Difficulty getting Barbie doll gift from Canada

Tell Claudienne

with Claudienne Edwards

Sunday, August 18, 2019

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Dear Claudienne,

I have a retired friend living in Vancouver, Canada, who spends her time making gifts for friends using supplies obtained from a crafts store. On May 27,2019, she sent me a Barbie doll with a dress she made herself. It cost her Canadian $201.47 to send it by UPS to Jamaica.

When the package arrived on May 30, 2019, a TARA delivery person came to my house and had me sign on a tablet using my finger instead of a pen to acknowledge I received an air waybill. In return, instead of receiving the doll, I was handed the air waybill with the UPS logo on it stating I had to clear the package before I could get delivery.

The form had a phone number and an e-mail address to which I could respond.

I tried for two days to call the number, but each time there was a message that the mailbox was full, thus I couldn't leave a message. I sent two e-mails to the address listed on the form.

It took two e-mails for them to respond. What they asked for was J$4,500 + GCT, and a handling charge of JA$1,000. Duty and storage charges would also be added once they were determined. In addition, they want me to send my TRN number which I refused to do through an e-mail.

I have received numerous packages from abroad in the past 17 years I have lived here, and never once was I charged anything. Some of those items were furniture parts and plumbing parts directly from US businesses. I have also received food and clothing from friends without any questions. Why am I now being asked to pay for something that was a gift? My friend was never told by UPS in Canada that there would be charges at my end.

The declared value of the doll is Canadian $99.00. Why do I need a customs broker for an item of that value? Why was the package kept in Kingston when it was addressed to me in Montego Bay? What are the handling charges for? Why should I be paying for storage? It appears to me that it is their fault for having the package go into storage. They are saying the importer is responsible for these charges. We did not import this doll! It was sent to us as a gift!

My friend has been trying to get answers in Canada, but they are not very forthcoming. The best she could do is have us try from here. The UPS representative in America finally passed all our correspondence on to the local UPS representative in Jamaica and all they could do was give me two additional phone numbers. I tried those for two days and got the same result as when I tried originally.

Any help would be most appreciated.

JC

Dear JC

Because the Public Relations Department of Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) prefers to communicate directly with people experiencing problems with Customs, Tell Claudienne gave you the phone number and e-mail address of the public relations (PR) manager for you to relate your case to her.

You have indicated to Tell Claudienne that you received the following response from the JCA Public Relations Department:

“Good morning Mr JC,

Please be advised that the relevant checks were made with the Customs location, and UPS/Tara Courier is waiting on your instruction to clear the item, or whether you will come to the Kingston location (NMIA) to do same. Once the directive is given to the courier to clear the item, then it will be delivered to you in Montego Bay. As mentioned in my previous e-mail the item is over the US50.00 threshold, therefore relevant duties and fees apply.

The item attracts: import duty – 20 per cent, GCT – 16.5 per cent, environmental levy – 0.5 per cent, standard compliance fee – 0.3 per cent and a processing fee of $2,500. All fees are calculated on the cost, insurance, and freight value.

May I suggest that in future Mr JC, that you contact the Agency prior to receiving gifts or items to ascertain requisite duties and fees which may apply. This will allow you to be in an informed position prior to the purchase or receipt of a gift.

If you have further questions feel free to contact us.”

You sent Tell Claudienne the following e-mail after the Customs public relations wrote to you:

“This is their answer…She didn't address the brokerage fees stated earlier of $4500 or the storage fees for sitting in the warehouse for nearly two months. The doll was addressed to me in Montego Bay. Why should I have to go to Kingston to clear it? It has already cost me $1,300 to send the air waybill back to Tara. I don't understand what directive I need to give Tara. This is not cost-efficient for Tara to come to my house twice. It was also mentioned that I would have to pay a delivery fee. Why? When I moved here 17 years ago, I cleared customs in Montego Bay not Kingston. Does everyone who import a barrel go to Kingston to have it cleared? I think not! I read online that duty is 12 per cent not 20 per cent. What are all these other fees she mentioned?

Any time we have tried to get answers from Tara they would refer us to calling UPS SCS at the number on the air waybill. This was always the biggest issue as that number would always go unanswered. I had to write twice to the e-mail listed on this same air waybill before I was finally answered. That is when we were told about the $4,500 brokerage fee, and a $1,000 handling charge. They also asked for my TRN. I don't feel comfortable sending my TRN through an e-mail. It sounds to me like we are back to square one!”

Tell Claudienne has also been in communication with the senior director, executive services Jamaica Customs Agency and note that she telephoned you. She said that she did not speak to you but had a lengthy conversation with your wife.

Your issues in regard to UPS sending your package to Kingston cannot be addressed by the Jamaica Customs Agency.

Tell Claudienne was unable to contact UPS but a TARA spokesman said that UPS is based in Kingston and does not have an office in Montego Bay. She said that all the UPS shipments to Jamaica go to the customs warehouse in Kingston. She said that once the shipments are cleared by Customs, “Tara will deliver the packages to anywhere in the island at no additional cost.”

Tell Claudienne notes that there were also issues regarding brokerage fees, but the Customs Agency said that brokerage fees would not be paid if the package was cleared by UPS and Tara on your behalf. Nonetheless, we see that you received the doll on August 13, 2019.

Your e-mail to Tell Claudienne on August 13, 2019 stated:

“The doll arrived today. There was some minor damage, but it can be fixed with a little glue. Customs is not gentle with their inspections. The package looked like some little kid wrapped it. The inside was just as messy. The important thing is we have the doll even though it has cost my friend nearly Can $600.00.

Thank you so much for your help in solving this matter.”

You have also pointed out that the problem originated at the UPS office in Vancouver, British Columbia. “They have admitted that they should have informed my friend of the fees, etc, when the package reached Jamaica.”

We wish you all the best.


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