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US Customs seizures and duties

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US Customs seizures and duties

Old 04-04-03, 05:26 AM
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US Customs seizures and duties

I've gone a long time with never having customs check my packages... not since my very first order (from hivizone). Now twice in one month I've been a victim of it. Once with UPS from DVDShelf (they seem to get dinged alot) and a fellow member from Japan sent me a package with a few DVDs via EMS/USPS and it is being held by customs right now. UPS sent me a bill last week for 11 bucks for the DVDShelf order. Do I have to pay that? I mean, I already have my DVDs. What can they do? Also - can or would customs seize DVDs? I hate this sort of stuff. Is it just me or is anyone else experiencing this more lately? I'm somewhat ignorant to the whole customs thing. I know the basics, but I don't really understand how they operate or decide what to open and check and blah blah. It seems like a violation of my rights for them to open mail addressed to me, but I guess I'm taking the word freedom too literally.
Old 04-04-03, 08:06 AM
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oh is the reason why my copy of "Hero" hasn't arrived, after two weeks of waiting. It's absolutely infuriating to lose a package to customs, the mail, what have you....
Old 04-04-03, 08:33 AM
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I once received a request for payment from the carrier a month after the package (of CDs) arrived. It was accompanied by pages of computerised gobbledygook printouts.

I wrote to them and asked why this had not accompanied the package itself so allowing me the chance to refuse delivery. I also queried several of the entries on the printout and asked whether any reasonably well-educated person could be expected to understand them.

Some time later they wrote back and said they would not be enforcing payment.

I don't know about the U.S. but in the UK the government gives carriers the right to charge an admin fee for their involvement in customs checks. In fact, I know that some consider that these fees are an unjustified imposition, excessive and may be unenforceable where the recipient is not given sufficient advance warning.

Last edited by benedict; 04-05-03 at 03:00 AM.
Old 04-04-03, 09:46 AM
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I've yet to get dinged by customs. (saying that now, I'll likely jinx myself and get dinged on my next order)

I wonder if customs has stepped up its' inspections of packages to correspond with our increased National Security status...?

Now I'm hesitant I was about to make a big order (50), but now I'm hesitant. phooey... what to do? what to do?

Keep us updated on your package status Trigger.

Gabe
Old 04-04-03, 10:03 AM
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I think a lot has to do with your local Customs office. Shortly after 9/11 Sensasian's packages (Malaysian) were reported as being delayed, particularly in the western parts of the US.
Old 04-04-03, 11:20 AM
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Trigger: Is that $11 equal to a couple of percent of the invoice total?

I occasionally got bills a few days after a huge pack of DVDs came in. Maybe around $10 brokerage charge + a few percent customs duty. (UPS/FEDEX). But I've never had a package held up because of that. Only had two packages held up in KY because they didn't understand the foreign currency conversion on the customs form (dumbasses). That took a quick call and a small delay.

The worse piece of crap in the industry is TNT. They wanted a $35 brokerage charge.

Anyways, I can only see them holding your package if they've sent you bills before and you never paid up or your address is being "flagged" for too many imported packages.

Last edited by axolotls return; 04-04-03 at 11:24 AM.
Old 04-04-03, 12:24 PM
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Re: US Customs seizures and duties

Originally posted by Trigger
....a package with a few DVDs via EMS/USPS and it is being held by customs right now.
Damn, I rarely ever hear anything with customs when EMS is used. Now I am all paranoid about my orders I have at Animaxis. I usually try to place "small" orders of around 100 dollars just to avoid problems. I have been getting a lot of packages from Japan lately, I hope I don't start having problems...
Old 04-04-03, 01:20 PM
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I had over $700 of DVDs shipped EMS from Asia two months ago. No problem at all. Got it in 3 days.
Old 04-04-03, 09:12 PM
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FWIW - I just received a 4 disc order from cd-wow and they all came in seperate packages (shipped together and arrived together though). A couple of previous orders that I placed with them (well over a year ago) were shipped all in one package. I assumed this method of shipping was to make the packages less tempting targets for customs.

Meanwhile I'm a little paranoid about SARS so I'm just letting them sit out on the covered deck until I get some alcohol wipes. I don't *have* to watch the discs right away so I figure better safe than sorry when the docs haven't even really identified the pathogen yet...
Old 04-04-03, 09:57 PM
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If you are concerned about SARS, which needs a moist environment to live on. Just spray the cases with Lysol.
Old 04-05-03, 02:44 AM
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First of all, Trigger, I'm afraid that US Customs has the right to inspect any shipment coming to the US from other countries. (I work for a customs brokerage, so I know this). Any brokerage or duty charges is really a crap shoot depending on: which customs broker the carrier normally uses, the total entered value of the shipment, and if customs decides to examine a particular shipment.
I live in Canada, but close to the US border, and have a US mailing address, and have had many packages sent to either US or Canadian addresses with varying results. It really seems completely random as to what is checked. Sometimes I got nailed for fees (usually in Canada) but most often nothing.

Anyway, Trigger, is the 11.00 that UPS charged you for duty or just brokerage charges? If its just the latter, customs wouldn't seize the DVDs, but conceivably, UPS could turn the outstanding fees over to a collection agency if they were never paid (actually, even if it was for duty, UPS has already paid it and are trying to get the money from you).
Old 04-05-03, 04:24 AM
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About SARS - I called a hotline about SARS and was informed that it can't survive on inanimate objects (such as DVDs) so I wouldn't worry about that... up to you entirely though

About the 11 bucks - yeah, it was calculated as a percentage of the DVD values. They got the quantities and dollar amounts wrong though - they didn't charge for music CDs, but they only counted one CD instead of the 4 that I had in the box. Still haven't received the package from Japan. According to the tracking info, it isn't being held anymore and is on the way from San Francisco. Hope it's all there. :/
Old 04-05-03, 04:30 AM
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Originally posted by cultshock
Anyway, Trigger, is the 11.00 that UPS charged you for duty or just brokerage charges? If its just the latter, customs wouldn't seize the DVDs, but conceivably, UPS could turn the outstanding fees over to a collection agency if they were never paid (actually, even if it was for duty, UPS has already paid it and are trying to get the money from you).
According to the bill, there's a US Customs duties charge of 11.31 and a Brokerage Service fee of 5 bucks. I already got the package awhile ago. So I guess I have to pay it or else it gets sent to collections. Can I call and complain or contest the charges? If the charges aren't correct, is it possible that this will void the entire thing? As someone stated, since they never informed me of this beforehand to give me a chance to refuse the package - can I complain about that to worm my way out of paying it?
Old 04-05-03, 09:55 AM
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In mexico you ALWAYS have to page 50% of the price on the package.

How wonderful!!!! Isn't it?
Old 04-05-03, 11:35 PM
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Originally posted by Trigger
According to the bill, there's a US Customs duties charge of 11.31 and a Brokerage Service fee of 5 bucks. I already got the package awhile ago. So I guess I have to pay it or else it gets sent to collections. Can I call and complain or contest the charges? If the charges aren't correct, is it possible that this will void the entire thing? As someone stated, since they never informed me of this beforehand to give me a chance to refuse the package - can I complain about that to worm my way out of paying it?
That would be worth a shot. The brokerage fee is kind of cheap (but I'm used to our company charging $35.00 and over for charges for commercial shipments) but that duty seems a little bit high (what was the total declared value of the shipment?). When I go to work on Monday, I can check to see how much duty should be charged on DVDs. I once had a friend from Japan, send me a birthday present for my niece and I got charged duty and fees. But I noticed that they used the wrong tariff classification (which determines duty rate) and wrong country of origin. So I called the brokerage and bitched to them about doing a bad job and not notifiying me before I got the bill and they ended up not charging me. So, yeah, sometimes raising a stink might help you.
Old 04-07-03, 12:48 PM
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Well, my friend says all orders in Chinatown are delayed indefinately becasue of this SARS scare.
Old 04-07-03, 04:11 PM
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For anyone importing DVDs into the US:
OK, I looked it up in the tariff book, and as best as I could determine, the correct harmonized tariff # for DVDs would be 8524.39.4000. The duty rate is free. So, if you buy some DVDs from another country, and customs decides to check your package, there should be no duty charged, and the most you should have to pay is a 2.00 merchandise processing fee (for anything under 2000.00) and whatever brokerage fee is charged by the customs broker handling the shipment.
Hope this helps.

Last edited by cultshock; 04-07-03 at 04:16 PM.
Old 04-07-03, 06:23 PM
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cultshock - they had 8524.39.4000 down for one CD and it said "Free" and then the rest of the order (39 items or whatever) they have 8524.39.8000 down and charged me 2.700000% on the "entered value" of $418.78.

What's 8524.39.8000?
Old 04-07-03, 09:29 PM
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Hey Trigger,
OK, without getting too complicated, the 8524.39.4000 catagory covers discs for laser reading systems for "reproducing representations of instructions, data, sound and image, recorded in a machine readable binary form, and capable of being manipulated or providing interactivity to a user, by means of an automatic data processing machine; propriety format recorded discs"
I think the term "image" would mean that DVDs should be classified here. The 8524.39.8000 (which does indeed have a 2.7% duty rate) is a catchall catagory that covers discs for laser reading systems that don't fit in any other catagory. But I think that DVDs really would fall in the first catagory.

Also, unless your CD had CD-rom content or something, I think they should have classifed that as 8524.32.0000 (which is decribed as "for reproducing sound only" and also duty free )

Believe me, sometimes classifying things can really fall in grey areas (fun part of my job ), but I think if you try to agrue the point with the broker, and throw some of the above numbers and descriptions that I quoted out of the tariff book at them, they might let you off the hook (especially if you sound like you know what you're talking about. Just tell them that you consulted another broker ). Of course, every company will have different policies about handling disputes like this, but its worth a shot.
Good luck!

Also, if there are disputes and decrepencies about how something should be classifed, its US customs right to make a final ruling about something (and at that point, its hard to debate with the government). So, maybe customs had already made a ruling about DVDs, that I didn't hear about and your broker is right and I'm wrong
.

Last edited by cultshock; 04-07-03 at 09:36 PM.
Old 04-07-03, 10:00 PM
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cultshock - just so I'm prepared should I ever have to deal with this kind of thing, what is common broker jargon for pronouncing the tarrifs?

For example do you say 8524.39.4000 like:

eighty-five twenty-four dot 39 dot four thousand
or
eight five two four dot three nine dot 4 oh oh oh
or
eight thousand five hundred twenty four stop thirty nine stop four thousand
etc...
Old 04-07-03, 11:05 PM
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Originally posted by Jah-Wren Ryel
cultshock - just so I'm prepared should I ever have to deal with this kind of thing, what is common broker jargon for pronouncing the tarrifs?

For example do you say 8524.39.4000 like:

eighty-five twenty-four dot 39 dot four thousand
or
eight five two four dot three nine dot 4 oh oh oh
or
eight thousand five hundred twenty four stop thirty nine stop four thousand
etc...
Hey thats a good question that I've never been asked before. Anyway, we don't say the "dots" at all, just the numbers (but may have a slight "beat" or pause where the dots are). And we usually say the numbers in two digit increments (for example, I would verbalize the above number as "eighty-five, twenty-four, thirty-nine, forty, zero, zero " - but when double zeros are involved as in this case, "four thousand" sounds OK too). I'm not sure if this is the universally accepted jargon, but that was how I was taught to say the tariff numbers when I was trained, and I've personally only heard other brokers and customs agents say them the same way.
Gee, never thought I'd be sharing my arcane customs brokerage knowledge on a DVD message board.

Last edited by cultshock; 04-07-03 at 11:07 PM.
Old 04-08-03, 10:45 AM
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This is turning into a great informative thread for us. Thanks for the info cultshock.

Trigger and/or others- How do you know when a package is snagged by customs? Were you notified? (It was my understanding that the customs office does not notify the addressee. (It's up to you the importer to check on your package?) -this would be a strong incentive for insurance and order tracking if true...

thanks,
Gabe
Old 04-08-03, 05:54 PM
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Glad to help Gabe.
I'm not sure about personal mail in the US, but if I order something that gets sent to my Canadian address (and its charged by customs), I get a slip in my mailbox that says I have a parcel to pick up and pay duty on. So I go to the post office and have to pay all the fees before they give me the parcel (this procedure might vary depending on which carrier is shipping the item).

Anyway, I imagine that if you are in the US and order something, and the carrier is UPS or Fed Ex, I'm sure they would send you either your parcel with an attached invoice or just an invoice/notice and you have to go pick it up (UPS and Fedex would do the brokerage themselves unless you wanted to use someone else). Again this could vary depending on what carrier is used to ship the item.
Old 04-08-03, 07:40 PM
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Originally posted by gabegarwick
Trigger and/or others- How do you know when a package is snagged by customs? Were you notified? (It was my understanding that the customs office does not notify the addressee. (It's up to you the importer to check on your package?) -this would be a strong incentive for insurance and order tracking if true...

thanks,
Gabe
He knew because he could track it,I sent two packages from Japan,one to mljones and one to Trigger, on the same day.mljones lives in NC and he got the package already, which weighs 2 times more than Trigger and still Trigger did not get his.So thats when he suspected his packages are being screened.
Old 04-23-03, 09:54 AM
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all fees should be calculated in the shipping cost before it is shipped, at least in my opinion
as for SARS, which is how I found thise thread, the head of teh Niagara County Dept of Health (not sure her exact title) was on the radio today and said it can live on objects for 24 hours


Originally posted by Trigger
About SARS - I called a hotline about SARS and was informed that it can't survive on inanimate objects (such as DVDs) so I wouldn't worry about that... up to you entirely though

About the 11 bucks - yeah, it was calculated as a percentage of the DVD values. They got the quantities and dollar amounts wrong though - they didn't charge for music CDs, but they only counted one CD instead of the 4 that I had in the box. Still haven't received the package from Japan. According to the tracking info, it isn't being held anymore and is on the way from San Francisco. Hope it's all there. :/

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