We sent this letter to Mr Paolo Cannata, General Manager of Cannata International Company - a customs clearance company based in Khartoum, Sudan - at a time when we still believed in his good faith. It narrates the problems we had with his employees. Talking with Mr Cannata proved to be an equally disappointing experience. We ended paying twice the normal amount charged by any customs clearance company, and spent 5 days instead of 2 trying to get our motorcycles and the papers back from his office.

Letter to Mr Cannata

Dear Sir,

We are writing you with every intention of paying you for your customs work and mailing you the Release of Guarantee letter certifying that we have left the country to free you of all responsibility with customs.

On the day our motorcycles were released (yesterday), Stephen James quoted to us a price of 70,000 SD (267 US$) and wrote the price down (we have the paper). We felt 50,000 was fair and wanted to negotiate. We were asked to return the next day, which we agreed to do, and we left $200 as good faith. The next day we came in at 10am and agreed to pay the 70,000 SD. Mr Stephen then informed us that he had raised the price to 300 US$. We informed him this was poor business practice, and asked that he honor his original quote of 70,000 SD.

Then he raised the price to 500 US$. We asked him why he kept raising the price, and to show us hardcopies of what we were being charged for. The request was denied.

We asked to please speak with you. The request was denied.

We asked both Mr Stephen and Chief Hassaoui to take an additional payment of 67 US$ to fulfill the original quote, and that we would continue the discussion with you. The offer was denied.

We then asked Mr Stephen and Chief Hassaoui to please give us the official form that we needed to have stamped at the border to clear you of responsibilities. The request was denied.

Even upon explaining to them that the paper was of no use to us, that we need it to clear you of responsibilities and to honor our word with you, your employees denied us the document.

At this time, we had to leave for the bank and said we would return at 1:30pm, which we did.

Upon returning, Mr Stephen said he would drop the price to 350 US$. We informed him that he had changed the price so many times we don't know what to believe, and that we would wait for your return. We left your office and discussed the cost of staying in Khartoum versus just paying Mr Stephen his final offer of 350 US$. We agreed to pay and went back to his office to finalize payment. He again for the 5th time changed the price. Again it was raised to 500 US$.

We became upset and felt lied to, and we let him know this. I left word with your secretary that we would contact you as soon as you returned to your office. I hope this message was relayed to you.

We were very happy with the customs clearance work we received from you. We understand you are charged 1.2% from customs and we want to pay for this charge as well. What we did not want to pay for was the day Chief Hassaoui took us all over town to get us Alien Registrations and Travel Permits. Had he told us what we were doing, we would have shown him in our Travel Guide that not only could we do this ourselves, but that the Travel Permit was free. We hired your company for customs clearance and did not understand why he had spent an entire day registering us as tourists, again something we could have done on our own for free. We showed Chief Hassaoui the book that proved this, and he told us the book was not true.

So at the end, we have been quoted 5 different prices and have been bounced around to 3 different persons, all presented as being the manager currently in charge.

We would like to reach an agreement with you, as our trust in the other individuals no longer exists.

Thank you for your good service, and as stated, we will pay you an additional money and guarantee you our passage to Ethiopia with a letter confirming this with an official stamp. We, at this time, wish to deal with you directly and hope to meet with you on Saturday.

Sincerely,

Merritt Grooms
Pierre Saslawsky