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I have received many messages of support for my criticism against UPS. Other messages condemn my criticism.
But some messages defy categorization. Here they are. In some cases, I quote those messages (without editing). In others, I merely describe them. The messages are in chronological order with the latest at the bottom of this page.
This is the first message I ever received in defense of customs brokers. Originally, I considered this as criticism of my complaint against UPS. An additional message from Michael made me move this message to this page.
Subject: UPS Joke
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 00:37:41 -0700
This website is a joke right? Listen Bub. You are required to file a customs entry for your imported merchandise and pay duty — if applicable. This is common sense. How else would the government know what's coming in and out of its own border? Ninety nine percent of individuals that import anything hire a Customs Broker. The other 1% wishes they did. Filing an entry and is complex and hard work. You have to pay a broker to do it. And you build an entire internet site to complain about it? Wow. This is just amazing. Sounds like you're the kind of customer I would want to avoid.
Michael is a licensed customs broker in southern California who apparently thinks I am attacking his career. No, I am attacking the abuses perpetuated by United Parcel by its use of its own internal customs brokers. The worst abuse is charging brokerage fees in excess of the value of the shipment, far more than the customs duties and taxes collected for the Canadian government. Perhaps, it UPS were required to use independent customs brokers instead of making brokerage a profit-center within UPS, these abuses might end.
Under Canadian law, Heather's package was to enter Canada duty-free. It was marked in accord with instructions from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (a Canadian government agency). In this case a customs broker should not have been involved.
For items sent through the U.S. Postal Service and Canada Post, customs declarations are not at all complicated. I have mailed a number of packages to Heather. Each time, I complete a small, stick-on form. Bringing items with me when I visit Heather, I find the declarations equally simple. Customs brokers have not been involved in either situation. No, I am not shipping an automobile, lumber, meat, or live animals, which might indeed be so complicated as to require brokers.
After the above was posted on my Web site, I received the following from Michael:
Subject: RE: UPS Joke
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2006 18:04:40 -0700
Thank you for your review. It's a little one sided. But that's okay. However just so you know, your personal effects shipment did legally require a customs entry. And I do agree with you 100% that UPS should have notified you of the charge before-hand. There is absolutely no excuse for that. I notify my clients on every single charge. All costs are totally accounted for. They have to be. Any charge that's left out and I will (and have) take care of it.
Poor service from UPS, specifically on international shipments, is nothing new. If you are heavily involved in import/export you would have to be a fool to use them. It is the main reason there are so many smaller outfits that make up the bulk of the international shipping market. UPS dangles those dirt cheap rates to price us out on every level but overall to this day it still has not worked. I would say their prices are 15%-20% lower than mine. Imagine owning your own planes and space on ships and you still cannot get more control in International market? That's weird. Bad Service is the only reason I can think of.
And just so you know — The reason your other entries are so easy (as you said), is because they are considered "passenger entries". Those are really easy. You don't need a broker. However quite beneath me; as I only deal with large commercial cargo and complicated issues. So if you know of anyone shipping some cows from Canada please let me know.
Anyways — I do agree that UPS should have disclosed the Customs Broker charge. It is common sense from their part. And I'm sure your situation is not the first I'll bet.
From: "Sanish" <email@example.com>
Subject: UPS fees
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 14:03:54 -0500
Hi, I recently bought a Jersey off eBay. Things were pretty smooth, the jersey and shipping cost me $35. I got my jersey, paid for shipping, life is good. Or not. About a week later, I recieve an invoice saying i have to pay brokerage fees, entry prep fees and what not, totalling $22. Now I have the item, so I was wondering if i still have to pay? Will they chase me, because i did NOT know about these fees, and I have the item, and an extra $22 out of my wallet is the last thing I need.
Note that UPS wanted a brokerage fee equal to 62% of the total cost of the item and shipping it.
Here is my reply. I hope my advice to Sanish does not get him into trouble.
To: "Sanish" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: UPS fees
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 14:32 -0800
I assume you are in Canada and the jersey was shipped from the U.S.
If you are in British Columbia, contact the law firm of Poyner Baxter LLP. They filed a class-action lawsuit against UPS over this issue.
If you are in any other province, is there a federal or provincial consumer-protection agency you can contact?
In the meantime, don't pay the brokerage. If UPS contacts you, tell them to collect from the seller or eBay since you purchased the item and already paid the seller for ALL shipping costs.
In the future, of course, demand that all items be shipped US Postal Service and Canada Post (after explaining why). If a seller insists on shipping UPS or FedEx from the US to Canada, ask the seller to prepay the customs brokerage fees.
Dan seems to have a lot of pent-up anger. But his rant — filled with non sequiturs — doesn't defend UPS. Instead, he keeps defending the U.S., which he seems to think I am criticizing. I am not! My complaint is against a private corporation, the United Parcel Service. UPS is not the U.S.
My responses are inserted between Dan's paragraphs.
From: "Dan" <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 13:14:38 -0500
I have two questions for you. Have you ever served in the U.S. Military and if you think Canada is so great, why don't you move there, thus making the U.S. just a little bit better for the rest of us.
Although I've never been in the military, I spent over 30 years of my career serving the military by working for defense contractors. That service provided the military with vital intelligence and communications capabilities. The U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf War both made extensive use of my work. Although I've been retired for over four years, much of my work is still being used by the military.
I never said Canada is better than the U.S. Only the lack of disclosure of the additional fees for customs brokerage occurred in the U.S. The other problems I describe actually occurred within UPS's Canadian operations.
As for your preference in being called David, don't you think it's time to grow up and act like a man?
You signed your message "Dan". You thereby expressed a preference for how you should be named. I respect that, and I don't refer to you as "Danny". I expect the same respect from you.
As for your concerns with the carriers and the other ridiculous things you have a problem with in the U.S. that Canada does so well, why don't you get a life and wake up and realize that there has always been a price for freedom.
What does this have to do with UPS holding my daughter's shipment for ransom? My daughter paid none of the brokerage fee to either Canada or the U.S. She paid it to UPS, which kept the fee for itself. Thus, none of it was paid to protect anyone's freedom. It was only paid to protect UPS's profits. Putting up with extortionate businesses is not part of the price for freedom.
Post my comments on your website.
I did, with my responses.
Dan — A proud Vietnam Veteran!!!!
It appears that the sender of the following message doubts the truth about my complaint against UPS.
Subject: Your webpage
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 22:30:56 -0500
Why don't you post copies of the UPS shipping bills? You could black out your addresses, but it would prove your case that you didn't know about the brokerage fees.
However, news reports on the CBC (government-owned Canadian Broadcast Corporation); E-mails from others; and lawsuits filed in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec confirm that what happened to my daughter has happened repeatedly to others.
Updated 22 April 2008