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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
OK - this is both off topic and probably only of interest to Australian members. But if you’re curious about Australian bureaucracy and its apparent ability to miraculously transform a used watch into a new one to suit taxation purposes, then my all means read on. It's just cost me $230 to release a 2nd hand Railmaster from customs :-| so I thought I'd post this saga as a warning to all.

To recap, dear reader, I bought a 2nd hand (but near new) railmaster from a nice chap in the US for $1500. It was posted with my name clearly on the package – but with my office address - because it's the most secure place for deliveries. The nice man posts it straight away and the watch arrives in Sydney just 3 days later (yeah! go USPS!!) but then it goes into Australian customs…. where it just sits.

I don't hear nothin - so it’s like it just vanished - until a week later when a letter comes addressed to my company (but without my name on it) telling them they've got a watch worth $2000 waiting at customs and that they need to declare it.

There's 300 people in my office, so I've suddenly got a financial controller going, "so who the $%& is charging expensive watches to this company?!" :roll: Fortunately for me, the receptionist knows about my hobby and quietly gives me a call. I run around explain the financial controller that customs made a mistake in sending it to the company, that it's a private purchase with my own money etc.

I've now convinced the boss man that I'm not charging luxury goods to the company or running a side business out of the office. But I can see him, with his $50 accountant's Timex, thinking, "$2000 for a watch? We must be paying that guy waaayyy too much!!" So I hastily add, "and those idiots at customs haven't got anything right on this notice! It's $200, not $2000!! Man, am I gonna give them a piece of my mind!!"

My faux outrage seems enough to sedate the boss, but the real outrage is yet to come.

So I go the customs website and read that I have to "register as a client of the Integrated Cargo System by filling out form B 24356A (or whatever) in duplicate and then submit postal import declaration 27N#B (or whatever) along with 38 forms of ID and a letter from a priest, and please ensure that your import product code numbers match those on schedule 41 of the Customs Act, 1995" etc etc - you get the idea.

I'm like, this has to be a mistake. I'm not an importer. I'm not a "client of the integrated cargo system". Also the watch is 2nd hand, which means that in Australia there would be no tax on it anyway. I even found some legal text on some big law company site explaining that "goods which would not be taxed if sold in Australia will not attract taxes when imported into Australia".

Uh huh.....yep, that’s the law….. but not according to customs. I call them up and after waiting a while I get a helpful person who explains that "even though it's 2nd hand, it's the first time it's entered Australia so we treat it as a new product". Huh?! WTF? In most people’s worlds, something is new or it isn’t. The idea that the “newness” of something changes when it moves to another country is, well, a construction that isn’t based on logic if you ask me.

So, I have to provide proof of the transaction, as well as the 38 other forms, letters from a priest etc, and then customs add up:
- the purchase price
- the value of postage and any insurance, which they assess the value of themselves (and it seems they assess it pretty generously)
- any duty payable
- a $49 processing fee (like you've got a choice about that)
and then they levy tax (GST) on the whole lot.

Now, I'm no lawyer, but how can an Australian body charge a service tax on a service (the postage and insurance) that didn't even occur in Australia?! I guess the same way they make an old watch new again. :-d

They send me an invoice for $230 and leave the final insult till last - the only practical way to pay the debt is by a credit card, and guess what? They charge a 1% surcharge for using a credit card too!

Now, I got to say, the customs people I spoke to were fine and helpful and I know they’re just doin their job. No personal offence intended. I also know that countries have to get taxes to pay for stuff. That’s cool.

But when you start creating ‘special’ interpretations of tax law that have no basis in reality it just starts to look like a sting, and so it’s no wonder people ask sellers to dodge the values on postal declarations. I was hoping to buy a PO next – but I guess I’d have to get the seller to send the watch head and bracelet separately to make sure neither is valued over $1000!

I’m sure that I’ll be enjoying the Railmaster long after I forget about this, but if you have a watch in need of a spruce up, don’t send it to Bienne, send it to Sydney, and our customs officers will miraculously make it new again!

Cheers
 

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Wow. I've heard horror stories about Aussie bureaucracy before, with this being one of the worst cases yet. You can rest assured the good 'ol USA is not very far behind my friend, and we're gaining fast with our "new" administration stoking the bureaucratic fires with abandon!
 

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Hi guys, having lived in Oz for some forty years, I have come across similar stuff in the past. Example, items from mail order catalogs directly to Oz used to attract 100% duty, so you pay for the item via credit card and then when it would get here you would pay that again, supposedly to protect local industries making similar items. Hello! Some of these industries do not exist so how do you protect something that does not exist, Sound familiar. To get past this, you would have it shipped to a relative and then sent out, declared as a gift, no duty. Don't make it too obvious, but it does work.
The other option, which is is not as easy, is if you know someone that happens to be travelling to that destination to bring it back with them.
Duty in Australia has always been a joke in this circumstance, supposedly to protect local industry, that does not exist, given the nature of the item.
More recently, even local companies are relocating to Asia in order to reduce production costs, so now these local items are not even made in Australia, examples such as Stamford shirts, and Blundstone boots!!

Ah, Free Trade, you have to love it, look what it has done for the world :think:
 

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Sounds like a sh$& show! Makes me think twice about incomings to the office! This is why I never buy internationally. Sorry to hear of your troubles, and I wish you better luck next time
 

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tell your credit card company that the customs charge is fraudulent. :D
 

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Ouch! Your life is like something out of a "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" movie mate!
I'm glad you have it!! John Wilson
 

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I even found some legal text on some big law company site explaining that "goods which would not be taxed if sold in Australia will not attract taxes when imported into Australia".
umm... you do realise you pay GST on a watch when you buy it in Australia don't you? GST is a tax....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi guys, having lived in Oz for some forty years, I have come across similar stuff in the past. Example, items from mail order catalogs directly to Oz used to attract 100% duty....//... To get past this, you would have it shipped to a relative and then sent out, declared as a gift, no duty. Don't make it too obvious, but it does work.

Ah, Free Trade, you have to love it, look what it has done for the world :think:

Well, to be fair there was in fact no 'duty' on it as the 'duty' on most items imported to Oz has long since been reduced to zero, in the name of free trade. It's just the GST (sales tax for our international readers) that gets charged.

Also, the "it was a gift" provison was abolished last year, it's no longer an excuse to get off tax free. The only real options are:
- declare it as being less than $1000 (I note that the seller kindly offered to send me fake invoices to achieve this, but I turned it down. So am I a good person, or do I simply lack the courage to be evil? ;-))
- claim it is only in Australia for repair and then being returned, or claim it was here, and got sent OS for repair and is coming back
- get the watch split up into multiple packages and claim none is worth more than $1000
 

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I have been fleeced by NZ customs in the exact same way for a 1960's Seamaster. I had to pay $300 NZ to get it from them, they did not care that it was second hand (50 years old!?!) pay or no get watch.
The real kicker is they also tried to fleece me again on the value of my Panerai when it returned from Richemont Sydney having been repaired under warranty. I had to proove it was an NZ purchased item.
Chances are if you do actually send a 50 year old Omega to Bienne for spar treatment customs will fleece you on its return.
The best bet for repairs is to go via an AD, have them send it then no customs fees apply. I sent my Panerai to Richemont Sydney personaly as the damage to my Panerai was caused by the NZ Richemont repair centre and there was no way I was going to deal with those muppets again.

I have not purchased another watch from abroad since unless I am travelling. If I do buy anything requiring mailing to NZ I always ask that they mark it as a gift if it is over a certain value, otherwise I dont bother.

Way to go NZ customs, the greedy little vermin have put a damper on my online purchases.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
umm... you do realise you pay GST on a watch when you buy it in Australia don't you? GST is a tax....
If the watch was new then yes I would. But this watch was second hand and was sold from an individual to an individual. This transaction would not attract GST within Australia.
 

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OMG!

We either get slugged by the Customs or by the retails :-(
I had to laugh at your descriptions, but man, I feel for you!
 

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Hi,
Sorry you found out the hard way about the system.

If you read up on the Australian customs web site you will see that if an item is split into separate lots they are counted as one thing and the cost added up must be under $1000AU to avoid the taxes. They count this as coming from the same place within a short period of time. Of course they probably can't police this but if you are going to cheat the system then you might as well just declare it as a lesser value. A lot of people do this and get away with it. I did this once but regretted it.

I know your pain I have imported 2 second hand guitars in the last 6 months and had to pay customs about $300 and $700. The second one ended up adding 18% when I was expecting less than 15% (because of extra little charges, that they are yet to invoice me for, despite requesting it). By the way if you use Fedex or the like then they do the paper work for you and get it through within a couple of days. They call you and you pay via credit card over the phone.

The only way is to buy watches under $1000AU. If only this was more like $5000, my hobbies are more expensive than $1000AU :)



Regards,
Graham
 

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Sorry to hear about your ordeal. Ive experienced an identical situation except not with watches. In that case i went down to the customs holding and dealt directly with them (it was quite funny to see how every other customer in line was moaning and complaining about their situation-including myself!)
I ended up having a long chat with the customs officer and after signing and filling in the 1000 or so forms and paying the relevant 'tax/duty', they released my item. Got them to waive the brokerage and admin. fee which made my day somewhat better.

Congrats on the Railmaster btw!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OMG!

We either get slugged by the Customs or by the retails :-(
I had to laugh at your descriptions, but man, I feel for you!
Well, the customs sting still has me way ahead of buying Australian retail (especially at the current exchange rate). This is the 39.2mm on steel. Now, the dude selling assures me that he has worn it only 2 times and it is totally unblemished in any way. Provided this all checks out in the flesh, I'm still getting this delivered for under $2000 AUD, when the retail from the Omega boutique is $4225.00.

FYI I got a quote from the FAD to supply totally new. In line with his request I won't reveal the quote but I can assure Aussie buyers that his price, even including delievery and customs, would have been a HUGE saving on buying Australian retail. I will definately consider him for future purchases if the AUD remains strong.
 

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Well, the customs sting still has me way ahead of buying Australian retail (especially at the current exchange rate). This is the 39.2mm on steel. Now, the dude selling assures me that he has worn it only 2 times and it is totally unblemished in any way. Provided this all checks out in the flesh, I'm still getting this delivered for under $2000 AUD, when the retail from the Omega boutique is $4225.00.

FYI I got a quote from the FAD to supply totally new. In line with his request I won't reveal the quote but I can assure Aussie buyers that his price, even including delievery and customs, would have been a HUGE saving on buying Australian retail. I will definately consider him for future purchases if the AUD remains strong.
Yeh, I with you on that brother!
Exchange rate is getting better by the day.
I will be doing the same pretty shortly I reckon.
 

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Customs! Phew!!

You have to read this:

There was a nice gentleman from Germany who, while visiting the Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat, India, observed that Gandhi's old pictures were not in very good shape. He offered to restore them at his cost.

He took those photographs with him, restored them and shipped them back to India.

The Indian Supreme Court had to intervene to get those released from Indian Customs without the heavy duty that had been imposed. And it took over a month to achieve this.

Beat that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Customs! Phew!!

You have to read this:

There was a nice gentleman from Germany who, while visiting the Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat, India, observed that Gandhi's old pictures were not in very good shape. He offered to restore them at his cost.

He took those photographs with him, restored them and shipped them back to India.

The Indian Supreme Court had to intervene to get those released from Indian Customs. It took over a month to achieve this.

Beat that!
When anyone cites the Indian bureaucracy and says "beat that" I can only concede the ground, Sir. No one out paperworks the Indian system! :-d
 

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When anyone cites the Indian bureaucracy and says "beat that" I can only concede the ground, Sir. No one out paperworks the Indian system! :-d
:)

And here I am wondering how to send my PO to OMEGA once for a full service before the 3 years expire in Sept. 2010.

Think I'll buy a ticket :)
 
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