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Old 20.05.2009, 12:18
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

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- Thanks for the response! I just got them to email me an invoice, which is marked commercial (incorrectly). Is the invoice something they made or is it what was made by my friend? Or is it the website that he bought from?

- I don't understand quite why DHL is in a position to ask me for anything - I neither bought the thing nor asked them to ship it nor agreed to anything with them. Legally, can they just send me bills like this without my agreement to anything? Seems like an amusing - or annoying - modern day white elephant racket if so. Just send someone something big and make them pay DHL.

- In fact, why is *DHL* asking me for money? They're just a courier company, right?
Several answers to several questions:

Especially if the item was sent from a commercial firm then DHL will
act accordingly, despite being a gift, despite you not ordering it or not.

If it was not sent from a shop, then your friend stateside put a value
on the paperwork. Also had the chance to mark it as a gift, or other
valuable. If they forgot, then see my last comment below.

DHL acts as your representative to the Swiss authorities. DHL figures
the value, does the paperwork and prepays the costs to the Swiss
government. In turn, they send you a fancy bill adding a small
percentage for their troubles. This is normal. First time I received a bill
from DHL or UPS for this same reason... I call and complained. Did no
good, they said it is policy that was accepted to when someone sent
the shipment and when you picked it up. Typical small print!

If you don't pay, they may seek Inkasso (bill collection agency). I
have used them as well and know how they work. First if you don't pay
- your name goes on a list of non-paying customers. If you don't react
and pay the bill after the Inkasso contacts you - then you name goes
on a red list. After that they do the official Inkasso part and seek to
deduct your pay. If your name goes on any list, don't try to get a
credit or rent a high-priced item in Switzerland - you will get turned
away!

To close, let me say this: If you have proof that it was sent and
indicated as a gift, then use it and show DHL... Finished. But, again,
first pay the bill. On the other side, if you don't have any verification of
"gift", then pay the bill and forget about it. Mark it up as an experience
and tell your beloved friend in the states not to send anything via
DHL... USPS is the best bet for ensuring the "gift" is checked.
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