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DHL invoicing me for VAT + admin fee "paid on my behalf"...?

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Got myself an Android smartphone from China a few weeks ago at 1/4 the price of its branded equivalent in the UK (absolutely fab, btw, would definitely recommend it if you want the good stuff and are not brand-obsessed!).

 

Today, got an invoice from DHL for the Duty and VAT they were required to pay customs on my behalf to enable clearance of delivery of the goods, adding import taxes are the responsibility of the receiver.

 

VAT is £9.46, which is fair enough, and then add an admin fee of £5.

 

Let me say straight away that it's not the amount that's the problem as such, it's the principle, also my innate curiosity on things like these.

 

*I* don't have a contract with DHL, *I* sure as hell didn't ask then to pay anything on my behalf, where do they get off invoicing me? They paid VAT on my behalf unasked, well I'm sure that's very nice of them, but can they actually invoice me when we don't have a contract or agreed any T&Cs? As for their admin fee, what the hell? Cheek!

 

Anyone? I did a quick google which wasn't helpful, with lots of people confusing the issue of paying VAT (which no-one is arguing needs paying) and the admin fee levied by DHL. I found a few people raising the same query as I am about the legality of the courier invoicing for an admin fee to someone who hasn't got a contract with them, and getting drowned by people with a "moral" opinion instead of a legal one, so I'll say it again, my question is purely about the *legal* aspect:

 

Can a courier charge an admin fee to someone with whom they do not have a contract? For that matter, can they actually reclaim the VAT they paid "on behalf" of the recipient if the recipient didn't ask them to in the first place?

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DHL didn't levy the VAT, they are just collecting on behalf of HMRC. They haven't paid VAT as in a purchase so there is nothing for them to claim back.

 

They pre-clear the goods on your behalf so you don't have to wait months while it is shipped to a customs warehouse, examined by customs and then a bill sent to you for the amount due. This way, the parcel will not be released until payment is received, so they have done you a favour for only £5. If everyone lodged a complaint to delivery companies about the admin charge, they would just put a card through your letterbox saying there is a parcel for collection and you have the inconvenience of going to collect it and not getting it until you paid..

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Royal Mail refuse to deliver until you have paid these fees..


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DHL didn't levy the VAT, they are just collecting on behalf of HMRC. They haven't paid VAT as in a purchase so there is nothing for them to claim back.

 

They pre-clear the goods on your behalf so you don't have to wait months while it is shipped to a customs warehouse, examined by customs and then a bill sent to you for the amount due. This way, the parcel will not be released until payment is received, so they have done you a favour for only £5. If everyone lodged a complaint to delivery companies about the admin charge, they would just put a card through your letterbox saying there is a parcel for collection and you have the inconvenience of going to collect it and not getting it until you paid..

 

I didn't say they had levied the VAT, I said they had levied an admin fee.

 

Yes, I know what they do, I understand the mechanism, that's not answering my question though, is it...?

Whether it's £5 or £500 is also besides the point, and I don't think it's up to them to "do me a favour" and then charge me £5 for it. That's also not what I am asking.

 

The only question that needs answering is: do they have the legal right to invoice me for a "service" I have not asked them to provide, I have not agreed terms and haven't got a contract?

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I didn't say they had levied the VAT, I said they had levied an admin fee.

 

Yes, I know what they do, I understand the mechanism, that's not answering my question though, is it...?

Whether it's £5 or £500 is also besides the point, and I don't think it's up to them to "do me a favour" and then charge me £5 for it. That's also not what I am asking.

 

The only question that needs answering is: do they have the legal right to invoice me for a "service" I have not asked them to provide, I have not agreed terms and haven't got a contract?

 

You seem to want only the answer to your (loaded) question.

However ... What are the consequences?.

 

By all means issue a County Court claim for your £5. Hopefully you'll loose, although DHL may decide to settle to avoid hassle. If not and you win, hopefully DHL and their longer pockets will appeal it to a binding higher court.

 

Alternatively, DHL and the other couriers may just delay all the packages they get in similar circumstances, and send the recipient a contract to sign, where the recipient has to agree to pay DHL the £5 (or more, as there will be more admin involved!) before the package is released, or the recipient can arrange customs clearance .... That would be a Pyrrhic victory for you?

 

Be careful what you wish for ......

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I didn't say they had levied the VAT, I said they had levied an admin fee.

 

 

For that matter, can they actually reclaim the VAT they paid "on behalf" of the recipient if the recipient didn't ask them to in the first place?

 

That means the same thing, you can only reclaim VAT if you have paid it to start with, they haven't paid any vat so there is nothing for them to claim back,

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You seem to want only the answer to your (loaded) question.

However ... What are the consequences?.

 

By all means issue a County Court claim for your £5. Hopefully you'll loose, although DHL may decide to settle to avoid hassle. If not and you win, hopefully DHL and their longer pockets will appeal it to a binding higher court.

 

Alternatively, DHL and the other couriers may just delay all the packages they get in similar circumstances, and send the recipient a contract to sign, where the recipient has to agree to pay DHL the £5 (or more, as there will be more admin involved!) before the package is released, or the recipient can arrange customs clearance .... That would be a Pyrrhic victory for you?

 

Be careful what you wish for ......

 

Oh, I'm sorry, am I on the wrong forum? There used to be a time where this was precisely where we challenged assumptions that we should pay things without questioning like good little boys and girls.

 

I haven't paid the £5, I only got the invoice yesterday, so your county court claim scenario is not going to happen, but you do inadvertently stumbled onto a valid question: Would DHL sue someone for £5 not paid? If they did, wouldn't have to provide proof that there a contract in place between them and the recipient, and that it had valid T&C?

 

You are yet again falling in the "moralising" trap, which seems to be what every TDH do when they don't have the reply to what seems a perfectly straightforward question about contractual law. Damn right, I only want the simple answer to a simple question, if I want a lecture on the rights and wrongs I'll go ask a priest.

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Sorry this thread is heading down the road to personal abuse.

 

Thread closed.

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I've reopened the thread, but any more -

if I want a lecture on the rights and wrongs I'll go ask a priest.

type of abuse and I will close it again, there is no need for this.

 

Conniff

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Could you please point out which forum rules the above sentence breaches and how it amounts to "abuse"? Feel free to PM if you prefer. Thanks.

 

Back to the main topic, as I was trying to say:

 

You seem to be clued up about the topic, so can you break this one down for me?

 

The letter I have in front of me states: "This is an invoice for the Duty and VAT we were required to pay on your behalf (my bold) to enable clearance of delivery of your goods. Import taxes are the responsibility of the receiver (...)"

 

It then breaks the monies down like this:

 

Vat: £9.46

Admin fee: £5.00

 

and other stuff is listed as £0.

 

Payment due date: reimbursement of customs charges - immediate payment required.

 

But you're saying they haven't actually paid it? So what's going on then? Are they lying and invoicing me for something they haven't paid? Now that definitely would be fishy stuff, to then add an admin fee for something they haven't actually done...? Surely that's not right?

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£5 Admin charge ..... Bargain!!!

I'll be looking to use DHL, in future ........... Saves a trip to the Bonded warehouse

and all the balony, that goes with it (and cost)

 

Been there........ pain in the arse, time consuming, and costly.

 

Are their charges, a % of the goods value, or just a flat fee?

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Could you please point out which forum rules the above sentence breaches and how it amounts to "abuse"? Feel free to PM if you prefer. Thanks.

 

Back to the main topic, as I was trying to say:

 

You seem to be clued up about the topic, so can you break this one down for me?

 

The letter I have in front of me states: "This is an invoice for the Duty and VAT we were required to pay on your behalf (my bold) to enable clearance of delivery of your goods. Import taxes are the responsibility of the receiver (...)"

 

It then breaks the monies down like this:

 

Vat: £9.46

Admin fee: £5.00

 

and other stuff is listed as £0.

 

Payment due date: reimbursement of customs charges - immediate payment required.

 

But you're saying they haven't actually paid it? So what's going on then? Are they lying and invoicing me for something they haven't paid? Now that definitely would be fishy stuff, to then add an admin fee for something they haven't actually done...? Surely that's not right?

 

They "were required" (the words you have quoted) to pay duty and VAT to allow them to make delivery (Sounds correct for an imported item above the duty threshold ....)

Again you have said they "require re-imbursment" (which suggests they have paid the VAT and duty and wish to recover them).

 

Its not as if DHL have paid VAT on one of their delivery vans, and can claim it back on their VAT return. They have paid (to HMRC) the VAT and duty you would have had to pay to HMRC if they hadn't done so for you.

DHL aren't enriched by paying the duty and VAT on your behalf prior to releasing the item, HMRC is no worse off at the end of the process, and you are no worse off financially by them paying the duty and VAT (and they have likely saved you a deal of hassle and lots of time).

 

I think my view and your view on their £5 admin charge have already been clearly stated.

 

What is it you would have preferred they (or any other courier) should have done?. Academic questions as to contractual liability aside : VAT and duty may be due on imported items - what do you think should happen?

 

Do you think VAT and/or duty aren't due on items above their respective thresholds? How are you expecting the duty to be paid before the item gets delivered?

Edited by BazzaS

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Are their charges, a % of the goods value, or just a flat fee?

 

No idea, sorry, it's not something I do very often. :-)

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Ok, I am now thoroughly confused, I have Conniff saying that DHL didn't pay VAT, Bazza saying that they did pay VAT...

 

I did state from the start that if VAT is due then VAT will get paid and that I have no issue with that. I do however object to a company with whom I have no contract billing me for something without telling me about it and just expecting me to pay up whatever they ask. Ok, so it's only £5, what if it were £50? or £100?

 

You may think it's all academic, but most successful cons work by siphoning small amounts where people don't bother querying it. The banks got away with small charges for years and years and people only started fighting back when the banks got too greedy and levied higher and higher charges.

 

I don't think it is unreasonable to ask why I should pay a transport company any amount of money simply because they say so, and tbh, I am quite staggered at the attitude of people who seem to think that *I* am the one who's acting oddly by querying this! :!:

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DHL have not paid 'the' vat, they have paid 'your' vat for you to assist in the speedy delivery of your parcel otherwise it could take months before you were even notified it was in the country.

 

Only the end buyer actually pays vat.

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Yes, I know that, that was never in question. See my original post? "VAT is £9.46, which is fair enough". Never said otherwise.

 

I would however argue that a (roughly) 50% surcharge as admin fee which one only finds out about once they levy it and expect the customer to pay unquestioned is bound to hit a snag sooner or later.

 

Well, I'll be paying the VAT (as always was the plan) and querying that charge directly. Will let you know what happens one way or another if you're interested.

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I do a lot of importing, mainly from the states.

Basically......... you've bought something cheap from China, without doing all the work neccarsary

to get it to your door, without a 3rd party (DHL), having to sort out the administration for you, and paying the dues demanded

By Customs, and the VATman ..... (robbing dogs)

 

So you want DHL, to do it all for nothing ???

They have no choice but to pay up, and then recouperate, the monies from you.

 

And you whinging, over a fiver ??????????

 

Pick ya battles, buddy . pick ya battles.

You must have a lot of time on your hands.

Good luck with it!!

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CD

 

This may assist when comparing the benefit of DHL's service vs making your own import arrangements....... Whilst I don't work in the FAK market the £5.00 bulk entry seems good value for the work involved.

 

I suppose it all comes down to service value but its really a question I'd be posing to the supplier not the service provider. Have a read at the link below and if you still believe you've been short changed then go for it.

 

If you need an explanation of ERTS or deferment accounts and the costs involved just bump your thread and I'll respond as soon as I have time available

 

http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageVAT_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000279&propertyType=document

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I do a lot of importing, mainly from the states.

Basically......... you've bought something cheap from China, without doing all the work neccarsary

to get it to your door, without a 3rd party (DHL), having to sort out the administration for you, and paying the dues demanded

By Customs, and the VATman ..... (robbing dogs)

 

So you want DHL, to do it all for nothing ???

They have no choice but to pay up, and then recouperate, the monies from you.

 

And you whinging, over a fiver ??????????

 

Pick ya battles, buddy . pick ya battles.

You must have a lot of time on your hands.

Good luck with it!!

 

 

That's a "moral" argument, not a legal one. Again.

 

Funny, I remember banks using the same kind of discourse to justify their charges.

 

Do tell, isn't DHL paid - by the SELLER - to deliver it to my door anyway? So what you're saying is, a semi-automated payment that was paid as a big batch of invoices to HMRC justifies a markup of 50% as admin fee to me, without a contract agreement, and you think that's ok? Wow.

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CD

 

This may assist when comparing the benefit of DHL's service vs making your own import arrangements....... Whilst I don't work in the FAK market the £5.00 bulk entry seems good value for the work involved.

 

I suppose it all comes down to service value but its really a question I'd be posing to the supplier not the service provider. Have a read at the link below and if you still believe you've been short changed then go for it.

 

If you need an explanation of ERTS or deferment accounts and the costs involved just bump your thread and I'll respond as soon as I have time available

 

http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageVAT_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000279&propertyType=document

 

Thank you for at last a response that doesn't moralise or pass judgment, but it's nothing to do with being short-changed.

 

I do feel that a £5 charge on a £10 transaction is excessive.

I do feel that it's not owed at all on the grounds that no contract exists between me and DHL.

I do agree that VAT should be paid when it's due.

I do also believe that DHL are already charging a lot of money for supplying their services to the *seller* and that they're chancing their arm by then trying to get another fiver to the receiver.

I do think that if it came to a dispute, they would have a hard time justifying that admin fee as they'd be processing the parcel out of the fee paid by the seller in the 1st place.

 

As I said, I'll have a word with them and let you know what pans out. Thank you.

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Simple answer ......... do the donkey work yourself, next time.

And let us know, how much it cost you, in time, travel, phone calls.

 

Something for nothing, society. ........... fully paid up member!!

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Thank you for at last a response that doesn't moralise or pass judgment, but it's nothing to do with being short-changed.

 

I do feel that a £5 charge on a £10 transaction is excessive.

I do feel that it's not owed at all on the grounds that no contract exists between me and DHL.

I do agree that VAT should be paid when it's due.

I do also believe that DHL are already charging a lot of money for supplying their services to the *seller* and that they're chancing their arm by then trying to get another fiver to the receiver.

I do think that if it came to a dispute, they would have a hard time justifying that admin fee as they'd be processing the parcel out of the fee paid by the seller in the 1st place.

 

As I said, I'll have a word with them and let you know what pans out. Thank you.

 

DHL's contract is with the seller. Their fee from the seller covers their responsibility to the seller.

 

VAT and or duty are the buyer's responsibility, so I doubt the agreement between the seller and DHL addresses DHL paying the VAT on behalf of the buyer.

 

If as you point out : No contract exists between you and DHL why would DHL be obligated (on a contractual, rather than moral basis, since this appears to be the ONLY basis you wish to consider) to extend you the courtesy of paying the VAT in advance?.

 

You can't have it both ways. The logical / strict contractual conclusion : DHL may decide not to offer you the facility of paying the VAT on your behalf, and you'll get your goods later and with a deal more hassle.

 

See previous post re: Pyrrhic victory.

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I think £5 is a bargain. Once I ordered from the USA, just because the order was a couple of pennies over the £15 limit, Royal Mail charged me £8 fee and they refused to deliver me in person. I had to go to their distribution centre at the outskirts of town and it cost me £3.60 by bus (+the excess VAT).


"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for Poundland"

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Simple answer ......... do the donkey work yourself, next time.

And let us know, how much it cost you, in time, travel, phone calls.

 

Something for nothing, society. ........... fully paid up member!!

 

Nope, just refusing to be a fully paying-up fleeced member of society. I'd rather be a donkey than a sheep, thanks. I really don't see why you're taking it so personally either. If you can't answer the legal question but just spew opinions and insults then please refrain from posting on my thread, will you?

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If as you point out : No contract exists between you and DHL why would DHL be obligated (on a contractual, rather than moral basis, since this appears to be the ONLY basis you wish to consider) to extend you the courtesy of paying the VAT in advance?

 

Courtesy? Yeah, right, pull the other one. Are you hearing yourself here? Are you really asking anyone to take you seriously when your argument is that DHL are doing this out of courtesy? :lol:

 

Let's try this from a logical point of view, since that seems to escape you: DHL are paid to deliver the parcel to my address. If they try and say to their customers "well, we'll bring it in the UK but the customers will come and have to pick up the stuff themselves", they wouldn't stay in business very long, simple as that. So no, they're not doing it out of courtesy, but because they want to keep on making money, which is fair and good, no argument from me there.

 

Let me ask you this: if they delivered the parcel to my address as per their contractual arrangements with the seller and ask me then to pay them back the VAT on receipt of the goods, would you feel it would be reasonable for them to still charge that £5 fee? Even though all they're doing what they're paid for to do, haven't incurred additional costs (ok, maybe pennies in lost interest if that)?

 

See, you're the one who's not being logical here. You got on your irrelevant moral high horse and refuse to see the very basic logic that goes hand in hand with contractual obligations. That's your choice, of course.

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