OT: Problems shipping items to Italy - Italian buyer wake up!



#24

I have had more problems shipping items to Italy, than any other country by far. I have found that Italian customs must work. They expect to be paid customs fees. Buyers don't like paying customs fees and just don't pick up items. Anyone else experience excessive delays or problems shipping to Italy?

A recent Italian buyer wanted me to ship as a "gift", and declare for a low value, for obvious reasons. Of course that would be illegal, and I wouldn't be able to buy insurance, if I declared at low value. So I couldn't oblige him on this.

If that buyer, of the 9114B, reads this, he will know this is to him.

Your item has been shipped, long ago and is insurred. I have the receipts. You need to check your local postal office. It's probably being held for customs.


Edited: 14 May 2006, 11:27 a.m.


#25

Yes, I too have had problems shipping to Italy more than any other country.

Once it took 2 months for a package to get through customs - after being sent by airmail.

Very strange.

Good luck...I am unwilling to sell/ship to Italy any longer. Sorry my Italian friends! :-)

#26

Yes, we (italians) know...
What can we do? Nothing, I presume.
Delivery times are unforecastable (sp?): they range from 3 days (uninsured airmail), my record at the moment, to more than 2 and a half months (surface mail).

Of course I always oblige whan asked for custom fees (this is not always the case, one sixth of the times - more or less). That's obvious since I looked for an item, prepaid for it, for shipping charges, etc...
I am not happy, you bet, but that's how the things go, even on used, old, and without value items (apart few, odd, fanatics...).
You simply have to know this beforehand.

And by the way, to the other readers, I am not your buyer ;-)

Greetings,
Massimo

Edited: 14 May 2006, 2:26 p.m.


#27

"And by the way, to the other readers, I am not your buyer"

The buyer is leodi1940. He has excellent feedback. I have contacted him and told him of the delay through customes. He is totally unreasonable, by filing disputes and freezing PayPal payments. I told him that it's insurred and that he won't lose anything on the deal but to give it a little longer. I even asked him to check the post office and customs areas. He won't even acknowlege my emails.

He asked me to declare the item as a gift and "low value". I think he may just not want to pay the duties and this is his way of getting his money back, on something he doesn't want to pay duties on.

At least you understand the problem. Wish I could say the same for this other buyer. He is totally unreasonable.


#28

I checked his feedback and it is really good, indeed. However it looks mainly interested in books: these are easier to ship, transport and deliver (if not sent via surface mail... but that's another story) and usually don't get taxed: I presume they follow the same route used by correspondence. Parcels are different and often get checked by customs.


The problem lies both with customs (I once was asked to provide a link to the eBay auction I won so they could estimate the item's value... but generally they accept what's declared on the green label. Things also change depending on the landing airport) and, mainly, with The Mail.

If a fast route was chosen it is usually the courier (private or not) that pays in advance what's due to the customs and asks for refund on delivery, otherwise a payment for clearence gets mailed to you after customs inspection... and this can be veeeery long: usually a couple of weeks before you know that something is waiting for you somewhere, then you have to pay by your local Post Office which sends money to customs that, in turn, release the parcel for delivery.

And there also are parts of the year that you better avoid: Xmas, Easter and summer holidays come to mind. Either I refrain to buy abroad during these seasons or I ask for a delayed shipping.

But things are improving, slowly, but improving. Please, you all, don't ban out Italy... I can still find interesting items in the U.S.A. :-)

Nothing to do with unpleasant people - buyers or sellers - those are unavoidable.

I hope that this clears things up a little.

Greetings,
Massimo


#29

here is a business proposition:

have someone in another EU country act as relay for Italian purchasers. They can pay customs in their country and then ship the items to their final destination. Since EU is a single trade area, there are no customs checks for items arriving from another EU country, so Italian customs are out of the picture.

**vp

#30

Hi, I'm not the buyer, too, but I have the same opinion with the italian buyer. The custom value can be low in conjunction with a higher insurance value, IMHO it's logical and legal: If a buyer has bought an old calculator for say $500, it doesn't mean that it's customs value have to be $500, too. It's perfectly legal to write there customs value $5 or so. That's OK, since for customs purposes the REAL value of the item is valid. An old calculator hasn't a higher value in most cases, since you could buy a much better calculator for even less money. But for insurance there should be an auction price stated. It's OK, too, since this was a price for which he has bought the item. This is why there are two prices on the customs paper, too, otherwise only one price should be sufficent.


#31

I don't think I could make that argument to a customs official and keep a straight face. If I was the customs official, I'd expect you to use the purchase price as its declared value, or I might offer you $20 for your "$5 calculator".


#32

In fact, I received a calculator from the USA in the past, there was a high customs value - equal to the auction price. I simply opened the package before the customs official and he immediately corrected the customs value to approx. one tenth of the declared value :-)

On the other side, I send several items abroad and applied different prices (both for customs purposes and for insurance). For the first time I asked the directly customs clerk whether this was possible and he agreed. Nevertheless this could be different in different countires.

#33

You said:
The custom value can be low in conjunction with a higher insurance value, IMHO it's logical and legal: If a buyer has bought an old calculator for say $500, it doesn't mean that it's customs value have to be $500, too. It's perfectly legal to write there customs value $5 or so"

My reply
You can write what you like but there is two points with this. The "law" says you cannot declare below the true value. The true value is what he paid.

Second, when it comes to insurring it, I can't buy insurance, say for $200, when I'm signing an official government document saying it's value is $5. I actually tried this once and the postal office said I couldn't do it. When it came time to collect, they would say I already declared the value of $5 and that's all they would pay.

Don't mess with the feds!


#34

OK, I respect it.

When I read all opinions here I see that bureaucracy in other countries could be even worse than here for some cases.

I don't mind a high customs value written at the package at all. When I receive a package with a high customs value I open the package before the customs official and wait for his decision. When I receive an old calculator, I'm sure that the customs price lowers this way by the orders of magnitude. But different countries have different laws and maybe even this simple, fair and legal procedure cannot be applied in every country.

#35

Quote:
If a buyer has bought an old calculator for say $500, it doesn't mean that it's customs value have to be $500, too. It's perfectly legal to write there customs value $5 or so. That's OK, since for customs purposes the REAL value of the item is valid.

That doesn't work out in Germany. When I pick up a parcel at customs, I have to bring the eBay or PayPal printout. For calculators and their accessories, customs is normally null but I have to pay the VAT (16% until end of 2006, 19% thereafter.) They even charge VAT for the postage (grrrrrr!)

It is funny to watch the customs people searching for the correct product group (they have to fill in an ID to decide whether customs is due or just the tax.) They simply don't have cassette interfaces in their lists. :-))

Marcus


#36

Quote:

That doesn't work out in Germany. When I pick up a parcel at customs, I have to bring the eBay or PayPal printout. For calculators and their accessories, customs is normally null but I have to pay the VAT (16% until end of 2006, 19% thereafter.) They even charge VAT for the postage (grrrrrr!)

It is funny to watch the customs people searching for the correct product group (they have to fill in an ID to decide whether customs is due or just the tax.) They simply don't have cassette interfaces in their lists. :-))

Marcus


Hush ! The Germans will always be one step beyond in terms of administration. Hopefully this won't move forward to other EU countries.

#37

Hi!

Quote:
That's OK, since for customs purposes the REAL value of the item is valid. An old calculator hasn't a higher value in most cases, since you could buy a much better calculator for even less money.

Following this reasoning, it should be possible to import a painting by Leonardo da Vinci for a "customs value" of 2 Euros: One square metre of 500-year-old-canvas, soiled by the remains of dried vegeatable oil and faded-out pigments...

In Germany, I have made two very different experiences: Calculators and other small collectables go either straight through customs (without having to pay anything, whatever value was declared) - or, more often, I have to produce a screendump of the eBay-offer if no invoice (or a suspicious invoice!) is included.

Greetings, Max

#38

Quote:

He asked me to declare the item as a gift and "low value". I think he may just not want to pay the duties and this is his way of getting his money back, on something he doesn't want to pay duties on.

At least you understand the problem. Wish I could say the same for this other buyer. He is totally unreasonable.


Hi,

As an European buyer (the customs procedure is about the same at least in the EU), and to confirm the argumentation of Massimo, please consider this :

- the only place where you can more or less easily find rarer HP calculators and accessories is in the US, if you're lucky enough to fond a seller that will ship abroad
- you need to pay in $ and already get a little screwed up on exchange rate
- you also get screwed up on payment fees : WU, bank transfer or paypal : for 200$ (typical value for an item in the US that is worth buying overseas), the fee can be huge in % !
- you need to pay for shipping, typically 25$. 9 items out of 10 that I buy were shipped for about half of the claimed costs.
- if the seller mentions the value on the pack, you pay a) VAT b) tariff c) administrative fees.

All in all, you pay 100 extra buck on your item ! Don't you want to
save a bit ?

So, the solution IS to declare the item as non working and gift. BTW. I always do that when I ship item outside the EU, and care to take the batteries out in the event the customs try an ON-OFF seuqence. Is it so difficult for you ?


#39

You say
"So, the solution IS to declare the item as non working and gift. BTW."

My reply
True, one could do that but it's "illegal" under U.S. (and likely international) law. AND, if you declare it as non-working and low value, you can't insure for higher value, and be legal.

I understand your position but, in my case, I won't risk breaking U.S. law, to sell to someone in another country.


#40

Frankly speaking, you're more breaking the EU law than the US law.

But I understand your point and respect it.

#41

Before starting, I'd like to say that I am Italian and I live in Italy.

The Italian customs work exactly like the rest of Italy: the bureaucracy is extremely daunting and overly complex; even the simplest operations require signed forms, written statements, and validation from one or more national security agency ("Guardia di Finanza, divisione importazioni e dogane", "Guardia di Finanza, divisione commercio e artigianato", "Polizia Doganale", "Polizia Postale") whose jobs largely overlap, usually in the most troublesome way. Moreover, depending on the shipment method, you end in different customs offices and the custom procedures, even if documented by the same law, are handled differently - due to the interaction between the various security agency. In any case, as it is common here since the 1946, the actual laws involved in the proceedings are of little or no concern.


How things actually work


SHIPPING BY SEA

Almost anything shipped by sea is going to pass the customs at Genova port (even if the package is going to go to Napoli), where the items are piled in large warehouses and kept there until the customs proceeding can take place. At least 10% of the item stored here are actually lost, damaged beyond recovery or even stolen. The Genova customs also has a tendency to insist on the fact that the declared price for the item is not "right" and that you must provide a proof of purchase in the form of a "Fattura" or a "Ricevuta Fiscale" - thing that may impossible if the item was obtained from an online auction. A credit card statement rarely counts as a proof of purchase. Sometimes (beyond any reasonable logic) a simple printout of an e-mail, sent by fax or by "Lettera Raccomandata" is considered a valid proof of purchase. in other unlucky cases, nothing will do for the customs agent and you end up in HAVING to abandon the item, because nothing you can provide is considered a valid proof of purchase to calculate the fees - note that, completely absurdly, what is good or not is TOTALLY IN THE HANDS OF THE CUSTOMS AGENT.

At one time I had to abandon a complete Apple/// (including monitor), obtained from eBay for around $50, because the customs agent didn't believe a 30kg item shipped from USA could be worth only ~€50 and no document I could provide convinced him; I even risked a fine by saying "Should I fake a document stating I paid €500 for it?".


SHIPPING BY GROUND

Anything shipped by ground is quite likely to come from the EU, so there shouldn't be customs involved, but that's not the case. Ground-shipped items end up in Cuneo customs or Trieste customs no matter what; there, any package with a valid declared value and content is going to pass thru without difficulties -- although sometimes the customs (especially Cuneo) will take the trouble to send you a letter by ordinary mail asking you if you're willing to pay the fees (in this case you MUST FAX or send a "Lettera Raccomandata" with your signature. Even if they provide a phone number, a phone call will not be accepted. If the reply is not quick enough, the package is automatically abandoned - this may well happen because the letter they sent you took one month to arrive and when you get the chance to reply is too late already). For any package whose fee less than €8, you're quite likely to have a surcharge labeled "Costi di Gestione postale" which will raise the total fee around that amount. If the package is not "adequately" labeled, you will receive the usual letter, with a form that asks you to provide (as usual via FAX or "Lettera Raccomandata") a "Classe Merceologica", a price and sometimes a proof of purchase. They're generally far more flexible than the Genova customs, but you can still have some troubles (if something you provide is not compliant, they will often reply via ordinary mail -- and you still face the problem of receiving the letter too late). I actually lost an Apple Lisa serial card in this way: the letter asking for class and price arrived two weeks after the deadline for the reply.


SHIPPING BY AIR

Air mail for the northern Italy arrives at the Bergamo customs. Any package with a reasonable price and description is going to pass thru without difficulties. Items with customs fees up to €30 are shipped right away, more than that and you have to confirm with the usual FAX or "Lettera Raccomandata". The problem with the confirmation letter, obviously still holds...

It is worth to note that items shipped with express couriers are often exempt from these troubles, or at least from the most excruciating details of the rituals, as the couriers' agents are going to provide enough details by themselves of simply ask the recipient via a phone call. Large couriers also have "their" customs agents right inside the ports and airports, providing for an "expressway" thru the procedures.


Weird still gets weirder...

- The declared value of a package is often deemed to be "inadequate" only by the size or weight of the package.

- It is illegal to open for inspection a package addressed to an individual, whereas it is perfectly legal to do the same to a package addressed to a company.

- Even if it is illegal, it was quite common for unusual (in size, shape or even PRICE) packages addressed to individuals to be opened and inspected, and you were not going to receive a "Rapporto di Ispezione" NOR a "Mandato di Perquisizione"/"Ingiunzione di Ispezione", even if you should receive BOTH in case of inspection of your package. This practice is decreasing in entity in the last years, but five-eight years ago (well before the terrorism scare), almost every packages I received was opened and inspected -- more often than not, something was damaged or marred during inspection and no report was ever filled.

- The Italian laws actually allow transactions between individuals involving used/recycled items to be exempted from custom fees.

- The customs seem to spend a so insane amount of resources in tracking and checking small packages, that they've no resources left for the large freights: you can (in fact, you really MUST) enter the cargo side of the Caselle airport with your truck to pick up your 300kg freight and all you need is to sign a piece of paper. If you have all your informations and timings right you can have the freight unloaded from the plane straight to your truck.


So...

You should remember these facts when an Italian buyer needs more time to provide a feedback or just to say "Thank you, the package arrived today".

Most of the time, the customer asking the seller to provide false informations (lower prices, etc), or to use the least expensive shipping method is just an inexperienced buyer that realized (after the deal) that the bargain he obtained, after handling/shipping/customs extras is not going to be so much a bargain after all.


Do Italians believe to know better?

There is indeed a certain minority of people in Italy that seems believe to be above the law:

People who still sell items on eBay asking payment via a "Ricarica PostePay" (even if this payment method has been declared illegal by eBay more than a year ago).

People who still believe it is their right to download anything they want with eDonkey.

People who still believe they can tell you how much you should charge them for shipping/packaging/handling or even the item itself.

People who offer you a lower price on an item or service in exchange of not providing you a legal "Fattura" or "Ricevuta Fiscale".

People who ask you to sell them items without a legal "Fattura" or "Ricevuta Fiscale" and with a lower price, with the rationale that you're not going to pay taxes in that way.


But, believe me. Not all the Italians are like that. Most of them are not, no matter how much movies on the Italian Mafia or N'drangheta Hollywood is going to crank out.


So, please, now that you know "how it works" don't stop shipping to Italy on the basis of a bad experience.


#42

Quote:

Do Italians believe to know better?

There is indeed a certain minority of people in Italy that seems believe to be above the law:

People who still sell items on eBay asking payment via a "Ricarica PostePay" (even if this payment method has been declared illegal by eBay more than a year ago).

People who still believe it is their right to download anything they want with eDonkey.

People who still believe they can tell you how much you should charge them for shipping/packaging/handling or even the item itself.

People who offer you a lower price on an item or service in exchange of not providing you a legal "Fattura" or "Ricevuta Fiscale".

People who ask you to sell them items without a legal "Fattura" or "Ricevuta Fiscale" and with a lower price, with the rationale that you're not going to pay taxes in that way.


But, believe me. Not all the Italians are like that. Most of them are not, no matter how much movies on the Italian Mafia or N'drangheta Hollywood is going to crank out.


So, please, now that you know "how it works" don't stop shipping to Italy on the basis of a bad experience.


Oy yes, this is so true. I sometimes travel to Italy, and frankly speaking, this is for me the country where the people are the most honest, good mannered and friendly.

Some years ago, I forgot to take the Ricevuta after having drank a ristretto at the bar. The guy was really mad at me.

#43

You say:
"So, please, now that you know "how it works" don't stop shipping to Italy on the basis of a bad experience. "

My reply:
I will continue to sell to anyone from any country. I'll just make sure they understand the process when I ship something. Your description will be a good template. Thanks.

Mike

#44

Only tangentially related:

What's the best method of shipping to foreign nations? Is Global Priority Mail the best way (assuming one can package the items in a box for under 4 pounds)? Or should one use Airmail Parcel Post? Any suggestions?


#45

I can only talk about my experience. I live in Spain and for me the best shipping method is USPS Flat Rate Enveloppe, the problem is it can't be insured and you can only send what fits the size and weight. It's not strange to receive on thursday or friday an item send from USA on monday or tuesday. I haven't missed any single shipping.

Following with the thread about customs, they asked once (long time ago) for an invoice for a free software upgrade, I contacted the software firm and they didn't believe me, the disks were returned and then they realize I was telling the truth. And about the delays, I receive the Post customs notice directly through the post, I fax the invoice and usually next day I have my package. Once, in Christmas, it took more than a month to receive it after claiming for it twice. The custom is only 200 km away.

#46

The buyer "cancelled" the dispute. I hope that means the drive has finally arrived. If it has, it took 5 weeks. I asked a couple of times to verify that it arrived but he hasn't replied to any of my emails. Maybe he's not getting them.

Anyway, if he reads this, thanks.


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