Prepaid customs fees on international warranty shipment

TLDR: Has anyone received a component under warranty with customs fees prepaid by Purism?

If you’ve done business in various banana republics worldwide, you know that it’s routine for customs to simply say that they “disagree” with the value on the invoice. Usually, the value they then determine to be agreeable is almost always double what’s on the invoice.

(Seems they get paid the same, whether you get your package or not, including the so called “customs clearance agents” of DHL, where I’ve most encountered this issue. So, they have nothing to lose by trying to get double the duty, but something to gain, if the victims actually agree to pay it.
If you try to dispute it, even with proof from the manufacturer, they simply say that the assessed value can’t be changed, once it’s in the system. And it’s “in the system” before they send their bill to you.
Their attitude in the end is “take it, or leave it” and they stonewall further argument simply by not responding.
To go speak with them in person, especially in this virus environment, is very difficult, because they are in the secure areas of the airports.)

I’ve never paid such extortion just on principle; whenever I face that, I tell customs to either return the package to sender, or destroy it.

The only way I’ve found to avoid that, is to have the shipper prepay the customs duty.
With a component being shipped under warranty, that seems even more fair.

After a couple of weeks of double checking with the “Ops folks”, Purism support told me that “Unfortunately it
doesn’t look like we have the ability to pre-charge for customs fees.”

No other details or explanation - much less factual support - for this assertion was offered by support - basically in the same “take it, or leave it” attitude that customs has.

Trying to reach the “Ops folks” at this stage, but has anyone here had all their costs actually covered by Purism on an international warranty shipment from them?

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I don’t speak for Purism …

but I think the problem that every smaller company has is that there are about 200 countries in the world, all with different rules about product categories, customs rates, calculation methodologies, fixed fees, other taxes, special cases and exemptions, …

Even if a company is on top of the exact rules at an exact moment in time, it would still be a task to keep on top of changes as and when they occur all around the world - and calculating it incorrectly could be more damaging than not calculating it at all.

So it is much more practical not to include government charges in the invoice price and instead let the government or its agent calculate it at the border and then extort you for it.

You haven’t said which particular banana republic :slight_smile: you are in, but obviously it would be more practical for a smaller company to get on top of it for a small number of high-volume customer countries than to get on top of it for all countries. If you are located in such a high-volume customer country then it would help your case.

It is unclear whether the original statement means “our IT systems don’t have this capability”, which may be a factual statement, or you expect someone to get out a calculator and do it all (correctly) by hand and then override the system with the adjustment, which itself may or may not be an IT system capability. There are good reasons not to allow random adjustments to the invoice price.

I haven’t looked into this in detail but I think there is another problem - prepaying it may not be good enough. You may have to interface with the IT systems of customs in the destination country, so that they are expecting the parcel, and so that they can cross-reference the arriving parcel with their systems (and with a pre-payment). No doubt, again, countries have incompatible IT systems in customs. So even more questions would arise as to whether anyone’s “IT systems have this capability”.

Please have a look at the our shop pages which have a pretty clear statement about this:

We can ship pretty much anywhere, and offer free international shipping, but the customer is responsible for customs clearing/duties, and local taxation. International shipments may be subject to customs processing and additional charges, customs policies vary from country to country, therefore you should contact your local customs office for more information. When customs clearance procedures are required, it can cause delays in arrival.

We sincerely try to do our very best within the legal boundaries to reduce or even avoid additional cost for the customers but in the end local import fees are not covered by our “free shipping” policy, sorry. So to make this very clear, up front customs duty payment by Purism does not happen because this is very explicitly not covered by our “free shipping”.

Concerning RMAs in special, yes, this is a PITA for all of us and we have been haggling with carriers like DHL how to handle and properly declare RMA shipments so that customers won’t have to pay import fees over and over again. Please believe me when I say that we have been doing this back and forth for years now but it still remains a gamble. But that’s all we can do to help.



I really would appreciate at least a “local shop” or distribution partner within the EU to avoid the overly complicated customs clearance procedures and RMA issues for goods with a value above 1000 EUR (abt. 1100 USD).

I have had an RMA with another US-based company this year and it was a nightmare (costs more time and nerves than I gained from the product)…

Totally agree and feel your pain - been there, done that myself many times (which makes it so much more obvious why the European Union has such high value, 30 years ago I had a small business in Germany and sold computers and at that time exporting to e.g. France was the exact same pain).

We, i.e. Purism, have been thinking about such a fulfillment hub within the EU for quite some time but this is a larger enterprise than you would kind of naively expect and that’s exactly why we are still struggling with implementing it. The will is totally not the issue here, it is more the tremendous effort it takes if you want to do it right (and not just rent a half legalized warehouse like many Chinese sellers e.g. via eBay who do not care about local regulations at all).



@ all - and let’s not forget that the world we live in is based on the PULL principle … the bigger and more “rooted” PROPRIETARY companies tend to have PULL with the individual-state governments …

also just FYI - DHL stands for >

long live the multinationals … :mask: