09 Mar 2015

A question about : Stop Royal Mail Handling Fee for HMRC customs charges!

Hi all!

Now I realise that this has already been a heavily debated subject. But I have recently had some interaction with Royal Mail and HMRC regarding this issue and have come to the conclusion that this is down to pure laziness on the part of HMRC. I have been stung multiple times with Royal Mail Handling fees which I believe to be disproportionate and unethical. I fully respect the need to pay our taxes. I am not disputing that. But I contacted HMRC recently to ask if I could pay my VAT directly to them ahead of a parcel arriving and was refused. An Ј8.00 handling fee on a Ј1.75 customs fee is ridiculous. Especially when you consider that Royal Mail are now a private company. HMRC are a government entity who are allowing a third party private company to levy charges against individuals for services they didn't even ask for, and offer no alternative method of paying HMRC directly. Royal Mail flatly refuse to release your item unless you pay their extortionate fee. I don't see how this practice is even legal. Regardless of whether you consider Ј8.00 to be a large sum or not, as the only national post provider, it is still unfair that Royal Mail are allowed to monopolise the market this way and hold customers (and their parcels) to ransom.

This has nothing to do with people's choice to shop abroad. Simply stating that people should shop in the UK if they don't like it, is not the answer. People have many reasons for buying abroad, from cost, to simply seeking wider variety or different designs. It's no one else's place to tell them otherwise, but of course it is right and proper that VAT be paid. That being said, I am very much pro-VAT, but I am anti-rip-off.

With this in mind, I have created an online e-petition at the HM Government website. I am unable to post the link due to being a new user. It is petition 62803 and the title is the same as this thread. If you agree with my thoughts above, please do search for it, sign and share amongst likeminded people. With any luck, we may just be able to help put a stop to it.

Thank you for reading.

Best answers:

  • Besides the disproportionate handling fee given cost of item etc etc, is there any reason other than you find Parcel force delivering said item/s you are singling out Parcel Force, surely other courier companies charge a similar charge.
    You still have a choice and exercise that by not buying goods over a certain value abroad outside the EU for example.
    I only buy very low cost goods abroad say from Ebay/Amazon from China sellers those that don't accrue any import/vat/handling fee chargers
  • The Ј8 fee is the cheapest available from any carrier. I gather VAT on the fee will be added soon, so it's not going to get any better. I am at a loss to understand what is 'disproportionate' about the fee. The amount of paperwork is no less if the amount due is Ј1.50 or Ј150, just the VAT and duties for the recipient.
    If too much, then buy from someone who has stocks in the EU.
  • It seems a bit odd that a normal VAT registered trader is unable to levy a handling fee each time his business collects VAT from a customer but the parcel deliverer can.
    OK the trader can claim VAT back but so can the likes of ParcelForce.
  • I received a VAT demand for Ј11.98 plus Ј8 handling fee. The incorrectly-charged VAT has been refunded, but I am still Ј8 out of pocket.
    How do I claim this back?
    I have signed your petition.
  • I notice that the more expensive eg Ј100 items from USA are now selling through the Ebay Global Postage Programme deal where all import charges are known and paid upfront.
    One example, $40 import charge being quoted on a Ј100 item, plus postage Ј14 on quite a bulky/heavy item.
    $40 is not much more than 20% Vat.
    Anyone trust or used this scheme?
  • I think it speaks for itself. Nothing is straight forward when dealing with HMRC. Royal mail only charge a Ј1 handling fee when dealing with an ordinary item of underpaid mail, but for dealing with customs charges there is an Ј8 handling fee. There is a lot more admin involved behind the scenes for Royal Mail when dealing with customs charges as opposed to ordinary underpaid items of mail. The customer will not see this obviously. As with utilities, insurance etc the more work involved the more you pay. Someone has to handle these items on behalf of HRMC as they don't do deliveries, I'll defy you to find another private courier who will do it cheaper! Alternatively, buy inland and avoid any further nasty surprises!
  • malcolmchisholm, you have been refunded your VAT (good news) but Royal Mail (a third party) has still had to handle and administer your item on behalf of HMRC, so unless HRMC refunds the handling fee to you or Royal Mail to pass onto you then you won't get it back. Could you name another company who would do the work for someone else for nothing?
  • Ј8 is daylight robbery
  • The Royal Mail are not working for nothing!
    Under the UPU international agreement the Royal Mail are already getting paid part of the fee charged for posting items from the country it was posted from - paid by you, your supplier, friend or family. This extra Ј8 charge is an unfair hidden extra charge for doing a job they have already made an international agreement to be paid to do.
    Countries that signed the Universal Postal Constitution agree to
    accept mail from other countries and to deliver the international
    mail to its final destination. Member countries also are obligated
    to move each other's mail through its territory and to exchange
    international mail where direct transportation or political relations
    do not exist. For example, although the U.S. government does not
    have diplomatic relations with the Cuban government, an American
    resident can send a letter to a Cuban resident. Letter mail to Cuba
    transits through Canada and Mexico.
    The Universal Postal Convention defines (1) general guidelines on
    international postal service and (2) regulations on the operations of
    letter post mail. These include the rates (called "terminal dues")
    that countries pay each other compensation for processing and
    delivering inbound mail, the methods of calculating and collecting
    terminal dues, the maximum and minimum weights, the size limits of letter post mail, and the conditions of acceptance.
    Interestingly Royal Mail also do not want the public to know how much they are profiting from this hidden charge every year...
    Go to: whatdotheyknow website and search for royal mail handling fee
    It's an illegal wrong charge. They do not have a contract with either the sender or the receiver of the items and this charge could be challenged in law. They are only getting away with it as no one would take them to court over Ј8.
    A class action may work but again hard to organise.
  • Feeling better?
    The fee is reasonable and is still the cheapest of the main carriers. Unless you have your own import agent then pay up and smile, or stop importing if you dislike paying UK import taxes. It remains your choice.
  • bdublu, the way I read your quotation is that RM agree under this contract to process and deliver international items for an agreed fee. But this would quite obviously be conditional that the sender pays the correct price to send the item in the first place. So if a parcel once in the system is subsequently intercepted by Customs officials and found to have contents in it that renders the original price paid too low and therefore incorrect then that parcel is in contravention to the contract. Additional administration work is then required by RM to process, collect and forward the shortfall of monies to HMRC which they wouldn't have to do if the correct price had been paid in the first place so they are quite entitled to make a charge for this extra service.