Tag Archives: shipping

Who pays for shipping? FedEx, TI and overseas agents

Update: I lost this in my drafts folder for over a year!

I live in Iceland. It’s a nice place to live, but it’s small, so I often have to buy things from overseas, particularly in for hobby electronics gear, but anything small and cheap has this problem.

Now, let’s get this straight, I’m not complaining about customs or VAT. (Not today anyway) VAT here in Iceland is 25.5%, and is applied at the end, on top of shipping charges. Customs rate isn’t always as easy to work out.

Now, in this example, I bought a device from Texas Instruments, for $US4.99, or about 630 ISK. This was advertised as shipping included, worldwide. Add 25.5% VAT, 790 ISK. Not bad. So it arrived yesterday.

Now, what does that even mean? They’ve charged me ~473 ISK for “customs handling” It doesn’t seem to be anything like the VAT rate, or the VAT rate plus the customs rate. (FIXME – finish getting customs rate)

Customs officially don’t collect anything like this, they simply say that agents are allowed to charge for filing paperwork.

So, this seems to be some arbitrary amount they just felt like charging. Next we have 750 ISK for being “an unregistered customer.” Well, that sounds awesome. I didn’t choose this company, I ordered a product from Texas Instruments with shipping included. Who knows if it’s even possible to become a registered customer.

Then there’s VAT on those charges. So, a whole 120% charge (of original purchase) on being the wrong sort of customer and another 75% (of original purchase) for “handling”. I can’t actually see where they charge the VAT/Customs on the product itself, but the end result is that I’ve paid 170% of the original purchase ON TOP of the basic vat rate + the product price. (1345 ISK + 790 ISK)

How is this remotely reasonable for “shipping included” ? And who’s responsible? Texas Instruments clearly believes they paid FedEx, (or presumably FedEx wouldn’t accept the shipment?) I can only assume that FedEx delivers the package to Iceland, believing that they’ve been paid, but I have zero insight into what the deal is between the local agent (Hraðflutningar ehf)

I believe the party responsible is IceTransport. As they said earlier, local customs agents, defined here, are allowed to charge basically whatever they like. So they do. I presume they treat customers shipping outbound through them quite a lot better, but what are my options at the end of the day? I refuse to pay their arbitrary charges, they hold the parcel, and they’ve already been paid by FedEx/Texas Instruments? So they bin the package, and are already in front? Or do I just suck it up, and pay through the nose? They’re both distasteful.

Customs official answer on handling charges:


Packaging samples and small orders: Sensiron

Following on from yesterday’s post about Microchip’s samples packaging, today we have Sensiron. No handling charges, so no risk of any VAT charges from customs nazis here. And delightfully, the samples came just in a regular business envelope, inside a little sleeve of bubble wrap. This was just happily posted through the letterbox like any other mail, instead of being held by the aforementioned customs nazis for a few days while they searched for a receipt to bill VAT from. WIN!

Sensiron samples packaging - 1xDFN6

Sensiron samples packaging - 1xDFN6

Packaging samples and small orders: Microchip

I’ve gotten a few samples from various companies over the years, or in various cases, bought a couple of parts direct from the manufacturer. It often amuses me the huge differences in packaging levels between the various manufacturers. I’ve got a few things recently, while looking for some particular parts, so I thought I’d run a short series on how some companies stack up.

Microchip sent me four SOT23 devices in this nice small cardboard box below. This is fine, and I might even find a use for the box again, but because it came in a box, customs here in Iceland held it up for a few days searching for a receipt. (first from me, and then inside the parcel when I couldn’t provide one) On the bright side, the parts list inside the box didn’t list the “handling” charge they charge for all samples, so customs didn’t try and charge me VAT. Small miracles :)

A simple envelope with maybe a sleeve of bubbles would have been plenty, but this is fine really. Nothing to complain about :)

Microchip samples package - 4xSOT23

Microchip samples package - 4xSOT23

Adafruit shipping costs == (unintentional) price padding.

Update: 2010-03-19.  You should probably read the comments, as well as the post after this.  Adafruit fully refunded all shipping, something I never asked for, but much more usefully, they overhauled their shipping weights calculator.  This a Good Thing™  My original order now calculates out to 0.9 pounds including packaging, or 43% less than originally.  (Still a touch high, but nothing to complain about, and as long as they still want to work in fractional pounds, it’s probably as good as can reasonably be expected)

Original below…..

So, adafruit make some great products, and ladyada.net is a great resource.  That said, their shipping (at least internationally) is rather obscene.  I recently received a parcel charged for 1.6 lbs USPS shipping, $18.52.  Ok, that’s pretty much what USPS says for shipping with an allowance for packaging.  No big deal.

Until I thought about how much 1.6 lbs really was. And what the parcel actually weighed.  (I’m sorry, I don’t have a weight before I opened it up.)

  • 2x XBee adapator kit, in packaging.  12g each  ==> let’s be generous and say 40g.
  • 1x half size breadboard. 40g  ==> let’s say 50g
  • 8xmagnets, wrapped in paper, another 50g  ==> let’s say 100g!
  • 1x padded envelope ==> 50g, let’s say 100g again!

So, even being generous, I’m up to…..300g. 0.66lbs. not 0.75 lbs.  Not 1.  Certainly not 1.5, and one hell of a long way from 1.6!

So, really, this just pushes me to get my board designs finished up so I don’t have to use her xbee adaptor boards anymore.  And, adafruit just goes on the list of companies with rather less than ideal international shipping policies.

(digikey still takes the cake for screwing international customers as best they can though)