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Parcelforce Error with Import Charges

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Hi, I've got a problem with the delivery for an eBay item I purchased from Japan, and hope someone can provide some helpful advice.

I received a letter from Parcelforce saying the package was subject to Import VAT of £14.08 plus a Clearance Fee of £13.50.

My problem is that these charges are wrong, not incorrect, but wrong.

The sender uses a tracked mailing service, and the address label on their packages ( I have bought similar items from them before)

shows the value of the contents.

My guess is that someone has misread the value, which is typed not handwritten, hence the request for import fees.

I went to the Parcelforce depot with copies of the payment receipts, Paypal etc

but they wouldn't even let me look at the package unless I paid the money.

The value of the item is $10.00 including postage, so well under the limit allowed.

I suggested they open the package to see the receipt to prove my point,

but they refused and said if I didn't pay the item would be returned to sender.

Provided the sender pays to have it returned, otherwise the item will be 'disposed of'.

Yes, I am aware that I can pay the fees and then try and reclaim them from HMRC or whoever,

but surely this is unfair, and assumes I've got £27.58 spare to pay out.

Things would be a lot easier if I didn't care about receiving my purchase, but I'd like to have what I paid for as its unique.

I've contacted the sender, on the off chance the package does go back to Japan,

but I got the strong impression the item will just be dumped by Parcelforce.

The sender is willing to re-ship, but that'll be another story.

I can't be the only one this has happened to - has anybody got around this problem please?

 

 

 

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Unfortunately you will not get anywhere with Parcelforce.

 

Your only option if you want the item is to pay and reclaim the fees but you will lose the Parcelforce processing/administration fee.

 

Probably the best thing is for you to tell Parcelforce to return the item and you will pay nothing. If the sender is willing to ship again get them to do that - but let them know you have asked the item to be returned. Parcelforce should return the item - if they do not they are on a sticky wicket as the item is not theirs to dispose of. I believe under UPU regulations the item should be returned to the sender but with so many private companies now involved in the transmission of mail I'm not sure how relevant these regulations are any more as they applied to Government postal agencies.

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Anyting from outsde the EU will be inspected by HMRC and you will get hit with the VAT as appropriate

 

Parcelforce does not impose the VAT charge, that is HMRC direct. They are allowed to charge a clearence handling fee though as they pass the VAT collected onto HMRC direct.

 

If not collected the item will be returned free of charge to the sender as Royal Mail is stil the holder of the Universal Service obligation. Private postal operators have nothing to do with this as only Royal Mail provide an end to end service

Edited by obiter dictum

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If you go down the re-send route make sure the sender uses the correct declaration form on the package the CN22 Customs Declaration on any future packages. If the value is $10 US it must be declared as such not just a figure 10 with a Dollar sign.

 

Should you have future problems and you regularly buy this item you will need to contact the Postal Customs and ask why they are levying duty on the item and how the duty payable is arrived at. Some items from outside the EU attract very high rates of duty and your item may be such an item.

 

I have had similar problems before importing collectable items from Kuwait (used postage stamps) where some bright spark in the postal customs must have spent hours opening my packages counting the face values of the used stamps and levying duty on the total. Instead of paying duty for £50 of material I ended up with demands for several thousand pounds per package. After providing invoices and copies of trade advertisements they did levy the correct duty which I then paid - but I lost the processing fee!

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"Private postal operators have nothing to do with this as only Royal Mail provide an end to end service"

 

This has not been true for some time. For example the Monaco postal service uses a private courier company for its final delivery for parcels in the UK. New Zealand now uses a private company for the shipment of parcels from New Zealand - they have privately produced postage stamps on them and this applies to ordinary mail as well. Many countries now have privatised postal services where more than one operator is responsible for collection and transmission of mail. This why I am not too sure whether Universal Postal Union regulations still apply.

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Please do not tell me how the Postal System Operates

 

I was a Trade Union Rep at the international Sorting office at Mount Pleasant

 

The UK had a private postal operator for a while called Whisti until the banks pulled out. Their contracts were with banks insurance companies etc direct, not foreign mail with E2E deliveries

 

All EU countries have private postal operators, some still maintain Government influence such as La Poste.

Royal Mail for example has a major partnership with the Chinese postal operator where they share each others infrastructure

 

Universal Postal Union is a United Nations agency and has has nothing to do or authority with each member state and postal regulations. That is decided in the EU parliament, not Switzerland

 

That might have been the case 150 years ago with unifying a global postal network , but not now

Edited by obiter dictum

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I am not telling you how the postal system operates!

 

I am telling you of my personal experiences with the mail system where I used to import items from over 60 different countries into the UK when I worked for an import/export agency as its general manager. My statement holds true for the examples given and applies to many more countries than stated - many South American countries (Colombia for example) use private companies for transmission of mail and have done so for some time.

 

The New Zealand example given actually works in conjunction with the Government postal service.

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"hey are allowed to charge a clearence handling fee though as they pass the VAT collected onto HMRC direct."

 

Unless I am mistaken

 

This admin fee may not be enforceable as there are no regulations that say they are entitled to demand a handling fee from the receiver of the parcel, only the VAT

Also the contract of the parcel company is between the SELLER and the Company.


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The SabreSheep, All information is offered on good faith and based on mine and others experiences. I am not a qualified legal professional and you should always seek legal advice if you are unsure of your position.

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Customs considers items sent directly from a retailer to be merchandise, irregardless of whether someone actually bought them as a gift

 

If you have any queries about the handling fee you should raise these directly with Royal Mail/Parcelforce - these charges are entirely separate from any tax and/or duty charges, and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and HMRC have no control on the charges Royal Mail make.

 

Parcelforce are not going to do all the work to get your parcel to you through customs and pay the money upfront for nothing ,they are going to charge you. Royal Mail have a statutory obligation to comply with HMRC. If I had a pound for every customer who came into the office and recounted all the websites about evading this payment and still ended up paying I would be a very rich man by now.

Edited by obiter dictum

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The simple truth of the matter is there simply isn't the space for Customs to hold every single package they want to charge VAT and Duty on - nor do they have the ability or time to inform every single customer of the charges.

 

For HMRC to contact the customer direct that they are holding a parcel to negate the Royal Mail charge is simply unworkable, not only would it require vast amounts of storage space, to hold the parcel while awaiting charges, it would also require an entire extra support network just to send out lettters, then another set of support to pay the charges. Just so that at the end of that, your item can finally be handed over to Royal Mail to be delivered anyway.

 

Royal Mail are actually the cheapest - try a private courier next time and see how much you pay, some of them can charge up to £40 handling fees on items.

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At least you know where your parcel is, mine still hasn't arrived. I have bought stabiliser from overseas and had to pay £16.00 duty on the parcel. it was still cheaper than buying it here in England. I was not charged a handling fee. UPS delivered it.

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But the simple point is, regardless of the practicalities, there is no contractual or legal obligation on the person receiving the parcel to pay "Admin charges" or any other charges "Except for lawfully due VAT"

 

Yes they may be collecting VAT on behalf of HMRC, but so do most businesses and they do not charge admin fees to the consumer for paying it.


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The SabreSheep, All information is offered on good faith and based on mine and others experiences. I am not a qualified legal professional and you should always seek legal advice if you are unsure of your position.

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Thanks everyone for your responses to this, it seems that my only option is to wait & see if the package is returned to Japan. Then try & negotiate with the sender to have it shipped back again. Crazy.

I can understand that Parcelforce don't want to get involved if customers dispute the amount of VAT, etc charges. But if the error lies in the fact that there shouldn't have been any charges in the first place, and the customer can prove it, why not allow them some means to do this? Simples.

The address labels used by the sender are CN23 triplicate ones for goods, the value is typed in and the contents are used clothing. I just get angry that because of someone's mistake & their failure to even want to hear about, let alone acknowledge it, the customer has all the flack. (sorry,rant over)

If I ever do receive my package, I will post here to let you all know.

Thanks again.

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Didn't someone recently take this all the way to the Supreme Court which ruled that handling charges are unenforceable? D

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Yes they may be collecting VAT on behalf of HMRC, but so do most businesses and they do not charge admin fees to the consumer for paying it.

 

Sorry for the thread drag up, but it is similar to my case. My situation is that PF want to charge a fee which is more than the VAT they collected - I am more than willing to pay the VAT, but not to pay the fee which forms well over 50% of what PF are asking! To emphasise - no issue with paying the VAT, no issue with the VAT value - just PF charging a disproportionate fee. I am fairly sure (timings, etc.) that my parcel was not opened - no work done in resealing, etc.

 

I had a great conversation yesterday - was told that the fee is added to the parcels by HMRC (PF do collect & keep it, but HMRC who apply it), it is applied to the parcels of all postal services, it is law that it is charged & repeatedly that if I have an issue with the PF fee I need to take that up with HMRC!!!

 

I had various good comebacks shot down with a mix of laughable answers & lies:

 

Hypothetically if you as a manager were to say I'll waive the fee would you be breaking the law/statute/legislation or company policy? Irrelevant as as I can't.

 

Tried to quote their own letter describing it as 'our' fee! Repeated advice that the amount is set AND APPLIED by HMRC - take it up with them.

 

[my version of exactly what SabreSheep said] It is like Tesco charging customers a £10 fee for collecting the VAT on their goods. Answer must have been weak as I can't remember.

 

It is applied to all postal service parcels by HMRC. How come RM charge less? They are a different company!

 

This fee could exceed the value of the item! No it is only charge on items over £15. I pointed out that this is wrong - VAT applies to all goods from CI.

 

This is for the delivery once it arrives in the UK. Absolute rubbish - the seller didn't pay you to deliver it to Heathrow for me to pick up - it is a door to door service! When you accept an international parcel you can see the value & know if this will happen - charge the relevant price up front & proportional to the value.

 

Oh & 1 more point - their recorded message (very long & boring) wasn't even correct - the fee was 6 weeks out of date.

 

If they would just be honest; it is our fee, it is extortionate, but if you don't pay it your parcel will be returned.

 

How can I get them to see sense? Like OP, minded to just say well go on then return the item to China at your own expense & have the admin of claiming the VAT back. If it was fair (say £5) I'd grudgingly just pay it.

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