Import duty was the big debate of the week, with your experiences of buying from abroad being shared en masse. Do you think it should be easier, simpler and cheaper to buy from the US?
Jenny paid twice for an iPod:
‘My son, who lives in USA, sent an iPod touch to UK for his daughter’s birthday, but the import duty meant the iPod cost more than the same product in UK. Of course, I had to pay the fee.’
Woodgreener is always ready for import fees:
‘I have always known that if you buy goods from outside the European Union extra costs are incurred such as Duty and VAT. I have bought things from the USA, Canada and Argentina only because I could not find those items in the UK or the European Union … so in my calculations I had factored in my extra duty and VAT charges and expected any delays at customs. These are goods I wanted and could not get anywhere else. So… no shock… no surprises.’
NFH thinks customs limits in the UK are too low:
‘The customs limits are way too low. Compare the UK’s customs limits for unaccompanied goods (e.g. online ordering) to those of Australia, which is well known for strict customs controls. Residents of Australia can receive goods up to AUD 1,000 (GBP 555) without paying anything in import duty or tax. We need a similarly sensible limit in the UK.’
Extra post office handling charges
John bemoans the handling costs added by Royal Mail:
‘When I ordered a couple of art prints from a US company a few years ago I ended up paying a couple of pounds extra for import, which was fair enough. The charges levied by Royal Mail for ‘handling’ however added an extra 10% to the total cost which I thought was well beyond any reasonable charge.’
Graham, who shared his views on our Facebook page, criticised similar charges:
‘The import duty is not the problem as it is a percentage you can calculate. The problem is the ridiculous post office handling fee for which there is apparently no method to avoid. Surely you should be able to pay the duty so you purchase can make it straight to you and avoid a grossly unfair handling charge for them doing nothing.’
Paying for your birthday gift
SuperGran, who gets our Comment of the Week, shares her birthday experience:
‘I think Which? should conduct a campaign against import duty on modest gifts and against the exorbitant handling charge levied by Royal Mail. My daughter, who lives in Australia, sent me a nice but moderately-priced birthday present this year comprising a simple plastic stand for recipe books and a plastic cover for my phone. I had to pay £8.80 import duty and even worse, a handling charge of £10 to Royal Mail. Scandalous.
‘My ‘gift’ cost me £18.80 and I even had to drive seven miles (and back) in order to collect it. The parcel arrived over a week late, even though it had been posted in good time for my birthday. No doubt because it had been held up going through Customs and then Royal Mail processing. In future, I shall drop a hint to my daughter that she buys presents for her parents online from John Lewis. At least that way she will not incur charges for us and will know that presents are being delivered to our door.’
Have you had a similar experience of customs when ordering online goods from the US?
Should the UK Government raise the import duty threshold so Brits can buy more from America?
Yes (72%, 925 Votes)
No (18%, 236 Votes)
Don't know (9%, 120 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,281