Threat over £115 customs bill charged for bracket worth £12

I’ve been threatened with bailiffs over a £115 customs and VAT bill for a plastic bracket worth £12. Last December, I placed a £460 order for home automation equipment with German company, Loxhome 24. The order arrived minus the bracket, which was sent on in January. Before it arrived, I was told it would incur £111 in import duties, which made no sense. Then I realised the charges had been calculated against the entire order. Loxhome promised to send an updated invoice to its logistics partner to sort out the problem, but when a UPS delivery driver arrived he demanded the £111 upfront so I refused the delivery. Loxhome then told me that due to Brexit a delivery was not possible, and the parcel had to be sent back for a refund. That same day, the parcel was put through my door by UPS. I asked them to collect it and it has remained unopened. Six months later, a debt collector gave me seven days to pay £114.95. It looks like I have no choice, as I don’t want to risk a black mark against my credit score.
WK, Cumbria

If the offending bracket had arrived with the rest of the order you wouldn’t be in this pickle, because the original shipment was dispatched before the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December. VAT and import duty did not apply. Nor should they apply to the bracket, since import duty is only charged on goods worth more than £135 and import VAT on items more than £39.

UPS confirms what you suspected – that the bracket was shipped with the invoice for the entire order and so the duty was calculated accordingly. It says it did not receive a revised invoice, adding: “To help avoid surprises, we recommend shippers consult our website to understand what shipments are subject to customs duties and taxes.”

UPS didn’t comment on the fact that the parcel was redelivered after you had rejected it and Loxhome didn’t address the confusion of the invoice. Instead it blamed UPS for not returning the parcel to the sender.

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