Lauren has already written about UPS’s sleazy practice of slapping a “customs clearance” fee on ground shipments from the USA to Canada; people who are clued-in to this just don’t use UPS Ground any more. Well, as of last week, I’m not using UPS Express either; here’s why.
A couple of days ago I wrote about how after a certain amount of irritation, I found someone intelligent at Ricoh to talk with about my malfunctioning GX100; she faxed me a form to fill out and an address to send the camera and form to; a repair/logistics specialist that I guess Ricoh is outsourcing this too.
Since my regular office-services place is a “UPS Store”, the default shipping option was UPS, and the price seemed right, so I packaged the camera up and sent it off. A couple of days later, I tracked the package on the UPS website, and it said “Recipient has declined delivery, package will be returned to sender”. So I called up Ricoh and they called up the repair facility and got this:
It was refused because the package was marked ‘Prepaid’ by the shipper. When international packages are marked in this way, it is possible for us or Ricoh to be charged for the customs duties.
I called the UPS store and said “WTF?” They were puzzled too; “prepaid” just means that I’d paid the UPS charges. They called UPS HQ and ascertained that indeed no customs charges were applicable, which is what you’d expect when sending something for repair. I called Ricoh back with the news, and after a couple of more back-and-forths, she called me back to say they’d accept the delivery.
But she copied me on the email trail; here are a couple of excerpts:
Just an FYI—UPS always states there are no fees for duties/taxes and then send us a bill a month later. This is why we have started refusing any shipment coming in as Prepay Paid.
This has been an on-going issue with UPS and this is why we made this policy.
So, bear in mind: If you ship anything trans-border via UPS, it may get bounced, the cause being what really looks like generally sleazy UPS behavior.
I think I’ll just steer clear in future.