I bought some clothes online from a store based in the UK, shipped to the US. Is this surprise customs/duty/shipping charge normal?
I made a really large order of clothing from an online store in the UK. For me, really large is ~$500. I got a good deal, I was going to maybe return things that didn't fit and eat the shipping costs. Fine.
I paid for express shipping which may have been a mistake.
Yesterday I received a voicemail from a customer service person from a customer service agency on behalf of Aramex shipping co. They said to email Aramex referencing my tracking number. The email I received in reply said that my order had cleared customs and they were holding my package pending a $150 and change USD charge for the "customs clearance/duty charges" and once I paid it they could send me my package.
Um. I think that's a lot. More than I want to pay, and enough to make me kinda say "f it, send it back." The large website I ordered from appears to ship internationally very often and they said absolutely nothing about this sort of thing in the disclaimers, shipping info, terms and conditions, etc.
Googling "Aramex and customs charges" led to a few very angry comments about this sort of thing which suggested asking for a receipt, which I did. The customer service agent said this: "Not a receipt as the charges were not paid I can send you a credit card authorization form with the charges on it" and gave me a .doc file for me to fill out with my credit card info with the amount "$155.whatever" on a line. Didn't specify what the fee was actually for. It also says "This shipment will be transferred to a government warehouse at a minimum cost of $250.00 if not cleared through Customs within fifteen days from date of arrival."
I contacted the store I purchased from to ask about this and am kind of hoping for a "you poor dear, we'll pay that for you!" since I paid $15 to get expedited shipping and it was late. but I doubt it. I await their response ("within 48 hours" - but, holidays.)
I asked the shipping service agent if I refuse the charges, would they return it to the sender- and got the following response:
We will update our office in United Kingdom that it was refused we have to wait for them to advise us what to do with the shipment as we laid out the money for the customs clearance/duty charges so we have to be paid.
It sounds like it's not so simple for me to just refuse to pay the $150, because they might not actually return it to the sender, meaning I might not get a refund of my initial $500 shopping spree.
I've never experienced this before. Is this a standard thing? Is there any other info I should ask for from the shipping company? Will they return-to-sender if I refuse the charges?
I've done smaller (<$300) orders internationally before and never got this. Is it just because my order was so large? or is a 20%+ customs fee totally par for the course and am I just a crybaby who should shut up and pay her fee like a good consumer? thanks in advance!