Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Immature Customs

So, looks like the custom-made pole is in the UK. I got a "Payment due" card through the door today from the Royal Mail.

"Payment due: £11.49 includes £8 handling fee for underpaid items"

Actually, the item isn't underpaid as I have no provision for paying customs duty in advance - something that this law-abiding citizen is happy to do. So that's a customs tax bill of £3.49, which takes £8 of work to process.

Where was the option to pay by PayPal, or some other 21st century payment scheme? It wasn't offered.

It is like a game of chance rather than a grown-up taxation system. Imagine going to the shops and only paying the VAT after rolling dice - and if the dice rolls against you, you also pay a fee on top of the tax.

No doubt HM Queen won't be paying a handling charge on items being posted back from the States.

Like I said - I've no trouble paying the customs, it is a penalty flat fee for the handling that smells suspiciously like poo to me. Of course, being a mature and not cunning blighter in any way shape or form, I looked out the cash, and will drop it in a ziplock bag for them. No doubt they'll cry foul and refuse to take the cash and say it has to be handled electronically (thereby giving me fair notice to complain officially that that is not £8's worth of handling work).

What a joke.

Links: HM Revenue & Customs

The Post Office may charge you for clearing your package through Customs. They handle packages for Customs examination and, if required, open and re-pack them. The Post Office will also store packages if Customs need to make enquiries; for example, when the contents have not been declared properly by the sender. The Post Office fees are collected at the same time as Customs charges but are completely separate and Customs cannot reply to queries about them.

Sooo, if I read this right - the Customs folk don't actually deal with the customs check, it is the Post Office. That makes sense - HM Revenue & Customs are too busy to deal with the custom of customs checks. Easier for them just to soak up the tax and let the punters pay a separate charge over and above the tax to an outside agency. Means that their budget looks better. I wouldn't like it to be known that a UK Government department was so inefficient that it cost £8 to process a tax charge of £3.49.

Methinks there's a fiddle somewhere and, as usual, we plebs have to foot the bill for government shenanigans.


Chris Cowell said...

Hi Duncan,
How long did the poles take to arrive? Was the weight as advertised? Are you happy with them so far?


AktoMan said...

Ordered 2 1/2wks ago, Chris. They're at the Sorting Office, and I'll pick them up on Friday.

There was a card waiting for me today, too, so probably the Namches. Shiny.