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Rakhi Vasavada
Rakhi Vasavada, Financial and Legal Consultant
Category: Finance
Satisfied Customers: 3841
Experience:  Graduated in law with Emphasis on Finance and have have been working in financial sector for over 12 Years
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I bought something from the UK, I am a US citizen...and Fedex

Customer Question

I bought something from the UK, I am a US citizen...and Fedex charged me 1/3 of the total cost of the bill. I was not made aware by the merchants website at any time through the transaction. I received a bill from Fedex although I'm not sure if thy sent it to the merchant 1st and then me, or just straight to me. Isnt there a law that import duties have to be disclosed, and an approximate amount of what that MIGHT be?



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Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Finance
Expert:  Rakhi Vasavada replied 10 months ago.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Dear Friend,

Hello and welcome. Thank you for providing us an opportunity to help you.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Kindly remain online for a while as I prepare your reply.

Customer:

Ok

Rakhi Vasavada :

Thank you. I appreciate your patience. I will not take more than 2-3 minutes.

Customer:

OK no prob

Rakhi Vasavada :

Thank you..!

Rakhi Vasavada :

Ok.. Fine. Let me have some more information from you.

Customer:

yes

Rakhi Vasavada :

To begin with, Fedex has given you a bill / charged you. Is it specifically towards import duty ? It can be towards freight as well. Are you sure that this is towards import duty ?

Customer:

let me check, 1 min

Customer:

I doubt it because the total weight of the package was 2.2 lbs. But I wouldnt know where to look to see if there was a freight charge. Do you know where I could look?

Rakhi Vasavada :

Yes, let us go to the first thing. When you ordered the stuff, you must have made some payment OR at least the seller much have invoiced you. Do you have that ? Can you see how has he itemized the bill ?

Customer:

let me check, 1 min

Customer:

sorry for the delay

Rakhi Vasavada :

No problems at all. Take you own time.

Customer:

It says, Shipping, Total, Grand Total. No tax is listed

Rakhi Vasavada :

Ok...

Rakhi Vasavada :

Have they just invoiced you this or you have paid for this anyway ?

Customer:

I paid. Its not a recent charge-let me check the date

Rakhi Vasavada :

Ok, it is fine..

Customer:

June 1

Rakhi Vasavada :

So, what Fedex is asking for is over and above what you paid for Shipping and cost of goods.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Can I know the nature of commodity you purchased ? It will effect the duty that would be levied.

Customer:

Are you telling or asking me, I cant tell

Rakhi Vasavada :

I am telling that -- what Fedex is asking for is over and above what you paid for Shipping and cost of goods.

Customer:

It was one item of clothing, jeans for 149 british pounds. Fedex wants 48$

Rakhi Vasavada :

Ok.. got it.

Customer:

No Fedex is asking for 1/3 which is still too much dont you agree?

Rakhi Vasavada :

Certainly, but let me cross check if they have billed you for import duty or anything else. Please give me a minute.

Customer:

ok

Rakhi Vasavada :

YES.. That is the import duty. Let me explain.

Rakhi Vasavada :

When you make an internet purchase, the goods can be delivered to you in more than one ways. It can be sent through postal service or courier -- as in your case.

When goods move from any foreign country to the United States, they are being IMPORTED. There are specific rules and regulations that govern the act of importing - and they can be extremely complex and confusing - and costly.

Customer:

and?

Rakhi Vasavada :

And on these goods, U.S. Customs and Border Protection levy a duty for you.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Now, let us take your case. Your shipment has been sent by courier.

Customer:

but isnt it the merchants obligation to disclose that to me BEFORE I make a purchase?

Rakhi Vasavada :

NO.. Certainly not. It is obligatory on part of the purchaser / importer to know the import obligation of his country.

Rakhi Vasavada :

For example, in your case, it was sent to you by courier.

Customer:

ugh

Customer:

ok

Rakhi Vasavada :

Courier Shipping: Goods shipped by courier, express, or other commercial service usually are expedited through CBP by a customs broker hired by that commercial service and then delivered seamlessly to your door. Customs brokers are not CBP employees. There are a number of different charges associated with these services, including shipping and handling, the fees charged by the service for clearing the merchandise through CBP, as well as any Customs duty and processing fees that may be owed on your importation.

Customer:

I'm sorry, in laymans terms please?

Rakhi Vasavada :

The biggest pitfall is that may people -- just like you -- various charges and fees levied to be higher then they expected, and sometimes exceed the cost of their purchase(s).

Customer:

What was the meaning of the last paragraph you wrote? I didnt get it, due to terminology

Rakhi Vasavada :

What I am trying to convey that may people misunderstand shipping charges to cover ALL costs. It is correct only to the extent to the seller shipping it for free. But it DOES NOT include the import duty, the charges for handling by the courier for custom clearance, charges to get it passed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, etc. etc.

They charge it to the customer, just like in your case.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Am I making sense ?

Customer:

Yes, however many times I do not incur charges and the cost of my bill was ovre 1000$

Customer:

over)

Rakhi Vasavada :

Yes, that is right. But would very much depend upon the nature of your item that you purchase, the courier who does the job once the packed lands in US, and sometimes sellers do absorb such charges.

Rakhi Vasavada :

In this case, I am pretty sure that what you have been charged for is towards import duty + other taxes, if applicable to be levied by US Customs + Courier's charge for doing all this for you.

Customer:

TopShop for example uses a courier so that they can send their US customers their goods duty free, and it is totaly legal. It also wasnt a courier that I ever saw, it was an international, not US courier. For the sake of a merchants buisiness

Customer:

For the sake of the merchants buisiness, even though its the us citizens responsibility to know, you would think they would state it somewhere.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Yes, they would state it somewhere, at least as a fine print which is very difficult to locate. Or else, normally all such sellers include it vaguely in their "Legal Policy" on their website and shift the onus on us to read it.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Secondly,

Customer:

The nature of my purchase is always CLOTHES overseas.

Customer:

There is no other reason for me to buy something I could get in the US.

Rakhi Vasavada :

There is one thing more I would like you to know. Companies like TopShop have multiple shipping locations. For example if YOU order from them, it will enable them to ship you from US site (which will have tax structure of its own).When they ship you from US site, it will NOT be a import.

Rakhi Vasavada :

If any company delivers duty free -- it is possible ONLY IF they have multiple shipping locations. By default, import duty and other charges apply as in your case.

Customer:

But why then did the package come sttraight from the UK with all the stamps etc on it?

Customer:

But thats interesting to know

Rakhi Vasavada :

It would obviously come straight from US. However,

Rakhi Vasavada :

Once it with the courier, he has to get it cleared from US Customs before delivering it to you. So, you may feel it has come straight to you but the courier has got it cleared from US Customs.

Customer:

I am trying to say that the fee-free packages did not come from the US. Well, let me amedn that -the fee free packages did not come from the US, but later ON, they did start coming from NJ or something.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Well, that would be difficult to know as there must be something in the terms that the seller offers.

Customer:

I am trying to say that the fee-free packages did not come from the US- the reason I know is because of all the uK stamps, and stickers and the entirely beat up package, literally looked like it crossed 3,000 miles.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Yes, that is right, that is the way custom people handle it..!!!!

Customer:

Yes, I complained about the exorbitant fees and Topshop said many others did too. They changed their shipping strategy to have a US location-just like you said.

Customer:

OK. So, nothing to do correct?

Rakhi Vasavada :

Exactly. That is the only way you beat import duties. Though it may make the goods costly a bit.

Rakhi Vasavada :

I am afraid, No. I am sorry for being bearer of bad news.!

Customer:

I was wondering why you asked about freight earlier...Can I also assume import duties are not an exact science as sometimes I get charged nothing for very expensive items.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Exactly.

Customer:

What was it about freight that would have made a difference?

Rakhi Vasavada :

I asked for freight because, it is something that would be charged for bringing your packet till US from shipping location. It does no, however, include import duty and other such charges.

Customer:

Would I be responsible for freight?

Rakhi Vasavada :

So, in your case, freight would be cost of shipping the packed from UK to you.

Rakhi Vasavada :

That would grossly depend upon the sellers terms. Normally, shipping is charged extra OR it is included and it is specifically mentioned. It happens both way in the industry.

Customer:

I'm sorry I'm confused. Its shipping or freight I thought. But you are saying it can be both?

Rakhi Vasavada :

Let me make it simpler.

Customer:

Please1

Customer:

!

Rakhi Vasavada :

Shipping and Freight are the SAME THING. It is the cost of carrying your parcel / packet from UK location to US shores.

Rakhi Vasavada :

You have already paid for that as per the invoice which says -- Shipping, Total, Grand Total

Customer:

OH

Rakhi Vasavada :

Now,

Rakhi Vasavada :

What you have paid after that -- that bothered you --- was the import duty and other charges levied by US Customs + the courier's charge for getting your parcel cleared by the customs. This is totally different from shipping / freight.

Customer:

I SEE!

Customer:

It makes more sense

Rakhi Vasavada :

Good. I am happy that I was able to resolve your query.

Customer:

Thank you!

Rakhi Vasavada :

You are most welcome.. Is there anything more I can assist you with ? Please feel free to continue here if you need to.

Customer:

Well, I have another (haha) letter from a law firm trying to collect on a Custom Duty Charge. I assume it is the same thing e just covered. What really irks me however, is that I have ordered clothing many times, from many countries, and only 1 out of 9 times do I get a bill. Why is it so inconsistent and what is the cause?

Customer:

Perhaps then I can avoid it in the future.

Rakhi Vasavada :

The only recourse is to inquire -- specifically about the shipping location -- so as to avoid paying such duties. It happens only 1 out of 9 times as you say -- because -- most international sellers have multiple shipping locations. It will ship you FROM US and thus you will not pay such duties at all.

The key is to inquire very specifically about this if you are regularly buying from abroad.

Customer:

Is there a way to delay paying these fees until tax time?

Rakhi Vasavada :

The courier will not hand you over the shipment until you pay. OR, if it is just a custom tax bill, you have to pay it at front.

Customer:

Actually that hasnt been true in my case. Couriers drop off to me all the time, I have never been asked for payment- honestly. Back to your statement about being shipped packages from the US-it cant be. I order from Turkey, India, China, Italy etc. And those come to me without any import charge. Think, if I had been paying all of these duties charges, I would have stopped ordering online a long time ago. But since it rarely happens, its a mystery.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Yes, but you got a bill anyways..!

Customer:

I am very particular about money and value so its not like I would have not noticed having paid US customs charges every time.

Customer:

No, just these two I've mentioned. There are countless other orders with no bill

Rakhi Vasavada :

Yes, that is correct. But it happens some time.. Grossly depends upon the seller as I say.

Customer:

That is the reason for my suprise

Customer:

So I guess we can agree that its totally confusing

Customer:

?

Customer:

or not consistent

Rakhi Vasavada :

Well -- not confusing.. but expected.

Customer:

I thank you for your time and expertise.

Rakhi Vasavada :

I would expect it. I do not understand how you did not pay. Most of the times, seller would have included that in price and must have declared as collected and paid at time of arrival on US Shores.

Rakhi Vasavada :

Thanks for your appreciation. Kindly rate this conversation positively as that is the only way that we get compensated for assisting you.

Customer:

Oh- to answer your ? about how I didnt pay- I dont know either. I'll tell you- I use to have a small biz in NYC. I received countless packages a day from all kinds of couriers and some I had never even heard of before that specialize in international shipping. Only in retail am I charged customs. In those cases I dont know why the merchants dont use int'l couriers and charge the customer up front so they know what they will be paying.

Customer:

Anyways, I will go ahead and rate the session. Thanks again!

Rakhi Vasavada :

You are right. This puts customers in difficult situation.

Customer:

Your advice has been great

Rakhi Vasavada, Financial and Legal Consultant
Category: Finance
Satisfied Customers: 3841
Experience: Graduated in law with Emphasis on Finance and have have been working in financial sector for over 12 Years
Rakhi Vasavada and 4 other Finance Specialists are ready to help you

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