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Thread: UK order being held up in Customs

  1. #1
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    Default UK order being held up in Customs

    This is a new one for me, but I thought I'll let others know in case they're running into it. I ordered a few parts from one of the big UK companies (now that Performance and Nashbar seem a bit risky), and after it hadn't arrived from 3 weeks I contacted them. Apparently, either they failed to pay the customs charge, or there is some new fee they were unaware of. They told me to contact customs and get it cleared and all charges paid. My response has been that this is their line of business, not mine, and I have no idea how to go about getting a random shipment cleared.

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    The response:

    Unfortunately we have no power or authority to speak to the US customs and they are asking to speak to yourself. They are a USA Government body and will not deal with ourselves.

    Charges and handling fees for processing orders through customs are applied by the customs authority and are an unfortunate by product of ordering from overseas. We try to be honest, during the ordering process and in our delivery information, that we are a business in Northern Ireland, as we do not wish you to be surprised that you have ordered from the UK.

    You can see this on our delivery information page here.

    Courier administration charges are levied, on occasion, by our courier partners and are an additional charge that we cannot predict. Various factors affect whether there is an additional courier charge to be levied – the courier, the size of parcel, whether the customer has an account with the courier, the contents etc.


    So they essentially say it's a risk you take ordering from them, that your shipment may get hung up mysteriously and then you have to deal with U.S. Customs to get it sprung. Conclusion: In the future, I will not be ordering any more from Chain Reactions.

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    Very much appreciate the heads up. Chain Reaction spends a lot of money on advertising and looks to be a major player in the online bike parts sales. I will also be avoiding making any purchases through them. Sounds like they have failed to deliver their product to their customer, and you should be entitled to full refund.

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    Can't speak for this vendor, but majority of overseas vendor make it abundantly clear that the purchaser is responsible for all custom and duty charges. As someone who buys regularly overseas, the factors that impact whether or not you get hit with these charges are: 1) declared value of the items 2) how items are declared 3) port of entry, and 4) shipper/courier.
    I believe the current cutoff of any custom/duty is $800USD. Anything over this amount can be subject to these charges, small items such as tires, tubes, clothing, etc. should not be an issue. How items are declared can also affect how they might get flagged. There are trigger words used in declaration such as "commercial samples" that are not subject to these fees. Port of entry - NYC seems to be most relaxed about this, I've had expensive carbon wheels that came through without paying a single penny more. Lastly shipper - DO NOT USED EXPRESS COURIERS. Companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. are far more likely to dock you with these fees as they get a cut for "processing". Using UK equivalent of USPS, Royal Mail, is far safer bet. Once they come through to USPS, these are usually treated as express mail.

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    Thanks for the advice. I get your point. I do think it's a bit odd to have a system that doesn't make sure that the shipment actually arrives, and start some kind of process if it doesn't. I would never have known what the problem was--the package just failed to arrive and the tracking information was stick on "in transit". It was a fairly small amount, well under $100.

    I still think that if you are someone like me who needs a modicum of reliability in ordering parts on-line, this isn't going to work. Even if it costs more, I'm sticking with domestic suppliers.

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaCynic View Post
    Lastly shipper - DO NOT USED EXPRESS COURIERS. Companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. are far more likely to dock you with these fees as they get a cut for "processing". Using UK equivalent of USPS, Royal Mail, is far safer bet. Once they come through to USPS, these are usually treated as express mail.
    Counterpoint based on my experience (and why nothing is ever simple): I've had good luck with packages shipped DHL in that part of their business is to get the items cleared through customs. When I ordered my bike (above the cutoff) - they handled the paperwork and dealing with payment in NYC to keep it moving to DC, and just wouldn't release the item to me until I paid. Far more efficient than having to deal with it myself. Other items that I've ordered (either purchased or "backed through Kickstarter") that have come DHL also have come through without a hitch.

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    Any time. Buying from overseas is not for everyone, it can work for "want" but definitely not "need" kind of purchase. Surprised to see that it's Chain Reactions as they do plenty of business here. As far as paying the fees, in the past I have been post delivery invoiced by express courier and/or had to pay when picking up the package at the post office. If we're talking about less than $100USD, this really should not be an issue. Hope you can get this resolved quickly.

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