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Old 17-01-2005, 17:53   #141
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Originally Posted by RomerojpgX
Right I got stung by customs today and wondering if anyone can help?

I ordered a dvd set the Lord of the Rings Wooden Box from Taiwan, and it cost me 80 pound!
£80 is way over £18. Therefore by law you have to pay VAT & duty. Everything from here onwards is you complaining that you haven't got away with not paying

Quote:
and was delivered by EMS and they knocked on the door today and asked for a cheque now or I dont get the parcel! the cheque was for 30 pounds!!!!! but the parcel has no price on the front! only the postage from what I can see,
I assume there was no price on the customs declaration sticker then?


Quote:
so it looks like they have opened the parcel and ripped open the documents to see how much the parcel cost! is this normal? is it legal? they just opened and looked in and messed about and then charged me 30 quid
Yes. HMC&E have rights under customs law to open packages. They usually put a sticker or stamp on the parcel to say they've done this.

Quote:
I am not happy as the price is not on the front from what I can see, so how can they justify openeing and looking at private documents?
They can justify opening it because it hasn't been declared properly, so they need to find out the value. If they can't find the value inside the package they are within their rights to check out the web site or look up elsewhere what the typical value is for the item.


Quote:
it was marked as a gift
Won't make a difference. It was sent from a company. Besides 'gift' just means the limit is £36. £80 is still way over £36.

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and the price was 700 NT$ so really where the hell did they pull 30 quid from!!!!! and they didnt even give my dad any form of slip to say he paid by cheque.
You just said it was £80. 700 NT$ = £11, so I guess that was on the customs declaration or inside the box somewhere. If so, it's a false declaration and HMC&E will go find out the true value as they'll take one look at it and say "no way is it worth £11"

Assuming £80 though...

£80 + 3.5% duty + 17.5% VAT = £17.29

and the rest comes from the handling fee. If it's a courier it could quite easily make the price up to £30, but if it was RoyalMail it should only be an extra £4.


Quote:
I am furious and have no idea what to day apart from swear a lot, and moan, so thought may as well ask people who know about this on here and see what you lot think, as I am very angry and want to kill someone!
Sorry mate but by law you have to pay VAT&Duty on items with intrinsic value over £18. If the item is worth £80, you pay.

Complain to the PM or the Queen if you object


I feel your pain though. First time I got stung I was angry, but then you learn to live with it and if you order enough you get away with more than you get stung on so it makes up for it, even if technically it's all illegal and you should be paying on every single item over £18
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Old 17-01-2005, 18:02   #142
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This isnt the 1st time thats my point they have had 400 quid from me over the last few months, I dont mind them as the price was on the front. (it kills me cash wise, but the price was in the open)

but the price on the front of this was 700!
it doesnt matter what they think its worth, it says 700, so how can they just go ahead and change the price! its not right, so if I buy something and they put the right price on the front and Customs think it costs more can they do that, as basically thats what I see they have done no idea how that can be legal, they dont know I didnt pay 700 for it!
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Old 17-01-2005, 18:16   #143
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Originally Posted by RomerojpgX
but the price on the front of this was 700!
it doesnt matter what they think its worth, it says 700, so how can they just go ahead and change the price! its not right, so if I buy something and they put the right price on the front and Customs think it costs more can they do that, as basically thats what I see they have done no idea how that can be legal, they dont know I didnt pay 700 for it!
Absolutely they can do that. That's the way the law works. It's to protect against exactly what this supplier is doing, which is false decalarations (which are illegal). In fact you are the one legally responsible for the declaration, not them (see below).

Besides it's not what you paid for it but the intrinsic value of the item (what it's worth).

The declaration is effectively just a guide which saves them a lot of effort in finding out the real value. If you had a declaration of 700NT$ on a standard DVD sized package, they'd most likely believe it, but that kind of price in a big box is going to raise eyebrows, so they'll investigate further. If they think the declared value is about right, they won't bother investigating further.


There's a new notice on HMC&E's site which is of interest here...

Quote:
Note: Some unscrupulous overseas suppliers openly advertise on the internet, or on their web-sites that they will deliberately either misdescribe items or underdeclare their value in order to evade customs charges that are legally due on importation. You should be aware that although the foreign sender may have completed the customs declaration form on the parcel you are regarded (in law) as the importer of the goods and responsible for the information on the declaration, and any customs charges that may be due. This means that if you purchase goods from these suppliers and the declaration is found to be false or misleading you may be liable to financial penalties or criminal prosecution. Furthermore the goods themselves will be liable to forfeiture. It is in your own interests to ensure customs declarations are completed properly.
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Old 17-01-2005, 18:32   #144
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I guess I got off light then

still the thing is they dont actually know how much you did pay, thats what gets me I may well have paid 700 for some reason, strange yes but it does happen, esspecially off Ebay I have had massive cheap things for a fraction of the price from companies on Ebay and basically Customs could say no you didnt pay that we will make up a price we think its worth, thats just ignorant on Customs behalf and it shouldnt be right at all


Thanks for looking at my little prob, at least I can calm down a bit now
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Old 17-01-2005, 18:51   #145
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Originally Posted by RomerojpgX
still the thing is they dont actually know how much you did pay, thats what gets me I may well have paid 700 for some reason, strange yes but it does happen, esspecially off Ebay I have had massive cheap things for a fraction of the price from companies on Ebay and basically Customs could say no you didnt pay that we will make up a price we think its worth, thats just ignorant on Customs behalf and it shouldnt be right at all
It's not ignorant, it's the law. Of course Dickens did famously say "If the law supposes that, the law is an ass"

We used to have a lovely time with CAD$12 declarations from DVD Soon for ages until HMC&E wrote to DVD Soon and told them to stop what they were doing. A shame, but it's more a case of "oh well, the party is over".

I believe the same kind of customs laws apply in other countries though the exact duties, taxes and limits vary.
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Old 17-01-2005, 19:52   #146
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Ahhh the good old days of Customs friendly places like DVDSOON

how the bubble burst, thanks again

I probibly will still try to send an email to someone and complain to someone you never know someone may listen and give me something ( no not jail time)
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Old 20-01-2005, 00:45   #147
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Originally Posted by mumbles
I hope not, the letter from HMCE gave me a number for RM telling me to contact them for the £4.00.
Odd. The letter I received from HMC&E yesterday morning (19 Jan), in response to my letter dated 14 Jan (asking why they'd charged duty on $41.98 (=£17.75)), said that they would be refunding the total charge of £7.32 including the £4 Royal Mail Clearance Fee.
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Old 20-01-2005, 01:33   #148
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Not sure if this affects anyone else (may explain why RM charges were refunded above), but when I spoke to the woman at Mount Pleasant regarding my problem, she said that they hadn't received updated exchange rates from HMCE during December.... she said I would get a full refund if I wrote in enclosing the charge sheet and the packaging declaration....
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Old 20-01-2005, 17:23   #149
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Spoke to RM today and they just asked me to send a copy of the customs letter and they'd sort it out for me .
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Old 24-01-2005, 12:14   #150
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Got my big fat refund cheque from HMC&E on saturday. £3.32, must remember not to spend it all in one place
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Old 28-01-2005, 20:04   #151
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I bought ER Season 2 from DVDSoon for 47.98 CAD (Canadian).

I got stung for £3.54 for VAT... plus £4.00 "Royal Mail Clearance Fee" - unbelievable.

I cannot believe that RM can charge a flat fee of £4.00, this exceeds the VAT, I am so unbelievably peeved. Has this gone up recently? I could have sworn it was not this much last time I got hit.

Either way, I guess I won't be buying from DVD Soon anymore, at least not when there is chance of a HMCE sting.

Out of interest, does anyone have a link for the HMCE website page where I can check what this would have converted to on the day it was presented to them, so I can confirm the calculation they have made?

THANKS

Floop

Last edited by Floop; 28-01-2005 at 20:05.
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Old 28-01-2005, 20:54   #152
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This is the link for the 2004 rates and this is the one for this year.
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Old 28-01-2005, 21:07   #153
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonI
This is the link for the 2004 rates and this is the one for this year.
Thanks mate, that is very useful.

It appears my order was £2.25 above the £18 limit

Bah freakin' humbug. The VAT I can live with, the ORRMF (Outrageous Ripoff Royal Mail Fee) makes me want to be violent.

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Old 30-01-2005, 13:23   #154
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I have a situation:

I've ordered very expensive items on ebay. 2 huge parcels.

Both are now in the country but have a total of £300 customs charges! I'd break the bank to afford that after buying the items so expensively.

The customs charge is insane considering i bid for items that i can not find in the UK, they are collectors toys from 20 years ago! How can they possibly add such a high VAT charge to such old items? My bid values were declared on the packages for insurance purposes but that's got me into a huge debt with this customs charge. Surely they can't charge such a high amount for auction items. I'm not planning to re-sell the goods here. They are in two large parcels because i bought enough items to complete a set.

WHAT DO I DO? please advise.
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Old 30-01-2005, 13:25   #155
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idle Child
I have a situation:

I've ordered very expensive items on ebay. 2 huge parcels.

Both are now in the country but have a total of £300 customs charges! I'd break the bank to afford that after buying the items so expensively.

The customs charge is insane considering i bid for items that i can not find in the UK, they are collectors toys from 20 years ago! How can they possibly add such a high VAT charge to such old items? My bid values were declared on the packages for insurance purposes but that's got me into a huge debt with this customs charge. Surely they can't charge such a high amount for auction items. I'm not planning to re-sell the goods here. They are in two large parcels because i bought enough items to complete a set.

WHAT DO I DO? please advise.
Pay up or lose the items, simple as that. The fact that you do not intend to sell them on means nothing. The VAT and duty charges are set on the value of the goods.
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Old 30-01-2005, 13:34   #156
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Originally Posted by paul_caygill
Pay up or lose the items, simple as that. The fact that you do not intend to sell them on means nothing. The VAT and duty charges are set on the value of the goods.
But the "value" of the goods is so high because i BID for them on ebay. They potentially could have been worth a lot less on any given day. They are old items that you can't buy now in the shops now. That must make a difference! I thought the whole point of charges being in place were in order to stop people importing the same items when they could buy them in the high street.
Looks like i've brought this on my self for bidding so high. If i'd have known the customs charge i would have steered well clear.

Last edited by Idle Child; 30-01-2005 at 13:35.
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Old 30-01-2005, 13:51   #157
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Originally Posted by Idle Child
But the "value" of the goods is so high because i BID for them on ebay. They potentially could have been worth a lot less on any given day. They are old items that you can't buy now in the shops now. That must make a difference! I thought the whole point of charges being in place were in order to stop people importing the same items when they could buy them in the high street.
No point arguing with me, I don't make the rules!

You could try ringing the HMC&E Advice line and speaking to them but I would be very surprised if they say any different. The value of any goods are what people are prepared to pay for them - the fact that you paid so much for them because they were old and no longer available does not make much difference.

As for what these charges are for, that is steeped in history and I very much doubt anyone could give you a definitive answer, but in view of today's global economy, it is not to get you to buy from the high street, but to ensure a level playing field and that you pay the same amount of VAT/duty as you would on goods bought here.
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Old 31-01-2005, 00:09   #158
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Paul, i'm not arguing with you, my grievance is with the system which doesn't seem quite right. Perhaps they opened up the boxes and evaluated them as items that i could have bought here - but that's not correct!

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul_caygill
As for what these charges are for, that is steeped in history and I very much doubt anyone could give you a definitive answer, but in view of today's global economy, it is not to get you to buy from the high street, but to ensure a level playing field and that you pay the same amount of VAT/duty as you would on goods bought here.
But that's precisely the point. I couldn't buy these items in such condition in the UK. They are not sold here officially anymore. They're auction items and i happened to find what i thought was a good lot. If UK sellers were offering the same then i would have bought in from the UK, it's not like I wanted to spend extra on shipping and the risk of customs.

Last edited by Idle Child; 31-01-2005 at 00:09.
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Old 02-02-2005, 13:55   #159
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Originally Posted by Idle Child
Paul, i'm not arguing with you, my grievance is with the system which doesn't seem quite right. Perhaps they opened up the boxes and evaluated them as items that i could have bought here - but that's not correct!
That's exactly correct. That's how the system works in the UK, and the rest of the EU and most other countries in the world have a similar system of applying taxes to imports.

It is indeed based on evaluating them as items you could have bought here. That's the point. In fact it's a bit more than just whether you could have bought them here, but more whether they could have been made and sold here, even if they weren't for that specific item (i.e. does the UK have the resources to make the item or produce the raw materials?).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Idle Child
But that's precisely the point. I couldn't buy these items in such condition in the UK. They are not sold here officially anymore.
Doesn't matter.

Think of it as if the item you are buying abroad has the potential of taking away income the government would have got if it was an item made or sold in the UK (that income may have been through direct taxes or through indirect taxes through the company that makes/sells the product).


You'll notice that a lot of electronic goods have low or even zero duty, because they tend to only be made in the far east or US and the UK doesn't have the same capabilities.

It gets more complicated as I believe sometimes there are reliefs on items though to allow UK manufacturers to import raw items cheap to make their own products (e.g. electronic components).


This is all in regards to duty by the way, VAT on the other hand is a tax across the board for almost all items and applied to every EU country. With a few exceptions (VAT free items), you pay VAT on everything. Just because it's not sold, or even made here, doesn't mean you don't pay VAT on it. Exclusions are on item type (books, childrens clothes, etc).



Quote:
They're auction items and i happened to find what i thought was a good lot. If UK sellers were offering the same then i would have bought in from the UK, it's not like I wanted to spend extra on shipping and the risk of customs.
As I say, it's not whether it's available for sale in the UK, but rather whether it could possibily have been made or sold in the UK.

Remember that if you had bought it in the UK, you'd still have paid the taxes, absorbed in the price of the item and overheads of the retailer/manufacturer. You wouldn't have paid the handling fees though.


You really need to take up the matter with HMC&E. Remember that VAT&Duty is applied to the intrinsic value of the item. If you paid OTT for the item on ebay, you can argue with HMC&E about the real value of the item. Get a valuation and appeal your charge and HMC&E might take the valuation rather than the price you paid.

You should have got the declaration down as the value though not the price you paid, if the value is lower.

Still, if it's worth a lot of money anyway, you should have done your homework on import duty & VAT before bidding.
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Old 03-02-2005, 14:24   #160
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I ordered two boxsets for £15 each and DVDSoon labelled the full amount so I got charged by customs.

Wrote the following letter to customs Monday before last

Quote:
To: The Correspondence Officer
H.M. Customs & Excise
Mount Pleasant Postal Depot
Farringdon Road
London EC1A 1BB


Dear Sir/Madam

RE: Incorrect charges on two parcels

I received two parcels this week, each containing a DVD set I had purchased online from a Canadian company called DVDSoon.

However, the sticker on the parcels showed the recommended retail price of the items and not the actual price I paid.

The actual price I paid for each item was 35.99 Canadian Dollars. Using the January exchange rate from the HM Customs website £1 = 2.3685 Canadian Dollars. Therefore each of the DVD sets is worth 35.99 / 2.3685 = £15.20. This is under the £18 limit.

Unfortunately the wrongly stated recommended retail price meant that I was charged incorrectly.

I have received invoices from DVDSoon which I am attaching which show the actual price I paid. I have highlighted the order number on the invoices and the appropriate stickers on each parcel (photocopies attached).

I hope that given this misunderstanding that you will be able to refund me the charges I had to pay. I paid £7.54 in charges for each DVD set.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Yours faithfully

8-]
Got a letter back today telling me that they will be refunding me their portion of the charges (2 x £3.54), and that I should call RM for the clearance fees.

Called RM customer services (08457 740740) and they said to write to them explaining the situation and with proof (letter from HM Customs) and they'll sort it out.

Letter I wrote to RM and address to write to are shown below:

Quote:
To: The Customer Services Officer
Royal Mail Customer Services
P.O. Box 740
Romford
RM1 1AA


Dear Sir/Madam

RE: Incorrect clearance fee charges on two parcels

As per my conversation with your customer services department on 03/02/2005, I am writing to claim back the 2 x £4 clearing fees which I was incorrectly charged for two items I recently received.

I have already shown H.M. Customs & Excise that I should not have been charged and they have confirmed this and will be refunding me their portion of the charges : 2 x £3.54 = £7.08.

There are still the outstanding Royal Mail clearing fees which I incorrectly paid and as such I would appreciate it if you could issue me with a refund for : 2 x £4 = £8.

I am enclosing the following documents as proof:

Letter from me to H.M. Customs & Excise
Letter from H.M. Customs & Excise to me confirming the incorrect charges
2 x receipts for charges paid to Weybridge Post Office
2 x copies of stickers on the packets with breakdown of fees charged


I trust that this is in order and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

8-]

This should help a few people.


UPDATE:

I wrote to H.M Customs & Excise on 24/01/2005, got a reply from them on 03/02/2005, and got the refund cheque from them on 12/02/2005.

I wrote to Royal Mail on 08/02/2005 and got their portion of the refund (£8) today (19/02/2005) . Took them just under 2 weeks to process.



Last edited by 8-]; 22-02-2005 at 23:15.
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