One of the joys of real, traditional shaving is buying and using stuff from all over the world. Arko from Turkey, Godrej from India, vintage Gillete razors from America and badger shaving brushes from China are all prime examples of goodies that come in the post. And mostly they are unmolested by government, the postman just delivers them with a smile.
So I was surprised to receive a letter from Parcelforce the other day telling me that they were holding a parcel and that it was necessary to pay £14.72 tax and £13.50 clearance fee to release it. A total of £28.22. The letter said: “Parcelforce are unable to enter into disputes regarding Customs charges”, so I was left with no option but to pay up.
The parcel was from Hong Kong and has a customs declaration on it for HK$70. Now there are 12.3 HK$ to the pound, so this parcel is worth £5.69, which is a fifth of the value that the government took out of me.
The Hong Kong SpeedPost label on the parcel values it at $100, presumably in case it was lost. So this is what I think happened, some uneducated jobsworth saw the $100 and thought that it meant US$, despite the parcel coming from Hong Kong, where they use HK$. So he slapped the tax on me.
On the letter it says that queries can be addressed by ringing 02476 212860. Try it. It is always “engaged”, or, more likely, off the hook. But there is another way, they give an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
to which I duly sent a missive, only to receive this automated reply: “Thank you for your email. Currently the
email@example.com facility has been suspended until further notice.”
So now the only option is to write them a snailmail letter, if I can find the right address somewhere, because there isn’t one in the letter. Then take it to the post office and wait. And frankly it isn’t worth it. I am banging my head against an impenetrable bureaucracy who can, effectively, demand any payment they randomly feel like on an incoming parcel, to which Parcelforce add their “clearance fee”.
The only good news out of this is that it doesn’t happen very often.