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Duties. Should the buyer or seller pay?

mdavie

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I've read on different threads people horror stories about duties and how to get around them. Not sure how to do a survey here, but if you were buying online from an overseas company, would you rather deal with a company that covers the duties or does it matter if you really want that brand? Would you not buy if you knew you were going to get dinged with the extra charge? Would you buy again if they didn't tell you about it?

Same goes for shipping charge. Would you rather free shipping? Different shipping price options? or whatever it is, I'll pay it if I like the product.


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ppllzz

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seems like duties can be avoided by using the right shipping companies...ie anyone is fine except for ups and fedex
 

mdavie

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It depends on the value of the shipment. Anything over $200 technically should have duties on them entering the US. Companies can get away with gifts but if they are doing any type of volume then the gov can/will crack down.
 

sho'nuff

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I don't even know why this is a question. The seller is running a business and sometimes in items like shoes and denim, there isn't much room to work with on profit and cost.
If a buyer wants to buy something, that is his privilege, not his entitlement.
Seller has the obligation to send the package securely to the buyer. That's it. If the buyer wants to pay less in shipping and avoid the customs tax, he forgoes the protection and seller should be relieved of any accountability.
 

NoVaguy

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Default is that it is the buyer's responsibility.
 

koolhistorian

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Duties are the buyer's responsibility, as fiscal law is not transnational - i.e. the seller's country can levy taxes only on commercial acts which will be consumed in that country (that is why you get a sales tax break when you export the goods). Then you are responsible for the taxes due to import the thing!
 

mcqueen

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I am not aware of any shop that covers duty & customs fees. It is the responsibility of the buyer to be aware of any additional costs which may incurred. With every country having different policies regarding duty, taxes, customs fees, etc., I can't imagine any shop or seller wanting to become involved with the additional red tape.
 

FidelCashflow

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Originally Posted by mcqueen
I am not aware of any shop that covers duty & customs fees. It is the responsibility of the buyer to be aware of any additional costs which may incurred. With every country having different policies regarding duty, taxes, customs fees, etc., I can't imagine any shop or seller wanting to become involved with the additional red tape.
You're right that no seller actually picks up the tab for these fees, it's always billed to the customer. But some online shopping services use a checkout service can calculate all these duties and customs depending on the shipping destination and allow the seller to directly bill this to the customer at the time of the sale, so the customer only ever makes 1 lump payment to the seller to cover everything. For example if I buy something from Saks and have it shipped to Canada, the website will calculate all the fees, duties, taxes, conversion fees, etc and give me 1 consolidated bill in Canadian dollars. It may be slightly more convenient, but it really costs just as much to the customer either way.
 

arvidg

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Originally Posted by FidelCashflow
You're right that no seller actually picks up the tab for these fees, it's always billed to the customer. ...

Actually, IndoChino claims they «will strive to cover charges your package may incur by local tax or customs officials.». Which is quite possible, as they ship with FedEx who do seem to have such a service. I ordered a suit from them on monday, so I'll find out soon how well that works in practice.

Some other web shops etc (and I won't mention names here) will do tricks like label shippings as gifts (even when they aren't), put a ridiculously low value on the pro forma invoice, or both; these tricks may or may not work very well. Some even advertise such practices. (Hint for these companies: Ticking off "gift" on a parcel to Norway won't help if it's sent from a company.)

Oh, and here's a twist: To Norway, there's import duty on clothes unless they come from 1) EU or Iceland, or 2) a list of developing countries. But they have to come directly. Thailand to Norway: no import duty («only» VAT and a customs clearing fee). Thailand to Norway via a re-mailer in Singapore: Import duty + VAT + customs clearing fee. No big difference, though: this import duty is 6% IIRC, while VAT is 25%.
 

countcount

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Originally Posted by andyliu52
seems like duties can be avoided by using the right shipping companies...ie anyone is fine except for ups and fedex

Sometimes but not always the case. I just paid duties on an order via the postal service. The declared value is a key factor.
 

zippyh

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Originally Posted by mdavie
It depends on the value of the shipment. Anything over $200 technically should have duties on them entering the US. Companies can get away with gifts but if they are doing any type of volume then the gov can/will crack down.

The $200 duty free is only for good you're carrying when you enter the US.
Anything shipped is fair game.
 

larsrindsig

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Originally Posted by mdavie
I've read on different threads people horror stories about duties and how to get around them. Not sure how to do a survey here, but if you were buying online from an overseas company, would you rather deal with a company that covers the duties or does it matter if you really want that brand? Would you not buy if you knew you were going to get dinged with the extra charge? Would you buy again if they didn't tell you about it?

It's hardly someone else's fault if you buy something in a different country so of course you should pay customs and taxes. If the seller went and did that for, sure, that would be an extremely generous gesture (although you would ultimately pay for it yourself through higher prices) but it's not something to be expected.

That being said duties, VAT etc is a pain in the bottom and it does put me off buying a lot of things from outside Europe because once taxes (25% VAT + maybe 5-10% customs depending on the product + handling fees to customs and to the postal service) are added it just isn't worth it.

Originally Posted by countcount
Sometimes but not always the case. I just paid duties on an order via the postal service. The declared value is a key factor.

Yes and no. Anything sent as a letter by regular post, the Danish customs will let pass right through for example - whether it's labelled $1 or $500.000.000 doesn't matter. Parcels however are opened and value of goods estimated and cross-referenced with the invoice and their own price estimations. If there's no invoice (or it seems suspiciously low) you have to prove the value. Ticking 'gift' or putting a smaller amount doesn't change anything. My brother had to pay duties and VAT for his own camera that someone sent back to him from outside the EU.

Couriers like UPS go by the declared value, I believe (no matter the type of mailing) and charge exorbitantly for the customs service. And of course for insurance purposes the declared value goes.
 

Cary Grant

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The buyer should cover it whether the seller builds that expense into the retail cost or the buyer pays it after the fact.
 

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