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Customs charges - ouch!!

(33 Posts)
Piffpaffpoff Wed 27-Mar-13 14:06:50

I bought an item from a US seller and have had card through door this morning from Royal Mail saying customs duty is due, plus an astronomical £8 Royal Mail 'admin' charge. Was not aware there would be any customs duty due and was given no warning of this at the time of sale.  The amount due in total is about half of what the item cost and had I known about this I would not have bought the item.

Am I just going to have to suck it up or should the vendor be paying this? Advice/Opinions welcomed.

Manchesterhistorygirl Wed 27-Mar-13 14:07:48

You are going to have to suck it up I'm afraid. It's not unto the seller to tell you about customs and excise duty in your country.

Sorry.

fergoose Wed 27-Mar-13 14:18:45

well the seller could have marked it as a gift, many do to prevent the charges. If you don't want to pay the item will be returned and you can claim your money back via ebay/paypal.

Piffpaffpoff Wed 27-Mar-13 15:37:26

Thanks for your replies. I think I will just have to chalk this one up to experience and not buy from abroad again without asking the seller if they will mark the item as gift. TBH, it's the £8 Royal mail admin fee that's pissing me off the most, the words daylight and robbery spring to mind.

Boomtastic Wed 27-Mar-13 15:39:04

If it is marked as a gift when it isn't, that is fraud. hmm

Piffpaffpoff Wed 27-Mar-13 16:03:59

Well, yes, that is also true.

sarahtigh Wed 27-Mar-13 20:21:25

i say specifically in my conditions that I do not mark sales as gifts it is fraud, normally fergoose you are very good with ebay stuff but marking as a gift is illegal and against ebay rules it should state clearly and ebay did say they were adding this that customs and tax were always the responsibility of the buyer, they can not be paid in advance and the seller is not responsible

sarahtigh Wed 27-Mar-13 20:22:40

the admin charge of £8 is a bit of a stinker though, but if you asked me to mark as gift I would not but I would tell you that

fergoose Wed 27-Mar-13 20:46:18

Sarahtigh I am not telling anybody to commit fraud, I was merely saying lots of sellers do mark items as gifts to avoid the duty - I don't, nor have I ever done that. Where have I told anyone to commit fraud??

queenofthepirates Wed 27-Mar-13 21:11:59

Even when it is marked a gift, they can still charge I believe-well I got charged on a lovely box of baby clothes sent for my DD's birthday from her US Godparents-that really stung

So how do you pay the duty and avoid the Royal Mail admin charge? I'm glad I came across this thread as I am considering ordering some items from a U.S website and hadn't realised there would be extra to pay on top of international postage!

fergoose Thu 28-Mar-13 09:01:26

I don't think you can avoid the admin charge - is extortionate isn't it sad

sarahtigh Fri 29-Mar-13 11:07:23

well sorry fergoose but your tone did suggest that you thought the seller should have marked as gift, my apologies I did not mean to offend

Piffpaffpoff Fri 29-Mar-13 11:32:14

Small update - the seller HAD marked it as a gift. So technically it should not have attracted duty. However, as they had also stuck a massive business sticker/advert on the box which was probably visible fom space, customs rightly presumed it was a business import.

Anyway lessons learned about buying from overseas, but ultimately the item I wanted was not available from uk sellers so that's just the price I pay for being so specific with my requirements grin.

GemmaTeller Fri 29-Mar-13 12:31:27

You can't pay the duty and avoid an admin charge.

I regularly buy from US, using FedEx, UPS, DHL and they all have admin charges in there somewhere.
I have paid some eyewateringly large import fees, although I do agree the £8 royal mail 'handling fee' is a bit of a stinger.

I have a statement on all my web shops that I am not liable for any customs customs charges on overseas purchases and that buyers need to check with their own customs/mail offices.

PoodleChops Mon 01-Apr-13 12:53:36

fergoose said:
"well the seller could have marked it as a gift, many do to prevent the charges. If you don't want to pay the item will be returned and you can claim your money back via ebay/paypal."

The item won't necessarily be refunded - many have tried this and failed. What criteria would you use for a claim on eBay or Paypal? You can't use "Item not Received" (INR) because it clearly has been received and if the seller sent it tracked, then a buyer would automatically lose the claim. Paypal tend to shunt claims back to the eBay system if it's an eBay transaction, anyway. This advice can mean the fast-track to no goods and no money.

Piffpaffpoff said:
"Small update - the seller HAD marked it as a gift. So technically it should not have attracted duty."

I'm so sorry but it isn't as simple as that sad Marking it as a gift isn't enough to get it zero-tariffed. If the goods are valued at over £36 then there will still be charges. This is taken directly from HM Revenue and Customs - hope it helps to clear things up.

"Gifts sent from outside the EU

If you're sending or receiving a gift from outside the EU:

Excise Duty is payable on any alcohol or tobacco products
Customs Duty is payable if the value of the gift exceeds £135, but will be waived if the amount of duty is £9 or under
import VAT is payable if the value of the gift exceeds £36

To qualify as a gift:

It must have been sent from a private person outside the EU to a private person(s) in the UK.
The Customs Declaration must be completed correctly – see guidance on the customs procedures for goods posted to the UK link below.
It must be for the use of either you or your family.
There must be no commercial or trade element and it must not have been paid for by the recipient either directly or indirectly.
It must be of an occasional nature only - for example for a birthday or anniversary.
If it's perfume or toilet water it must be within the allowances described in the earlier section 'Perfume and toilet water'. If the allowances are exceeded than charges apply on the excess.

fergoose Mon 01-Apr-13 13:28:42

the buyer can claim not received if they don't pay the charge and don't have the item redelivered - I did it myself last week.

PoodleChops Mon 01-Apr-13 13:56:54

fergoose said
"the buyer can claim not received if they don't pay the charge and don't have the item redelivered - I did it myself last week."

That will only work if the item isn't tracked. If it's tracked then eBay and Payal can see the status that it's waiting in HM Customs.

PoodleChops Mon 01-Apr-13 13:59:43

Not exactly fair on the seller, either, is it? They send the goods in good faith and the buyer then refuses to pay the HM Customs charge..the buyer sets up a claim in Paypal or eBay, wins then claim ( you say you've won) and the seller gets a black mark on their eBay or Paypal account. What did the seller do wrong?

fergoose Mon 01-Apr-13 14:41:04

my seller wrote double the value of the item on the parcel, so I would have had to overpay the customs fee - this I refused to do, so the item was returned to them and I got my money back. The item didn't show as delivered as it wasn't delivered to me so I was able to claim for not received. Should I have let the seller keep my money do you think?

Why should I overpay because they lied?

fergoose Mon 01-Apr-13 14:42:48

and my item was tracked - showing it is half way to the buyer doesn't mean the seller wins the case - it has to show as delivered to the buyer - not sat in customs.

PoodleChops Mon 01-Apr-13 14:52:32

If the seller has entered an amount on the customs declaration that is over and above what you've paid, the HM Custom allow you to appeal with your evidence. It's a very simple process, so in answer to your question, no, you shouldn't have to overpay and you won't if you have the evidence/documentation.
It's also a little dangerous to say that a seller "lied" so that, as you say, you "..would have had to overpay the customs fee" Many sellers mistakenly think they have to put a value on the CN22 that covers an "insurance" value, rather than the true value. This isn't deliberate deception to make you pay more customs, afterall, what financial benefit does the seller get from doing this?

Piffpaffpoff Mon 01-Apr-13 14:58:08

poodle the value of the item was £20 so technically, under the gift rules, it was exempt from import duty (i had already looked up the information you have copied to while trying to establish the facts for myself). However, it was clearly not a gift due to the massive business sticker the vendor had put on the box so, rightly, it got taxed. I have no problem with that.

What i do have a problem with is that I had to pay Royal Mail £8 for sticking a sticker on a box, sending me a card postcard informing me of that charge and then processing a payment of £3.91 to customs and I have a bigger problem with the fact that there appears to be no way whatsoever of avoiding or pre-empting that charge. A charge on a sliding scale, related to the value of the item, might feel fairer.

PoodleChops Mon 01-Apr-13 14:58:39

And at the risk of repeating myself, assuming a seller puts the correct declaration on the CN22 (customs form)....

Not exactly fair on the seller, either, is it? They send the goods in good faith and the buyer then refuses to pay the HM Customs charge..the buyer sets up a claim in Paypal or eBay, wins then claim ( you say you've won) and the seller gets a black mark on their eBay or Paypal account. What did the seller do wrong?

fergoose Mon 01-Apr-13 15:00:46

Poodle - my seller told me they filled it in for the higher amount so if the item was lost they could claim for the lost item for more money - so yes, my seller did lie actually. And it wasn't an 'insurance' value - they were clearly fraudulent.

I really don't need a lecture thanks.

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