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Caution when selling astro gear abroad ...

Started by tslotwin, 01/03/2004 10:07AM
Posted 01/03/2004 10:07AM Opening Post
Well, I found a nasty surprise in my mailbox yesterday that I though I'd pass along. Consider this food for thought for those of you who might be selling astro goodies to someone outside the US.

The surprise was from FedEx and concerned the first item I ever sold here on Astromart ... my old ETX90. The sale was made last June, to a fellow in Canada. We had some nice email exchanges and he paid via Paypal with no problems. The scope was received on his side in good condition and my last email contact from him was that he was happy with the scope.

However, it appears that he has neglected/refused to pay for the import duties (approx $40US). As FedEx apparently has been unsucessful collecting the duties from him, they have now informed me that according to their policies, "the shipper is responsible for duty, taxes and brokerage fees when they cannot be collected from the consignee." Not a very nice way to start the new year. Granted it's not a huge sum, but it is approx 30% of the total sales price. I don't know if the other major carriers (UPS, DHL, Airborne, etc) have this policy, but I suspect they do.

Now I'm sure there are many here who have had no problems selling to responsible folks abroad. But it is something to think about ... For my part, I will not be selling to anyone outside the US unless thay have a long and distinguished feedback record here on Astromart.
Posted 01/03/2004 10:19AM #1
Definately food for thought. Maybe duties to be paid up front with refunds after reciept?

[SIZE="Large"][/SIZE][COLOR="Blue"][/COLOR] Floyd Blue grin
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Posted 01/03/2004 10:38AM #2
Fed Ex and UPS have too many extra fees for shipping to Canada (and probably other countries as well). I have shipped to several different countries via insured Air Mail Parcel Post and EMS (Global Priority Mail) with values as high as $800 and I've never had a speck of trouble. Of course it also helps to make sure that the recipient understands that all import duties are their responsibility.

Posted 01/03/2004 10:51AM #3
Although there are no duties owing on US manufactured goods (none on any astro geat I have ordered), there are other charges. GST (Goods and Services Tax) at 7% and whatever Provincial sales tax applies for the destination. Then there is the rather steep import brokerage fees charged by the carrier.

All these are the responsibility of the purchaser to pay upon receipt of the product. Why Fed Ex did not require payment when the goods were delivered is simply their mistake. When I receive goods from outside Canada, I am always required to pay ALL fees before the goods are handed to me (even Fed Ex).

The fact that they claim it's their "policy" to go back to the shipper for the unpaid fees is just their way of passing their mistake to you. Unless you have an account with Fed Ex that you want to protect and keep in good standing, I would challenge their legal authority to recover the fees from you. There is no reason you should have to pay for their poor administration.

You may also wish to contact the purchaser. If he knows the fees fall back to you, he may be more interested in coming clean on the transaction.

Gary Weber