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International Online Purchase gone bad...

(13 Posts)
Whocansay Mon 03-Nov-14 16:54:29

I bought a ring from a website based in Israel. They had to design and make the ring, they stated ring sizing and P&P would be free. I paid online with a credit card, nothing appeared to be unusual. All seemed fine until it came to actually delivering my ring. They contacted me and asked for a company name and VAT number. My response was 'why do you need this?'. They said it was to avoid import duties.

This sound dodgy to me, (possibly fraudulent?) so I said this was not possible. They now say they will deliver but I will be liable for all VAT and import fees, which I have worked out will cost me a further £700 on top of what I have paid. I cannot afford this, so I feel as though I should cancel this and request a refund. I never would have purchased the ring had I been aware of their delivery policy. I have checked on the confirmation emails I've received and on their website and I can't see anything about this.

As I would still like the ring, is there anything I can do other than cancel? I assume that if they refuse to refund me I can approach my CC provider?

If anyone has any bright ideas it would be much appreciated.

mymummademelistentoshitmusic Mon 03-Nov-14 17:10:24

To be honest it was your responsibility to research the customs fees. As to VAT I can't comment as I've never had many dealing with it. If they've made the item especially for you and aren't refusing to deliver then I can't see why your cc provider will refund.

FaFoutis Mon 03-Nov-14 17:14:55

Sorry I can't help with this, it sounds awful.
Can I just ask who it is? I was about to order a ring from Israel.

Greengrow Mon 03-Nov-14 17:18:03

If you were buying from a company in the EU then the distance selling laws require that you be told about customs fees. However here you bought from Israel. So the EU right to cancel does not apply.

Sometimes they can send goods and customs do not notice and do not charge. Other times the post office picks up on it and you have to pay the duties.

Look at the terms on their website and whether they say they are under Israeli or English law first.

Also s75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act IF you used a credit card rather than debit card might allow you to obtain a refund via your card. Here the goods have probably been made specially to your requirements so they cannot easily sell them to someone else.

Everyone who buys from abroad outside the EU knows that they will have to pay customs duties on the import. However most of the better websites also make that clear on the site. Can you not find a company - your employer or husband's employer whose VAT number and company name can be used here?

atticusclaw Mon 03-Nov-14 17:21:43

I agree it was your responsibility to know this. If you're importing something from outside of the EU you will have to pay customs fees. £700 sounds an awful lot though, are you sure you've worked that out correctly? If so the ring must have cost you thousands.

prh47bridge Mon 03-Nov-14 17:26:31

This is not their delivery policy nor is it in any way dodgy. This is the law. If you order goods from abroad you may have to pay customs duty and import VAT. If you want the ring you will have to pay.

InfinitySeven Mon 03-Nov-14 17:32:35

Customs duty and import VAT are nothing to do with the company, and are your responsibility.

If the company dispatch the ring, you'll be contacted to pay. If you don't pay within the 14 days or so, the ring will be sent back. They are not always received. If the ring is received back, you will be able to ask for a refund, although I don't think an Israeli seller is under any obligation to refund you for this reason.

You'd be relying on the companies goodwill to cancel the sale at this point.

Even if the company operates under UK law, if the ring is being specially customised, it will be exempt from the distance selling regulations.

georgeousgeorge Mon 03-Nov-14 17:35:55

If it's a completed ring you will have to pay 20% on import plus any clearance fees (can be £20-£100 depending on the company) Fedex is usually quite good.

Thing is it's not up to them to tell you what the taxes are....The UK is your country and by buying abroad most people assume you know what you are doing.... it is exactly the same if you buy from USA or anywhere else. The initial purchase is cheaper as there is no tax and then tax and shipping usually make it a similar price to that if you bought in the UK.

Whocansay Mon 03-Nov-14 19:09:04

On the website it says that 'import fees do not apply in most cases'. In my discussions with the company they have said that I would not have to pay anything further than the price I paid up front. I (clearly wrongly) assumed that the price I paid was inclusive of import duty / taxes, in the same way as if I was buying from a normal UK site. Clearly I have been naïve.

I have discovered (after the fact) that what they mean is that I can avoid paying import fees if I use a company name and VAT number. This is the bit that I thought was dodgy. Surely you can't legally do that for personal purchases? Isn't it like paying a builder 'cash in hand'? I wasn't suggesting that I try and avoid paying the tax / fees, which is why I was going to cancel.

It seems from what you lot are saying that I'm just going to have to suck it up and find the money.

FaFoutis I don't really want to 'name and shame', as it seems like I'm the one in the wrong here, but if I can work out how to pm you, I will do so!

FaFoutis Mon 03-Nov-14 19:25:26

Thanks, Whocansay, I would appreciate it.

atticusclaw Mon 03-Nov-14 20:17:21

Blimey is it a £3k ring then?

You might be lucky and find it isn't opened. Some packages aren't, but its unlikely you'll avoid the duty.

atticusclaw Mon 03-Nov-14 20:18:55

I think you were brave in the first place to spend that sort of money on jewellery from an overseas website.

I've bought expensive jewellery online but it was a UK company.

Greengrow Mon 03-Nov-14 20:21:21

In the EU now under the new version of the distance selling laws you are supposed to be told all the costs but this is a company in Israel without assets in the EU so those regulations which might require you to be told about all the extra costs and duties will not apply.

I agree that some sites are a bit dodgy in how they help consumers avoid customs duties. You are even have to pay them if you bring a ring back on your hand - the £100k+ ring of Mrs Clooney had to be declared which was on her finger and customs duties paid. I don't regard it as some big sin if the suppliers though tell you how many people avoid those duties as they do not seem to be very uniformly applied. If m yson orders certain goods from a website he uses he pays them . If from another or under a different minimum value he doesn't. It often also seems to depend on if the post office pick up on those goods too.

It sounds like their website was misleading in saying usually people don't to pay. if so youI bet Israeli law has some kind of provision saying consumers must not be confused by information on websites and if you threatened to report them to Israeli trading standards they might help.

I would certainly favour a move to world free trade and no customs duties.

I wonder how a company name avoids the duties? Many many companies import and they usually pay a lot more customs duties than most consumers do. ther eis no general exemption for goods bought by a company. There are exemptions for samples I think. Also a company buying still pays VAT but why would an Israeli seller charge you VAT if you are buying from them abroad? That's very strange or are they an English companys elling in the UK? I think there was some debate about if you buy outside the EU no VAT and if the seller is in the EU and you buy on line there was VAT and the EU companies complained so may be the EU therefore decided to impose VAT on the foreign sales. Under English law if a price does not say if VAT is in top then the advertised price is deemed to include VAT BUT this contract and its terms probably say Israeli law so that may not help you.

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