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Import duty and potential piss-taker

(7 Posts)
ninedragons Mon 04-Jul-11 11:52:39

I'm in Aus, and sent a used item to a buyer in the UK.

He wanted me to declare the value as GBP10, but I insured it for the full value ($100) plus postage, so $180 (about GBP110) in total. I didn't want to be out of pocket for the postage if it went missing and he filed a paypal claim. I did say in the auction that if it went overseas, it would have to be sent recorded insured delivery.

So now he has gone ballistic because he's claiming he had to pay GBP50 import duty. Could that possibly be right? Even assuming they levied it on the insured total rather than just the goods (which were listed separately), c. 45% import duty seems REALLY steep.

DH thinks he's trying it on - he is English and reckons duty would be nowhere near that, and the buyer is hoping I'll partly refund him to avoid a negative.

Buyer is threatening dispute - are eBay going to find in his favour automatically, because that's what they seem to do, or do I have a chance of explaining that I wouldn't falsify a customs declaration?

If I get a negative from this little prick, I am going to send him a roll of toilet paper with a declared value of $700 on the parcel, and he can pay duty on that grin

MavisCruetTheFairy Mon 04-Jul-11 12:01:27

He is likely to have had to pay that much, but it won't all have been import duty. The importing company (Royal Mail or someone else) will normally charge an "administration fee" for processing the import duty and IME that is generally as much as or in some cases more than the duty charge itself.

You can calculate what the duty charge itself would be at, but I wouldn't be surprised if he'd been charged anything up to an additional £15-£20 on top of that as an administration fee. And I think it's pretty likely that customs & excise took the insured value as the amount to levy duty on, rather than the value of the goods (that's the sort of thing he could appeal against, but it's a major faff).

While eBay/PayPal do tend to find in favour of buyers, I really can't see that they can find in favour of a buyer who was attempting to get you to collude with him in committing a criminal offence.

fergoose Mon 04-Jul-11 12:13:56

If he refuses to pay and doesn't get the parcel and starts a claim he will get his money back, but I guess the goods will just be returned to you.

Could you not just have marked it as a gift, then no duty would have been payable? Does the duty value tie in with the insurance value then?

ninedragons Mon 04-Jul-11 13:57:42

Ah, I see. I looked at the HMCE website and that said no import duty was charged on goods less than GBP135 or thereabouts. It must be that admin fee.

Whatever body charged this fee has levied it on the whole insured amount ($100 goods + $80 postage), even though the value of the goods alone is on the label.

DH posted the parcels and I don't think he ticked gift. I didn't realise it made a difference.

Oh well, tough shit for him. He's been very aggressive about it so I've no intention of helping him out with the fees. I had no control over who handled his package when it hit the UK - I only dealt with Australia Post and have no idea who their contracts at that end are with. Perhaps next time he'll be more circumspect about ordering from overseas.

Thanks ladies!

ninedragons Mon 04-Jul-11 13:58:56

Thanks for the calculator, Mavis. In the unlikely event I ever agree to send to the UK again, I'll definitely use that first so nobody gets any nasty surprises!

mollymole Mon 04-Jul-11 14:01:15

i had a parcel from the United States - value £55.00 after duties and charges it was around £95 - i did not know until the letter came about the charges as there was no indication on the website - the admin charges were around £30 - i just paid up and learned from it

ninedragons Mon 04-Jul-11 14:03:44

It does seem very expensive (parcels coming into Aus aren't liable for duty until they hit around GBP600), but it's something the buyer should take up with his MP. No point threatening a seller on the other side of the world.

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