I spent 329.99 on 3DR products nearly two months ago. I received the package a month and a half ago, all good this far.
Now today, a month and a half after FedEx dropped off the parts I get billed for $100 in import and customs fees!
I don't know if it is because I chose FedEx (on 3DR's recommendations) but I am feeling thoroughly ripped, this was a very expensive purchase for me (as a student)...getting a bill demanding 31% of my entire purchase nearly two months...
Moral of the story, factor in customs to your budget!
Jethro, are you in Canada?
Unfortunately it's just a risk you take when purchasing internationally. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I myself got hit with €75 in charges this week for a Pixhawk with GPS and telemetry importing it to Ireland. It essentially worked out around the same price as if I bough from a EU based reseller. I don't think you can blame 3DR for it as the money is most likely going to your government.
Rob, I am currently residing in France...
Francis, fully understand that. However these risks could have been made clearer before I hit the checkout button as I am on a tight budget and this was definitely NOT calculated in, I have no choice but to pay up or risk the situation escalating and 75 EURO is not small change. At least I have 21 days...
Sadly it is not up to the seller as to whether you get charged but your local customs and import office. Any import from another country maybe subject to import charges, clearance charges and customs duty. As the importer it is for you to establish the likely charges that will be made in your country, not the supplier who will often find it harder to establish your local costs. Charges can also change quite suddenly. This partly explains why local (ie EU suppliers) appear to charge so much more because they also have to pay the duty etc.
I would not be put off buying from overseas, but it may take a little time to discover what parcels get charged and what don't but even then there can be inconsistencies especially due to the descriptions of the goods on the customs declaration.
For me €75 isn't small change either but I suppose I've been buying stuff online long enough to know the risks. This was the first time I've actually been caught for import fees on anything.
3DR do have a disclaimer in their terms and conditions but I know I never actually read these things unless something goes wrong.
"For international orders, you are also responsible for any tariffs, taxes, fees, VAT, duties due upon receipt."
What makes it more annoying for you is that you probably though you got away with it. For me my postman wouldn't hand over the package until I paid him.
Jethro, I hardly think it's fair for you to blame 3DR for this. How much of the charge was simply VAT? There's nothing 3DR can legally do to avoid you having to pay the taxes your country assigns to all goods. Some amount of the charge may be Fedex's extortion charges for "brokerage" which is similar to that of UPS.
I think the real issue here is simply your inexperience at importing things. I always assumed that anything I import from the US would cost me double the list price, after accounting for exchange rate, shipping, and import fees. This is just how it is.
I almost exclusively ship through the post now, never UPS or Fedex if I can avoid it, because I refuse to patronize them for their ridiculous brokerage charges.
I don't blame 3DR at all, I have edited my post to reflect that, however it could have been clearer.
Sadly I get nailed every time by Fedex to South Africa that's why I try and avoid shipping with them if I can. Sometimes I wonder if Fedex are not just adding a little on for themselves. No other shipping company has such large fees added by customs.
Of course they're adding on a little for themselves. It's called a brokerage fee. They'll also add on administrative charges for things like "handling paperwork".
The true problem here is that the OP got caught out by a customs duty check. When you complete a shipping manifest you need to estimate the value of the goods being shipped. Most people grossly undervalue their shipments to try to minimise customs duty, because they know customs doesn't have the time or capability to inspect every single parcel. Most of the time you get away with it because they simply take the value written on the documentation and apply duty based on that. What happens if they open your parcel though and identify the value of its contents (not hard when they also know who you purchased it from). Then they calculate an import duty and appropriate taxes and charge that to the shipping agent. If it's a small amount, the agent will often cover the cost, collect and deliver the parcel, then bill you. Usually though the shipping agent contacts you and asks you to pay them, before they'll pay customs the appropriate fees. Throughout all of this they incur costs and so they pass them on to you (plus an additional margin, because hey, they're in the business of business, which is all about profit).
The moral of the story is don't import goods and expect to NOT pay customs duties and taxes. If you happen to get away with minimal charges, lucky you. If not, then you've done your bit to fund your governments coffers.
I originally paid 3DR $43.01 for FedEx to ship me a couple hundred grams of goods thinking that choosing insured over uninsured would be wise on such an expensive purchase...
The VAT to import goods to France is 20%. 20% of 323.99 is $64, FedEx is billing me for $100 so FedEx must be pocketing $46. $46 + the original $43.01 is $89.
So it cost me $89 to post a couple hundred grams of 3DR with FedEx.
That on top of the $64.79 VAT that I am SURE FedEx will make certain you get nailed with because, well that's just good business aint it?
I will never use FedEx again, this is palpable greed.
The problem is 3DR has not attempted to provide more local purchase options for intternational buyers.
Fedex prolly charged you the equivalent of $50 USD for filling in the VAT form or something like that. I know it happened to me when i ordered a hex to Australia from 3DR.
Im not complaining thats just the cost of living in the best country on earth.
Next time dont pay for insurance. Simply pay using your credit card and if something goes wrong put in a claim against your credit card provider. Its their responsibility that whatever you buy comes in working order, otherwise they must refund you aka its free insurance.