The Shipping Never Ships

A Frustrating Journey with Death Angel Merch

TLDR; I ordered a t-shirt from Death Angel's online store (, but it turned into a frustrating two-month saga involving poor communication, customs issues, and ultimately, a returned package. Here are some lessons and tips for online shoppers and businesses to improve customer experience.

The Story

It all started with a simple desire: to own an album tee of my favorite Thrash Metal band, Death Angel's "Killing Season." Living in Brussels, Belgium, I ordered the shirt from their official store in the U.S. Despite some initial reservations about carbon impact and international shipping, the excitement of owning my first music-related clothing overrode my concerns. Also, none of the local stores I had contacted could help me.

The Order Process

In April 10, I've passed order. The confirmation came with tracking links, and after a few days of printing, the item was on its way to Brussels. UPS updates kept me informed until the package landed in Belgium (April 23) and reached customs. That's where the trouble began.

The UPS and Customs Nightmare

Once at customs, the tracking status stagnated until the end of April. After multiple contacts with both Death Angel's store and UPS, it became clear that the package was stuck in a bureaucratic loop. UPS and customs both directed me to the other for information, while the store could only offer apologies and told me to wait.

More Frustrating Exchanges

Further communications with UPS and Death Angel's store continued in a frustrating cycle. UPS informed me they needed the MRN (Movement Reference Number) from the sender, which the sender didn’t have. The package was returned to international carrier. with the status "refused by addressee," despite me never being contacted. The package is currently in Switzerland ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

Timeline of the First Order

  • 04/12/2024: Order information received
  • 04/16/2024: Package received for processing (Bensenville, IL, United States)
  • 04/17/2024 - 04/18/2024: Package processed and departed multiple international carrier facilities in the U.S.
  • 04/23/2024: Package arrived at international carrier and customs office in Belgium
  • 05/21/2024: Package cleared customs but was returned to the sender with a "refused by addressee" status (Belgium)
  • 06/12/2024: Package processed in Switzerland

Timeline of the Second Order

  • 05/29/2024: Order information received
  • 05/30/2024 - 06/05/2024: Package received, processed, and departed multiple international carrier facilities in the U.S.
  • 06/10/2024: Package arrived at international carrier and customs office in Belgium
  • 06/25/2024: Package cleared customs but was returned to the sender with a "refused by addressee" status (Belgium)

Additional Frustrations

Throughout this process, several additional issues made the experience even worse:

  • UPS Support: UPS support is abysmal; no one seems to know anything about their own organization. They redirected me to the sender and lied about the package status, showing it as "refused by addressee" when it was likely due to poor packaging or documentation from the shipper.
  • Communication Loops: UPS support redirected me via chat to a non-responsive email, creating an endless loop back to their chat support.
  • Tracking Number Confusion: UPS has various tracking number formats (1Z...) that are inconsistent and incompatible with their tracking tools, making resolution difficult.
  • Shipper Blame: The shipper blamed their subcontractor, but only after my second attempt to order the same album tee. I was advised to reorder with a different recipient address, which resulted in the same failure.
  • Death Angel Support: Death Angel support does not always respond via email or Facebook. They are polite but unhelpful, telling me to wait or contact UPS, who then tells me to contact the sender. Death Angel delegates to a subcontractor I cannot contact, creating a dead end.
  • Waiting Game: Everyone advises waiting one month after the latest UPS status, but this doesn’t improve anything. A status should update every few days, not weeks.
  • Confusing Updates: With the second order, the package status was confusing, showing it in Belgium for a few weeks before updating to "departing from USA."

Lessons and Tips

For Shoppers:

  1. Track Your Orders Religiously: Use all provided tracking links and stay on top of updates. UPS won't proactively update you, but can be quite helpful.
  2. Know Your Rights: Understand the return and refund policies of the store.
  3. Document Everything: Keep a record of all communications. This helps in case you need to escalate the issue.
  4. Consider (local if any) Alternatives: Sometimes, local stores or third-party sellers can provide the same items without the international shipping hassle.

For Businesses:

  1. Clear Communication Channels: Ensure your support team is well-versed with the logistics process and can provide clear guidance.
  2. Partnership Accountability: If using third-party shippers, maintain a close relationship to quickly resolve issues.
  3. Customer Empathy: Understand the frustration of your customers and provide regular, meaningful updates.
  4. Proactive Support: When issues arise, take ownership and actively work to resolve them instead of passing the buck.


This experience was a test of patience and highlighted significant gaps in the customer service process for international orders. By sharing this story, I hope to raise awareness and encourage both shoppers and businesses to improve their practices. While I eventually ordered a similar tee from another store (, the disappointment with the official store remains. However that new store seems a bit cheaper and I'm hopeful the same experience won't repeat

Have you had similar experiences with online orders? How did you handle it? Share your thoughts and tips below. Let's make online shopping a better experience for everyone.