I recently ordered a resin vehicle from a US manufacturer (I’m not going to use their name as this is about HRMC and Royal Mail not them), the post & packing was some $20+ which I thought was a bit steep but it’s the US what the hell.
Package duly arrived but rather than the package I got a note through the door saying I had customs duty to pay, £14.45 in fact. What?
So off to the local sorting office where I duly paid and the answer to my query of, why? was “it’s to do with customs”
Back home, I noticed there was a helpline number so controlling my anger I dialled and after 43 minutes got a very pleasant lady who did her level best to explain a nonsensical system which our illustrious customs and excise department, partnered with royal mail have put into place and about which you can do absolutely nothing because “it’s the law”.
Basically it’s a scam. HMRC Border Force randomly select packages from outside the EU and inspect, open or scan them and then, based on the declared value, charge you VAT, mine was £6.45. Next, Royal Mail pick up the parcel (which they would have done anyway) and send it on to your sorting office for YOU to pick up and charge you a standard fixed rate £8 handling fee; that’s £8 to do their job! Total charge £14.45, more than the actual item cost, never mind it’s own packaging cost which you would have thought covered all this?
Now you might say, “it’s about your security”. Well, the package is clearly marked ‘reduced scale vehicle’, the scan doesn’t cost anything otherwise Border Force would have charged me, the VAT is based on the declared value (which the sender has to do) but is only on the unlucky sod (me!) who happens to get chosen, it’s not on every package. The Royal Mail handling fee is for an employee (paid pretty crap wages) to chuck it onto a van, obviously this is what being sold to the private sector brings us, profiteering!
So, rant over, but seriously people, think twice before ordering from the US, you could get stung big time and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, I’ve just tried.