The Campaign On Importing Discs & Related Customs Charges

Discussion in 'Shopping, Deals, Discounts & Bargains' started by Pecker, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. Pecker

    Pecker
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    I've posted this in several areas.

    I'm asking anyone who imports using Amazon.com to read the following.

    MODS, please help in any way you can. I know I've posted this in more than one area, but it'd be nice if you could leave it up there just for a week or so. Sticky for a week?



    In the words of Popeye, I've takens enough, I can't takes no more!

    Customs are charging us for importing goods from Amazon when they are under the £18 mark.

    They do this if goods are bought in a sale and cost less than £18 because Amazon list the full price on the parcel.

    This results in us paying import charges then having to pay them back. See:

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=128914

    Well, are we going to sit round meekly and accept this? We've tried writing to the Post Office, to Customs and to Amazon, and whilst we sometimes get a refund (after many weeks and a long drawn out process), nothing changes, and the next parcel you receive is liklely to have the same problem.

    So I've decided to do something about it.

    Watchdog is back on. So I've e-mailed them.

    This is what I said:

    Dear Watchdog,

    I have a problem which also affects hundreds if not thousands of other people, but which no-one appears to be able to sort out.

    It is not a big, earthshaking issue, but I’m sure you could clear it up and make a lot of us happy with a 2 minute slot on your excellent show.

    I am a fan of films, and import many DVDs from Amazon in the USA, as the prices are very reasonable there, and you can often find films there not available in the UK.

    Recently Amazon.com have been promoting the two new high definition formats (HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc) with BUY ONE GET ONE FREE sales.

    When importing from the USA customs charge if the item is over £18.

    The great news is that many of the BUY ONE GET ONE FREE sale items at Amazon are $19.99 each, and hence $19.99 (or £10) in total in the sale. No customs or V.A.T. due.

    Unfortunately, Amazon print the full value of the goods on the outside of the parcel, not the sale price.

    So, if you buy two discs for $19.99 each in a BUY ONE GET ONE FREE sale, the parcel lists the value of the goods as $39.98, which translates as being around £20, and due for customs charges at 3.5% and VAT at 17.5%.

    To add insult to injury, the Post Office will not deliver the goods to you direct. They put a card through your door asking for you to pick up the parcel from your post office, then charge you an extra £8 or so for handling the transaction. If you don’t hand over the money you don’t get the parcel.

    More annoying still is that the Post Office, Customs and Amazon all know this is wrong.

    If you fill in a form and send it to customs, they will reimburse the charges. When you get this money back from customs you can send a copy of the letter to the Post Office and get your £8 back.

    What a kerfuffle!

    Surely, someone is doing something wrong here.

    Are Amazon making an incorrect statement on the outside of their parcels?

    If not, then surely it’s wrong for customs to charge you on the basis on the basis of what it says on the parcel – they should open it up and charge you what it says on the receipt/invoice inside.

    Whatever, this appears to be a classic example of the little man in the middle being in the right, and the big man (Amazon, the Post Office, HM Customs) knowing about the problem but not being prepared to do anything about it.

    Can you help?



    Now knowing these forums I'll likely get a good deal of replies saying "It won't do any good".

    Well maybe not, but at leaat I'm going to try.

    It took 10 minutes to compose that.

    Watchdog are more likely to act if they get multiple complaints.

    So please contact Watchdog with your concerns at:

    [email protected]

    We might not make a difference. But at least we'll have tried.

    And it'll only take you 2 minutes to e-mail them.

    Many thanks.

    Steve W
     
  2. Twon

    Twon
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  3. Hkem

    Hkem
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    I'd be very surprised if Watchdog go after the US arm of Amazon.com, but good luck. If it affected me, i'd be more inclined to approach a US Consumer Rights group.
     
  4. AnthonyG

    AnthonyG
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    What we should be doing is trying to have that absurd, completely outdated £18 customs limit increased to something more sensible. (I would say £30-£50)

    I remember reading about the guidelines on why it exists and it stated that the customs penalty is not in place or was initially designed to punish the individual customer from buying one to two small items abroad. Which is why they decided on having the £18 limit before penalties are charged.

    But is there to punish large companies from buying all their stock from outside the EU.

    The thing is that while the value of the pound has diminished that £18 limit has stuck there.

    Even the charges they give you have increased with the diminishing pound. But their limit has not. (If that is not the definition of double standards I don't know what is!).

    We should be writing to Watchdog or other consumer agencies, or even our Labour/Conservite MP's about this. And I would definitely support that goal.

    It's worth mentioning that the RRP cost of a DVD is still, I believe, £19.99 in the UK. Alright nobody in their right mind pays this. But its still there.

    And the RRP of a PS2 game is £34.99. A PS3 Game is £49.99 and RRP of a Xbox360 Games are £39.99.

    Everyone of these RRP's is over the £18 customs limit meaning the initial goal of having a limit in place designed not to punish individual customers making one purchase has become completely worthless and outdated.
     
  5. Pecker

    Pecker
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    My take on it is that an e-mail to Watchdog will take 2 minutes, and even if it doesn't work it can't hurt.

    Far less hassle than many people have had reclaiming.

    Steve W
     
  6. nwgarratt

    nwgarratt
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    They won't look at it as it is US. Also, they only do that with BOGOF and as in the OP, sale prices on other DVD's are shown correctly.

    Also, the last time I looked. DVD's and other items only get a custom charge when it works at over £7 otherwise, it is just the VAT and Admin charge.

    http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageTravel_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000014&propertyType=document
     
  7. Pecker

    Pecker
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    If you ever wanted to know what's wrong with this country...

    I've posted this thread at several different places. I did it because there's been (justifiably) loads of moaning about people having to pay/reclaim customs charghes.

    So far I've had maybe 10 replies.

    1 says they'll spend 2 minutes e-mailing Watchdog.

    The other 9 moan about how it won't work.

    I think that, as a nation, we're happier spending hours driving into to town and collecting parcels, then sending letters off to reclaim charges, just as long as we can keep on moaning about it!

    Moaning is a national hobby.

    Steve W
     
  8. Marc

    Marc
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    Has the pound diminished? It's currently the strongest it's ever been vs the dollar..
     
  9. Marc

    Marc
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    I don't understand what goes on with Amazon. I've recently received 5 parcels, 4 of which had values which were over the customs limit (incorrectly)

    All 5 of them were shipped to me from Germany, so no duties were levied as US to Germany doesn't invoke any duty, and Germany to UK doesn't either.

    So why do they send some packages via Germany and others direct? Is there some sort of criteria they use to decide this, or is it completely random?
     
  10. cdm22

    cdm22
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    Isn't the whole point of the customs declaration is to put the 'value' of the goods on it? If so, what is amazon doing wrong exactly? They are putting on the 'value' of the goods on the parcel and not the 'price' that was paid...hardly a matter for watchdog! Yes its a p.i.t.a. for claim the money back but can't see what anyone is doing wrong.
     
  11. davidjohnson

    davidjohnson
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    I have spoken to HM Customs about this and they quite rightly say that the value of goods is the price paid for them, not some made up amount. As well as the bogof offers, Amazon advertise most of their discs as having 30% off RRP, yet they do not add this 30% back on when completing the declaration.

    I have sent several emails to Amazon about this and have sent copies of their replies to HM Customs to support my claim for a refund.

    Customs are quick enough to pursue retailers who undervalue declarations, so they should do something about overvaluers too :mad:
     
  12. Bribrian

    Bribrian
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    People could just copy & paste your letter, it'll take 30 seconds! Better that than sitting on your hands & proving the Aussies right (wingeing poms)...;):rolleyes:
     
  13. KevD

    KevD
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    While I agree with Pecker that its fristrating, I agree with cdm22. Amazon declare the value of the items in order so that if anything goes missing they can make a claim againt the lost items.

    I think UK customs is also based on the value of items not nescessarily how much they cost, if you buy something which is marked done and customs believe if has been marked lower than its true value they can put the charges on it.

    Remember they are a US site who happen to be prepared to ship Internationally, they do state for all International customers, customs is their responsibility.
     
  14. dennett316

    dennett316
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    If thats the case, why wouldn't they list the RRP as the value of each item? Like a previous poster said, they don't add on the 30% they take off RRP, so why should they list the price of each item when we've only paid for one?

    If we pay $19.99 for 2 discs, the parcel gets lost, and amazon claim back $39.98...surely that's fraud??? Whatever they were paid for said items is what should be listed on the package.

    If you buy something in a sale from them, they don't list the original value of the item on the outside package, why do it in this case? To make it simpler, why not just list each item as $10 and $9.99? - that is effectively what's been paid for each, and would avoid this whole mess.
     
  15. Pecker

    Pecker
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    So they pay Warner on a BOGOF basis, but claim back from their insurance as if they'd paid Warner for both.

    I can't help but feel that there's something massively illegal about that.

    Steve W
     
  16. Pecker

    Pecker
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    This is my main point, that I'm hoping Watchdog take up.

    We all know that HM Customs know what Amazon are doing, but do not appear to have lifted a finger to inform Amazon that they're making inaccuarate declarations.

    If I bought a ROLEX in the US, when I passed through customs I'd be asked for the rteceipt, on which I'd pay import duty. If I'd paid half price I'd pay half as much tax.

    Why aren't customs doing anything?

    Is it because for everyone who claims there are 10 people who don't?

    Steve W
     
  17. KevD

    KevD
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    Not at all, If titles go missing in the post Amazon will either send replacements out refund but they are still down two discs regardless of whats going on with them and Warner so yes they will claim and there would be nothing illegal about.
     
  18. KevD

    KevD
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    No, it is actually the value and if customs believe the information to be inaccurate they will charge based on what they believe the value to be. Electonic items from the far east on Ebay are an example 99p for the item and amounts between £50 & £60 for shipping when it is in fact mush less. You have paid 99p for the item itself - if customs inspected it and saw it was a Camera lens or a MP3 player you would be liable to be charged.

    I acually agree that you shouldnt really be charged, but I dont see that Amazon should have to change their system for what in the grander scheme would be a small amount of BOGOF orders to the UK and I wouldnt expect customs to start having to give special attention to certain parcels from certain suppliers on certain items.

    Its not just amazon, all the US retailers (Deep Discount, Pacific...) regularly have these sales and its the same situation with all of them.
     
  19. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    Well I agree with Pecker's point in terms of principle, so i'll be firing off a letter too.
     
  20. Canary_Jules

    Canary_Jules
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    Just sent one. I have successfully reclaimed customs and Royal Mail charges in the past when an Amazon parcel has been intercepted. It's a total pain. It happened again recently on a BOGOF from Amazon and I was all set to claim again but my wife threw the box away so I couldn't claim - lost £12 as a result :mad:. I agree it is a total pain and folks are needlessly being fleeced here. The limit should be raised too. I've sent a letter to Watchdog too. Well done Steve!
     
  21. davidjohnson

    davidjohnson
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    I disagree and this is exactly the reason that RRP's were outlawed in the UK. I specifically mentioned this point and was told that amount paid was the actual value. Anyone can invent a "value" to an item, but what is paid will always be the true worth. The hardware classified section on this forum could be full of items that are "worth" £thousands, but only fetch £100s. Most insurance policies will only pay the cost of a replacement, not what an item is "worth"

    If the US postal system cannot cope with true values, then Uk customers should not have to pay.
     
  22. Canary_Jules

    Canary_Jules
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    Absolutely right. Customs are actually reimbursing people, such as myself, who argue that the price paid and not that listed on the outside of the box by Amazon where it does not match this is the true value of the import.
     
  23. Wild Weasel

    Wild Weasel
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    I don't believe Recommended Retail Prices are outlawed. What makes you think they are?
     
  24. Rom

    Rom
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    It is not the actual RRP or MSRP that is illegal, it is the enforcing of them. When I worked in retail many moons ago a certain CE (no names but a major BluRay manufacturer) enforced retailers to charge what they said. If a retailer undercut that price they were cut off from the supply chain. The UK law was changed stating that this was unfair and anti consumer.
     
  25. Pecker

    Pecker
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    Presumably they get the discs at half price from Warner, or have some sort of system where they claim the 'loss' of selling a title in a BOGOF sale from Warner.

    They then claim the full amount.

    If they then send 2 replacement discs out, are you saying they tell Warner the first two were lost, and only claim the BOGOF rebate on 1 set?

    Are you sure?

    The argument about putting the'value' of the goods on the outside is misleading.

    My recent parcel contains 2 x $19.95 discs, which is what is listed on the outside. But the listed full price at the Amazon site isn't $19.95 is it, it's $29.95.

    BTW, msrp is now illegal in the UK, but there's still something similar in the USA. See Amazon USA where they have a 'price' crossed out and a smaller one next to it.

    Steve W
     
  26. Marc

    Marc
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    if amazon do get refunded by Warner, let's all claim our warner discs have been lost in the post, bankrupt those bastards before they jump ship ;)
     
  27. eden188

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    Great stuff, Steve W.

    We pay over the odds in this country - petrol, AV, tax, etc, all people do is moan about it and do nothing. At least you have taken the time to make a statement about it.
     
  28. Pecker

    Pecker
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    Kev D, I hugely appreciate your input on just about every matter - you usually make far more sense than most.

    But you appear to be saying:

    A - davidjohnson is lying when he said customs told him it was the amount paid that was important, not the'value' of the goods;

    and

    B - Customs don't have to refund anyone, but have been doing so out of the goodness of their hearts.

    I find this stance most bemusing. Anyone who's ever dealt with Customs will tell you that getting anything out of them is like getting blood out of a stone, and they apply the law to the letter.

    Steve W
     
  29. Wild Weasel

    Wild Weasel
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    That's what I thought too.
     
  30. KevD

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    :eek:

    Hi Steve,

    I dont think that my post, in any way, suggested (or appreared) davidjohnson is "lying" :confused:

    As I have stated (post 18), I dont believe people should be charged on these and thats obviouly the case as Customs have been refunding. I have, on a couple of occasions, had to reclaim charges (both successfully and not), so I know it is difficult.

    Amazon (and Deep Discount & DVD pacific as I previously mentioned) have a system which works perfectly well on all but what are a tiny amount of orders, which are BOGOFs going to the UK, and I wouldnt expect them to change the system or introduce special measures for this small amount of orders. I also wouldnt expect Customs to have to pay special attention to parcels from Amazon.com to check that there arent any current promos on the items in the box.

    I dont believe that opinion can be that "bemusing" surely?

    I think the only people who should be changing anything is our goverment by changing what is our ridiculously low import limit. :smashin:
     

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