International Quandary

I have an interesting dilemma I wanted to share that may help others in their future purchases/sales.

I shared this situation briefly in another thread which discussed international fees/customs charges. Recently, there was a buyer who wanted to purchase a card for $500-600. They messaged me and wondered if they could purchase it and have the item marked as “gift”. This is something that is technically illegal, but realistically, everyone has done it at some point. That is not justifying it, but emphasizes the reality that most people do it on a regular basis.

After confirming that the card would be sent as gift, it was shipped Express Mail (USPS) which always has full tracking and typically takes about 3-7 days to reach its destination. Unfortunately, it is almost reaching a month, and the card has not left US customs… This is the dilemma. What should the buyer expect in this situation if the card is indeed lost or never arrives? They are aware that they requested the item to be marked as gift, to avoid fees, which would eliminate the possibility of insuring the card.

Essentially, the dilemma is: should I, or the seller in this situation, feel obligated to refund the funds? Typically I always insure items over $100. However, I know international buyers do not like paying fee’s (stating the obvious). I am interested to see what others think, as I believe that the buyer should be responsible, as they made the request, but maybe I am missing something.

How did you get the Illustrator shipped? Did you mark that at full value or was that a gift? :blush:

It was marked and insured for the full amount.

Ah I see. What is import insurance like in the US? It’s 20% in the UK :slightly_frowning_face:

In this instance, I would think both buyer and seller are responsible. While the buyer made the request to mark it as gift, the seller could have declined but most likely the transaction wouldn’t have gone ahead. Both buyer and seller benefitted by marking the package as gift. A lot of us face the same dilemma. My opinion only.

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I will accommodate the buyer with both the “gift” option AND a very low customs value so they can save a ton of money in duty fees BUT THEY MUST TAKE 100% RESPONSIBILITY if lost. They must send the money via Paypal friends/family too and ill ship for free since I’m saving that 3.9% and can pass that savings on to them,.
If the buyer doesn’t want to take that chance, then they can pay full duty and have it shipped normally.

Since the buyer asked for the gift option, they knew the risks, so any loss is on their part. I know you’ll feel bad about it, but that’s the right business move. They tried to cheat the system, but the system won.

I understand your point of view Nestor. But it does not really benefit the seller to send it as gift. Actually, I would sleep much better at night knowing I insured the package.

Gary and Daelum, that is exactly what I thought as well when I went into everything. The buyer got a bit aggressive, threatening to open a claim through paypal, which is why this is a conundrum. The thought of loosing $500-600 for doing the buyer a favor is an absolute nightmare.

Maybe split it 50/50? Although to be fair if the seller agreed and knew the risks then they don’t have a leg to stand on. Although if you sold it through eBay/Paypal then if he hasn’t received his item you’ll likely lose which sucks.

No 50/50. The seller should sell in such a way that he is fully protected against loss or fraud.
If buyer wants a favor, and the seller complies, then the buyer must accept the responsibility if granted that favor.

Now are there exceptions? Sure, but that is totally up to the seller. If the item isn’t too expensive then ill usually just send another one or refund just for good relations.

Just make sure your buyer understands exactly what the result will be if a problem occurs:)

Gary it takes two to tango. If selling via eBay/Paypal, the seller is saving more than 3.9% in fees. It’s more like 14% in combined fees. Most of the time, sellers are not just doing buyers a favor, but sellers also want to sell their cards, specially high end expensive ones.

If the buyer wants a ‘gift’, then he pays using Paypal gift. If the item gets lost, the buyer has no claim.

Ah I see what you are saying Nestor, but I wasn’t referring to gift payment, I was referring to marking an item as gift on the customs form. Marking an item as gift on a customs form is a favor for the buyer but a risk for the seller.

Scott, I’m not sure in the US so correct me if I’m wrong. If the transaction is done via eBay/Paypal, is the seller covered as long as acceptable proof of shipping is available and that it was sent to the registered address of the buyer, regardless of how you marked the package?

The seller is covered if there is full tracking, which Express Mail has, but this item is most likely held in customs or worst case, lost. It has not updated since the 9th, where it left the US but does not show an update in the UK (it’s destination).

Except when a buyer purchases off auction they pay the much cheaper off auction price…not the eBay price;) I’d much prefer to sell on eBay and follow all rules cause then Me and the buyer are both protected. But then the buyer has to pay those customs fees:(

Just saw this.
Your right…the buyer wants to save on customs fees then they give up the right to file a claim. I’ve had to make that decision many times and certainly took responsibility for my decisions.

That is a long delay Scott but its not a record;) Was that an express mailer?

Yes, it was shipped in an express flat rate mailer. I am trying to remain optimistic, but I have never had an express package delayed this long.

If its was going to the UK did you try tracking it on the parcelforce website with the USPS tracking number? As they usually issue a UK tracking number as soon as a parcel arrives in the UK and it get updated here.

I have had quite a few USPS express parcels stop being updated as soon as they leave USA but they get delivered.

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Wow! It literally shows that it entered the UK hub today. It looks like they added a Great Britain tracking number. Hopefully it arrives without any other delays.

And thanks a lot for that Ali! :blush: