(WSVN) - If you have friends or relatives in Cuba, you know how desperately they need even the basic essentials. One family was excited that a package from South Florida was on the way, until it disappeared. Where did it go? It’s why Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser got the call.

In good times, times are hard in Cuba. Now it’s harder times, and nearly empty shelves are almost completely empty.

Sean Ziegler: “People are not as fortunate as here. They can’t walk into a store and say, ‘Hey, I need seasoning.’ ‘Hey I need this.’ They can’t buy it.”

That’s why Sean and his wife Linda send packages to her family in Cuba. Things they buy from fully stocked shelves in South Florida. Things Linda’s family can’t afford or find in Cuba.

Sean Ziegler: “Basically, medication for her family, because she has a sick uncle over there. It was different types of seasoning. It was all different types of stuff in the package.”

Sean and Linda packed up a box with about $400 worth of food and medicine, then gave a business in Hialeah $161 to ship it to Cuba.

Sean Ziegler: “It was supposed to be there within seven days. Seven days comes around. Call Cuba, ‘No, we don’t have anything. There is nothing here.'”

A week became a month, then two, three months. The only thing Sean got were excuses.

Sean Ziegler: “‘Well, I gave the package to so and so at the Opa-locka Flea Market who sends products over there. She’s the one that has the package.'”

Sean headed to the flea market. There was no shipping company there by that name.

He filed a police report.

Sean Ziegler: “The cops basically said it’s a civil matter. There’s nothing they can really do about it.”

Sean went back to the business he paid to ship the package. The owner said it wasn’t her fault.

Sean Ziegler: “Points the finger at everybody else, blaming everybody else.”

Leaving Sean aggravated.

Sean Ziegler: “I’m a little hurt.”

Not hurt that he lost hundreds of dollars. Hurt that Linda’s family didn’t get the food and her uncle didn’t get the medicine he needed.

Sean Ziegler: “You have these people who have nothing, who have their hopes up that they’re going to be receiving something, that they’re getting something, that they have something to look forward to, and you’re basically taking that away from them.”

Well, Howard, Sean paid a business, who says they handed it to another business, who can’t be found.

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “It sounds complicated, but legally, it is simple. It’s called privity of contract, which is a fancy way of saying, ‘I did business with you. I did not do business with the people you hired to do the work.’ Therefore, the person Sean hired to ship the box has to return his shipping fee and the value of the goods he wanted to send to Cuba, and then that person can go after whoever they turned the box over to.”

We went to Havana Hialeah Travel, the company where Sean took his package to be shipped.

Emily Morales, Havana Hialeah Travel: “Yeah, we had a partnership.”

But the owner, Emily Morales, told us she turned Sean’s money and package over to Cuba Cargo Travel in Opa-locka — and they went out of business.

Emily Morales: “They were there before, and they closed everything down. We tried to retrieve those packages. They did not want to give them to us.”

We could not find a shipping company by the name of Cuba Cargo Travel.

Emily said she would contact Sean to see if they could work things out, but so far, Sean says he has not heard from her.

Sean Ziegler: “At the end of the day, it doesn’t surprise me, either.”

Sean didn’t get his money back yet, and Linda’s family in Cuba didn’t get their supplies at all, but Sean says he is not giving up trying to get the money for another package.

Sean Ziegler: “I’m going to contact small claims court and see about how to proceed with that, because definitely I want to get justice served for this matter.”

Shipping a package is usually easy and reliable, unless it’s to a communist country under an embargo. Small companies try to ship there, so try to find someone with a track record of delivering, because your friends and family in Cuba are depending on you to help them out.

Got a problem you want to shelve? Box it up and ship it to us, so we can unpack a solution for you.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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