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Shipping Agent UK Problems with imported duty on an Airstream trailer

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Try & keep short:


Son bought '65 Airstream Caravan (yes the polished type)from Florida & shipped by agent in Derby.


The agent is a clown & has stupidly paid customs & excise far too much as paid on wrong code.


Instead of 5% as its a '65 and due to its weight I believe he's paid 20% which think is about £3.5k.


Its his fault & C&E have confirmed they don't know why he paid that amount.

Now he isn't releasing caravan unless my son pays whole amount.


He only actually owes £937 which is payable on delivery to his door only which he is happy to pay.


Police can't act as civil at moment & he has started to contact trading standards.


Despite not having the extra he is understandably reluctant to pay the demanded balance in case especially as its the agents fault he paid incorrectly but that he either doesn't ever get back from Gov or has to wait a long time for it.


At one point he called police because we thought the van had been vanished as he refused to send any container shipping details either but it is supposed to be in UK now.


I am tempted to call the bloke & try & resolve but suspect will still be no avail or to get a solicitor to just send a warning letter to him to release the vehicle.


Anyone with any experience in this area gratefully received of how we should proceed.... thanks.


I'm going to post additional info as its transpired but on new posts to try and keep clarity and make it easy to understand


Information Point 2 the following is info answered by my son as we have gone into it:


The person who has the caravan is the shipping agent:


He used an unknown shipper to actually collect it from Florida and transport it to New York, and then on to the unknown ship to the unknown port in the UK.


He initially invoiced me the correct vat figure which I paid him.


I checked this with HMRC and they said sometimes shippers and shipping agents to do this and appears to be a legitimate method as opposed to me paying HMRC directly.


It was only when it cleared customs he issued me with a new invoice for the duty and vat.


I think it was the US shippers that filled out the customs documents incorrectly and led to a much higher figure.


HMRC said the only people who can amend that paperwork are the ones who filled it out.


I would contact them directly but he won't tell me who they are or how to contact them.


He's just taken it as gospel that the higher figure is correct, paid it from his own account and invoiced me for it.


"But I still have no actual proof he's paid this amount. He won't give me any documentation or reference numbers with which I can contact anyone about this.


As said, maybe he should be asking HMRC for a refund but I don't know if he can do that unless he resubmits the paperwork.


But then I asked him to sort that and he just says I have to pay him the full amount."

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If he is an agnet then he is working for someone, namly your son/you. He cant legally keep the information from you. Be pragmatic, pay him, get the airstream and then contact HMRC to reclaim the overpaid tax if indeed it has been documented as explained, they may well ask you to fill out new forms. If they wont do this and he isnt forthcoming with a proper expanation just sue him for the difference between the correct figure and what you paid. Tough luck on him for being incompetent, he wont have a defence that stands up.

The sum claimed means that you can move it to the high court for enforcement if he doesnt cough up Yes, there is an element of risk involved as he may well be a man of straw but better to lose out on1/5 of the value than lose all of it. The other choice is getting an injunction to force him to release the item but that will cost you about the value of the airstream and although he will ahve to apy this money back to you again, if he is a wrong un he wont have the money so it will coast you more in the long run

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