Import duty - naive buyer

Naivety on my part but I bought some electronic hobby kit off ebay (sent from China). It arrived ok works fine etc. Now some 3 weeks later I get an invoice from the shipping Co asking for some £50 ('made up of 3 parts with codes meaning give us your money so we can give it to the gov. for more UK bombs to attack other countries'). Sorry - but it feels like that. It's about 1/3 the price of the item!
Anyway, at the end of said invoice was the text: "We have paid this amount of import duty in good faith. Please pay us". So the shippers are acting as tax collectors then?
Maybe it was always so - but first time for me to buy this way. Watch those charges chaps.
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On Mon, 08 Feb 2016 10:41:56 +0000, michael newport wrote:

Sounds like a scam. Don't pay it! I've bought lots of stuff from China and never had this experience. Scam written all over it.
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They really should ask up front before delivery. after all nobody would if they did it the way mentioned. I'd no pay it without a real letter from the revenue. However i know the post office collect it as a friend told me they refused to deliver it until they were paid, and they also had a handling charge they put on to encourage folk to pay it beforehand. does not seem to matter that the customer did not know. Brian

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It does seem odd to me that a carrier would pay what *you* owe up front then try and claim it back from you. Asking for trouble. And not worth suing for such a relatively small amount.
Here, I got a card from IIRC the PO, and had to go online and pay. Including something like a 15 quid service charge. Outrageous for a simple online payment. Only then was the package delivered. And it wasn't the PO handling the UK end of the package either - it was a large US one like UPS.
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Have they bumped that up then? £8 charge by Royal Mail about 4 years ago.
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On Mon, 08 Feb 2016 17:44:19 +0000, Tim Streater

The last PO one I had was £8.00, October last year. The Fedex one I haven't paid yet had a £12.00 administration fee.
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I've just Googled to find out the fees. The PO site doesn't tell you. Just that there is one.
The item I'm thinking about cost about £250 from the US including carriage.
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It happens that Dave Plowman (News) formulated :

My experience suggests that everything I receive from the US, is checked and valued by Customs. Most everything from China gets through FOC.
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Maybe it's to do with trade deals.
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Do they know in advance what the charge is going to be? One would assume so but I'm just trying to think of a reason for seemingly irrational behaviour.

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wrote:

But is worth sending what appears to be a solicitors letter and that usually does see most choose to pay what is owed.

So its not surprising that some operations might choose to do it better.
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I agree.
I have had to pay duty etc. before, always it was clearly official and required before delivery.
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On Mon, 08 Feb 2016 10:41:56 +0000, "michael newport"

Yes, it's long been the case that delivery companies deal with VAT/duty and then add on a fee for doing it.
Just had a demand Fedex a month after the item was delivered, so I thought I'd got away with it!
It's pot luck to some extent, depends on the value and the carrier and the phase of the moon. For multiple items it's often best to buy them individually as low cost items are more likely to get through than one expensive delivery.
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On 08/02/2016 10:58, Bill Taylor wrote:

I think there is a de minimis limit of £18, below which HMRC don't bother to collect VAT.
OTOH, if you have not agreed to reimburse the shippers, can they actually recover from you?
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says...

I assume that there is no contract between Mr Taylor and the shipping company - worth a post to uk.legal.moderated ?
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On 2/8/2016 10:58 AM, Bill Taylor wrote:

Not come across that before. I *thought* that Customs could put some sort of "mark" on a package which meant the Post Office would hold on to it until you paid up. That happened to me on a £200 leather bag (still amazing value after paying the duty).
I've found with small Chinese products off eBay the Customs Form is sometimes marked up a bit creatively, e.g. with "Gift" or a value a bit below the actual value (say $5 rather than $15).
I'd also heard about the HMRC "de minimis" of 18 dollars / euros / pounds, didn't Amazon use that to fiddle prices of CDs supplied from Jersey at one time?
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On Mon, 8 Feb 2016 11:12:25 +0000, newshound

That doesn't work if the carrier is not the Royal Mail. My guess is that the problem arises with major international carriers who don't normally do domestic deliveries. I had a lens from Hong Kong a few years ago, with no request for payment and no marks on the package about duty. Sometime later, when I'd forgotten all about it, I receiced a statement from the carrier (DHL or Fedex) for an overdue account. As I didn't do business with them I assumed it was a glitch and threw it away. And the next one. When I received a solicitors' letter I realised what it was about and paid up but neither of the statements or the letter had said what I was being charged for. Perhaps there had been an invoice that I hadn't received.
(I heard a story some years ago about someone being (correctly) charged duty on an item from the Channel Islands. They complained to the supplier and were reimbursed. I don't know if the supplier had been advertising 'nothing more to pay' or if they gor away with it enough that they could afford to be generous when they didn't.)
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That happened with us with a package from the USA. The contents?
Tea!!!
HMRC staff do have a sense of humour after all.

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On Monday, 8 February 2016 11:12:27 UTC, newshound wrote:

What amount of silver was in the bag or was it a small one holding gold?
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How long? Last time it happened to me (about a couple of years ago) the claim came from a central unit run IIRC by the PO, not carrier. And the carrier was one of the big US ones.
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