Thanks for the information!
It seems strange that I have never been hit with brokerage fees before after several years of international importing. Is it possible the shipper shipped using a method that forced the fees onto me, instead of being covered in the shipping cost? (ie... did they ship using a cheapo method and pushed part of their shipping cost onto me?)
Yes thats exactly what happened. Canadian buyers are most often affected by this because UPS offers a lot of services to Canada (various overnight and then 2 and 3 day services) and then some service called Standard to Canada. ALL of the other services include the shipper paying for the brokerage fees. Standard does not. But because standard is so much cheaper than the next class of service (sometimes even less expensive than USPS), most people ship standard which doesnt include brokerage fees. UPS used to tell canadians that they had to pay these brokerage fees and couldnt clear their version of CBP themselves and UPS ended up getting in some trouble for this misinformation. (Do a google search for canada UPS brokerage fees).
It is the same for Mexico, but for the rest of the world, you have your UPS high priority services, Early AM, Late AM, Early PM, etc. Then you have your Worldwide Saver, Expedited and Express. I can never remember what order the last 3 go in because I only use Saver unless it has t be there sooner in which case I use one of the fancy ones. But, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, the lowest class of service whichever it is, DOES NOT INCLUDE BROKERAGE FEES. So take my last shipment to Italy for example. UPS Saver was $110 and some change, and UPS (Express/expedited, whichever the lowest class is) was $101 and some change. The service speed was actually exactly the same (saver is guarenteed, express/expedited is not *SEE NOTE BELOW*) but the difference is in the brokerage fees. Had I shipped the lower class, yes I would have saved myself $9, but my buyer would probably have had to pay $30 in brokerage fees so I havent actually saved us any money.
Now, most of my european businesses that are buying electronic components from me have VAT numbers. So it gets to customs, UPS brokers it for them, and customs charges their VAT account which I presume they pay off every month, 2 weeks etc. If they do not have a VAT number, UPS will collect the duty upon delivery (UPS fronts customs the cash to pay the duty to release it from bond, a part of the brokerage service). If there was no brokerage service inclulded in the service you bought to ship, then the buyer would have to pay duties AND ADDITIONALLY brokerage fees upon reciept of the item. They can of course refuse the brokerage service, but the item then gets taken back to customs and sits there until the buyer clears the item himself (I think they have an electronic way of doing it in Europe) and then UPS delivers the item back to his house once the item is once again released from customs. With the second method, there is no guarantee of customs being cleared in a timely manner as it sits with the rest of the mailstream. Think of it as the first class line at the airport.
***the note here. The reason saver and higher services are guaranteed is precisely because you have already paid for the brokerage service so they know they are taking care of it for you and they know how long it takes them to clear something. If you use the other service, the buyer could refuse brokerage and the package get stuck in customs for weeks so no money-back gurarantee for meeting a certain deliver date.
Any more clear now?
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