Paul Makepeace ;-)

April 22, 2005

Customs & Royal Mail clearance "scam"

Posted in: Drivel

Oh boy, legal rip-off. I ordered US$38.98 (£20.36) of crap from Cafepress and managed to incur £7.55 Customs and Royal Mail clearance fee, so 37% of the original cost ended up in the laps of Customs and Royal Mail. Why? The maximum declared value of imported goods is £18 before it's subject to tax. So £3.55 was VAT (fair, accurate, no problems), and the remaining £4.00 was a charge by the Royal Mail to clear it through Customs and deliver it. Except they don't, they take it to the local holding P.O. for collection. I guess my objection is a) having to pay for a service I didn't request and b) for which I have to do extra work myself, work I see as firmly in the remit of the service provider, i.e. deliver it to the labelled address(!) c) paying £7.55 on £20.36 worth of goods(!!)


Posted by Paul Makepeace at April 22, 2005 13:40 | TrackBack

That's just Customs flexing their knuckles before your shipment arrives...

Posted by: Jez at April 23, 2005 23:26

Gaah, I hate customs too - you should see the charges they slap on us when we import stuff. Steve's obsession with steel bending stems from the money we've paid to them :)

Posted by: ken at April 24, 2005 02:13

You think thats bad I bought a suit second hand of ebay that was £66 I got charged import duty of £22 after that VAT and handling fee. In total I had to pay another £61 to recieve it. I send parcels across the world and good to the value of £300. The customs in countries like NZ AUstrailia and USA have no problems with it! Isnt it ironic that the country where everything costs more tahn anywhere else has the lowest exemption values. Thieves. Mind you the people deserve the government they elect! Sobering eh!

Posted by: Hans at August 11, 2005 16:03

I have just had a similar experience. I purchased some goods from the US, totalling $81.50. I had a card put throught the letter box stating that I owed the post office £9.01 when I collect the item. There was a label on the box stating I had to pay £5.01 VAT and £4.00 postal handling charge. I paid the charge because I wanted the contents of the box, would you believe I asked for a receipt for the £9.01 but I was told they could not issue a receipt. I feel the Post office / Customs are a bunch of rip off merchants.

Posted by: Peter at March 10, 2006 17:46

I had the same crap treatment from PARCELFORCE, i had an item sent from canada (granted it was £115 worth) but i was charged £22.33 import duty and PARCELFORCE then threw a charge of £13.50 so i had to pay £35.83, i cant see how Parcelforce can charge me over half the duty as a fee for doing something i had not asked them to do (they say they paid the import duty on my behalf) and therefore can chage me for that. What a bunch of robbing b#####ds both Customs and the delivery services are.

Posted by: Lee at May 7, 2006 09:51

Just send them as gift or get sender to send as gift & you will pay nothing

Posted by: jazz at August 26, 2006 00:11

Not too veer to far off the subject but i have payed for an airbrush kit from the states and paid extra for express mail 3-5 days and nothing has arrived after 7 days, is this due to customs taking there time with my goods ?

Posted by: Den at September 28, 2006 18:55

Not too veer to far off the subject but i have payed for an airbrush kit from the states and paid extra for express mail 3-5 days and nothing has arrived after 7 days, is this due to customs taking there time with my goods ?

Posted by: Den at September 28, 2006 18:56

Just had to pay £34 for import duty and what ever else for a pair of $90 goggles. Where do they get their figures from!!
Not Happy

Posted by: Steve at December 8, 2006 14:17

Having paid a USA seller for express delivery, I expected to receive item within 3 days of dispatch. 14 days later I receive a letter from Parcelforce kindly informing me they are holding the parcel and charging me £13.50 on top of the customs charge of £20.20 VAT. So they have interfered with the service I paid for, left me without a gift to give to my partner at xmas, AND I'm expected to pay them this extortionate percentage rate for the privilege??? What happened to consumer choice? We just have to cough up or give up the item we've paid for??? Aaaargh!!!! I have written to Consumer Direct but my expectations of a satisfactory response are pretty low.

Posted by: Julie at January 6, 2007 01:21

I have bought so0mething on ebay and need to have it sent over to the UK what should I declare it for so customs won't upen it and charge me more or not charge me at all?

Where is the limit? I'm going to mark it as a gift.

Posted by: Andy at January 8, 2007 19:39

i bought my son a new set of 8 irons for his golf club set from usa. Had a card put through the letter box asking for £66 import duty including handling costs.
not happy

Posted by: Kevin at January 12, 2007 10:49

Parcelforce are the biggest robbers . . . .
What a con, I just purchased 2 DVD's from the USA, for essential work I have to do. I paid extra money for fast delivery and expected to pay some VAT as well. Then Thieving Parcelforce poke their greedy noses in and tell me I have to pay them £13.50 or else they will send my goods back to sender.
They could'nt manage a Bubble Gum machine, what a bunch of crooks.

Posted by: Paul Pritchard at March 10, 2007 12:08

think i can beat all of your woes....just bought 30quids worth of makeup from seller in a demand for 63.16 in VAT!?!?! how f****d up is that....

Posted by: disgruntled at March 17, 2007 13:01

Hi everyone.
Have just found this about royal mail charges, yeaterday I went to collect a parcel from my postoffice and pay the charges, there was a sign there informing of new charges as from 2nd April 07 -


BEWARE !!!!!!!!

Posted by: angela brown at April 5, 2007 09:06

Putting the charge up to £8 looks like its the only way to cover the pension gap the post office has. In a world where the cost of paper transaction goes away only the UK post office can double the costs without prior notification and then fail to deliver the package as contracted. It won't be long before all goods get routed around the bottleneck. This sort of thinking should have been purged from the corporate culture of the PO when they lost their monopoly. Oh well.

Posted by: srtlcd at April 28, 2007 23:55

I have just had experience of the new charges.
I purchased some plastic spare parts from the states as they are not available over here. Price of the parts was $45.00 (about £22.00) total cost to me from the shipper including shipping £29.00. All I have got so far is a card stating that I owe £14.00 that means that the post office is charging me £8.00 to give £6.00 to the taxman. This has increased the total price of my goods by 50%. Where do they get their figures from, Or a better question would be where has their common sense gone. In future I will be having my goods shipped to a friend in France then re shipped to me. Stuff the taxman!!

Posted by: John Phoenix at May 11, 2007 19:48

UGH! bought a t shirt and a mug from the states for$58 and got charged 12pounds to collect it! why are royal mail charging me anything at all? what a load of rubbish 8 quid for nothing. Got a receipt but no idea how to get any of it back. Can i?

Posted by: kate at May 18, 2007 13:59

i've just paid £22.70 to parcelforce worldwide
of which £9.20 was VAT the remaining £13.50 was a parcelforce "handling charge". my bellyache is why wasn't i given the opportunity to pay the VAT charge, which i have no crib with, before parcelforce stepped in and paid on my behalf. If i had been contacted i would have paid immediately for the VAT. From where i'm standing it seems to me like "stitch up" between one goverment organisation,- customs, and another,- royal mail, plus other couriers, in order to fleece the public and boost their profits. Someone should look into these charges. maybe it's another case similar to the "snotty" bank letters you get and the ridiculous charges the levy. which, when challenged, suddenly get dropped.

Posted by: mike at May 24, 2007 15:18

i've just paid £22.70 to parcelforce worldwide
of which £9.20 was VAT the remaining £13.50 was a parcelforce "handling charge". my bellyache is why wasn't i given the opportunity to pay the VAT charge, which i have no crib with, before parcelforce stepped in and paid on my behalf. If i had been contacted i would have paid immediately for the VAT. From where i'm standing it seems to me like "stitch up" between one goverment organisation,- customs, and another,- royal mail, plus other couriers, in order to fleece the public and boost their profits. Someone should look into these charges. maybe it's another case similar to the "snotty" bank letters you get and the ridiculous charges the levy. which, when challenged, suddenly get dropped.

Posted by: mike at May 24, 2007 15:18

I wouldn't normally write on these things but i feel welcomed into the angry, pi**ed off world of parcel forces!!

Ornamental puzzle box = £25

Shipping fee = £12

Realising customs have held your item and won't release it till you pay £23.40,,,,, Priceless!!!!

Absolute pant pulling down, money grabbing, back stabbing, anger inviting WA*KE*S!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Ben Shoulders at June 5, 2007 18:54

I just got caught by this new charge. VAT: £4.32, Handling fee: £8! Apparently all £8 goes to the Royal Mail and I can't even pay it online / over the phone and have them deliver it, so I have to get to their depot and back. Even the employee who served me said I was being ripped off!

Posted by: Graham at June 18, 2007 17:00

It's not the vat from customs as government vampires tax us all the time (don't like it but....). It's the extra that parcelforce Capitalists sponge for paying the vat on your behalf without being asked and suggesting a round trip for me, at least, 90 miles (non driver) to pay. Going to send parcelforce a bill for the time spent on the phone, written in legalese just to sow a little discord.

Posted by: Morningstar at July 11, 2007 11:48

I think i've just got away with paying £15.20 for a parcel from the US that cost me $82. The parcel arrived at my home with a sticker on the front saying 'DO NOT DELIVER THIS PARCEL UNTIL DUTY HAS BEEN PAID' - d'oh someone in the sorting office messed up there, sent it out with the postie instead of to the collection depot, their loss. I'm going to ignore the duty for now, if they really want it they'll have to come and get it!

Posted by: Sarah at July 16, 2007 13:32

these robbing parasitic capitalist arsewipes have just charged me £25.60 on guitar goods worth £100 and now i have to go though the chew of picking them up only way i can do that is to take time off work so theres more money in lost wages!!!! Its about time somethig was done about this system!!!!!! Bastards!

Posted by: mick at July 24, 2007 17:03

yep, assholes. On the way back from Spain they confiscated a package from my father containing an item he couldn't get into his luggage. He had to show a receipt to prove he bought it in the UK... and who keeps receipts for everything they buy?

So he had to pay the charge, which was just a few £££ less than the items value!

Will the EU kick the Taxmans ass again I wonder?

Posted by: j at July 28, 2007 18:15

How about this one - I brought an X-ray transformer from e-bay. The cost of the item itself was £151.09. Add to this £21.66 postage. Add to this £30.52 V.A.T. Add to this £8 Royal Mail handling fee. So for an item of value £151.09 - In order to get it from USA: I have had to pay: £21.66 + £30.52 + £8.00, or £60.18 or 40% of the e-bay price of £151.09. NEVER order anything from e-bay from USA. NEVER even order anything from USA via e-bay even if the value is less than £18. Heads you will lose and get clobbered for postage + customs / VAT + Royal Mail handling fee - tails you lose and will get clobbered for even higher international postage costs in order to break up shipment of goods to avoid being clobbered by customs / VAT + Royal Mail handling charge. Either way you can't win.

Posted by: Paul Perry at July 31, 2007 20:31

How about this one - I brought an X-ray transformer from e-bay. The cost of the item itself was £151.09.

Add to this £21.66 postage. Add to this £30.52 V.A.T. Add to this £8 Royal Mail handling fee.

So for an item of value £151.09 - In order to get it from USA: I have had to pay:

£21.66 + £30.52 + £8.00, or £60.18 or 40% of the e-bay price of £151.09.

NEVER order anything from e-bay from USA.

NEVER even order anything from USA via e-bay even if the value is less than £18.

Heads you will lose and get clobbered for postage + customs / VAT + Royal Mail handling fee - tails you lose and will

get clobbered for even higher international postage costs in order to break up shipment of goods to avoid being

clobbered by customs / VAT + Royal Mail handling charge. Either way you can't win.

Posted by: Paul Perry at July 31, 2007 21:06

my boyfriend in Hong Kong just sent me over a parcel... containing a blender worth £40, 2 transformer toys and a cmall cushion... the contents are worth 1000 HK dollars which is about £62... got a letter rom parcel force today demanding £25 import duty, £99 VAT and £13.50 clearance fee....... WHAT THE?!?!

their customer service it crap.. called the customs team the woman was as moody as ever. If i wanna recall my parcel it will take up to 6 weeks... from milton keynes to coventry>?!?!


Posted by: MK1987 at August 15, 2007 11:37

I have encountered this same scam. THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW.

Section 104 and 105 of the Postal Services Act 2000 clearly state that they cannot hold up the post and it cannot be held to ransom for fees (lien) payable. Section 83 and 84 state the offence carries a penalty of up to six months imprisonment.

I challenged their legal department:

Lynn Gawthorpe (Parcelforce legal at the HQ) 01908687000

and was able to pick up my parcel without paying a penny.

The upshot is that they are legally able to charge a fee for paying your Customs bill, BUT they are not allowed to hold your mail to ransom until you pay it. They can only go through the standard civil procedure to obtain the debt.

I am currently looking into taking criminal action against the directors of Parcelforce for instructing their employees to break the law.

If you wish to join in, please text my mobile on 0790 25526777

Posted by: Mark at August 22, 2007 17:12

I thought I had it bad...those f***ing money grabbing bastards.

Bought £33.75 off ebay from Hong Kong then like other posts, got a card through the mail saying I needed to pay £15.05 + £8 for bullshit. Oh, BTW on the card they've crossed out the original handling charge which was £1.00!!!! Can you believe that??!

I bought a few things from NY and didn't pay anything on them??? Whats going on here? That was two months ago...after the new charge came in.

I've just read on Royal Mails site about charges. I don't remember it applying to gift items. Why the hell should we pay tax on gift items. We didn't pay for them & we're not making money on them!

It's so true, they're losing money from paper post, so they have to make it up somewhere. You can be sure this was schemed up by lawyers. Bastards!

I will be looking into those details, Thanks Mark

Posted by: Ann at September 1, 2007 14:30

REPLY TO: Posted by: MK1987 at August 15, 2007 11:37

..."my boyfriend in Hong Kong just sent me over a parcel... containing a blender worth £40, 2 transformer toys and a small cushion... the contents are worth 1000 HK dollars which is about £62... got a letter from parcel force today demanding £25 import duty, £99 VAT and £13.50 clearance fee....... WHAT THE?!?!"

How can you be charged £99 VAT on goods totaling £62??

VAT is 17.5% of the total value - It should be £10.85 - This MUST be a SCAM!!

I've just looked at the HM Customs site...I purchased a garment which according to their Duty VAT Table is liable to 12% Duty of the total. I worked it out and I have been charged 25.96% of the total!! Thats on top of the 17.5% VAT How do they work that out? And why the ridiculous increase on one cheap piece of clothing?

It seems to me almost arbitrary. Why don't they give a printed receipt with a brake down of the charges instead of a card, handwritten by anyone at the post depot. Seems very dodgy to me.

Posted by: Ann at September 3, 2007 14:24

what's the chance of a restrospective refund to all the people that have had their mail held up, until the point of the "unsolicited" service is cleared up?
"unsolicited" in that none of us invited, or required, parcelforce (and their like) to pay on our behalf.

Posted by: anth finegan at September 6, 2007 11:16

I've also had to pay £8 on top of a £4 VAT charge. I called customer services but as usual didn't get anywhere. The woman I spoke to couldn't tell me much. She did say that some parcels take longer to process than others which means its a bit unfair if your parcel (mine was from amazon) doesn't need to be opened and clearly has the item value on the front which means a lot less work.

I suggest everyone writes to the Royal Mail customer services and asks them to justify this charge. If they charge £8 for handling a parcel think how much handling a complaint letter from a customer will cost them! Their address is:

Royal Mail Customer Services
PO Box 740
Plymouth PL9 7YB

You can also lodge a complaint with postcom as well. Apparently they approve the charges set by the Royal Mail!!

Posted by: Tim at September 13, 2007 13:07

Ah so am I right in thinking that what you're saying is that they should deliver the item and then bill you - Rather than putting a card through the door saying to come and collect it, pay up first and then we are going to charge you for the privilege?

Posted by: Carl at September 14, 2007 10:40

Has the proportion of items inspected increased lately because I have had some quite large items sent over from the states and paid no VAT but today I was charged VAT on a $70 item

Posted by: Ratter at September 20, 2007 16:42

Given all the extra charges (despite the illegality of the methods used for collection) incurred via Royal Mail/Parcel Force, it may be worth investigating the cost of Fedex or DHL (or another point to point courier with international capability). They handle any excise/duty/VAT liability for you, via an invoice ~14 days after your goods arrive at your door and only levy a £6.80 fee or 2.5% of the cost of goods, whichever is the greater, meaning that you'll only pay an extra £6.80 over and above any excise/Duty/VAT on up to £272 worth of product. Having the supplier use one of them may be more expensive than 'regular' mail, but if the extra cost is less than £15, it is worth it for a no-hassle delivery. Also, much of the product discused above seems light-weight and low-volume, which is advantageous as far as shipping costs are concerned, especially when using couriers. In my experience, if you have ordered stuff from the US and selected one of the US Post Office's express services, you will have paid as much (or more) as you would have going with Fedex, yet been reliant on the good 'ole PO (famed for their larcenous ways and sullen customer service) at this end, rather than a door to door service. Not extolling couriers for any other reason than at least the dosh you pay for excise/duty/VAT is clear and accounted for, payable by all the ususal methods, without having to visit a depot somewhere, AFTER you get your goods.

Posted by: Jerry at October 1, 2007 15:34

More info, i paid $159.99 for a baseball bat, after barry bonds hit home run 756, ordered from USA, got a letter thru post saying i owe them money to get the bat relaesed!! feel like paying then going round the offices and beating the holly hell out off adam crozier! how wud he like it if he got slapped with a charge!
make me second think about getting goods from over-seas! next time i do, mark it GIFT!!!!

Posted by: GOD at October 2, 2007 02:31

I have just paid Parcel Force £13.50 for paying £14.17 VAT on a parcel from Australia. I wish I had read the legal challenge to Parcel Force first. I'll now attempt to claim it back!

Posted by: A. Schuller at October 20, 2007 17:35

Amazing, how do we go about defending our rights then? Should we call Lynn or state the law to the person at the depot?

Posted by: Starkiez at October 24, 2007 01:45

I've spent a month waiting for a $200 book that is one of only about a thousand printed, only to find out that customs LOST IT.

Posted by: Amanda at October 24, 2007 23:32

I am glad you posted on here Mark. I have had the same problem before and never challenged them (was asked to pay the parcel via credit card before they would deliver).I was upset and felt it was legalised theft, but like many others, just paid the fees to get the goods i ordered. Your post on her will encourage others to stand up to this unjust system and to know there rights!.

Posted by: sue at November 5, 2007 15:13


Posted by: DAVID MERCHANT at November 6, 2007 16:56

I just got done for £8 "royal mail international handling fee", after paying £5 duty/VAT on an order for £33. So a total of £13 with the added bonus of the parcel delivery being delayed and me having to pick it up myself (they do have other ways to pay and have it re-delivered but that would add even longer time to the delivery).

I called their complaints department and was met by a very unsympathetic representative. He denied that holding the parcel was against any laws, and gave me a rubbish story about how they cannot trust in the goodness of people to pay if they deliver the parcel. I told him something to the effect that this was not a good reason to hold the parcel and both legaly and morally questionable as most companies do deliver goods and then charge the customer, and there are plenty of legal options to deal with non-paying "customers". He didn't really care and said royal mail was well within their rights to withold the parcel.

I also argued that £8 was too much and mentioned that only recently it had been £4. He responded by saying that the £8 gave them zero profit and was purely to cover the cost of collecting the duty. He claimed royal mail was losing money when they were charging £4. I stated that this was hard to believe and if true then there is something very wrong with the procedure used to collect the duty as it must be possible to do it cheaper. Keep in mind I've already paid for the shipping when I made the order so the £8 does not include shipping.

He also said that revenue and customs had agreed this duty collection service from royal mail and I should complain to them if I don't like it. I then asked if this means that there are other ways to pay the duty fee without using royal mail and he confirmed no, there is not. When I then stated that this is a monopoly forcing me to pay the £8 handling fee on any international order, he retorted by saying that it was not a monopoly as customs had decided to use this service.

Well since I have no choice in paying customs and I have no choice to not use royal mail to do so, it IS a monopoly. When I told him so his response was to complain to the government.

Posted by: CB at November 7, 2007 11:13

Just done the same to me.Wont be dealing with Parcelforce again-!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Paul Lamb at November 14, 2007 11:54

I recently ordered a couple of bottles of a hair shampoo/conditioner as a present for my daughter.
The company was in the USA. It arrived 3 weeks later and I received the proverbial note through the door asking for £4.50 VAT and £8 handling fee.
The original cost of the item was £24 ( 2 bottles) Pretty expensive shampoo eh especially as with these charges it works out at £36 £18 per bottle.
Incidentaly the item was shipped from Singapore and not the USA. I won,t be buying anything else from the Continent as this is daylight robbery.

Posted by: Doug Westland at November 22, 2007 10:43

Buy stuff from the EU or insist that whoever sells you something from outside the EU despatches the goods on delivery term DDP (delivery duty paid) rather than DDU (delivery duty unpaid). The shipping costs might be slightly more expensive but usually less than PO and is less likely to be held up at the post office. The alternative would be to manage the import yourself - fill out the appropriate forms and make payment to HMRC.

Posted by: Tony at November 26, 2007 07:10

also stung by royal mail £8 handling fee, having purchased a £22 part for my guitar. Over the years I have continually redistributed local mail wrongly posted through my letterbox by the incompetent postie. Well,n I have just spat my dummy out, and will now be requesting a £8 handling fee from Royal mail for my services.
They way I see it they have to either pay the £8 or pursue me through the courts to establish whether my fee is reasonable, at which time I can produce evidence of Royal mail charging me the same fee for a similar service.

Posted by: ross at December 1, 2007 08:09

just received a gift from relative 312 cusotoms charge, IS THIS CORRECT???

Posted by: hayward at December 1, 2007 17:05

Just paid £3.26 VAT and £8 handling charge for some Cafe Press greetings cards valued at $38.38c which is just 70p over the magic £18.
Its a rip-off, but if VAT has been applied legally it appears to be legal - which is not to say that its right. If the parcel arrives by Post Office (as opposed to parcel force) then number to ring is 08457740740 - they will put you on to Inland Revenue 0845 0109000, who will put you on to the local sorting office, who will agree that its a rip off but say they cant do anything about it. Only way around it is to get the item described as a gift, get it forwarded through a relative in the States, or break up your order into smaller amounts and be very careful to check todays exchange rates....

Posted by: Excalibur at December 6, 2007 13:46

The royal mail is a bunch of crooks..... Having to pay £8 for a parcel and the vat as well... I dont mind the VAT charge, but the £8 charge slapped on for International handling.... AND when I payed for shipped at the other end... B@$t@rds....

Posted by: John at December 12, 2007 19:31

I ordered a hoody from america and paid the usual postage. the hoody still had not arrived 3 weeks later, then i get a slip from the post office saying there will be a customs charge of £11.40, WHAT when i had payed the postage already, what is this customs charge and why do i have to pay it!!!!

Posted by: kirsty at December 13, 2007 09:01

I've just been stung ordering some perfume from Hong Kong. £5.50 import VAT & duty and Royal Mail's scandalous £8 charge means I'm paying another 50% on the value of the item!

Posted by: Steve at December 18, 2007 11:28

Just happened to me, also.. ordered two self designed calenders that I made as a gift through an American company.

The total of the Christmas gifts and their P+P came to just over £20. Got a letter through my door on Christmas Eve saying I had a charge of £11.66 on top of that ONLY because my GIFT was over £18. £3 VAT (fair enough) and £8 "International Handling Fee"... what a load of crap. They charged me £8 for slapping a sticker on my parcel that I didn't even ask for, thanks. Not only that, but I had to rush into town on Christmas Eve to retreive my gifts (BLOODY GIIIIFTS NOT MERCHANDISE) before the post office closed! Awful awful service. Didn't even take credit cards :p

So I can't order something over £18 without getting a huge charge at this end? That's shite, I can't even order a bloody CD!

The Royal Mail said they were losing money at £4 INT. Handling Fee?... weeeell then they'll be losing a load more when I steal it from them. Bring back Postman Pat.

Posted by: N. Miller at January 4, 2008 12:07

What a rip off!!

My items came to $95, The thieving idiots at Parcelforce charged me £10.60 import duty, VAT at £17.31 (how the work that one out I have no idea!) and then have the cheek to further charge me £8 for "clearance"

Never EVER will I be ordering from the US direct to UK. Next time, I'll post it to my friend in the US and she can send it as a gift.

Why do we put up with this rubbish???

Posted by: Hat at January 15, 2008 09:59

I'm thinking of placing a large book order from Japan.
Can anyone advise whether customs/duty/VAT charges are ALWAYS applied or only a selected few that are delivered?
Does anyone know whether the CONTENTS of the parcels make any difference?

Posted by: Shar at January 19, 2008 18:10

Got stung for £20 in fees on a Nintendo DS I bought off Ebay - £12 Customs charges I can accept but £8 to the Royal Mail for doing what exactly?? I could have paid the customs fees on a Credit Card and collected the parcel myself - total extra work for the Royal Mail = NOTHING. But instead I have no choice but to pay Royal Mail or have them hold my delivery. Nothing less than legalised extortion and needs a challange in the courts similar to that which the banks are going through on their excessive charges.

Posted by: Chris R at January 21, 2008 15:16

I've been stung twice by the criminally high Parcelforce handling fee, but only when getting things delivered by one or other kind of priority delivery.
With one company, my first order ($200) was sent priority and got hit for VAT (which I don't mind) and the handling fee (which I do mind).
All subsequent orders came regular airmail, with legit customs declarations of $100-$200 per package, and they arrived with no VAT bill. Also without the Parcelforce payment delay, they didn't take any longer either than by priority shipping.

I particularly dislike the blatant lie Parcelforce tell when you call up to pay by phone, such as "We have paid customs £24 on your behalf" when in fact over half that figure is the £13-50 Parcelforce handling fee which they're pocketing in return for doing next to nothing.

Basically, all the Parcelforce fee does is make me determined to buy things in a way that doesn't involve paying it, if I have any choice, which also seems to end up with no VAT bill.

Posted by: John Bull at February 5, 2008 10:54


Posted by: ROY at February 5, 2008 13:49

My daughter ordered a CD from USA,it was her favourite Idina,this CD only release in USA at the moment. She' been waiting for months for it to arrive. Today, not the CD arrived, but the Charge Demand Note from Royal Mail arrived. Asked for £11.40 before I can get the package! Confused, as I only paid about US$37.94(Approx £18) for it and how come it turned up to charge for £11.40?? Went down to the Royal Mail to find out, even they charged you,but they will not deliver to you, they want you to go to their sorting centre and get it!! The sticker on the top of this small packet said the VAT is £3.40,(I was told the value is just gone over the £18 limited with the 36p more for the VAT to be charged!!) but the HANDLING CHARGE from Royal Mail is £8 !!!! I only paid £18.36 for this CD, but have to be charged for £11.40 to get it, but not to be delivered, with petrol and time to the Post Office to get it!! Very Very Angry!! Being Ripped Off by Royal Mail. I want to reject receiving it, ask them to return to the sender, but thinking of it would make my daughter very upset and disappointing, so I have no choice but to swallow the feeling of being robbed, really really furious!! I would never purchase anything from USA. Not anymore for Royal Mail to get the chance to rob from me again !!

Posted by: Janice at February 8, 2008 12:00

Just been done myself by the same scam.

I bought some software on Ebay in the US for the equivalent of £75. I often work away from home, so I am accustomed to going and collecting the parcels at the depot. Instead of the usual red card, I got a grey one which demanded £21.45.

When I went to pick it up, I got the parcel, on which they had stuck a sticker indicating that £13.45 was VAT and £8 was this 'international handling fee'. All they did for this fee, as far as I can see, is print off a sticker and put it on the side of the box. All the rest they would do for any parcel that can't be delivered.

The postal cost for this parcel from the US was $19, or around £10. So the 'fee' is actually almost as much as that. Does anyone believe that it actually costs them as much to put a sticker on as it does to carry a parcel a thousand miles? No?

So this is a straight rip-off. How can this be legal? Is is legal for Royal Mail to demand an arbitary-size ransom to release our mail?

I see from this link that they brought it in during 2007.

I gather Adam Crozier, the CEO who thought this one up, is paid £1.03m a year. So that's alright then.

I don't know where he lives, but I hope his neighbours teach this greedy bastard a lesson.

Posted by: Roger Pearse at February 16, 2008 11:48

Same problem here. Sent for an Australian Bush hat from (Australia) and incurred a customs charge of £15.70 which had to be paid. The hat itself was only £12.00 and overall cost 50 Australian dollars which included shipping. God knows what the Royal Mail is coming to, probably they think if you can buy cheaper from abroad inc of shipping then they are entitled to a large bonus for us having the privelage of obtaining goods at a cheaper rate.
I am very pissed off about this as many items purchased from abroad are not available in this Country.
Many thanks for reading ......Joe

Posted by: Joseph Rutherford at February 20, 2008 02:59

thieving government thieving p.o. parcelforce, "you cant have the goods you purchased untill you pay up" blackmail, stinking rip off britain,they screwed me outa 8 quid handling charge plus the government screwed me out off a mingy 11 quid, assholes, I wont buy nothing in this country, to expensive,like I said rip off britain

Posted by: dean at March 10, 2008 19:19

I told them to send the goods back as undelivered. That way it cost them to handle the kit all the way back to The States.

The goods I ordered were to the value of £8 and they wanted duty, VAT and they think I was born yesterday?

Posted by: Mark C at March 21, 2008 01:39

i hate customs, my friends import items worth hundreds and even car parts which cost a fortune. i occasionally buy items like an ipod which cost about £120 and customs go straight in and pick it up, no reason for it and they don't even bother to contact me about the delay.

they even sent my item to me damaged and they would not even pay for the damages, they still asked for my money so i told them to stuff it.

currently i am waiting for an item in customs which cost overall about £85 so the customs charge should be lower than last time. within 2 hours it arrived in the country and was processed in customs, how can something be done that fast.

and another thing, isn't customs there to prevent harmful items coming into the country, why do they pick out items up even when it has been scanned many times and proven harmless and let packets and letters through which could contain anthrax for instance, shouldn't they be focusing on crime prevention than stealing tax payers money.

they already tax us too much and then they want more.

and yes to all those who have mentioned, it is theft, and you could say terrorism. you see terrorists keeping hostages and wanting money in return, how are customs any different. the only difference is that the government has allowed then to do it as they get a share of the profits.

you could even say it is a form of kidnapping as ht parcel was paid and directed to go straight to your residence and instead they have taken it against your will and will not let you see it until you pay, and some times they don't even have your item and it is somewhere else

Posted by: stuart at March 28, 2008 09:20

I ordered a memory card from usa £19 I was charged £3.43 V.A.T. No problem with that.Handling charge £8 from Royal Mail .Fuming I complained. Royal Mail tried to pretend they had to pay customs £8 to release the letter .I rang the chairmans office and they admited there that this was untrue and was their justified fee for collecting the charges.It seems to me that this is a legal scam and must be reaping huge sums of money from unsuspecting people.I spoke to customs twice and there is no other way to pay the duty other than royal mail collecting it.Meaning that we the customer have to go in our time to collect and then be ripped off.This isnt right any ideas?

Posted by: terry woods at April 12, 2008 19:33

This is the most rediculous charge i have ever come accross - however speak up about it!! There is a petition on teh number 10 petitions website - look it up and sign it!!

Posted by: Ben at December 23, 2008 03:05

I sent my boyfriend a robe for christmas- $50cdn.
express shipping thru canadapost was $103cdn,delivery guarenteed in 8 working days. 12 days later(day before christmas eve),he gets a letter stating he owes £28 parcel post clearance and customs fee. if not paid,the parcel will be returned to me. since when do they charge duty on a gift? must be the most expensive robe in history at this rate,one hell of a mark up. could have bought it a ticket on the plane at this rate,pound for pound. :(

Posted by: jo at December 23, 2008 15:31

Recently ordered some medication from the USA (expensive) because I could not find same/similar in the UK, so on top of the expense of product, also incurred VAT of £12.37 plus (yes, you've guessed!) £8.00 Royal Mail International Handling Fee. Yet another rip-off! I always thought, naively, that a postage fee - based on weight and size - was to take a parcel from one place and deliver it to another. If Royal Mail are making a charge because Customs have decided to hold the parcel in transit, then shouldn't Customs be paying RM for their services?? After all, I didn't ask Customs to interrupt my delivery and if they choose to do so, THEY should pay!

Posted by: Lynette at February 20, 2009 20:22

Okay tax is fair. Everyone has to pay it.

But the Royal Mail hold you items to ransom.

The really good part is.. If you purchase something worth £17.99 your free and clear right? WRONG! the postage will cost more than £0.02 so that takes it over £18.00 and you get taxed on all of it.

Vote Labour! It's only fair

Posted by: Paul at March 4, 2009 17:01

Same here, got stung today. Called OFT who are currently investigating this Royal Mail blackmailery.

I called Royal Mail to offer a chance to deliver my parcel otherwise be in breach of sections 104 & 105 of the postal services act 2000 to which they replied 'I hardly think a corporation like RM will be up to illigal activity'.... funny that isn't it, those banks, they are big corporations & they have been fined for unjust unauthorised overdraft fees!

Anyway, to anyone who has a spare minute call the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) on 08454 04 05 06 and select option 2 (yes that's right, they actually have a specific option to select for postal complaints & the royal mail is currently being investigated on this 'fly by night' charge.

Another thing to take into account is that if you do want to take it further, the law states that you should pay the unjust fees, otherwise if it should go to court and they see it has not been paid before proceedings commence, you will NOT have a case!

But try and call them and offer the chance for them to deliver your parcel, if they don't, then return to OFT and explain the situation.

One last thing.... the £8 fee translates into about 100% interest for my £4.50 customs charge..... I can get a better rate from a loan shark! At least the Royal Maiil can't come & break my legs if i don't pay....... yet.

Posted by: Spence at March 12, 2009 10:00

Just got off the phone to OFT again, they have passed my case on to another governing body (I didn't note the name) but I was told I should expect some progress within 5 days.

They also confirmed 100% that Royal Mail are breaking the law by witholding your parcel.

They HAVE to deliver then try and recoup costs (which of course they will not be getting from me.... let them cover the VAT too!)

Posted by: Spence at March 12, 2009 10:22

Yea I to have just be robbed by Parcel force ....
I paid £12.00 vat and £13.00 Parcel force clearance
Here is a fact some of you may not know .... The government OWN parcel force this is just one of their way of doubling the money they steel from us that is why Parcel force “does the clearance on our behalf” then warns us if we do not pay our goods will be returned.
we have no option but to pay yet another form of taxation to this ever increasing suppressive country.

Posted by: Mike at March 30, 2009 09:12

I have just joined the ranks of those ripped off by the morons running the Royal Mail , I have just had to pay £13.00 to collect an item that cost £32 . The sooner these people are replaced by independent postal contractors the better. Death is to good for them !!!

Posted by: John at March 31, 2009 10:32

im joining the ranks of people being ripped off. i bought some tshirts from the states totally $30 , a couple of pennies over £20.... i just had to pay £11.22 to get my parcel picked up. I phoned RM and the guy on the phone gave me some cock and bull story about it costing them £8.40 to deal with customs so they were actually losing money and not profiting... apparently picking it up and sorting it twice costs £8.40. i asked how come i can send a letter first class, which needs sorting, and costs the price of a first class stamp... he didnt have an answer to that. rip off britain

Posted by: malc at April 16, 2009 15:03

Just called OFT as, call, call to complain!! It only takes a minute and the representative tells me the more complaints lodged, the faster something can be done about this exorbitant £8 'handling fee'.

Posted by: May at April 22, 2009 14:05

Just called the OFT to be told you have to pay the tax before they deliver it, but after that by law they must let you have the parcel regardless of whatever admin fees they have in place. It is up to them to chase you for their £8 admin fee in their own time.

Call 02072502888 for the Chairman's office rather than Royal Mail's own customer service line, and give them your OFT complaint reference early on as up until that point the girl on the phone was very dismissive simply reeling off the corporate line. It was only when I gave her the reference did she acknowledge that Royal Mail knew they were under investigation for this and would go away and find out more info before calling me back.

Posted by: Paul at April 27, 2009 13:31

I got a sting letter from these vermin today.
I noted that the bottom of the letter, while going in to great detail about how they cannot discuss the VAT charges it also has this at the very bottom in a single sentence...
"For enquiries specifically regarding Parcelforce clearance fees please contact the above depot."
So maybe a little progress has been made? I don't have an old letter to compare.
But even so, after talking to a 'Darvi' at the North London Depot, I was told there was nothing I could do short of paying them a visit, No thanks!
So I just took her name and her refusal and took it to Consumer Direct, and was dissapointed to hear from them that Parcelforce are well within their rights to do this. I told them that I had heard differently, but they assured me this is so.
More than anything, I'm annoyed at the inconsistency of this, some people get results, and some (me!) don't. If the OFT really are looking in to this, shouldn't they be clued up when I ring them? Confusing and annoying, always the result when Parcelforce are involved it would appear.
For now I've paid, so at least I can enjoy my order this weekend, but it will be bittersweet thanks to this scum! Would love to see some concrete proof that this is in the process of being investigated and maybe changed, but I guess it's like bank charges, I'll probably never live to see the day. (34 years old!) Bad times!

Posted by: Milo at May 14, 2009 10:30

Good thread, I contacted consumer direct before reaching the end of this thread and will contact OFT tomorrow.

I've had to pay this £8 clearance fee a few times in the past and have paid it to get the items but feel its totally unfair and a rip-off.

UPS are the worse because they charged me a $22 bokerage fee a year or so ago which at the time worked out to be £11.

DHL seem to be the best. They delivered the item then sent me an invoice for customs fees. I think they charged customs plus an admin fee which was something like £4

Anyway, these rip-off fees should be abolished and are totally immoral and unjust.

Posted by: Scott at May 19, 2009 21:33

Royal Mail have broken the law and must surely be aware of this.

I built on the good work of the initial poster and did some strategic research into this fee. It

would indeed appear to be both illegal and unreasonable.

So I took them to the small claims court and they settled, in full, out of court. They took my

case very seriously however their lawyer Mandy Talbot tried to, in my opinion, deliberately

mislead me. I wasn't having any of it. I encourage everyone to take them to the small claims

court, eventually they will do what the banks did (i.e get fed up and/or not be able to afford

it). I don't fancy their chances as they are solely relying on a thread to justify £8 is the

actual cost to them of clearing through customs. I bet it certainly isn't.

The fee is also unlawful because you cannot hold a parcel to ransom. Royal Mail seem to know this

hence why they intentionally delay your parcel by leaving it at the depot free from arguments.

This is point no.1. Royal Mail cannot defend this ground. Launch a small claims as I did and they

will offer to settle out of court (link to letter they sent me at bottom).

The international Postal services union make clear this charge must be reasonable and a fair

reflection of the charges. £8 is far too high. This is point no.2 and like bank charges I suspect

anyone would win a small claims here. They must deliver your parcel and bill you for it later, of

course then don't pay it by ignoring any demands from DCA's (debt collection agencies) etc as

their fee will be most unlikely to stand up in civil court.

Section J
Customs matters
Article 18
3 Postal administrations which are authorized to clear items through the
Customs on behalf of customers may charge customers a customs clearance
fee based on the actual costs.

Until enough people do small claims (judgements which are only binding to you alone) or someone

uses a different court track then they will continue getting away with murder. Note you do feel

for them as courier companies do this, and despite trying to pass parcels to Parcel Force in yet

another hazy move of avoiding the Postal services act, Royal Mail are contrained by the Universal

Postal regulations above. However, this does not condone illegal behaviour and deliberately

misleading letters where they attempt to pass off the £8 fee as theirs and also advise the sender

they "ATTEMPTED DELIVERY ABROAD" when they blatantly did not (point no. 3).

What is really worrying is because I stated "Bill" Not "Act" in my letter, Mandy Talbot senior

legal counsel at Royal Mail deliberately tried to mislead me by ignoring the fact she was breaking

the law. She didn't mark her document private so here it is:

My advice - pay the fee then use small claims to get it back and cost them £25

plus admin work in the process. Eventually if enough people do this it will cost them, make them

rethink their policy or scuttle over the fine points of the Act (or lobby for it to be changed as

Ms Talbot seems to suggest) to try and find a loophole. At the moment, they haven't yet found a

way out SO SUE THEM!!

They publish their £8 / £13.50 fee respectively in the Successor Postal Services Company Overseas

Parcel Post Scheme 2001 (section 9) and Successor Postal Services Company Overseas Letter Post

Scheme 2001 (section 15(3))

Posted by: Tandy Malbot at May 27, 2009 16:45


Posted by: WILLIAM BOYLE at June 5, 2009 09:43

As above, just pay the VAT & quote "Postal Services Act 2000, Sections 84 to 105" (Illegal to delay post). They have to hand it over!

If you've already been Scammed, the OFT are bringing a case, which they are confident will win.

Send your details in & you will get refund when the OFT win :

Royal Mail HQ
100 Victoria Embankment

Don't let them get away with this!!!!

Posted by: ian at June 19, 2009 15:41

I've also received a card saying that I have £14 to pay, including the £8 'handling charge'. I've just been on the phone to the OFT and they said that RM is allowed to charge the £8, and after phoning them back again to confirm which sections of the postal services act they were looking at they say that section 89 apparently allows sections 104/105 to be overridden, and they don't 'delay the parcel' because they just send it back to the sender (which sounds like absolute rubbish to me). I can't actually see anything specific in 89 that allows this, but it talks about schemes of terms and conditions, so does this mean that it's somewhere in the t/c's of the RM? Can anyone confirm any of this?

Thanks, Peter.

Posted by: Peter at August 6, 2009 13:02

The act is quite clear. RM are breaking the law. I would take whatever someone unqualified said and remember this arrangement is of economic advantage to both the govt and RM. Why? Because unlike in the past the incentive is on RM to charge a max. no. of packets it can. RM gets a carrot for this stick.

Posted by: Tandy Malbot at August 25, 2009 02:30

Been scammed twice in recent months with £8 royal mail charges, twice the £4 customs charge in each case. You are left with no choice having already purchased the item, other than returning it to sender but I buy abroad for a reason, have paid for my stuff and want it!!!! When I buy, if I think assocaited charges are unreasonable, I avoid but they slam you with this after the event leaving you with no choices, surely unfair and against consumer law? This is a corrupt, back door fraud which in my case has netted them twice what the customs charges were. They must be making millions off us. Signed on-line petition too....
Intend to demand my DVD tomorrow at sorting office, stating I will only pay customs charges and apply for a refund of previous charges paid. Agree this could well end up being exactly like the bank chages situation with regards to small claims, etc.
Wish me luck and watch this space!!!!

Posted by: sharron at September 24, 2009 13:50

In response to =Tandy Malbot at May 27, 2009=, how do you take the Royal Mail to a small claims court?
I went to pick up two parcels this morning and was charged twice the £8 fee.
I told the guy behind the window that it was illegal but he responded he had nothing to do with it. "No money, no parcels".
So I did pay as I˙ve been waiting for 6 weeks to get them.
And to get the charge No.
What˙s next?
Is there a link on what to say and ask when making the claim?
Tandy Malbot at May 27, 2009 added 3 links, but only one work for me and nothing about what you asked to the court.

You mention to use small claims to get the £8 fee back. What do you ask in the claim?

Many question, but can be useful for others.

Posted by: TheBloke9 at October 6, 2009 16:35

I can see this has been going a while now. How about this. Nov 2009.
I ordered an item from USA. Total cost including p&p £27.75. Then get a card through door telling me I have to pay an extra £11.60 for customs. This equals a 40% mark up?? When I looked into this £3.60 for customs.(Fair enough). £8.00 for Royal Mail. Sooner they privatise the postal version of Dick Turpin the better. A disgrace

Posted by: Darren at November 25, 2009 17:24

I've also received a card saying that I have to pay £12.32 as charge, including the £8 'handling charge' for an electronic part I bought from USA. This card arrived after 3 weeks of sender sending the item.

A) The item was delayed by 2 weeks due to Customs Clearing
B) Had to pay this rubbish £8 as Royal Mail Handling charge.

I suppose, their finances are very poor at the moment and trying to be 'Royal' in future by charging people for £8. What a rip off !!

Can this be rip-off issue be raised in UK Parliament ?

Posted by: PK at November 30, 2009 15:55

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to make people aware of my plight with the Royal Mail. It appears that what they are doing to me is tantamount to theft. They are taking money off people for services, in my case mail redirection, and not providing the service. They have told me that they are under no obligation to provide the service paid for and that no refunds can be given. They have since corrected themselves and changed that to 'No obligation to give refunds.' I put it to them that if I charged them £30 to clean their windows and did not do it wouldn't they think that to be theft? They said ''No.'' They have since corrected themselves and now say yes but unfortunately 'we' have to pay in advance for their services. I then asked if they would give me £30 to clean their windows and they, smartly, answered that they didn't need cleaning. I put it to them that I did need their service though and they did not supply it after taking my payment.

They have have had a week to 'look into' the problem and said I would start to receive mail which I did but it is from unknown address in Cheltenham. I know that my mail is not lost, nor late, nor stuck in some sorting office as I have contacted my old landlord and collect the mail myself from him, via my partners' parents in North Leach.

The mail that they did not manage to handle, for the fee, was a CRB, police check, and reminders for my cars' MOT, tax and insurance. All of these were of vital importance to the start of a new job. You can imagine the problems that this caused. I could have lost my job, that I had not even started, and lost my licence. I have had to arrange my post/mail myself and grovel to keep my job. I have had to have numerous arguments over numerous phone calls which of course I have to pay for. I did not get around to changing addresses on my business matters due to our move, Christmas and the death of my 95 year old Grandmother and her subsequent funeral in South Wales, and my sisters' visit from Canada to be at the funeral and also trying to prepare to start my new employment.

They have, as compensation, offered a free months extension on my redirection which I find laughable. Why would I want to extend nothing? I have also now changed my to people of importance.

I am determined to do everything in my power to get a full refund but I think it is more important that other people are aware of what is going on. People are being ripped off. Services paid for are not being up held and all sort of traumatic, or not, problems are occurring because of it.

I was wondering what advice or help you could offer in my quest to have my money returned to my credit card? It may be a mere £30-something, to some people but it is quite substantial to me at present.

Yours sincerely,

Posted by: Eldendir at January 17, 2010 11:09

Basically I bought the strappad for (my wife) cost $25, plus postage and vat came to $49.64.
They put the value of product at $49.64 (£31.49) on the parcel.
The thing is the product only cost $25.00 the postage is the cost of the service.
But when it came through customs it was over the limit, so I have been charged!
£13.43 ($21.46)and have to pick it up myself!

Posted by: Alan at February 4, 2010 16:06

At Xmas, my 14 year old was billed £19 by customs and Royal Mail on an £8 t-shirt she had bought as a gift from a friend from Zazzle (US). Luckily, the friend's dad works at the Royal Mail so he sneaked it out without the charges so his daughter got the gift for Xmas ok, otherwise we would have had to just leave it to be returned, we don't have that kind of cash.

This morning, I got a note saying I owed the Royal Mail and customs £13.80 on one item I ordered from the US. The one item is a silver plated dog tag which cost roughly £2.75 including postage.If they think I am paying that, they can cram it with walnuts, it can be returned to the seller for all I care. No way and I paying £13.80 for a £2.75 item. At least Dick Turpin wore a bloody mask!

Posted by: sd at February 24, 2010 15:54

Had a parcel sent from switzerland with a value of goods marked at £23.

This package was intercepted at customs and had £4.03 of duty added. No issues there

Royal mail and there "tax collection services" added £8.

A big issue with this.

How can the customs justify using royal mail to collect duty when costs for collecting dwarf what is originaly owed.

And there is no alternatives to make payments directly.

Convenient for Customs and a money spinner for the royal mail.

Posted by: damnjet at March 4, 2010 14:48

Lol make me laugh really Royal Mail are not breaking any laws, they do not hold any form of contract with the recipient of the item only the sender. the only reason why the above was paid is because he made such a song and dance about it and wasted people's time for 8 frekin quid. to be honest if he dont frekin like it then why doesnt he ask royal mail to stop delivering his mail as well. if he really has a issue.

Posted by: Dan at March 14, 2010 02:23

Just be to collect a parcel sent from USA and been charged £13.56. Apparently import tax applies to gifts now!
I couldn't get my parcel as they don't take debit cards, so I have to go back tomorrow!!
Flippin rip off!!!!

Posted by: Red at March 25, 2010 18:35

why not just pay them with a cheque go home then cancel your cheque and make them then chase you up for the money (vat and delivery charge) pay the vat and deduct your £8.50 "collection fee"leaving them owing you 50p! surely a not unreasonable thing as you had to do something to earn that fee unlike r.m who just delayed your post paid delivery....

Posted by: chris at March 31, 2010 19:22

You lot are obviously not up to speed with this. I found out it was against the law to hold your parcel for ransom to get the handling fee. Since then many people have avoided paying the fee. Google my thread 'Parcelforce Clearance Ransom Charge'. I now have an email in my possession from Alex Murrie (Senior Customer Service Advisor) Royal Mail, they have finally admitted that they should not be holdiong the parcels in lien:

'Firstly, please accept my apologies that it has been necessary for you to bring this matter to my attention. I fully appreciate how important it is for our customers to have confidence in our ability to provide a reliable service and it is always disappointing when a customer expresses dissatisfaction with any aspect of what we do.

I should explain that we are obliged to release any item of mail if you elect to pay the VAT charge so by way of apology I have advised the Delivery Office concerned to waive the £8 Royal Mail handling fee altogether. If you wish to either collect your item or arrange a re-delivery we will only request payment of the VAT charge levied by Customs and Excise.

I have also contacted the Regional Operations Director’s Office, which is responsible for the staff and services we provide in the London postcode sectors. All the staff serving in this area will be briefed on the correct process to follow for Customs & Excise fees.

Again please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this matter has caused. I would like to assure you that we at Royal Mail are constantly striving to ensure that our customers receive the level of service they have every right to expect. I hope that the action above resolves your enquiry and concludes this matter. However if you are dissatisfied with my response you can ask to have your case reviewed by the Postal Review Panel.

Posted by: Cracked Chap at May 6, 2010 19:23

this works both ways. I live in australia and sent my sister a parcel for her new born son and I thought it was stolen, it turned out my sister had to pay 30pound to receive a present so I paid the fee. They said if a mistake was made they could recall the parcel for review but it will take up to 7 weeks.

and yes it was marked as a gift I just did not mention it contained kids clothes but I spent over the small threshold so they were going to tax it anyway

Posted by: simon at May 9, 2010 02:27

Well I ordered from USA plastic pants for medical use I am VAT exempt in UK but not for custom charges go figure. For an item with customs exchange rate it was £135.21 I was charged customs VAT £9.67 and parcel force ££8.00 handling charge. For the sake of 21 pence.

Now I am classed as disabled as far as the tax system is concerned however not for customs. BS!

They I was annoyed that I saw UK border agency sticker on the parcel. Get this the border agency can not control immigration of human beings so they start screwing Birtish citizens over via the custom and tax system, in the belief they can atleast control something.

Now I said to fetware in the USA we knew nothing of the parcel for over week, that I honestly understand why the USA had the boston tea party for the British.

This is actually in their declaration of indepedence, that they shoudl resist the tryanny of government ie the punitive UK tax system which still exists today.

Which is why they threw British tea in the habour at Boston the start of the revolution as the American colonies were over taxed.

Where over taxed for what exactly a crap NHS that does not work and crooked politicians that steal from UK tax payers pockets.

Yes I used to work very hard and paid into the system as well.

Bring on the revolution lol! Down to the customs and tax man infidels lol.

P.S. MI5 I am not a terrorist just a very pissed off scottish person (so stand way back lol) that sadly is part of the Uk!

Posted by: Boston Tea Party sympathiser at May 14, 2010 20:04

is there any thing my son can send as a gift to me here in the uk from his home in australia without me incurring customs duty , search fee etc etc... i am fed up having to "buy" my own birthday, xmas presents by paying the royal mail for my parcel, it does rather spoil the occassion and cant really tell my son not send anything as i cant afford it!

Posted by: peggy at July 2, 2010 11:13

We have just received a present from my parents in the USA for my nephew here in the UK. The cost of the present, 35.00 dollars and they paid 31.40 dollars postage to have it delivered to us. The Britsh post office charged 8 pounds and despite the law stating (and the customs note attached to the parcel) that "goods imported from one private person to another private person as a gift with a value over forty pounds are subject to Customs charges". So why then did Customs steal 4.11 pounds from us? The parcel was a gift from one private person to another and was not valued at anything near to forty pounds. And what is the Britsh post office doing charging to deliver a package when the postage has already been paid? When postage is paid that means surely that the contract exists for the post office to collect it from its point of entry into the UK and deliver it without charging the recipient any extra. The british post office has a contract with the postal service of the other country and if they (wrongly) feel they need to shaft someone for money they are not entitled to, it should be with the organisation with whom they actually do have a contract and not an individual with whom they have no contract.

The telephone number they give out on the slip they stick to the package reaches only a very badly designed unimformative automated system, designed one can only imagine to further frustrate the people they are stealing from.

What will be next, will we get to the supermarket checkout to be faced with a twenty-five pound bill from the person on the checkout as their "handling fee" for passing the items through the check out?

This vile practice must stop. The post office and Customs have banded together to steal from people and this simply cannot be permitted. What is a bad situation is made even worse of course by the delay in receiving the goods they are holding to ransom. My nephew has had to wait over a week for his present. And his grandparents are utterly furious.

Posted by: Len at July 15, 2010 12:21

Had a gift sent from Switzerland, valued at £26.

package stopped, note sent to pickup - customs charges £12.00

The note did not say that most of the charge was 'handling fees' with only 4.00 vat due.

Like others i object to royal mail paying on my behalf.

we live in a modern world. a card could have been put through with payment instructions.

robbing thieves.

Posted by: lester at July 19, 2010 12:51

I have been stung once for £11 by customs/post office. This was for a small poster worth £20. Though really annoying I can't complain because I have purchased $000000s worth of goods from the USA and only had 1 parcel stopped for duty. :)

Posted by: Paul Higginson at March 7, 2011 12:38


If you are ordering anything from outside of the EU you have to pay duty and VAT, everyone knows that. (unless under the threshold and a gift)

So do your home work before you order, it only takes a phone call to get your code for your goods and you can find out the duty rate.

There is no point moaning about getting charged the duty and a clearance fee as everyone has to pay it. If its too much for a low cost item, then dont order it. If you still really want it then club up with some other people who also want to order the same so that you only pay one clearance fee.

Posted by: Uk Business at May 17, 2011 09:35

Do you or anyone have contact with BBC, ITV, Panorama or other TV 'behind the scenes' programmers... if so, let's take this to them...

I'd like to see Post & Customs explain this to the public. Depending on the outcome I'll do the rest to get it into a legal framework.

You're are all complaining like me but let's have some action shall we?

Posted by: R VANES at December 2, 2011 14:32

I sent for a medical device fron USA valued at $45.00 it was for my disability as registered as disabled with spinal problem, this was to try and alleviate the pain before having to have more major surgery, and guess what the bas***ds charged me £12 vat and £8 handling fee, this country is not worth a toss unless you are a foreigner or immigrant illegal or otherwise,I am retired and still pay tax on meagre pension that I paid in for 15 years. Now too old to get out of here !!!!!

Posted by: R Emery at December 15, 2011 08:18

I have just been charged a handling fee of £8.00 by Rip Offf Royal Mail. What for? Paying £3.54 VAT to customs on an item imported from the USA.
Mail coming into this country with a customs charge is handled by Royal Mail.I find this charge they make is disgusting and a Rip Off and bears no resemblance to the amount of work they do on our behalf. Which is a service I did not asked them to do for me anyway.

Posted by: John Chambers at March 21, 2012 13:52

Just received card from PO saying I have to pay £11.58. The goods were valued at $28 exactly , which at the current exchange rate is under the £18 limit. When I pointed this out I was informed that the limit has been reduced down to £15!!! The cost of goods goes up and Customs reduce the limit to get more revenue. Thieving b*****ds.

Posted by: John Welch at April 18, 2012 10:45

Hi I have just tracked my item that's come USA I payed 585 dollars . How much will I have to pay the post office . I'm annoyed buy what I'm reading that I have to pay more money that I have not got :( I payed by credit card could I not say I have not got my item and claim the money back any help

Posted by: Danny at June 1, 2012 15:52

Here's what gets me about the whole process: The random "international" handling fee. How can it be an international fee when it's already on these shores? What EXACTLY is your handling fee?

Posted by: Multi at February 25, 2014 21:51

Just been slugged £12.20 by Lockerbie PO for ladies cosmetics Extra body daily boost 500ml as far as I am concerned they can stick it where the monkey sticks its nuts, and when I send any items to family and grandchildren in the antipodes will make sure that the Post office don't get the business - even if it cost me more - which I very much doubt anyway.

Its no wonder the UK Govt sold it off, they are insolvent, if you have any shares in the PO get rid before the proverbial hits the fan.

Posted by: Ian Lewthwaite at February 26, 2014 17:01

I purchased a pen from US which irritatingly but unavoidably incurred the usual government import taxes. However how can a admin charge of £8 be justified by the PO - now even a private company. Clearly a investigation by the competition commission is required given their dominant position n household delivery. I for one will instruct any supplier to avoid using them - and the sooner they go bust the better.

Posted by: Paul Roycroft at March 4, 2014 20:14

I just got a demand from RM for £11.58 for an item that, minus the shipping, is only worth £18. I don't have the extra money to pay this at the moment and am not prepared to pay an extra £8 to anyone for this item, so RM can just send the item back. As long as I get a refund from the seller for the item I'd rather lose the shipping costs than pay the extra! Will the sender actually have to pay any undelivered item costs? This is the last item I ever buy from USA without the eBay Global Shipping Program, which adds the import tax to the original price of the item. I hope this USA/Europe free trade deal goes ahead, cos that should put paid to RMs dirty schemes for a while until the government decide we arent part of Europe just to keep the import tax going!

Posted by: Ben at March 12, 2014 16:15

Quick update to my last post (lol last post! geddit?) I just got an email from my seller offering to refund my shipping charges to offset the money the Royal Mail want instead of a full refund, which I have accepted! Even better I got the refund through PayPal within 10 minutes of accepting the offer! So, everybody wins, well, except the money grabbing Royal Mail cos I'll only deal with sellers that use other couriers from now on! The Royal Mail used to be the envy of the world but now it is just an embarrasment!

Posted by: Ben at March 12, 2014 18:56

I've been thinking about this whole stupid business and two things occurred to me:

1. Its not worth buying anything from USA between the value of £15 and £50 unless it an absolute bargain like a really good eBay auction bid that absorbs the £8 charge n is still a bargain;

2 Wouldn't it make sense for RM to charge, say, 10% of the import tax instead of a flat rate or would that be too easy? Oh yeah, it would be too easy!

Posted by: Ben at March 14, 2014 02:38
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