Only on very rare occasions do I and any members of my family personally import anything from outside of Canada. A long time ago, I imported an item from the United States. In due course, the shipping carrier notified me that the item was about to cross the border and would have to clear customs. There were duties and taxes due and the carrier advised me that they could submit the item to a customs broker to clear it on my behalf with my permission and for a fee or I could go to my nearest Canada Customs (as Canadian Border Services was then called) office and clear it myself, only having to pay the actual duties and taxes due. Needless to say, I went to a Canada Customs office and cleared the item myself.
There seems to be a change is shipping carrier practice by which they have a very nice little (apparently legal) scam going for themselves. Recently, my son took two imports. The first, in May of this year, required a GST payment of $2.96, which was fair enough and anticipated. The carrier arrived at our door unannounced with the item and a demand for immediate COD payment of $18.45, the actual GST due puffed up 623% by so-called processing and transaction fees plus yet additional GST greater than the original amount due. Today, my son received the second import with $2.30 in GST due. Again, the carrier arrived at our door unannounced with the item and a demand for immediate COD payment of $17.78, the actual GST due puffed up 773% by so-called processing and transaction fees plus yet additional GST greater than the original amount due.
With each shipment, the shipping carrier did not notify my son that the item was about to cross the border and would have to clear customs. With GST due, the carrier never advised my son that he could either submit the item to a customs broker to clear it on his behalf with his permission and for a fee or go to our nearest Canadian Border Services office and clear it himself. The carrier imposed a presumption that it should act on my son’s behalf without ever requesting his permission to do so and demanded exorbitant payment for that presumption.
I have written appropriate Federal Government Ministers with a request to address this scam and ensure that Canadians always have the option to self-clear imports through customs and are not faced with inflated ‘fees’ in excess of taxes and/or duties due on personal imports.