Recently I conducted a shipping experiment with my friend Bilal Ali Malik. Bilal resides in the United Kingdom, and he runs a kick ass beard oil company called Manly Beard Oil (https://www.manlybeardoil.co.uk/). We will periodically share ideas, philosophies, and of COURSE amazing beard products with each other.
My company, Ferocious Beard Company (https://www.FerociousBeard.com), is a US firm that ships to the U.K. as well as other countries and occasionally, some customers will notify us that they have been asked to pay a customs charge in order to release our products. So I asked Bilal if he would assist me by helping to document the fee if it occurs in order that we could provide accurate info about this to our customers. I packed up a standard Combo order consisting of a 1 oz Black Java Beard Oil and a 2 oz Woodsman Beard Balm with a retail cost of $29.50 USD. Normally Ferocious offers a flat USPS customer shipping rate of $12 to the U.K. which is less expensive than many of our competitors, so that realistically would have brought the total value of the order to $41.50. But since this was an experiment, I captured just the $29.50 value of the product itself, and Ferocious picked up the shipping charge which actually came to $13.30 (the normal USPS flat rate charge for packages 8 oz or less going to Europe or the U.K.). Yes, we take a slight shipping loss on International shipments.
On the afternoon of November 12, 2018 I dropped the test package off at the Post Office in Southlake, TX, and we both waited patiently....4781 miles from each other...until...
6:31am CT on November 20, 2018, I received a message from Bilal "What shall we do about this"? Ah...the package had arrived in the U.K. and he had received notification that it was ready to pick up, but first he had to pay a tax. Here's what we found:
The tax on a $29.95 (£ 23.42) package from the US came to $17.76 (£ 13.89 as of this writing), which included a $10.23 (£ 8.00) Royal Mail "handling fee". After calculating all this out and subtracting the handling fee, we determined that the actual tax assessed was 25% of the value of the order.
The reason I wanted to capture this information is so that we could give accurate information to our U.K. Customers about how much they could typically expect to pay if ordering products from companies in the United States. I personally think that the 25% tax is very high, and there does not appear to be a legal way to avoid the mandatory £ 8.00 handling fee imposed.
Ferocious is always thinking about ways to make it up to our customers, and we've got some ideas in the pipeline. Everything from opening a distribution center in the U.K. to providing a code to use for future purchases in the amount of the fee imposed. We'll keep you posted on any ideas we come up with.