Frustration with postal and custom services

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3 stories here.

First story

When we organise WordCamps, we need to film the conferences. The WordPress community has a few sets of cameras that we can send from one WordCamp to another. This is a good thing, but it turned out to be totally useless when sending from/to Switzerland!

This is what happened:

In March 2023, for WordCamp Switzerland, our video wrangler (wranglers are “persons in charge of a task” in WordCamp jargon 😉 ) received a set of 2 cameras from a European Union country (I can’t remember which one). He had to pay 183 Swiss francs (~ 196 euros) in customs fees, even though the sets were marked as used equipment!

A few months later, he was asked to send them to WordCamp Netherlands. He sends the package, subject to high postal charges as it’s heavy equipment, he paid 112 Swiss francs (~120 euros). OK!

The video wrangler for WordCamp Netherlands receives a notice informing him that he has to pay a customization fee of around 500 euros! Wait, WHAT?

He refuses the package, which is sent back to Switzerland, where the original sender has to pay return fee (or custom again?) for 120 Swiss francs (~128 euros)! WTF?!

After that, as I was travelling by car to WordCamp Biarritz, I brought the 2 camera sets with me from Switzerland!

When the Biarritz organisers asked me “Are you taking the camera sets back with you?” I replied “The what? I don’t know what you are talking about” 😀
I do not want to hear about those camera sets anymore!

All costs were added to the WordCamp budget and reimbursed by WPCS to the video wrangler, but it’s ultimately WordCamp money, mainly covered by sponsors, and here spent in a ridiculous way!

For our next events, we will rent cameras from local suppliers. It will be cheaper!

Second story

One of my friends works in the Netherlands for a company that has some remote employees. She told me that they once tried to send them Christmas gifts. The recipients reported import charges of up to 100 euros! (or even more). And this for small paper notebooks worth less than 10 euros!

What is the goal of that? No more shipping?

Third story

I sent a box of chocolate from Switzerland to a friend in a European Union country on 20 December 2023. Now the custom service of that country asked that recipient on 29 December to fill some personal information and provide a capture of an ID document and declare what’s in the packet. OK, so much for a surprise box of Swiss chocolate!

Can’t they scan and see that it is a box of chocolate, a gift? They could read the personal letter and see it’s not an invoice but a happy birthday letter 😀

Aren’t there some free allowances quota? I declared the cost of 22 Swiss francs (~23.50 euros) on the custom registration and mentioned it was a gift.

It’s not like it was an expensive device ordered online! Or maybe it’s because it’s food?

So, the box of chocolate cost was 22 Swiss francs (~23.50 euros), the postal fee to send was 25 Swiss francs (~26.75 euros), and now the customs in the recipient’s country asked for custom and handling fees of 55 euros! Wait, what!?! 😵‍💫

So frustrating!

So we decided that the recipient refuses the packet, it will come back to me, I hope I won’t have custom fees (EDIT: it came back on 21 February, thankfully at no additional cost for me), and I’ll go to France to send from European Union to European Union. I hope this time it will be without any cost for the recipient! (EDIT: I’ll actually give in person 🙂 )

Lesson learned: Next time, I’ll go to Ferney-Voltaire (neighbouring France 7 km from my home) and thus send from the EU!

Or never send anything again, easier! No more surprise, birthday or XMas gifts!

You’ll all only get chocolate from me at WordCamps … maybe!


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