Costco: Experts warn customers about 'headline prices'
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Import taxes and custom duties can be costly when they are correctly calculated, but some Britons find themselves owing hundreds unnecessarily. Alan Edwards said he has been through this dilemma four times before, sharing his story with the Telegraph.
International purchases often require the buyer to pay the tax charges before the parcel can be delivered into their country.
Mr Edwards found himself being charged £502 for duty and VAT on a £170 purchase from Portugal.
He also reported he was given just seven days to pay these charges or the parcel would be returned to the country of origin.
Knowing that this charge was entirely incorrect, he refused to pay it until it had been reevaluated.
When he queried the invoice, the courier company FedEx recalculated the charges and found he actually owed just £184.
The miscalculation would have seen Mr Edwards paying £318 more than he needed to if he had not challenged the invoice.
However, he noted this is not the first time he’s been put in this predicament.
He shared with the Telegraph: “It’s unbelievable.
“This is the fourth incorrect invoice I have had in the last five deliveries.
“It doesn’t seem like a one-off mistake any more, there’s clearly a problem with the system.”
Having left the EU, Britain is now subject to VAT and custom duties for goods received from EU countries.
While some are proficient with what these charges look like, others have never really encountered them before and will likely assume they are correct.
This could see many overpaying for their goods as some people have reportedly been charged twice for VAT.
Mr Edwards added: “It’s a real mess and I have tried very hard to tell them.”
Mr Edwards stated he has also been overcharged by DHL in the past, too.
Another Briton, Paul Carlier, 53, purchased two items of clothing from abroad and found himself paying more than £100 in unnecessary charges.
His original purchase cost £381, but after taxes and duties were added his total came to £650.74.
The Kent resident reported his story to Telegraph Money, and following their involvement, was compensated £100.
A FedEx spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “Having received two different clearance submissions, we recognised that there was an error in the calculation of the duties and taxes and we amended the charges. Outstanding customer service is a top priority for FedEx. We apologise to Mr Edwards for any inconvenience caused.
“Calculations for the customs clearance are estimated on the information provided by the sender. The actual clearance cost which is determined on entry into the destination country may vary from the estimate. The reasons for this could be exchange rate differences, HMRC adjustments to duty rates and/or changes with the initial information provided by the sender.’’
A DHL Express spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We’d like to offer our apologies to Mr Edwards. The bill he received was incorrect due to a mistake in the data entry and his experience in trying to resolve the issue falls below our normal high standards of service. We will be making contact with Mr Edwards as a priority to correct his invoices. While this was an isolated issue if anyone has queries related to the duty and VAT invoices they receive, they can contact our Customer Accounting team on 03442 480 777, and select option 7 or email [email protected]”
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