I was recently violated by the well-lubricated member of HM Thieves & Excise. As is commonly known, buying an item worth more than £18 from a non-European Union country and importing it into the UK incurs a fine quaintly described as a “customs charge”. Generally I’m careful to avoid going over the limit, or if I am buying something with a value of more than £18 to order from a store with a means of slipping the package under the radar, so to speak.
Unfortunately, neither of these safety measures were worth a damn when, on Monday morning, I received a card through my door from Royal Mail informing me that they were holding on to an item of mine with a £11.36 charge on it. Knowing that I hadn’t bought anything from outside the EU in the last few months that could possibly have such a charge, I was confused to say the least. Needless to say, I was even more confused when I handed over the cash at the sorting office only to be handed a copy of the Blu-ray release of Persepolis, ordered from DVD Pacific for the cost of £13.82.
You opportunistic little shits
Not only that, but, despite selecting the premium shipping option in order to ensure that the order reached me in time for my birthday, it failed to arrive in the UK until after it had passed - July 8th, according to the attached HM Thieves & Excise sticker. Of course, mail ordering is hardly an exact science, and there are an infinite number of variables that come into play when you have to send a package from one country to another. That doesn’t explain why the item reached Customs on July 8th and I wasn’t informed about it until July 14th.
So there you have it. Not only was I charged extortion money on a package that shouldn’t have been eligible, either Thieves & Excise or Royal Mail then held on to it for a further week for the privilege. I shall of course be claiming the money back, but, given that the charge is split between £3.36 of VAT (paid to Thieves & Excise) and a ludicrous £8.00 “handling fee” paid to Royal Mail, I can see this going on forever. I first have to claim back my £3.36, which will no doubt take an eternity, and only once that has been accomplished can I then get on to the robber barons at Royal Mail to get the other £8 back.
The moral of the story? Even when you’re on the side of the law, you still get buggered by the authorities. So, if you happen to dodge the odd customs charge or fiddle the system in some other way, I see no reason for you to feel bad about it.