Buying furniture in Bali : bargain or huge scam?

Don't buy furniture in Bali, unless you want to loose money

So you're surfing from your hotel room hoping to make a good bargain by buying nice pieces of furniture in Bali and having it shipped to your home? I'm afraid we have bad news...

If you want to buy fourniture in Bali, be VERY CAREFUL, most of those operations are a huge scam.

Here's what happened to us in May 2014...

1) BUYING (MAY 12)

We went to Mas Village since we had heard that it was THE place for people interested in furniture near Ubud. We visited some shops, but one of them had a really great choice with many pieces of furniture.

We negociated the price and decided to take some time to think about it, since the price given for shipping was very expensive in comparison with furniture prices. Finally, 2 days later (on May 12), we went back to Mas village and decided to buy 2 pieces.

We paid:
2,000,000 Indonesian Rupiah (US$ 170) for 1 wooden chair and 1 wooden sofa
7,150,250 Indonesian Rupiah (US$ 610) for shipping 2,3 cubic meters to Paris

Invoice (the only document we had and we signed at the shop)
2,000,000 Rps were for the furniture and 200 000 Rps
for small items we took with us

The seller made no mention of any other fee to pay later, except for taxes, even though we asked for it.
Since shipping costs were already very expensive (4 times the price of the furniture), the seller offered to lower the declared price of furniture a little bit the price (from US$ 170 to US$ 132) so that taxes would be less expensive.


At the end of June, we received the following documents from Nirwana Dewata, which seems to be the shipping company (we hadn't heard about this company before) : Packing list mentioned the "reduced" price all right. But on the bill of lading, there was a stamped mention "LCL/THC AND ANY OTHER CHARGES AT PORT DISCHARGES ARE ON CONSIGNEE ACCOUNT". Not knowing what that was about, we didn't pay attention. We paid for shipping when buying the furniture, so we didn't imagine there was anything to care about.

Packing List by Nirwana DewataBill of lading by Nirwana Dewata


On July 7, we receive a letter from a local agent (company managing goods reception at the harbour) asking us to come to Le Havre harbour (where we were supposed to have a delivery in Paris, Le Havre being at about 180 km away from Paris!) to get the merchandise and to arrange to come and pay tax and "arrival fees" (with no mention of the amount of these fees).

Arrival notice by local agent

Things seems to be getting a bit fishy...


After several calls to the local agent, they send us a new document informing us that we'll have to pay 512.16 (US$ 683) for "arrival fees", and 60 (US$ 80) more for delivery in Paris, and if we can't come and fill the papers ourselves, we must hire another company to pay fees and taxes at the harbour.

Here is the detail of "arrival fees"...
Arrival fees info by local agent


We call one of the suggested companies to ask them for their price for handling formalities at Le Havre that, and learn it'll cost us about 216 (US$ 289) and that taxes will be about 140 (US$ 188), which means the VAT is applied to shipping costs and "arrival fees" as well!!!

Well, time for a small sum up...

What was normal and we paid for...

Furniture cost : US$ 170
Shipping cost : US$ 610
VAT on furniture : 20%x 132$ (declared value) = 26 US$ / 19

TOTAL = US$ 806

What came as a surprise...

Arrival fees : US$ 683
Transportation to Paris : US$ 60
Hiring a company to pay fees and taxes at the harbour : US$ 289 216
VAT on fees : US$ 162 (188 US$ / 140 - 26 US$ / 19 )

Which makes a total expense of 806 + 1194 = US$ 2000 !!!

6) We write to the local agent, to the seller Surya Agung and to the shipping company Nirwana Dewata (July 23)

After 2 e-mails, no more answer from the seller...

In his first answers, the guy from Nirwana Dewata tries to make us believe he didn't undesrtand correctly what we were saying, then he says it's just taxes (which is not true since taxes are jsut about 10% of total expenses). After a few more precise (and threatening e-mails), he starts saying that what it was up to the seller to inform us correctly. Then he tells us that if we do not discharge the furniture quickly, it will be destroyed!!!

As for the local agent, they tell us that it's not their fault and that we'd better hurry because we'll soon have to pay extra money for storing our goods!!!

More and more e-mails are exchanged. It's getting better and better...

Besides, we get info from another company telling that it's a very comon scam and that HALF THE PEOPLE CHOOSE TO GIVE UP THEIR GOODS because of those extra costs.

7) Then we get REALLY angry and threaten to tell our story online to prevent people from having the same problem (End of July)

The local agent offers us a 10% discount on the "arrival fees" and a big discount on storage costs (33 Euros/US$ 44 instead of 229 Euros/ US$ 306!!!). Both Surya Agung and Nirwana Dewata tell us it's taxes and cutom clearances costs (which is not true).

Finally, we decide to accept the proposition from our local agent (we thought about giving up our furniture, but we spent already a big amount of money and we didn't want to have spent soo much time for nothing). So the final cost is...

Furniture and shipping costs (already paid in Bali): US$ 780
Arrival fees : US$ 610/ 456,88 (instead of US$ 683/512,88 )
Taxes: US$ 188 / 140
Transportation to Paris : US$ 67/ 50
Hiring a company to pay fees and taxes at the harbour : US$ 360 / 269
Storage fees (!!!): US$ 44 (33.07 Euros)


We hope our furniture will last a long, long time...

Please send this page to friends of yours who're willing to go to Bali and Indonesia, since taxi drivers and local tourism professionnals usually tell tourists that buying furniture there is a bargain... Better knowing that before getting dissapointeng or spending hours in frustrating conversations.



Unless you're buying a lot and can get proper contracts mentioning ALL shipping costs and be sure that you'll have no bas surprise one your furniture gets to your country.

[Read Our furniture scam in Bali story in French]