We just recieved our wonderful ceramics that we purchased in Italy. Before UPS would let me have them I had to pay a Brokerage fee of @60$. I e-mailed the shopkeeper who fired back that it was the VAT, and I had to pay it in either Italy or home. We have shipped things before and never had this happen. Can anyone explain this, or did I simply get taken? thanks, Jeff
I don't claim to be an expert in this area; but, in my experience, VAT is always included in the price you see, not added on at the register as in the U.S. In fact, you can get the VAT refunded if the items are going directly out of the EU. Therefore, it appears that you were the victim of a greedy merchant. Since there is little to be done about it at this point, I'd say just consider your ceramics to have cost $60 more than you thought, and don't let it spoil your enjoyment of them.
Jeff - I agree with Steve - it was probably a customs/handling fee. UPS should be able to explain and provide you documentation. Most items sent from overseas go through customs and duty is often levied. The shipping agents collect the fees and charge for their services. This usually happens with linens, pottery, glass, crystal and other items. It all depends on the value and the type of goods. The merchant is supposed to put a form on the box that lists the contents and the value. When the merchant sends something overseas, they are supposed to deduct the VAT. When we had linens shipped from Paris, the merchant deducted the VAT and then we paid duty upon arrival based on the type and origin of the cotton. Not sure if the US Customs website has any information about the fees...
sounds to me like you were taken. I've shipped ceramics home from Italy a few times and all that happened is they showed up on my doorstep; no extra money required.