customs clearing

UPS twitter bot’s response to my blog post: complete nonsense.

May 25, 2018 Boycott UPS No comments , , ,

I received the following response to my post about the latest customs brokerage extortion by UPS (charging us to destroy the first shipment of a package).  Clearly, the UPS Customer Support twitter feed is a bot.  Once provided with a non-standard answer it shut up for good.

 

 

 

UPS: charging you to break your stuff.

May 25, 2018 Boycott UPS No comments , , ,

 

I have to admit that I hate UPS with a passion.  As a Canadian, if you ever want to purchase something from the United States, you have to pray that UPS isn’t the shipper, because if they are you are going to get screwed.  Now, let’s be perfectly clear.  By screwed, I don’t mean something that leads to a shuddering climactic orgasm, and a great afternoon nap.  Screwed by UPS means you are raped in the ass.  Think of yourself as a prisoner serving the first day of twenty years in maximum security, and UPS is the gang of Nazi skinheads oogling you as you are naked in the shower picking up the soap from the floor.

UPS runs a double payment scam where they leverage Canadian customs to charge you for the “service” of collecting any customs charges.  Their charges for this service are often more than the original shipping amount, and can be a large percentage of the total declared value of the item.  You may have thought that you (or the person sending the package) paid for shipping, but UPS collects on both ends, from both the shipper and the reciever.  It’s a really nice scam and I am sure it is immensely profitable.

Here’s the latest example:

UPS determined that $7.62+$14.20 was due to the Canadian government (which was too high), and then charged $36.85+$4.79 for the service of collecting this payment.  The total customs charge from UPS, including the duty is a whopping $63.46, which was 62% of the total value of the item in this case.

This extortion can be handled by collecting the shipping slip from the UPS delivery guy, telling him that you’ll be self clearing, and then calling UPS and telling them that you’ll be self clearing the item.  They then email you the forms that you need to take to the CBSA (Canadian Border Security Agency), which look like:

You have two business days to complete the self clearing process, and for that time UPS will hold your package ransom.

The self clearing process is a real pain in the ass to do, at least if you live in Markham, since the only CBSA office that handles this paperwork is all the way down near the airport, on 2720 Brittania Rd E.  It’s a windy road that you are not inclined to believe you are allowed to be on.  You also have to pass through a huge gate that has razor wire all over it, and looks like the armed guards just stepped away for a moment, but will be back to shoot you shortly for trespassing.

Assuming you avoid getting shot or arrested for tresspassing, and find the office, you can then collect the following form:

This is the B15 form that UPS requires to release the package to you.  You email then this form, and they arrange to re-deliver the package to you after they receive the paperwork.

We went through the pain of doing the self clearing for the package above (a glass sink), but after UPS left it at the door (without even ringing the doorbell), we discovered that they had destroyed the sink, which looked like this:

This is not in a good state to install.  We called UPS to collect the item that they destroyed and the manufacturer to ship a replacement item.  This is unfortunately where things get really irritating.  UPS now charged us for the service of having originally destroyed the first sink, by imposing a second brokerage handling fee for the replacement item.  Since we’d paid the duties all ready, this final charge of $34.86 was for the difficult service of collecting $0.00 duty and GST for the Canadian government:

My wife spend a half hour arguing with the poor UPS delivery guy (who is a pawn) that they had no right to charge us a second time for brokerage fees, when we’d already handled those the first time.  She was ready to keep the item without paying this additional extortion, and deal with UPS management/customer-service after the fact, but the delivery guy said that the police would be called if that was done.

They’ve basically got you by the balls.  This time, we ended up paying their extortion, as we didn’t trust UPS not to destroy the item a second time, and have plumbers coming for install work starting next week.  I don’t hold much hope that calling UPS management will result in any refund, since they are perfectly happy with customers perceiving them as a money grubbing company that behaves unethically, and is ready to shaft you at every possible opportunity.

UPS’s new motto: “If we can’t screw you with brokerage fees the first time, we will destroy your stuff and charge you a second time to replace it.”  We just paid $34.86 towards their new marketing campaign.

Asking my MP: are UPS customs clearing fees legal?

February 7, 2018 Boycott UPS No comments , , ,

My letter to my MP.  I didn’t vote for him, but he is still technically my representative.

Dear Honorable member of parliament Bob Saroya,
I don’t usually have any faith that my elected representative has any chance of actually acting favourably on my behalf, but I will temporarily play optimistic.
Are you familiar with the customs brokerage scam that UPS and some of the other shipping companies are running on Canadians?  DHL and Canada Post also play this game, but not with the same zeal and shear exploitation of UPS.
The basic idea behind this scam is that UPS has figured out how to collect from both the shipper and the receiver.  They collect once explicitly from the shipper in the USA, who may even think that they have paid all the required fees to ship the package, and then they collect again from the receiver by claiming that they have provided a “customs clearing service”.
Here’s an example of the fees that they try to impose to give the Canadian taxman their cut:
UPS has imposed a $61.95 fee to collect this $1.97 for the Canadian government.  They bill this extortion as a “service”, so the taxman gets an additional $8.05.  Sweet deal for UPS and the taxman, but not for your constituents.
Is it legal for UPS to levy an effective fee of $70 to collect $2 for the government?  Are their any federal government regulatory agencies that Canadians can complain to for charges like this?  I’m used to being screwed by the Canadian revenue service, but I imagine even those cold hearted bastards would find this objectionable.
Sincerely,
Peeter Joot
[full address and postal code]

UPS customs clearing scam hits new extremes!

February 7, 2018 Boycott UPS 5 comments , , , , ,

I’ve been screwed by Canadian customs clearing fees three times in the past, once by Canada post (~$16 dollars), once by DHL (~$12), and the worst by UPS (~$30).  This time UPS has the gall to try to charge me $71.97 to handle a $2 taxman collection.

This package is a set of Christmas gifts from my mom for the kids and us.  They’ve been on the road in their 5th wheel for months, and is finally home long enough to send off all the Christmas presents she’d purchased earlier in the year.  Mom is honest and itemized the actual values of the items in the package, and this was enough that Canada customs wants to charge me $1.97 to receive it.  I’m used to being screwed by the taxman, and would have been willing to pay this to accept the package.  Mom says she paid around $50 USD to ship it in the first place, and thinks that she’ll be charged a second time if I sent it back.

Extortion is clearly a justifiable label for the $61.95 fee that UPS is imposing to collect this $1.97 for the Canadian taxman.  My GOD!  $61.95 to handle a $2 fee!  Because the UPS extortion is classified as a “service”, observe that the taxman gets an additional $8.05.  Sweet deal for UPS and the taxman, but not for me (or grandma if I don’t accept the package).  The UPS goons are waiting for their $71.97, or else they are going to come break some kneecaps (i.e. charge grandma a second time to return the package and deprive her grandkids of their late Christmas present.)

The basic idea behind this scam is that UPS and some of the other companies handling US -> Canadian shipping have figured out how to collect from both the shipper and the receiver.  They collect once explicitly from the shipper in the USA, who may even think that they have paid all the required fees to ship the package, and then they collect again from the receiver by claiming that they have provided a “customs clearing service”.

The extent of their service is that they can handle a COD fee for the Canadian government, and keep your package as ransom unless you pay that fee.  The actual tax fee that they are collecting is usually peanuts, but they add in their brokerage fee, which is orders of magnitude larger than the small tax imposed.  To add insult to injury, they charge you tax (GST) for the extortion “service” they are providing.  That GST is also orders of magnitude worse than the tax that was collected on behalf of the Canadian government.  It’s win-win for the government, since they get much more than they would have collected originally (in this case $10 instead of $2), and it is certainly win-win for the shipping company, since they get to charge 2x the fees without scaring away the shipper with a higher sticker price.  The second time is pure profit, since they don’t have to actually do anything for it.

In the past I had a couple people point me to articles on how to do your own customs clearing.  The CBSA website is complete crap, and it’s hard to find out the details for the nearest office.  If I look for the Markham area, it looks like there may be an office at the Buttonville airport, but it isn’t obvious that this is open for the public to do clearing services (i.e. it’s not listed as an “inland office” — “A CBSA office classified as a non-direct point of entry providing a full range of CBSA services to the general public”), nor what their hours are, nor is there a phone number to call them to ask.  When I called the CBSA 1800 number during business hours, I got no answer.  Finding the closest CBSA clearing office is no easier now than a couple years ago.

Whenever shipping from the US is mentioned in conversation, I make a point to tell everybody never to use UPS.  Every Canadian should insist that all their US friends and relatives boycott UPS.  As I’m a geek, most of my online purchases are esoteric math and physics, or programming books.  I now generally only buy from Canada, India or China.  The primary reason that I do this is to ensure that UPS never gets any of my business from a shipper that I cannot control.  Mom’s now also been asked to never ever ever use UPS again, and I hope that she spreads the word.  If they gouge enough customers eventually they should loose them all.

As for this package.  I’ve not paid to be screwed this time, and am going to try the self-clearing paperwork myself.  I’ll try driving to the Buttonville airport tomorrow and ask in person if they can handle the self-clearing request, or if not where I should go.

If anybody has had some personal experience doing self-clearing paperwork in the GTA area, I’d like to know what office you went to obtain your B15 clearing document.

EDIT: I’m told that there’s a CBSA office open to the public at Pearson Airport Cargo 3:

2720 Brittania Rd E.

Google says that the round trip cost is 2.5 hrs in driving time to avoid the $72 fee.

Shipping with DHL. They will screw you, but not quite as bad as UPS.

August 27, 2016 Incoherent ramblings, Uncategorized 1 comment , , , , ,

I previously complained about UPS customs clearing charges that I was slammed with receiving back some of my own goods.

Basically, the Canadian government grants shipping companies the right to extort receivers at the point of customs clearing. Canada might add a few cents or a buck or two of tax, but the shipping company is then able to add fees that are orders of magnitude higher than the actual taxes.

I actually stopped buying anything from the United States because of this, and have been buying from Europe and India instead, where I had not yet gotten blasted with customs clearing fees for the items I’ve been buying (usually textbooks).

However, it appears that my luck has run out.  Here’s the newest example, with a $15 dollar clearing fee that DHL added onto about a dollar of tax:

IMG_20160827_095043195 (1)

Note that I did not pick the shipping company.  That was selected by the book seller (one of the abebooks.com resellers).

For $1.17 of taxes, DHL has charged me $14.75 of fees, all for the right to allow Canada revenue to steal from me.  To add insult to injury, DHL is allowed to charge GST for their extortion service, so I end up paying an additional $3.09 (close to 3x the initial tax amount).  The value of the book + shipping that I purchased was only $23.30!

Aside: Why is the GST on $14.75 that high?  I thought that’s a 13% tax, so shouldn’t it be $1.92?

I’ve found some instructions that explain some of the black magic required to do my own customs clearing:

One of the first steps is to find the CBSA office that I can submit such a clearing form to.  I can narrow that search down to province, but some of these offices are restricted to specific purposes, and it isn’t obvious which of these offices I should use.  For example the one at Buttonville airport appears to be restricted to handling just the cargo that arrives there.

I wonder if there are any local resellers that import used and cheap textbooks in higher quantities and then resell them locally (taking the customs clearing charge only once per shipment)?