed. He had not completed any of the ISF security filing. I ended up doing all of the work myself and cleared customs without his help.

    The worst, however, was that we discovered he had not used our money we sent him in May to pay the shipping company. Our truck ended up being stranded in Baltimore port for ten days while we waited. He did not respond to email, texts, or telephone calls until the very end.

    He finally told us he did not have the money to pay for the truck's release. In desperation, we ended up paying the shipping lines a second time in order to retrieve our vehicle.

    Although he told us at the time that he would pay us back, this was in early June. Currently, he has yet to make a repayment as well as reimbursing us for the hotel stays in Baltimore. We have had limited communication with him.

    This is not a singular occurrence: we were traveling with another couple who also used Gaston and they are currently in the exact situation as us. To date, they are still owed money. I can send you their contact to you if you wish.

    Gaston is untrustworthy, unreliable, and a poor communicator. The fact that he would even use me as a reference suggests the ineptitude on his part.

    Do not use him as an agent. We are currently investigating legal action against him.
    Benduro likes this.
  9. teizms

    teizms Long timer

    Feb 25, 2009
    guys,i feel your pain. really sorry to hear these reports.

    if you paid him via credit cart or paypal, please contact them instantly. they will side if you if you give them the proof of the communication.
  10. XTremeRide

    XTremeRide Ole Soldier

    Nov 11, 2014
    Traffic Central
    Folks, no dog in this fight but unfortunately have had experience dealing with unscrupulous, unethical, or dishonest vendors. In each case, presenting a cogent argument to the local Better Business Bureau "motivated" recalcitrant businesses to correct their behavior.

    Might be worth your time to look into making a BBB complaint, and have them contact the vendor on your behalf. At the very least, the BBB will keep a record of the complaint and make his performance history available to other consumers.

    YMMV. Hope affected parties are fully reimbursed.
  11. dsmvault

    dsmvault Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2013
    I would also not recommend shipping with Gaston Etchart/SamericaXplorer. In fact, I would expressly recommend NOT doing any business with the guy.

    Airfreighted my bike from Miami to Buenos Aires with him last month. Stopped answering phone calls after receiving the money, hiked the price three times after initial agreement, promised around one-week time until shipping and took almost three weeks, never even once assumed responsibility for the delays (it's the guy who does the crate, it's customs, it's the weather, etc), lied on the detailed invoice to artificially increase his margin (told me the airway company charged way more that what it in fact did).

    After reading some reports here on ADVRider and elsewhere, I almost consider myself lucky to have even gotten my bike safely in Buenos Aires. Other fellow travellers had a much worse fate.

    I regret not havin properly scouted ADVRider database prior to all this. Hope fellow travellers see this before making their decisions.
    Benduro and BadKarma like this.
  12. teizms

    teizms Long timer

    Feb 25, 2009
    the best thing we can do is spread the word so others can protect themselves.
    dsmvault and Benduro like this.