Sunday, 27 January 2013

Rip Off Royal Mail

A week or so ago, I bought 3 vintage patterns on Etsy from Miss Betty's Attic on Etsy. I wasn't meant to be buying, merely browsing, but somehow they jumped into my cart and before I knew it, I'd clicked buy!

On Tuesday, I arrived back from work to find that Royal Mail had put a card through the door. Apparently I owed them £11.44 due to customs charges. I've only ever bought one thing from the US before (2 vintage patterns previously) and hadn't encountered this, although had heard via other blogs that this could happen. What I didn't expect though was that of the £11.44, only actually £3.44 was for VAT (tax) - the rest - a full £8 - was Royal Mail's handling charge!! I have no issues with paying tax on my purchase (even though it feels a little excessive for a second hand item that I didn't buy in this country) but to pay that much for a "handling charge" - that's just outrageous!

I've tried rationalising this, but just can't. Does the "handling charge" include paying someone to come to my house to deliver a card? No, because I can pay 50p for a second class stamp and someone brings it to my home. Is it because of the processing at the sorting office? Nope, because once again, I can pay a couple of quid for a parcel that is too large for my letter box, which will be taken back to the sorting office if I'm not in. Is it because they have to pay the £3.44 upfront and they are therefore charging me some sort of interest? No idea, but this seems excessive. But what else could it be? How much handling can it have undergone to justify this charge - it's the equivalent of banks charging you 20 quid for going 20p overdrawn! But in this case, I have no control over it. No one can tell me how to pay the tax upfront, to therefore avoid the handling charge. The man at the sorting office, was nice and understanding (of my incredulity), but useless nevertheless. So I am left wondering if I just need to avoid buying from abroad in future. I've paid a further 50% of my total spend on this - which, quite frankly, just feels like I've chucked money in the bin!

I've heard that generally if you spend under $30, you don't get taxed, but unsure if this price includes postage or not. Anyone have any ideas?

In other news, I've made a start on my Charlotte skirt, and hope to make further progress this week. My husband, P, is away with work til Wednesday, leaving me a few consecutive evenings where I can take over the living room...
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