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Contesting/Disputing Canadian Customs' charges

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  • Aug 14th, 2010 7:39 am
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Newbie
Jan 25, 2010
5 posts

Contesting/Disputing Canadian Customs' charges

Hope this is the right place for this. I wanted to know: Does anyone know the basic process of contesting the taxes incurred from Canada customs? I tried researching through Google, but found nothing concrete. Anything would help. A phone number, e-mail, anything.

Basically, I ordered an item off eBay, got the notice of delivery to pick up said item, and was shocked at the amount of taxes I had to pay.

By my rough calculations, I got charged 23% in taxes. Is that normal?

Hypothetically, if I refuse the package, am I still responsible for the custom charges?

I haven't gone to pick up the package yet and I imagine the Canada Post office can't do anything regarding the value I was charged.

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks.
21 replies
Member
Nov 17, 2009
251 posts
79 upvotes
Toronto
Here's what you are looking for

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/import/posta ... n-eng.html

Naturally if you instruct Canada Post to return the item to sender (as opposed to reassessment by CBSA) you are not responsible for any charges..

To ascertain whether the charges are correct you need to examine the customs invoice. Even without duty, 13% HST + $5 customs fee can possibly add up to 23% of the total on a small value item.
Member
Mar 7, 2010
440 posts
21 upvotes
It can also depend on what the item is. Customs does not open the item and examine it, they only look at the packaging.

What happened to me is I ordered an android tablet from Deal Extreame. Its basically a cheap ipad clone that only cost me about 150$
however, the china company that made it packaged it in a box identicle to an ipad (I alsmost thought it was an ipad when i looked at it, pretty much copied their box right down to the icons on the tablet screen) So customs looked at the package, looked up how much an ipad costs, and charged me taxes on that.

So i was charged tax on about 600$ for an item i paid 150$ for. I contacted customs and they said they only go by the appearance as its not their responsibility to open the item and verify what it is and that there was nothing I could do about the excess charges.

This may have been the case for you. For ebay, i ask them to label it as "gift" and i usually have no issues.
Deal Addict
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Mar 30, 2004
2914 posts
267 upvotes
If you want to dispute, the procedures are found on the back of the Canada Customs form attached to your package.
Deal Expert
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Aug 18, 2005
15677 posts
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GTA West
CorSter wrote:
Aug 10th, 2010 9:17 pm
If you want to dispute, the procedures are found on the back of the Canada Customs form attached to your package.
+1

But OP, it sounds like you are confusing brokerage fees with taxes.

Please see my blog which discusses this in detail and also links to the official dispute procedure.
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Deal Fanatic
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Jul 20, 2006
5774 posts
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reminds me of a funny story of my friend involving double riding a bmx to airport customs, trying to negotiate (low ball) customs officer in person, paying $150+ for goods that were not worth it (ugly designer clothing available here) that were meant as a gift lol (essentially having gift sender purchase the items, receiver paying almost equivalent for goods to customs).
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2002
5722 posts
508 upvotes
Before you dispute anything educate yourself on GST/PST taxes, duties and carrier/broker customs clearing charges, all of which are different and all of which may legitimately apply to your shipment accounting for the $23 charge. Jucius gives you a good link where he has a lot of information on these subjects.

And next time do your research before you place an order in the US, not after.
Member
Aug 18, 2009
326 posts
16 upvotes
Toronto
goJays wrote:
Aug 10th, 2010 10:27 pm
reminds me of a funny story of my friend involving double riding a bmx to airport customs, trying to negotiate (low ball) customs officer in person, paying $150+ for goods that were not worth it (ugly designer clothing available here) that were meant as a gift lol (essentially having gift sender purchase the items, receiver paying almost equivalent for goods to customs).
Umm... What? Is that English?
[OP]
Newbie
Jan 25, 2010
5 posts
Thanks for all your responses and links. Much appreciated. I'll shift through the links before making any moves.

And judging by a couple of responses, I wasn't clear enough in my original post.
goJays wrote:
Aug 10th, 2010 10:23 pm
u go UPS? :lol: didn't you research about custom charges for your product or shipping method? it's a deal breaker in some cases, and makes deals not as hot in most.
I specifically did not use UPS or any other courier service because of the brokerage charges, but rather USPS EMS.
woof wrote:
Aug 11th, 2010 12:16 am
Before you dispute anything educate yourself on GST/PST taxes, duties and carrier/broker customs clearing charges, all of which are different and all of which may legitimately apply to your shipment accounting for the $23 charge. Jucius gives you a good link where he has a lot of information on these subjects.

And next time do your research before you place an order in the US, not after.
Should have expected a response like this, but I'll bite. Not quite sure where you got the $23 value. After getting back to the seller, it's really more in the range of 31-32%.

Seller marked the package as a "gift" valued at $2200 and the extra fees are about $700. For those curious, it's "discontinued" Chanel clothing I purchased as a gift for the missus.

In any case, you're right, more research should have been done. Even from years of ordering from the US conditioned me to think being charged duties and taxes is hit-or-miss, I always expect to pay extra fees when ordering from the US. I just think anything over the $300-$400 range is excessive, but that might just be my lack of knowledge at work again. But still, thanks for taking the time to respond.

Anyways, after sleeping on this, at the moment, I just really want to make sure the extra charge is legitimate. I'm not looking to wage war against Canadian customs and scream at the top of my lungs about extra charges in general. If it is indeed a proper charge for the item, then I will be fine paying it.
Sr. Member
Feb 23, 2010
853 posts
181 upvotes
Ottawa
dv8shun wrote:
Aug 11th, 2010 7:59 am
Thanks for all your responses and links. Much appreciated. I'll shift through the links before making any moves.

And judging by a couple of responses, I wasn't clear enough in my original post.



I specifically did not use UPS or any other courier service because of the brokerage charges, but rather USPS EMS.



Should have expected a response like this, but I'll bite. Not quite sure where you got the $23 value. After getting back to the seller, it's really more in the range of 31-32%.

Seller marked the package as a "gift" valued at $2200 and the extra fees are about $700. For those curious, it's "discontinued" Chanel clothing I purchased as a gift for the missus.

In any case, you're right, more research should have been done. Even from years of ordering from the US conditioned me to think being charged duties and taxes is hit-or-miss, I always expect to pay extra fees when ordering from the US. I just think anything over the $300-$400 range is excessive, but that might just be my lack of knowledge at work again. But still, thanks for taking the time to respond.

Anyways, after sleeping on this, at the moment, I just really want to make sure the extra charge is legitimate. I'm not looking to wage war against Canadian customs and scream at the top of my lungs about extra charges in general. If it is indeed a proper charge for the item, then I will be fine paying it.
If you literally did this I'd gladly pay your extra charges
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2002
5722 posts
508 upvotes
dv8shun wrote:
Aug 11th, 2010 7:59 am
Seller marked the package as a "gift" valued at $2200 and the extra fees are about $700. For those curious, it's "discontinued" Chanel clothing I purchased as a gift for the missus.
From what I recall "gift" is only accepted for items up to $60 by customs.

Customs charges are indeed a hit and miss thing, especially for lower value items (<$100). They're very busy, they start getting backed up, they let the small stuff through. An item like yours with that value is going to get nailed every time. A unique item like yours which they don't often see is also more likely to get nailed (especially if it's processed by a female customs officer!).

Most items nowadays are duty free because of NAFTA and many other trade agreements. There are a few exceptions and I believe clothing and footwear are one of these if they were manufactured outside of North America. Because duty is likely to be applicable such items are more likely to be stopped no matter what and the charges will be higher than they would be for other types of items since you will now have duty along with the taxes and Canada Post's service charge.

Attached to the package you will get a Customs sheet showing all the charges by category which makes it easy to analyze the charges to see if there is anything unfair.
Deal Addict
Jul 18, 2009
1364 posts
78 upvotes
I used the instructions on the back of the form stuck on my package to dispute the charges levied on a legitimate gift from Mastermind toys.

The inexpensive toy was from my Sister (in UK), ordered over a US website and shipped to Canada. It was clearly identified as a gift.

I disputed the charge, and some faceless, moronic civil servant denied my claim on the basis that "commercial sites e.g. eBay don't send gifts to individuals". Unfortunately, my sister deleted the invoice email so I was screwed, paying approx 50% of the value (of the toy) in taxes and fees.

These days I barely ship anything across that border (so much for free trade); instead I consolidate shipments to a US border-town, drive over 4-6 times/year and thanks to personal exemptions, CRA(p) doesn't get a penny on the transactions.
Deal Fanatic
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Mar 12, 2005
6229 posts
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Victoria
Are you sure it wasn't brokerage fees? Brokerage is how much the company charges to determine how much tax you have to pay. UPS is the worst offender for high brokerage fees out of all the courier companies.

33% seems pretty high, even for something that got hit by duty instead of GST/PST (or HST). My best guess is the bulk of that was brokerage fee, which should be indicated on the invoice which part of the cost was used for which. The tax should be a pretty small portion of it.

Not much you can do, a simple search for UPS sucks Canada, would reveal most of that info :)
Deal Addict
Sep 1, 2007
2741 posts
38 upvotes
toronto
Seller marked the package as a "gift" valued at $2200 and the extra fees are about $700. For those curious, it's "discontinued" Chanel clothing I purchased as a gift for the missus.
Regardless if it was or was not marked as gift, the dutiable/taxable amount for your purchase sits at $2180.

What people don't understand about duties/taxes is that: You just moved currency to another country and Canada has to recoup some of it back.

Most items nowadays are duty free because of NAFTA and many other trade agreements
Pet peeve: please stop throwing in NAFTA if you don't know what it entails for anyone to get this preferential tariff.
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